|photo courtesy of unsplash.com|
On the shorter side today. I'm noveling, as well today and have some serious catch up to do.
He’s here to kill me.
I recognize him before he opens his mouth. It’s not from the flowing black robe or scythe. He’s wearing a simple gray suit and is smiling. He can’t be older than forty, by the looks of him. But I know better. I’ve seen him before.
I was eight when we went to the lake. Dad was drinking beers off the dock and talking about fishing. Mom was up at the cabin making lunch, which was a shame because she was never good at cooking anything. Darren was being a no-good-son-of-a-bitch. But that wasn’t a surprise. Older brothers are supposed to act that way, especially when they think they’re teenagers. I reminded him that twelve isn’t teenage yet. He punched me in the arm.
In protest to the violence, I went down the trail around the lake. The trees were tall and smelled like Christmas, and not in the good way, that sickly sweet scent of overwatered dead trees. The end of a trail was a ledge above the water. It’s the kind of place Mom would make us pose for pictures at. I decided not to tell her about it. In the shadows, two teenagers did whatever teenagers do in the dark. A raccoon skittered in the corner of my eye and down the edge. I leaned over to get a better look.
Now that I’m an adult I understand helicopter parenting. I understand why paranoid mothers and fathers cling desperately to their children into adulthood, making sure they’re safe from harm and heartbreak and paper cuts. Back then it was different. I toppled over the side and into the water.
I’m still not sure what happened, whether I hit my on the side or swallowed water or fainted. All I know is that man was pulling me out, smiling, with the same suit on and telling me it was okay. I remember looking back and seeing myself beneath the water, floating like a dirty plastic bag.
The man grimaced as one of the teenagers leapt into the water. I still remember his name- Roy. I thought it was a stupid name then and I think it is a stupid name now. And then the man in the suit was gone and I was shaking and looking up at Roy instead of down at myself.
This time, I know the man is coming. I’ve taken all the pills I can find in the medicine cabinets and swallowed them with a fifth of gin. It should have been whiskey, but we were out. He reaches for my hand and looks sorry for a moment. Angela burst through the door like a gun shot and screams. She’s dialed 911 before I can tell her not to.
“We’ll meet again,” he says before he fades and I know he knows. The cancer eating away at my brain has left me enough cognition for that.
She holds my hand as the ambulance drives us away. I think about telling her the truth but don’t. The man in the gray suit will be back again, soon.