Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gossip Mill (05/08/14)
- TITLE: Words Last Forever
By Pauline Carruthers
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The last thing she remembered as she approached the brow of the hill was the oncoming car veering across the quiet country road. The driver almost filling the windscreen, elbows resting on the wheel, eyes closed. The thud of impact. Excruciating silence.
Rolling through the wire fence the car came to rest in a field awash with scarlet poppies, sun glinting on folded blue metal. A brown cardboard box spilled out a white silk dress that softly billowed in the gentle summer breeze. A tiara of tiny pearls nestled alongside. Fluttering envelopes littered the scene.
Bleep, bleep. An endless sound butting in on her awareness. She was restricted, encased, weightless. Speech wouldn’t come. A whisper nudged the half silence.
“You do know they were planning a secret family only wedding?”
“How mean can you get.”
“Serena told me. She said Irene told her and she got it from Ted, Tim’s best mate.”
Splintered thoughts cluttered Amanda’s mind. The invitations weren‘t posted. The familiar buzzer and subdued shuffle of the intensive Care Unit door. Voices in hushed tones she couldn’t quite place floated somewhere in her semi-conscientiousness. Strange muffled sounds invaded the darkness.
“Tim’s been binge drinking. Apparently it started just after the engagement. Freddie said it wouldn’t last. Different worlds. Amanda’s wealthy family always thought they were a cut above the rest of us.”
“I never knew Tim was an alcoholic. Who told you?“
“Can’t remember, probably Alex. He knew Tim’s family. No wonder Amanda was driving recklessly.
“Tim’s dad had a drink problem. Like father like son as they say.”
Thoughts began to surface. She couldn’t tell if it was hours, days or weeks that she had lain immobile amidst the bleeps, the voices, the hidden busyness of the Unit. She sensed Tim’s presence in the darkness and struggled to articulate the jumbled words that floated just out of reach, like shadows at the end of a day. His voice tender, familiar, yet like a distant fading memory. She imagined she felt the touch of his hand on her face. Then the shuffle and buzz of the door that signalled his leaving.
“I heard the accident was Amanda’s fault. Apparently she was driving too fast in that sporty new car of hers. Obviously high on something.
“ Tim didn’t want her to buy it,” Greg said. “But you know Amanda, always the brat. If she wanted it she would have it, no matter what. Can’t blame Tim for opting out.”
“ I thought Ted said they were planning a quiet family only wedding.”
“How do I know. I only know what Ted told Irene. And Irene’s usually got her finger on the button. I heard Irene was just a bit too fond of Tim. But then Irene always did want what she couldn’t have. Serena’s a bit like that. She’s the last one I would trust with a secret.”
The escalating sense of pain broke through the haze, though speech still eluded her as her mind waded through the clutter of whispered words. She could vaguely pick out the oddments of stilted conversation alongside the bleeps and the buzz and shuffling of the door. But only when the visitor was Tim did she feel at peace. He spoke tenderly, with no hint of speculation, simply encouraged her to fight through the silence with just one precious word of recognition. And when he prayed, God seemed real.
“Claire told me Amanda’s sister was in rehab last year.”
“Amanda, it‘s OK.” The voice was familiar and she praised God that she was not only alive, but could identify the source. Tim. She remembered the car and the box on the back seat, the closed eyes of the driver appearing over the brow of the hill, the sound of voices, almost constant, yet strangely inaudible. Her heart smiled and she wondered if it reached her face. His hands slipped from her bandaged ones and she heard the buzz and shuffle of the door as he left.
“Did you hear Serena left her job? Rumour has it she got fired for theft.”
“Tim’s conspicuous by his absence. Hasn’t been in for ages. The police want to interrogate Amanda. Dangerous driving. My money’s on a twelve month ban.”
“Would you like the latest sprinkle of information?”
The nurse leaned closer and in a conspiratorial whisper said,
“Tim sits by her bed holding her hands all night, every night.”
There was silence in the room, except for the constant bleep of monitors.
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