She sat, thinking, staring blankly ahead. It was all she could do-to move, to speak, to interact-it was all too much for her. A thick black curtain weighed down into the depths of her soul, paralyzing her, preventing her from any sort of normal activity.
What was it all for? Why couldn't she escape from this darkness that was taking over? The more she tried to struggle away from it, the thicker and stronger it became, pulling at her with all its strength. To resist was useless.
So she sat and thought. This wasn't usual for her-an upbeat, kind, beautiful person, both inside and out, she rarely let anything get her down. But the more she tried to think, the more jumbled her thoughts became. Even simple things-buying a new rug for her bedroom, cleaning her house, practicing violin, playing with her cat-even that turned into disorder, beating in violent circles again and again through her head. She shivered as she sat; the thick down comforter wrapped tightly around her was proving to be little help.
Finally she forced herself up, shuffling out of the warm leather recliner and into her thick, soft slippers, the comforter still covering her as she stood. She blindly made her way into the bathroom, knocking toothbrushes and soaps away as she grabbed for aspirin out of the medicine cabinet. She quickly took two, not even bothering to wash them down with water, praying they would take effect immediately and somehow release her from this terrifying sorrow.
Even that was too much of an effort. She sank onto the bathroom floor, her face in her hands, with tears flowing silently, endlessly. What was she crying about? The more she tried, the more she couldn't remember. Who was she? What was this place she was in? Confusion of memories continued to swirl recklessly through her head.
Suddenly there was a knock at the bathroom door. Why was it locked? She stood up slowly, guiltily, as if she were to blame for all that could be wrong. She finally turned the handle and opened the door.
Who was the man standing there? Why was he giving her that worried look, those dark eyes penetrating into hers? Did she know him? He seemed to be in a different world from her, in a space she could no longer share.
"Sarah, honey, what's the matter? What happened? Are you okay?" and his gaze showed he was genuinely upset. He looked her over-her disheveled brown hair, her wide, scared green eyes, her pale skin, her small body gripping the comforter tightly around herself. "Do you need to go to the hospital?"
And Sarah, embarrassed, dropped the comforter and wiped the last of the tears from her eyes. She went to the man, her boyfriend, and melted against him as he held her in his thick, strong arms. She felt so vulnerable-he had rarely ever seen her upset in the two years they had been together-but this time she didn't care. She just wanted him to hold her forever, his muscular body strong, protecting hers, saving her from the darkness that wanted to win her over.
He kissed her warmly, passionately, his big hands caressing every inch of her body. She just stood, limply, trying to acknowledge him and understand the thoughts still whirling through her head. She let him do as he pleased, but she still felt as if they were in two separate spheres, with he being unable to penetrate through to her.
But it was wonderful. It always was. As they lay close, their bodies warm and exhausted against each other, they both knew nothing could break their connection. Neither had experienced anything like what they felt for each other before, and both doubted they ever could again.
And the curtain was lifted, freeing Sarah to be herself again, safe and out of the darkness. As he lay smiling, holding her against him, she struggled to remember. Was it he who had led her to that? How could he have? But if he had pulled her out of it, it must have been he who had brought her into it. She decided she didn't care to remember as she slowly let sleep take over her body.
"Honey, breakfast is ready." Sarah blinked, confused. "What time is it?" she mumbled, the words barely audible.
"Sweetie, it's noon, you've been sleeping for over twelve hours. I made some waffles, your favorite, and with everything you love I got some fresh strawberries and blueberries, real maple syrup"
"Mmm you're perfect," she murmured, clumsily climbing out of bed, leaning against him for support.
She really believed it. Nothing else existed when they were together. Everything just seemed to harmonize beautifully-it seemed that nothing could break through them. She felt safe, protected from everything when she was with him. He always said the perfect thing and always knew what to do to make her happy. He was like a dream come true.
She went to the table, which was set beautifully and lovingly adorned with a vase filled with fresh purple lilacs and white daisies. The waffles, of course, were delicious, and Sarah made sure to savor every bite as if it would be her last.
"What happened yesterday? What was the matter?" he asked as they ate, carefully studying her reaction.
She felt the blood rise to her cheeks. He had caught her at her weakest moment, and she hated to be reminded of it, but he looked so worried and upset-she knew the issue had to be addressed.
"I I don't know" she stammered. "I just I just lost it all the stress.getting to me" she struggled to remember what she could have possibly been stressed about, but all she could think of was him, gazing at her, making her heart pound furiously.
He walked to her, cupping her face in his hand. "I just want to know you're okay. I don't want anything to happen to you." And he kissed her, making her melt. This time she responded passionately, eager to be with him again and again.
And the days passed like that. Maybe it was weeks, even months. Who could tell? This bliss made her oblivious to the outside world, to everything but him. Nothing else existed.
But suddenly he was leaving. She didn't understand why; she couldn't even remember when he had gotten there. It was her house, so he must have come there sometime recently, but it was all a fog of tangled memories. All she knew was that he was her world and now he was going.
"I'll be back," he reassured her, holding her close to him. "I have to go to work. Vacation week is over. And you have plenty to do practice your violin. Go spend some time with other people. We'll see each other again soon."
And just like that, he was gone. She felt tired and heavy, like she bore the weight of the world on her shoulders. Why had he left her? She was nothing without him. What was she going to do? She didn't want to play the violin or to be with anyone else she wanted to be with him only.
After a while, she finally made herself pull the violin out of its case. Maybe to play would make her feel better. She could let out some of her passion, her anger at him for leaving.
But there was something wrong about it. Regardless of how she tuned it, the notes cracked, one blending into another, the pitches going into wrong directions. Nothing flowed. Angrily, she increased her pressure with her bow, playing harder and more furiously, attempting giant crescendos, angrily trying to make it beautiful while she released her aggression and frustration-
And then two of the strings snapped, both at once. What happened? She had recently bought them. They should have lasted longer.
She examined the instrument more closely. The wood was cracked and chipping, which was unusual, as it was a new, costly violin. She stormily put it back into its case and set it on the floor.
She opened her closet-some of her clothes were missing. Her new black dress, her favorite jeans-where were they? Had she worn them over the past week? She felt herself grow dizzy as she tried to remember. Nobody had been in her house except for him, and she trusted him as much as she trusted herself. He wouldn't take her belongings.
She decided to walk alone outside to clear her head. It was a beautiful day and she wanted to enjoy the sun's rays over her skin. She pondered everything that had occurred. Why had she been so upset at him for leaving? Was she that weak, that desperate, that she had forgotten herself and become dependent on him? She had always vowed she would never get like that. And what had happened to her clothes, her violin? Something was not right, but she couldn't figure out what. Was it her? Was she hallucinating? What was happening to her?
As she came near her house at the end of her walk, she heard the faint buzz of flies just before she noticed the sweet stench of death in the air. It was a wild animal, probably a squirrel, she told herself, as she couldn't immediately see the creature. She was usually repulsed by death, but this time, curiosity got the best of her, and she looked.
Fresh red blood matted the long white fur. Her cat's big yellow eyes were still wide open in fear, but the rest of the face was contorted and the body mangled as it lay on the side of the road. The flies hovered around the corpse, hungrily, destroying any sort of dignity the creature could have had left.
Sarah heard a scream. Dazed, she looked around, it must have been her, but she didn't remember making a sound. The world was spinning, faster and faster. She knelt down, vomiting, her shocked body emptying itself of all that was inside. Who killed her cat? Did he? Maybe she did. It could have been someone else. But why?
She opened her front door, which wasn't locked. She didn't remember getting there. Everything was still spinning, and she was surprised she could walk. She could feel the overwhelming black curtain again, overpowering her, and she could no longer think.
She collapsed on her kitchen floor, unseeing. What had happened? She couldn't remember anything. An image of a beautiful white Persian cat circled around her head-had she ever seen one like that? Those loving dark eyes gazed at her too but where were they? To whom did they belong? What was happening? She watched as kitchen appliances, distorted, danced back and forth, as if they were rocking her to sleep.
Yet she still struggled to keep herself together, despite the fading sound of a violin ringing in her ears.
Did he really love her? Maybe it was just a dream. But suddenly, it didn't matter. She knew she had to become one with the dark that was already taking her in its strong grip. She had to succumb to it; she had no choice. He could never win; he couldn't take that away from her.
And the last thing she ever felt was the sweet, comforting pain of cold steel thrust into her chest.