THE ROAD HOME
[[[[[ "With this ring, I thee wed" . . . "I now pronounce you man and wife" . . . Oh, what a
beautiful wedding my husband and I had! I remember it so well . . . "It's a boy!" I heard the
doctor say. What a wonderful experience giving birth to our first-born child! And what a thrill
it was when his two younger siblings were born years later. What a wonderful family we had!
We loved each other so much! . . . "Until death do you part," the minister was saying . . . ]]]]]]
I gagged on the nasty salt taste in my mouth. It tasted familiar, this stuff in my mouth. Yes, I know now. It was the unmistakable taste of blood . . . my blood. What had happened? Why am I here tasting my own blood? And where was I?
I opened my eyes. I could barely see. It was so dark, and deathly still. The strong, metallic taste in my mouth was making me nauseous. What in the hell happened? . . . Oh yeah, now I remember. I had been driving in my car, and the trees had suddenly loomed before me; . . . I had an accident, didn't I? I had lost control of my car . . . I was being chased--yes! that was it! Now I'm starting to remember! The shadow man had been chasing me, and I had been going too fast. I wrecked my car trying to flee from him . . . and here I lie, swallowing mouthfuls of my own blood. How long have I been lying here? How badly damaged is my car? How badly damaged was i?
I couldn't make out a thing. It was so dark. I tried to move my legs, but couldn't. My legs! What was wrong with my legs! I couldn't feel them! I couldn't move them! I tried not to panic. There must be something I could do . . . What about my hands? Could I move my hands? . . . Why, yes I could! Thank God! I could feel my fingers. I could wiggle them . . . I groped timidly toward my legs. Yes! there they were! I could feel them with my hands . . . yet, I couldn't move them. I had no feeling in them . . . Was I paralyzed from the impact? . . . Well, at least I was alive!
It was then that I heard what sounded like the faint hum of a motor--an approaching car far off in the distance. An ambulance, maybe? a police cruiser? a highway patrolman? Maybe I should blow my horn--if it still works--just to let whoever know that I'm here, alive out here among these cluster of trees. The car was getting closer, I could tell. I could hear its tires echoing across the wet pavement. The rain had stopped. I tried to reach for the horn, but when I did, I felt a warm gush of sticky wetness oozing out of my chest. My hand immediately shot to the area beneath my breastbone. I panicked as my trembling hand groped the large gaping hole that was there. My God! I'm bleeding out my insides! I needed help!
I tried once more to find the horn, but I was too weak, and so very dizzy. Things were spinning full speed inside my head. I listened for the police cruiser. I could hear it; it was getting closer. The inside of my mangled car was suddenly bombarded with light. The headlights of the car that had pulled up behind me bathed my car in yellow radiance. The policeman had found me! I was safe now.
I heard the policeman step out of his car. I lie helplessly on my back unable to move, but I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that help was on the way. I listened as the policeman's footsteps inched across the asphalt, as he slowly approached my car. I was able to see his dark-shadowed form as he walked up to the passenger-side door. With the help of the cruiser's headlights, I could almost make out the policeman's face. Almost.
I had suddenly become so sleepy. The policeman reached for the door, and ever so gently, opened it. His long, dark-cloaked arm reached inside. A thin white finger grazed my forehead, ever so gently. I tried in vain to thank the kind officer for coming to my aid, but I couldn't open my mouth to speak. I felt so weak and sleepy.
As thankful as I was, all I could think about was closing my eyes and going to sleep. I hoped the officer didn't think I was being rude by yawning in his presence, but if he only knew all that I'd been through . . . I'm sure he'd understand. I so badly needed my sleep. If only I could close my eyes for just a mere minute or two . . .
My eyes were half-shielded by a set of heavy, swollen lids. I looked up at the officer's face as he continued to stroke my forehead . . . ever, but ever so gently. Was I dreaming? Or was I correctly comprehending what I thought I was seeing? The officer was staring down at me; his face was shrouded in an ebony hooded robe which seemed to distort his features. He had a face that was powdery white, long, and hollow-cheeked. The eyes which stared back at me were dark and sullen. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear the officer had the face of a skeleton. And was I hearing correctly? Was he saying something to me? . . . Why yes, he was speaking to me, yet, ever so softly. I closed my eyes trying hard to concentrate on his hypnotically deep voice.
"It's time to go home now, Rachelle," he whispered gently to me. "It's time to go home."
His skeletal hand moved a single boned finger, beckoning me to follow. I offered no resistance. I was so tired and definitely ready to go home . . . Hey! How did this man know my name?
My eyes fluttered open as I took in one last glimpse of the shadowy image before me. I was mesmerized by his long, dark cloak, and the bright yellow hourglass that shone eerily by his side. I strained to see as the final grains of sand trickled through its narrow center and began to fall . . . Oh yes, now I knew. Everything made so much sense now . . . There he stood, the pitch black image of Death.
My groggy eyes focused on the Grim Reaper's face as I fell asleep peacefully and journeyed toward home.
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