Read Summer's Passing Online

Authors: Randy Mixter

Tags: #Mysterious, #Twists, #Everlasting, #Suspenseful, #Cryptic

Summer's Passing (4 page)

BOOK: Summer's Passing
5.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Morgan sat at his table and ate his meal. He looked toward the open door of his cottage. Soon it would be nightfall and the door would shut and lock, and not open again until the first blush of daylight. Another ritual came first, even before that; a ritual he performed each evening before the sun set.

He reached in his pocket and took out a necklace, laying it on the table. The sun had lowered into the trees. A ray had pierced the forest and settled on the jeweled chain before him. He watched the light move across it until it settled on the cross at its apex, and bathed it in brilliant light.

6

A hand shook me awake.

"Excuse me, young man; she wants to talk to you."

I looked around in a daze. For a brief moment, I forgot where I was.

"She's asking for you." The attendant gave me another light push just to be on the safe side.

"Okay." I stood and shook out the cobwebs. "The girl from the accident?" I asked.

I guess the woman figured my question didn't warrant an answer because she simply pointed to a sealed corridor. 

"Through the door to the second room on the left," she said before hurrying back to her station.

I brushed some chip crumbs from my shirt, ran my fingers through my hair, walked to the double doors and pressed a large round knob on the wall to my right. The doors opened from the center and I walked in.

I saw the nurses' station a short distance ahead on my right. At that juncture, the hallway took an abrupt right turn. On my right was a break room with more snack machines. On my left were patients’ rooms, the first of which was empty. The room next to it, however, had an occupant. I walked in.

A woman lay on the bed, her eyes closed. A gauze bandage wrapped around her scalp, her dark hair, cut short, fell over it. Another smaller bandage graced her chin. Her left leg, raised in the air by a sling, was plastered from her knee to her ankle. I stared at her leg.

"Quite a mess, huh?" a slurred voice said. 

I turned to the voice. The girl's eyes had opened. She stared at me. "I didn't think they used plaster casts anymore."

Yep, that was my opening line; not
how are you doing?
Or
My God! Are you okay?
No, I asked about plaster.

Luckily, despite her injuries, she was in good spirits.

"I suspect they had a shortage on the inflatable boots they normally use. A run on broken legs, I suppose."

Then I asked. "How are you doing?"

"As well as can be expected, under the circumstances," she replied.

She held out her hand. She winced a bit in pain as she did so. "My name is Rebecca, but I prefer Beckie, with an ie on the end."

"I'm Doug." I took her hand gently, didn't shake it. Just held it. It felt cold to my touch.

"Do you need more blankets? It's kind of chilly in here."

She smiled, an effort on her part I'm sure. "I'm fine. Have a seat. Can you stay for a while?" She asked.

"Yes." I sat in the chair next to the bed. It wasn't as comfortable as the plush one in the waiting room, but it was good enough.

Beckie, with an ie on the end, stared at the ceiling. I was about to ask about parents and relatives. If they had been called and where were they? She beat me to the punch.

"No relatives I care to call, and I'd just as soon keep the few friends I have out of this. You're it, Doug. Rather appropriate, I'd say." Her head turned to face me. "Since you're the person who saved my life."

"Well, I don't know if..." 

"Hush," she said. "The doctor told me what you did. He said had you not been there I would have died. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. I would have died." 

It was then, when I almost asked
did you want to?
when I suspected she might be a mind reader.

"I didn't do it on purpose, if that's what you're thinking. I remember something behind me, closing in on me. Did you see something chasing me?"

Something
, she had said. Not a car, not someone, but some
thing
.

"No, you were all alone on the road from what I could see, except for me that is," I answered.

She turned once again to face the ceiling. It was hard to tell, her face was bruised and swollen, but it appeared she might start crying.

"I'd like to think it's not just me," she said softly.

I gave her the time she needed, not saying a word. I watched the monitor displaying her heartbeat.

"Please don't feel obliged to stay. I'll be fine." She turned her head to face me once more.

There are times in my life, more than I would like, when I'm at a loss for words. They just refuse to come. Not this time. Now I had plenty of words stored up and ready to say, questions mostly. Instead of talking, I looked into her eyes. Her face, battered and bruised, her eyes, red with unreleased tears, her mouth trying to smile through the pain. I saw the beauty there, lying in wait. I just looked at her, mesmerized, and the words remained unspoken.

"Thank you for staying," she said before returning her gaze to the ceiling. Her eyes closed.

"Can I get you anything?" I asked her. I hadn't seen a nurse yet but I could hear them walking and talking through the room's open door. 

"I'm fine." She held up her right arm; two needles attached to tubes penetrated the back of her hand, both leading to IV bags. "Morphine's in one of them, not sure about the other," she added. 

"You warm enough? Need another blanket? Something to drink?"

"I'm good. Thanks anyhow."

"No problem," I replied.

I thought she might have fallen asleep, and I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes.

"I'll tell you everything later. If you want to hear it," she said without turning.

"I do," I answered.

This time she did fall asleep, and so did I, thinking of a car racing through the night, chased by something only the driver could see.

7

"Do you know what this is?" Morgan sat opposite the bed. He held the necklace in his hand.

"May I hold it?" Rachel said.

He handed it to her. She brought it close to her face. "I once had a necklace just like this," she said. "I found it next to a pond by our house, when I was a child. I lost it many years ago."

"How did you lose it?"

"I wore it constantly, day and night. I thought it would keep me safe. I remember picking flowers in the forest near my home when I realized it was missing. Not long after, evil entered our house and changed my father. One day he was caring and loving, the next day he became a violent maniac. He drove my mother away first. I left not long after."

"Ran away, did you?" Morgan asked.

"Yes, as fast as my feet would carry me," Rachel replied.

Morgan wanted to ask her the extent of her father's anger, but he said no more on the matter. Some questions are best left unanswered.

"Keep the necklace," Morgan said. "It might well be yours anyhow. I found it far from here in the Kingdom of the Seven Saints. I don't suppose you ventured that far from home, did you?"

"No, never there. That kingdom is far south; it lies between the great seas, does it not?"

"It does indeed."

"I have read that much treachery exists in those lands to the south," Rachel said. "I wonder what took you there?"

Morgan studied Rachel before he spoke. "A quest of a rather personal nature. The story is too long to begin at this late hour. Someday, perhaps."

"No matter," she said. "I thank you for your gift." She brought the necklace to her neck. 

"Allow me," Morgan said. 

He took the necklace and gently clasped it behind her. The cross settled on her chest, barely above the neckline of her dress.

"It feels like it belongs to me," Rachel said. She looked up at Morgan. "I am grateful for your gift."

Morgan said nothing, but stared at the cross. It seemed to flash for the brief second it touched her skin, much like dry kindling bursting into flame.

Morgan stood. "Do you need more medicine?" He asked her.

The throbbing in Rachel's leg had diminished significantly but the thought of the tree bark made her smile. "Well, maybe just a little of the tree," she said.

Morgan smiled back. "A little it shall be then," he replied before pointing a finger at her. "Should you start growing leafy branches I will be forced to try a different, and undoubtedly less effective, form of medication."

Rachel giggled. "I promise to be vigilant. Any sign of acorns will be reported immediately," she said.

Morgan grinned. He was beginning to like this girl of the forest.

8

I awoke with a start. For the second time that night, I lost track of where I was. The bed and the low hum of the heart monitor brought me back to reality. I glanced at my watch, 5:52.

"You're still here," a soft voice said.

I turned to Rebecca and found her staring intently in my direction.

"I wasn't going anywhere," I said.

I stood and was still mid-stretch when a nurse walked into the room. She studied a chart at the foot of the bed before making her way to Rebecca. "How are you feeling?" The nurse asked her while examining the contents of the IV bags.

"Better," Rebecca said.

The nurse turned my way, studying me as if I were an intruder to a private conversation. "Should you be here?" She asked me.

Before I could answer, Rebecca spoke up. "He's my boyfriend. We're going steady," she said.

I threw a glance at Rebecca and she winked back. I turned my attention to the nurse, who appeared caught between tossing me out on my ear and asking if I'd like a cup of coffee.

In the end, she just shrugged. "Doctor Reynolds will be in to see you shortly. I believe they're taking you to the third floor this morning. I'll have someone refill the IVs." One final
I don't believe her
look my way and she was out the door.

"Going steady?" I asked Rebecca, or Beckie with an ie.

"They were going to kick you out. I had to think of something fast. You could have spoken up."

"Oh, well excuse me for being slow on the draw. I was barely awake," I said.

"I guess they don't like visitors spending the night in intensive care. They probably took pity on me because no one else showed up." She thought for a second. "Or maybe because you saved my life."

I plunked back down in the chair. "This might be a good time to tell me a little about yourself, before the arrival of Doctor Reynolds. It would be the proper thing to do, since we are
going steady
."

"After I'm finished, you might think of me as damaged goods. I need you to promise me you'll stick around afterwards." 

"I'll stick around; at least until I hear what Doc Reynolds has to say."

I smiled at her and she returned it. "Move closer," she said.

I did, and when she held out her hand, I took it.

 

"I was born in Maryland, near the state capital of Annapolis. I'm twenty-two, by the way. Anyhow, my parents doted on me. I was their only child, still am actually, though they tried to adopt, thankfully without success. 

"I had a nice childhood, not great, but nice. My father was a professor at a Maryland College and my mother worked for the local government. Our house wasn't the biggest but it sat on the shore of a river not far from the Naval Academy.

"I attended private schools until high school. I was in the eighth grade when it started. My mother died of cancer that year and I was devastated, as was my father. My friends helped me through those bad days, but my father lost his only friend. He began hitting the bottle, hard and began blaming me for her death, saying the cancer started growing inside of her when I did. Not long afterwards, the abuse began. I'll spare you the details, but it was brutal and frequent enough to traumatize me."

Beckie looked at me, for validation maybe. "Unbelievable," I said.

"Then it got worse." Her hand gripped mine tightly. "And I had no one to turn to."

"The police?" I asked.

Beckie smiled weakly. "I thought it was me. I blamed myself. So I took it, I took it for a long while, until I was sixteen. On the night of my birthday, I came close to running away from home. I had saved some money from working odd jobs around the neighborhood. My plan was to steal my father's car, late that same night, get as far away as I could, and try to start over in another state, another town.

"I was actually in the car, in our driveway, the keys in the ignition, a suitcase on the back seat, when I thought of a better plan.

"I quietly went back to my room and unpacked my suitcase. Then I walked to my parents’ room and woke my father. I told him that if he ever touched me again, even a tap on the shoulder, I would go to the police and tell them everything. I had proof, you see; audio tape recordings that my father knew nothing about. It was that or kill him in his sleep. I told him that too."

"Would you have done that?" I asked her.

"I would have gone to the police, and let things run their course," she said before turning her head to me. "The thought of killing him was there, though. A tiny seed perhaps, but there nonetheless.

"Fortunately, the police threat kept him away from me. He drank more, almost constantly. He either quit his job or he was fired, I'm not sure which. He stayed in his room most of the time. When he came out, he ignored me completely, never said a word, but he stared at me with anger in his eyes and I was scared. Maybe I should have told someone, or tried to get him help. Was I wrong?"

I only knew what she had told me. It was enough. "No, I believe you did the right thing under the circumstances," I said.

Something happened at that moment. Something once transparent between us became solid. I could see it in her eyes, the way she looked at me, and maybe she saw it in mine too. Maybe it had happened earlier, at the scene of the accident; I don't know, but one thing was now certain. Beckie and I were no longer strangers, if we ever were. She had confided in me, and I, in turn, had validated her words. She started to say something and it might have changed everything, but before she could speak, Doctor Reynolds entered the room. 

BOOK: Summer's Passing
5.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
The Wrong Side of Right by Thorne, Jenn Marie
The Last Execution by Jesper Wung-Sung
River Girl by Charles Williams
The Cruisers by Walter Dean Myers
Choppy Water by Stuart Woods
Guardian Ranger by Cynthia Eden
Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White
Amber's Fantasy by Pepper Anthony