woken up with a start, beads of sweat dampening my forehead and a sick feeling
swirling in my stomach. Rubbing my face whilst trying to sit up I thought back to the
same terrifying dream that had been haunting me for weeks now. Not that I expected
it to be any other way. I mean, watching your parents die in a car crash will have that
effect on you. The difference was that I was supposed to have died. I know it sounds
crazy but there was no way I should have survived that; yet I had, and I was sure
that the only reason I was still alive was because of the bright light that had
emanated from my body.
We were supposed to have been setting off on a three-month expedition around
India, but only got as far as our local town in Montana before it happened. One
minute I was sitting in the back of the car fiddling with my iPod and the next second
I’d heard Mom screaming. I’d looked up just in time to see a car skidding along on
the road before it hit us side-on, flipping us into a ditch. Even now the fear I’d felt at
the time – the fear of what was to come – still swallows me whole. Time had seemed
to slow down as I had watched my mom and dad being thrown around as the car
had turned upside down. Our screams had been overwhelming and I’d been
reaching my breaking point, when suddenly all went silent and
I had been engulfed in a bright, orange glow that had blinded me. Everything
after that was hazy. I remember smacking my head on the window, which had been
followed by an unbearable pain that had made my skull feel as though it would
explode. I put my hand to my forehead, feeling a warm and sticky liquid trickling
down the side of my face. Putting my hand out in front of me, I saw it was blood, but
my fuzzy brain couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. It was at that point black
spots started to creep into my vision, making everything seem blurry. Then, however
much I tried to stay awake, the darkness won and I slipped out of consciousness.
I awoke to an incessant bleeping and hushed whispers of ‘So young’ and ‘Such a
shame’ and it was at that point I knew both of my parents were dead. Upon opening
my eyes, a numb feeling began to take over as I realised I was in the local hospital
with doctors giving me sympathetic looks and calling me sweetie whilst a nurse
asked me who they should contact. That was an easy answer: no one. My parents
had both been only children and their parents, my grandparents, had died when they
were young. There was no one else.
A couple of hours later Eli turned up with his family. Who’s Eli? Explaining him
isn’t exactly one of the easiest things to do, as our relationship was complicated to
say the least. Foremost, he’s my best friend, even with his over-protective nature,
which I think stems from his need to look out for me, kind of like how I imagined a
brother would for a sister. This would make sense as I’ve always been really close to
his family, who seem to have been in my life for forever. Yes, it was helped by the
fact they lived in the same neighbourhood as us and that he went to the same high
school as me; but more than that Eli seems to have been there at all my major life
events. From losing my first tooth, to falling off my bike and then taking me for walks
in the forest when I needed the company, he’s always been there, someone I could
And again on this eventful day, he turned up knowing exactly what I needed: for
someone not to say anything, but instead just to sit with me. He completely ignored
his mother’s sobs as he only had eyes for me, walking quickly over to my bed and
wrapping his arms around me. He pulled me onto his lap and once again I seemed
to fit perfectly as he cocooned me, wrapping his arms around my back, his warmth
spreading through me like a drug. We were both seniors but he looked older,
probably due to the growth spurt he had had over the summer. At six foot one he
was a whole seven inches taller than me and had these tanned muscular arms that
were freakishly strong, probably due to his part-time job as a labourer on the local
farm. His dark blond hair spent most of the time being brushed back from his
forehead, as it always fell into his eyes, but it always really suited him that way. One
of the things I loved most about him were his eyes, which sparkled different shades
of emerald green and I swear just looking at them let me know how he was feeling.
On that day they had been a dull green.
I know the way I’m describing him might make you wonder why I’m not talking
about him as something more than just a friend, but that’s the complicated part. You
see, my feelings for him are purely platonic, but I don’t think he feels the same. The
way Eli looks at me sometimes…the subtle hints…the way he grabs my hand and
won’t let go, I think he wants something more and I’m not sure what to do about it.
And however selfish this might sound, I need him in my life and can’t mess up our
friendship, even to see if there could possibly be something more to our relationship.
What if it all went wrong?
“Hey Thea,” Eli had whispered into my ear. “Mom says that when you’re
discharged you’re coming home with us, period. No arguing.” I’d squeezed him back,
gratefully burying my face in the crook of his neck, unable to communicate how
much he and his family meant to me. At least they would be able to keep the
loneliness at bay.
We sat like that for ages, me just breathing in his woody, musky smell, wondering
how I was meant to function again. He twisted strands of my dark brown hair around
his fingers and occasionally stroked his thumb along the side of my chin in a
soothing manner. I could hear his mother and father in deep discussions with the
police officers, and heard them say it was a miracle I was alive. Tell me about it. The
only other person who had been around was Eli’s four-year- old sister Leela, who
kept coming up with big, round, sad eyes, patting me on the leg whilst trying to get
me to take Buggles, her much loved toy rabbit. She had known something was
wrong and had tried her hardest to fix it in the only way she knew how.
That was four months ago, and although I’ve spent most of my time since then
feeling numb and totally lost, I have begun to smile again and do normal things like
getting up in the morning and going to school. If only these dreams would go away.
There was nothing I could do about what had happened, but still my brain was
making me re-play it over and over again. However, this latest dream was different.
Whenever I had dreamt about the crash, before the part where the orange glow
appeared, I could see the faces of the bystanders with their horrified looks as we
began to tip over. But this last time there was another face of a man who looked at
me – and I mean really looked at me – as though he knew me. For some reason his
eyes glowed with an intense ferocity and the sneer on his face only added to the
anger that seemed to radiate off him. I couldn’t work out what I had ever done to him,
or why I hadn’t seen him in my dreams before.