Friday, December 9, 2011

Elijah: Part Four


THERE IS a point when the lungs cease to ache; when the burning stops and they go numb.  When that happens, everything, once such a cause of panic and distress, becomes serene.  You become calm.  Your own heartbeat becomes the only thing that you can hear; it begins to beat hard in your chest and then slowly the pulse can be felt throughout the entire body.  Against the rhythm of a slowed heart, light begins to fade.  Blackness comes.  Unconsciousness leaves you tranquil in a grave where life began.
Elijah felt the beating of his heart and saw the darkness.  It was at the very brink, however that his leg quit cramping and his adrenaline glands gave him one more shot at life.  With fury, he beat against the sea, attacking his way to the air.  He burst forth into oxygen, gasping desperately for a vital breath.  Disoriented and physically dizzy, Elijah tried to gain an understanding of his surroundings.  By instinct he grabbed hold of Simon, who was going under again.  Simon struggled against the aid. 
            “Ashley.  Help me Ashley.”  Tears were pouring down Simon’s face into the salty sea.  He pulled with all he had against Elijah, who was frantically trying to hold on.  When Fred pulled the ski boat near, tossing them a line, Elijah had almost lost his grip on his little brother.  Fred pulled Simon onto the boat and then helped Elijah who collapsed upon getting on board.

Elijah woke that night to the sound a weeping.  His lungs ached with each breath, thereby causing him to sleep lightly and restlessly.  He pulled the covers off of himself carefully; being cautious not to disturb Megan who had crawled into bed with him in the middle of the night.  Elijah walked down the hall toward the direction of the sobs, which were coming from Simon’s room.  Elijah opened the door without knocking and saw Simon balled in a corner on the floor.  Over and over, beneath uncontrollable sobs, he was whispering: “where’s Ashley, where’s Ashley?”  His eyes looked glazed over and there seemed to be no cognizant thought to him at all.
Elijah knelt down on the floor and pulled him to his chest.  He rocked Simon back and fourth.  “I’m right here Simon.  I’m right here.”  Slowly, Simon fell asleep.

The next morning Elijah walked downstairs to the kitchen to find his mother preparing a lavish breakfast.  Pancakes were already stacked tower high on a platter and the table was littered with bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy and fruit.  Elijah shook his head and poured a cup of coffee from the full pot before sitting down at the table.
"Are we expecting some company I don't know about?" Elijah asked sarcastically.
"As a matter of fact, this morning is my weekly book club.  It's my turn to host and the ladies will be over in a few minutes."
For a moment, Elijah was so taken back he couldn't comprehend what he had just heard.  Rage then began to fill his every fiber and without thinking, he took his cup of coffee and slung it across the kitchen where it shattered against the floor.  Elijah's mother screamed as he jumped to his feet.
"You are kidding me.  You have to be.  This has to be some piss poor attempt at humor," Elijah said, seething.
His mother stammered for a moment and then, with a weak attempt at regaining her composure, said, "you get over here and clean this mess up."
Elijah was so angry, so hurt and confused, he wasn't sure what he had been about to do when Fred walked into the room.
"What in the world is all the racket?" Fred asked in his usual calm drawl.
"Nothing, dear," Elijah's mother said, putting a false smile on her face.  She took a towel from the counter and began to clean up the coffee.  
"What's the spread for," Fred asked motioning to the table.
"It's book club week."
Fred frowned looking from his wife to Elijah, who stood motionless, his skin flushed with anger.  Fred's expression contorted with indecision.  "Honey...I'm...I'm not sure it's a good time.  Maybe I could call and get you a room at the restaurant up the street."
Elijah's mother looked up from the coffee, her eyes flashing.  "And what are the ladies going to think.  They know that it was supposed to be here this morning.  I'm not letting a small family incident get in the way."
Elijah took an aggressive step toward his mother but Fred placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him.  "A small family incident...Your son tried to drown himself last night," Elijah seethed.
"Keep your voice down.  I told you they'd be here any minute."
"Keep my voice down," Elijah said, his voice strangely calm.  "Ok...I can do that."
Elijah shrugged Fred's hand off of his shoulder.  He walked back to his place at the table and for a long moment just stood there.  He then smiled at his mother and without a trace of emotion, began taking plates and platters full of food off the table and slinging them across the kitchen.  Fred stood watching dumbfounded, while Elijah's mother began to shriek.  In less than a minute, the kitchen was destroyed, broken plates and ruined food strewn everywhere.
"Give the ladies my best," Elijah said coldly before walking out of the kitchen.  
He went to his room and began packing his bag.  He then went into Simon's room ignoring his catatonic brother as he packed a bag for him as well.  Finally, Elijah went to Ashely's room, packing the awards, the pictures and playbills.  Carrying all three bags, Elijah went to the garage and placed them into a classic Mustang that had belonged to his father before the divorce.  
Fred was waiting at the foot of the stairs when Elijah returned to get Simon.  
"You really want to do this?" Elijah said, looking through Fred.
"Do you?" Fred said, calmly.  It was the first time Elijah noticed just how much bigger Fred was than him.  "We need to talk."
"No...we don't."  Elijah walked past Fred, nudging him aside.  Fred barely budged.
"You don't know what your mother has been through," Fred offered, following Elijah up the steps.
Elijah turned.  "I don't care, Fred.  That's your job and I'd pity you, but you were stupid enough to take it.  Good luck with that."
Elijah went into Simon's room and picked his little brother up.  Holding the lithe figure in his arms, Elijah felt tears welling in his eyes.  Fred stood aside as Elijah carried Simon down the steps and out to the garage.  After buckling his brother into the back seat, Elijah walked around to the driver's seat.  Fred was waiting at the entrance to the garage.
"You take that car and your mother's gonna call the cops.  This isn't the way to deal with this," Fred pleaded.
Elijah opened the door but stopped before climbing inside.  "This is the only way I can deal with it, Fred.  You see this.  All this.  It's your life.  I'm sorry you love her, I really am.  But this is what she does to people.  It's what she'll try and do to Megan.  And then, it'll be on you too.  Good bye, Fred."
Elijah got into the Mustang, fired the engine and drove away.


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Scarlet Hopewell