When the Static Leaves
Feet thundering against the damp tarmac, I forced my body forward in a blind frenzy. Faster, faster, faster. The sounds of the city were far behind me now: honking horns and the buzz of people had melted down into a consistent hum of white noise that consumed my mind. Good.
A sudden spark of agony shot through my side like a razor blade, knocking the wind from my lungs as effectively as a punch to the gut. I staggered to a stop, my chest heaving in and out, in and out until after a few minutes I regained my composure. The static in my head was already fading. No. Taking one final deep inhale, I spurred myself back into motion. I had taken two steps before the blade returned, stabbing with so much force that my knees gave out and I crumpled against a nearby bench.
I had to accept defeat. New York was beautiful at this time of night – all glowing lights and soft, cool breezes. As I sat here, gasping to regain my breath, little snippets of sound floated on the breeze. The faint rustle of autumn leaves. The melodious cry of a bird. The pulse of far off music…
The static was gone.
It happened so fast, faster than I could comprehend. One second I was in the doctor’s office, eyes wide as he sat motionless next to me. Then I was in the hospital, smiling through hot tears as he strummed a melody on his guitar. Then I was in a plain black dress, staring at his face. His kind, cheeky face…
“Kate?” A familiar voice cleaved through my thoughts and snapped me back to my senses. A tickling on my chin sent a shiver across my shoulders, but it was only a stray tear. I was crying? Hurriedly flicking the tears away, I turned towards the voice. Eyes widening in shock, I stood to greet Matthew who was jogging slowly towards me from the other end of the path.
“How are you-?”
“Come on, Kate. Did you seriously think I didn’t know where you were?” Matthew chuckled and raised his eyebrows playfully, but no smile crossed my lips. Instead of answering, I sank back down to the bench and rubbed mindlessly at my tired eyes. With a soft rustle of clothes – or was it the leaves again? – I heard Matthew edge slightly closer.
“What’s wrong, Kit Kat?” His tone was gentler now, as gentle as the night air on my skin. “Do you want to talk about it?” Another rustle of clothes and I felt his weight on the bench next to me. I’m not ready.
I turned. There was nothing there. Nothing where Matthew was, should be. There were only the whispers of the wind and the crackle of dead leaves as I buried my face in my hands, tears pouring over my cheeks. I had come to the park to be alone. And here I was. Alone.