Warning: this post written for the last Daily Post prompt of Retrospective, has very dark tones.
“Where am I?” Andy asked the blackness that engulfed him. “How did I get here?”
Andy jerked as a sudden gust of wind blew up his face. “Hello?”
Arms stretched out to their fullest extent in front of him, he slowly tested the ground with the tip of his shoe, step by step as he started walking. Walking nowhere and everywhere. Standing still was terrifying. Keep moving, he told himself, trying to keep from screaming. “HELLO?”
His throat became scratchy, aching…dull, but there. Clearing it helped a little but did nothing to calm his fears.
Good Lord!” Andy shouted as a blinding light enveloped him. Being in bright lite was almost as bad as being in the dark. Shielding his eyes with his arm, he tried looking around, but it was no use. Neither was closing his eyes…the light burst through his eye lids as if they were not there at all.
“NOOOOOOO!” Andy screamed as the ground beneath him faded away and he fell from the bright light into a world of colors, scents, and sound. *thud* He landed hard on the soft ground, but unhurt. Slowly opening his eyes revealed a pristine green lawn—soft, comfortable, and familiar.
“Hi ya, Andy,” a young voice called. “Whatcha doin’ down there? Watchin’ the grass grow again?”
I know that voice, Andy thought, still looking at the grass. “Max?” he asked, rolling over to see a wiggling set of mud stained bare feet.
“Well, who else would it be, silly?”
“But,” Andy murmured, sitting up, looking at a young boy in blue overalls with only one snap latched and no shirt. “It can’t be.”
Andy sat shaking his head.
“Whatcha mean, it can’t be?”
“You’re dead, Max.”
“Oh, that,” Max laughed. “Yep, long time now from the looks of it, but I really thought you’d be a lot older. What happened?”
“Nothing happened,” Andy said, shaking his head more out of confusion rather than disagreement.
“Andy?” an older woman called from a nearby porch. “Andy Howard…is that you?”
Andy’s eyes grew as he instantly recognized Grandma Beth’s voice. A voice he desperately wanted to hear…no desperately needed to hear. “Yes, Grandma,” he called out, so she could hear him.
“Well, get over here and let me look at ya.”
Looking past Max, he knew exactly where he was. He was home. His childhood home with Grandma Beth and Grandpa Joe. Back where he was happiest…he was free. Free from all the burdens of Social Security disability denials, identity theft, empty bank accounts, and free from eviction notices. “Coming Grandma.”
“There’s my boy,” Beth said, embracing Alex in her county-famous hug. “What’s wrong?”
A lifetime of pain poured from Alex’s eyes onto Beth’s floral dress. “Oh, Grandma, I’ve missed you.”
“Well, we’ve missed you to, but what’s wrong, boy?”
The sound of Beth’s eternal concern brought clarity to Alex’s surroundings and the sounds of rapid movement coming from inside the old farmhouse. “What’s going on inside, Grandma? Everything alright?”
“That’s what I’m asking you?” Beth said as tears began dripping down her wrinkled cheeks. “Look in the window.”
Alex stepped in front of the large front window and gasped, covering his mouth. The inside of Grandma’s farmhouse wasn’t the farmhouse but was Alex’s tiny apartment in the rundown six-story walk-up in the Bronx. From the porch, Alex watched as his body lurched and his fingers made a feeble attempt to loosen the makeshift noose.
“Oh, God, I remember know! I’m so sorry Grandma!” Alex dropped to his knees trying to grab Beth around the waist.
“Boy, we love you and want ya here, but you got ta fight.”
“I don’t want to die, Grandma!” Alex started banging on the farmhouse window. “I didn’t mean to!”
“Fight! Fight! Fight!” Max called from the yard.
“I’M SORRY!” Alex shouted as loud as he could.
Darkness engulfed him as quickly as it left.
The dry scratchy throat now burned and was full of razor blades. Sound of Max’s support and Beth’s cries faded into the darkness and were replaced by screams and shouts for help.
Alex awoke in the hospital, his throat wrapped in gauze.
“Alex?” a man in a white lab coat began asking. “I’m Dr. Sidney, do you remember what happened?”
Alex tried to talk but couldn’t. He shook his head and began crying.
“Dr. Sidney, why do you think I went to my Grandma’s farmhouse where I grew up?”
“Well,” Dr. Sidney began, inhaling deeply, “some people, myself included, think the dying mind becomes very retrospective. It shows up things we when we were happiest so that the physical process may be easier. I like to think of it as natures compassion response.”
“But, I didn’t die.”
“No, between your Grandmother’s memories and Miss. Pinkston’s quick response to you banging on the adjoining wall with your fist, you didn’t die six months ago.”
“Thanks doc. Makes sense, I guess.”