Episode 7 – Part 2: Flatlined?
(Annibelle and Troy.)
“Annibelle,” Troy’s voice sounded muffled like I was hearing him from far away. “Wake up.”
I tried to move but I felt so stiff. I also felt cold. There was a breeze blowing my hair softly against my face and as I struggled to open my eyes I dimly made out the soft light of a fire in front of me. I groggily sat up and tried to survey where I was.
“Good. You’ll be okay. We need to get something in you though. You need to eat to ward off the thirst.” Troy said as he sat next to me.
I now realize I’m sitting in dirt. Looking around I saw nothing but miles and miles of dirt stretching on forever until the sand met with the night sky and the distant rattle of a snake. Great. We’re in the desert. What is it with him and living with coyotes?
“I’m not hungry.” I said as I leaned into him instinctively.
Instincts like this should be extinct. The first thought that comes to mind now that he’s with me is that first and foremost he left me. The first thought will probably always be, “Why are you here? You left me.” But, still I leaned into his arms determined to make him suffer if being with me was truly such a terrible thing for him. Hoping that he didn’t know that his pain was my healing or revenge.
If I can breathe him in long enough I might be able to survive the impending separation having had my fill of him. How wrong. Me with him means that I live and for him it only means despair. It should not be this way. He would have to be single and living without me in his life in order to be happy. But, I need just the opposite. I need to be in his arms. A place that feels as foreign as the bottom of the ocean, yet as close as my favorite pillow. This is just wrong.
“You will be and you won’t like it.” he said sighing.
I wondered why he was being so nice. And why would being hungry vex me like he thought? And why would he care? Was the only thing on the menu the rattle snake I heard a moment before? I suppose we could hike. There’s got to be a rest stop and a burger joint somewhere.
“Why did you come back for me Troy?” I asked as I tried to steady myself by focusing on the flickering flames of the fire he’d built. This is no time to lose it and cry uncontrollably again.
“I missed you.” he said thoughtfully as he ran his fingers through my long dark hair. I wanted to laugh and slap him and throw dirt at him.
“What, the grass wasn’t greener on the other side?” I said resentfully. Miss me? Mr. Didn’t Have Anything Better To Do than lay in my arms for how long now misses the person he couldn’t stand to stay with?
“Nope. The grass was as angry as you are because I seem to have a problem with being kind. I mean, I’m not a bad man per se. But, I tend to be hurtful without realizing it.” he explained.
“Did it really take another woman for you to figure that out?” I snarled trying to pull myself away from him. He resisted, pulled me closer, and I continued to rest in his arms.
“No.” Troy said softly. “I learned that I was a phenomenal friend but not so great when it comes to being in an I’m a man, you’re a woman, and this is how I made you feel kind of way. I should have tried to understand you.” he continued.
“So, you’re here because someone else said you should try to understand me?” I asked trying to keep my voice even wondering if there was a snake close enough to pick up and set in his lap.
“In a way.” he replied. I pulled myself away from him so I could look him in the eye. “Is that bad?”
“Yeah. Extremely. I mean, what if I told you that I spent all of that time trying to get to know you because another guy said I should and I was only spending that kind of time with you to make someone else happy? It’s like saying, doing what he wanted to make him happy was my true goal and anything positive that came from that with you was a bonus. So, loving you and knowing you was never my goal. It cheapens the very idea of trying to get close to you doesn’t it?” I rambled on trying to make sense of how I felt about his sudden sensitivity.
“I see. I make you feel inadequate even now. Because you think I came back for someone else’s sake and not because I care about you.” Troy said looking pensively into the flames that crackled in front of us.
“Wow, we actually communicated for once.” I said settling back into his arms.
I was waiting for him to yell at me and tell me how horrible I was for making him feel bad because I pointed out how his own words came across. He had a bad habit of punishing me for his faux pas. We had a vicious cycle that was only broken because he left.
He’d say something horrible to me, I’d let it sink in and tell him how horrible he’d made me feel, he’d feel bad and resent me for hurting him by making him realize how badly he’d hurt me. Then he’d tell me that I shouldn’t have to apologize to him for being hurt, but that if I didn’t get over it then he’d institute distance from me to avoid getting hurt by me.
All of which could have been avoided if he’d just think before he speaks and be considerate. His excuse was always that he was so comfortable with me that he could say anything. The problem of course was that it would never dawn on him that insulting my chest size, then drooling over a waitress because he felt more like he was with his best friend than his wife wasn’t okay. Needless to say I brought up the idea of consideration and respect often. And to no avail. He’d just resort to being quieter because he thought I’d attack him no matter what he said when all I was asking for was a little forethought.
Like HELLO! I didn’t stop being a human being with feelings just because you got comfortable enough with me to speak your mind.
“Let’s keep that going. What if I told you that I killed you earlier today?” Troy asked gently rocking me from side to side.
“Well, I’m here with you. So does that mean this is heaven or hell?” I asked playfully trying to lighten the mood.
Mostly so I wouldn’t get so wrapped up in my own anger that I’d try and claw his eyes out and fill the empty sockets with sand and ashes. I feel like the heat from my anger was about to burn me alive, yet at the same time I felt incredibly cold. Like I was absorbing the chilly night air.
“Well, what if I also told you that I wasn’t exactly human and that your heart stopped beating a few minutes ago?” he continued.
He became very still and seemed to hold his breath. I wanted to laugh at the absurdity. But then I waited. I waited to feel the blood rushing through my veins at the relief of such a stupid joke. I waited and didn’t feel my own pulse and I sat there sort of stunned that it wasn’t there.
Maybe I’m just… I don’t know, but I don’t feel my heart beating. I jumped up and looked around wondering if I really was in hell. I looked at Troy questioningly as he rose to stand with me and hold my hands.
“He’s on his way to explain what has happened to you. I promise not to leave you now. Not for very long anyway, unless you ask me to.” Troy said sadly as he looked out into the desert.
A fiery image was off in the distance and it was heading our way. I half turned to run but Troy stood there holding my hands tightly.
“What is that?” I asked afraid.
“A messenger.” he said warmly but his eyes were sad and scared for me.
I closed my eyes and concentrated on feeling my heart. It wasn’t there. There was no sound, no beat, no movement. By then the fiery image was close enough to see. It was a man that slightly glowed. He wore what seemed like black leather pants and a tight black tank top. He was carrying a sword that was on fire and had a large picture frame strapped to his back.
“What are you?” I asked.
He smiled and put the picture frame down then turned it to face me. It was a large painted portrait of me. I looked very normal. I began to blush. Who would take the time to paint me? Troy let my hand slip out of his as I put my hand on my cheek embarrassed at such a beautiful gesture. But then, my hand swept over my lips and grazed over one extremely long, unusually sharp tooth. I felt my mouth confused. Two sharp and long teeth.
Naw. That couldn’t… that happens in movies but this is real life… there is no such thing as… but why isn’t my heart beating? I felt my neck. The right side was smooth and normal. The left side, well, it had two strangely raised bumps on it. Like a scabbed over wound. I looked at Troy questioningly.
“I am an angel.” The man with the portrait said.
“Ok.” I said eyes darting between him and Troy. “Um, this may sound a little off. But, what am I?”
“Have a seat. This is going to take a while Annibelle.” Troy said motioning for me to sit.
I looked at the glowing man and waited for him to answer me. He looked me squarely in the eyes, warmly, and full of pity. “You’ve been flatlined Annibelle.” the angel said.
“Flatlined. What does that mean?” I asked afraid and grabbing my silent chest with my free hand.
“It means…” Troy began. I put my hand up and waited for the angel to speak. Troy sighed and sat down defeated.
“You are now a vampire.” The angel told me.
I waited a minute and just sort of stared at the angel, but I felt myself falling.
Apparently vampires can faint.