Pulling Me Back Under

Everything was quiet.

Everything was still. The hands of the clock shifted letting out a sharp ringing sound alerting everything that it was now three am. The sound echoed throughout the empty house, shaking its walls. Everything stopped, everything stayed still as if it were afraid to breathe. As if it were afraid to scream. Nothing moved as I felt that nothing would, yet I couldn’t help feeling like something would happen. Like something was there watching me, waiting for me to move, breath, or scream. I felt the chills crawl up my spine and into my shoulders. I felt caged in my body, imprisoned, not able to break free. I was standing there still alone in the empty house waiting. Waiting for something to happen, waiting to see it breathe. Still I felt there was something behind me, something about to jump and release me from this trance where I’m stuck, waiting. The clock chimed again. However, when I turned to look it was three am again. The sound chimed another time again. I felt something reach into the depths of my soul, something I had never felt before. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t open my lips. They felt like stone pressed closed not able to move. The clock chimed again. Everything went black. It was as if it were a blink that my eyes had never opened from.

I woke up in my bed dazed and confused. I could not recall whether my dream was a fragment of my imagination or if it was a reality. I could smell the savory smell of bacon coming from the kitchen. I felt chills all over my body. I began to sit up as I rubbed my head, I felt a bump on the back of it. I stood up and walked to the kitchen. I stopped. I was stunned. There she was, cooking bacon. Her soft black hair draping down to her lower back. Her smooth pale skin. She looked so peaceful. She was so quiet. I tried to say something, anything, but my lips were sealed. My legs wouldn’t move, or rather they couldn’t move. She turned around. Her face was so pale and long. She was wearing her white nightgown with the lace hem. It was her favorite. She started walking over to me. Her eyes were white and empty, it felt almost as though you could stare at them for hours and see nothing but emptiness. She touched my face with her long, cold, boney hand. She just stared at me as though she was longing to be there in the moment. She then opened her mouth. I could see her blackened teeth. She reeked of rotting, I felt my nose hairs curl up. She let out a blood curdling scream, and then it all went black. I woke up with my hands grasping my chest. I could hear my heart pounding. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe and I was gasping for air. Finally I realised it was all just a bad dream. 

I looked over at my wooden nightstand to see our wedding photo sitting there. It was just there, like it was calling for me to come home. I thought I put all of my memories of her away. I saw the time on my alarm clock, three am. I wasn’t sure if all of this was a long series of dreams and I am finally awake, or whether I was just stuck in a trance, a paralysis, never to be woken again. It still reeked of rotting. I got up and decided to take a shower to try and calm down. 

I turned the water on and let it run until I saw the steam start to pour out of the curtains, and float up to the ceiling. I stepped into the shower and the water was ice cold. There was steam, but the water was cold. Is this another dream? I thought. I got out to wait for the water to warm up. I looked in the mirror and realised I hadn’t shaved my beard. The mirror started to fog up. I opened it and reached for my shaving cream. I started rubbing it into my beard. I looked down and saw my razor in my hand. It just appeared there, like it was meant to be there. I began to bring the blade to my beard, and watch the hairs fall into the sink. One after the other, as if it were long black rain. I got back into the shower to wash the remaining shaving cream and hairs off. The water was finally warm. Maybe this wasn’t a dream and I was awake again. The water felt good on my skin. All of a sudden the water felt thick and heavy. I looked down to see a thick heavy pool of water. Somehow the water had filled the shower up. I ripped open the curtain to try and get out. The bathroom was still covered in water. It kept rising up and up. I reached for the door trying to escape but it was locked shut. My head was touching the ceiling. Soon I was submerged. I tried to wake up, but I couldn’t. I felt the air run out in my lungs. I turned to see her floating there. She was so beautiful, her hair and nightgown floating up like she was an ethereal creature. Darkness started to close in on me. I felt her soft lips press against mine. I woke up again.

There was a pool of sweat around me. I looked at my alarm and saw it was three am again. This couldn’t be another dream. Why was this happening to me? I got up, grabbed my coat off the foot of my bed, and left my apartment building. The sky was pitch black. There were no stars because they were hiding behind the clouds. The wind swept up the fallen leaves and moved them around through the air as though they were dancing. The streetlamps were flickering and newspapers tumbled around on the ground. I started to walk on the sidewalk. No one was out. I was walking along an empty road filled with abandoned secrets. I started walking along the river. I kept smelling the smell of rotting. Where was it coming from? Was she there? Was she following me? I wasn’t sure. I kept walking faster, scared to look behind me.

There was a tunnel that led to the bridge above the river. I ran to the tunnel, hoping the smell of rotting would not follow me, and she wouldn’t be there. The smell only followed me. I could feel a stream of tears flow out of my eyes and hit my shoulders. The tears felt cold, almost refreshing. I finally reached the bridge and saw blue and red lights flashing up ahead. I thought maybe they could help me. The air felt cooler up here, like a ghost had just walked through your body. The lights kept getting brighter the closer you got to them. My legs felt as though they couldn’t go on much further. My chest hurt and my head was spinning. I finally reached the blue and red lights. They were all gathering towards the right side of the bridge, looking over. There was a big gap in the guardrail. I felt the chills all over my body again. It felt strange this time, almost as though something bad was about to happen. I walked up to them. They all looked sad, however there seemed to be a sort of calmness surrounding them. 

I asked them what had happened. They just stared blankly into the water. One of them asked what had happened, and another one responded that some insane man drove off of the bridge. They then got into their cars and began to drive away. I saw the blue and red lights fade into the distance and then they were gone. I walked across the bridge to the other side, hoping someone over there would help me escape this demon of mine. By the time I reached the town on the other side of the bridge, it was five am. I searched and searched to find someone, anyone who could release me from this pain. As I walked along the sidewalk I heard a bell from behind me. Then I felt something hard hit my head. I turned around to see that there was a boy delivering newspapers on a bicycle. The boy fell over, and I went to go help him up. He looked straight at me, but kept ignoring me. I could tell he did not want my help. 

Once he finally got a hold of it he got up. He hopped on his bicycle and rode away. Now alone I stood there in the dark, in the cold, wondering, waiting. Trying to piece it all together. Maybe I might wake up this time, maybe if I tried hard enough I could go home. I walked over to where the newspaper hit my head. I picked it up and began to read. The chills filled my body again. I felt her. I knew she was near. Why wouldn’t she go away? Why wouldn’t she stop? Tears started to pour out of my eyes and on to the paper. One after the other, weighing the paper down, smearing the ink. Scared for my life, standing there waiting to wake up, wondering how I could wake up, I felt her hand press against my back the way it used to, however it was not the same. It was different. Colder, sadder, lonelier. I felt all of her pain of being alone, all the sadness, all the cold. I continued to read, hoping she would go away. I felt her hand move up to my shoulder, as it fit perfectly into place. It was like we were a puzzle, and all the pieces fit perfectly. I read and read hoping to wake up. The tears kept flowing. The fear kept growing. I stopped. I didn’t breathe. I didn’t speak. My tears stopped running down my cheeks. I didn’t move. The chills were now rapid, crawling all over my body as if they were a nest of ants covering you completely. I turned around to see her, standing there so peacefully. She looked at me and asked if I was ready to go home. I realised I had been running from the truth, and did not remember or know it. The newspaper read: man dead. Drove his car off the bridge into the river. Screaming that he couldn’t live without, his wife. There was a picture of the man. His pale body, his black beard, his lost face. I realised why the boy and the police officers ignored me, why she was here, why the blue and red lights couldn’t help me, why there was a bump on my head.

Everything went dark. Everything was still. Everything stopped, everything stayed still as if it were afraid to breathe. As if it were afraid to scream. Nothing moved as I felt that nothing would. 

Everything was quiet.

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