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The Dead Girl's Blue

by Kelly Peppe 10 months ago in Short Story · updated 10 months ago
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Dying is a lonely thing, but for me, coming back was worse.

Cover art done by author.

Time moves slowly when you are drowning. People talk about your life flashing before your eyes when you are close to death, but the only thing on my mind was the incessant need for air.

Death felt warm, despite the frozen lake I was submerged under. Sensation was lost within my first minute under the ice, but before that, I was in was searing pain; my body was on fire. After that first minute it was almost serene. I stopped fighting it. I knew that even if I did find the breach in the ice, I would be too weak to pull myself out. I didn't have any fight left in me, and even less air.

I was in the sweet arms of Morpheus. It was the most peaceful rest I’d ever experienced. I was almost upset when I woke up, wrapped in quilts and shivering. The neighbor's boy saw me go under. It took him over two minutes to find me and probably another minute to fish me out. I was blue and unconscious, of course. Assumed dead. He dragged me across the ice and carried me inside before calling an ambulance.

I spent about three weeks in the hospital, but all the days blended into one large one. I don’t remember very much of it. I was different after the accident. I was hearing things, seeing things. Things my therapist chalked up as trauma responses. But the things I would hear were scary accurate.

In fact, I knew my therapist would self-medicate. He was a middle-aged man named Dale, divorced with four grown kids. Over the past few years, he’s developed disorientating cluster headaches, also known as “suicide headaches”. To deal with the pain, he medicates with half a bottle of brandy every night just before bed. Enough to ease the effects of his headaches until the morning when he pops a Triptan. He didn’t tell me this of course, that would be extremely inappropriate. It’s just something that popped into my head, like everything else I suddenly know.

I know things now that I wish I didn’t. Things I wish I could forget, but I seem to retain all the new knowledge I’ve inherited. Who I’ve inherited it from is still a mystery to me. I keep most of it to myself. I’m avoiding the D wing of the hospital. Hearing voices would definitely book me a one-way ticket to the darkest corner of St. Charles Memorial.

Sometimes it is very disorientating. I relate with Dale on this level. I too would like to drown out the headache with half a bottle of brandy, but I am yet to find anything that makes the voices any quieter. If anything, I've found that being under the influence of any substance opens me up to it more. Being alone helps. The more people that are around, the louder it is inside of my head. Crowded places are unpleasant now more than ever.

You would think I’d be some sort of super hero with my abilities, but I’ve found myself avoiding any responsibility relating to the knowledge I now hold. I’ve learned my lesson meddling in other people's business. Just because I knew things, didn't make it my place to intervene.

I meet with Dale every other Wednesday. During our meetings, I find it hard to take anything he says to me to the heart. I know too much about his situation to actually feel like anything he tells me is sound advice. Last Wednesday he told me it wasn’t healthy behavior to isolate myself from my friends and family, but I couldn’t get past how hypocritical it all sounded. Of course, he didn’t know that I knew what I did. But still, just the thought of someone with his position, having the same issues he comes to work every day to treat. I isolate myself to avoid the headaches, he pickles his liver every night before bed to drown his. I feel I’m the healthier of the two.

So I tell him, ”I could be much more destructive, I just like to be alone. At least I don’t self-medicate. I could be slowly killing myself with Brandy every night before bed.” The specificity makes his eyes widen, but only for a moment. His logical brain rationalizes my statement. He knows that there’s no way I would know this about him; no one knows. Not his ex-wife, not his children, and definitely not his bi-weekly Wednesday afternoon patient. But I do. I know much more than logically possible, because logic is now a construct I do not believe in.

The abilities have opened my mind to possibilities I had always been quick to dismiss: Religion, the supernatural, the afterlife. I don’t know for sure what happened under that ice, but I know something changed inside of me. What I am positive of is that I was dead, I feel it inside of me. Death is like a bad taste in your mouth. It leaves you with rancid, permanent, and miserable morning breath.

The day after dying was the strangest of all. It felt surreal. I couldn’t decipher the voices in my head from my own thoughts. I thought the oxygen deprivation had damaged my brain. It was all so loud. It was a volume intensity I had never experienced in my life. I couldn’t focus on any words spoken out loud. It was like standing front row at a concert and trying to hear what someone saw whispering from across the venue. It was a few days before I could focus on anything but the noise inside of my brain. But it was enough to drive any man or woman insane. I was a day away from being the level of insanity it takes to scratch your own eyes out.

But there was a moment when everything came into perfect focus. I was lying in my hospital bed just four days after my accident. It was crowded in my head and I could hear everything at once. I knew what my doctor had eaten for lunch, I knew that my mother really would rather be home watching her 5 o'clock program, I knew that the janitor two floors above me was fighting with his wife over finances. I screamed so loudly in my head that my voice rang louder than all the others, and suddenly it was silent. I knew in that moment I had control over what I could hear to a certain extent. I wasn’t powerless, I could learn to filter the noise.

It’s still difficult and at times I think my head will explode. It’s a constant battle and it makes me dizzy. Walking and standing is a chore when this happens. But I have to claim back some normality in my life. I need to be able to go to work, go to the store, just live. What I am doing now is not living. I am merely existing.

Images flash in my mind, so many at a time sometimes I can't see what's in front of me. I hold tight to my surroundings to anchor myself. I see faces and things. Places I’ve never been before, but know like the back of my hand.

I am startled awake in the middle of the night sometimes to a crowded room of people. They stare at me and speak all at once. Some of them want something from me, others are just confused and scared. There is nothing I can do for any of them. I have the answer in my head to all their questions, but the more I answer, the more crowded my room begins to get. I’ve learned that my gifts are a burden. The more I use them, the heavier my load becomes.

Sleepless nights are a reoccurring event now. I find it easier to sleep through the day more than anything. It’s like I am a beacon once the sun goes down. They just seem to flock towards me, like moths to a flame.

My parents are convinced that I have become depressed. Perhaps I have. I wasn’t always a hermit. I used to have a boyfriend, friends. Those who don’t call anymore, who no longer stop by to check on me. I can’t blame them; I’ve turned cold.

My ex and I dated for almost two years. It took me dying to find out that he would rather be with my friend Amanda, who conveniently is also interested in him. They’d never done anything together, and were both oblivious to their mutual attraction. I Just couldn’t go on living like I didn't know what I did. So, I cut them out. No one understood why, but I did and that was enough.

Sometimes I wish I was still as oblivious as they are, because I was happy. Ignorance is bliss, especially when your boyfriend and best friend are secretly in love. Other times, I am grateful. I'm grateful because without the knowledge I have now, perhaps I would have wasted another two years on the bastard that fantasized about my best friend when we were together. Eventually something would have happened as well. It would have broken me more than what I know now. I couldn’t just sit idle and wait for something catastrophic to happen if the opportunity presented. It was a devastating loss, I must admit. But I’d rather be alone than be with someone who’d rather be with someone else.

What I’ve come to realize is that everyone lies, cheats, and deceives. There’s not one person I’ve met in the world that has had completely pure intentions. Everyone always wants something from you. You are in their life for a specific purpose. I’m guilty of this as well; I’m not saying I’m not.

All I ever wanted from anyone my entire life is to receive the same love I give, and I thought for a long time I had found that. We had plans. Plans that I now am aware were never plans at all. They were all simply pipe dreams.

My dreams now are crazy vivid. They're dreams unlike anything I had ever experienced before my accident. Sometimes I wonder if my entire life post-accident has been a dream. My life seems so hazy at times, it’s hard to decipher between the two.

I sit across from Dale, explaining my dreams. I tell him just how vivid they are and how I am aware I am dreaming when they take place. Everything feels extremely real down to the smell, feel, and taste. He nods and takes notes, but I know he’s not noting anything productive. I don’t need to look to know that. He’s distracted and itching for a drink. His head is throbbing and he taps his pointer finger rhythmically on his knee to occupy himself. My session still has forty minutes left. I know he doesn’t actually care to listen, but he has to. It feels nice just to talk to someone. Someone who legally isn’t allowed to disclose anything I tell him.

I tell him I had a dream just the day before. I was back under the ice, clawing and screaming. The screaming rang like I wasn’t submerged under water. The water wasn’t cold, it was boiling. The ice was completely transparent like a sheet of glass and above me looking down was a man cloaked in black. I couldn’t see much of his face, but his lips were pulled up into an ungodly smile.

Dale explains that my dreams are simply my brain's reaction to internalized trauma. He says that the dreams would be less reoccurring if I opened up about the accident and the way I’ve been affected by it. This all rings true, but there’s not much I could tell him about the aftermath of my accident without being committed. There’s not much I could tell anyone, really.

Dying is a lonely thing, but for me, coming back was worse.

Short Story

About the author

Kelly Peppe

Writer and illustrator from New York.

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