Fiction by: Theressa Nicole Giammarco
I can’t do this. Sophie thought to herself as she stepped out of the green taxi. The color was all too haunting. It looked just like the one Sophie had been in that night after leaving the club. She felt the goose bumps spread all across her tanned flesh as her mind wandered to all the things she had been trying to escape. Her long black dress got tangled and caught in the door as she avoided stepping on the gravestones below her feet. She was alone today, seeing as her mother could not bear even another ounce of heartbreak or tragedy without a serious nervous breakdown. Sophie’s eyes were swollen, nearly shut, and her chestnut hair resembled a bird’s nest. She had been sobbing for hours. It was finally time to say goodbye.
“Don’t be such a party pooper, Sophie! We’re all having such a great time,” Jane slurred a little as she screamed over the boom boom of the music.
“We aren’t even supposed to be here, Jane. You know that I can’t drink. And look at how wasted Nicole is!” Sophie made it very clear that she was disappointed with a straight face and slight roll of her piercing green eyes.
She could not bear to see her two seventeen-year-old peers make fools of themselves, yet again, so she decided to hail a cab to take herself home. She thought that everything they had been through, the trifecta they called themselves, they would be hailing that cab together. Before she left, she warned Jane to keep an eye on Nicole. She insisted they sober up before they got in her crappy Camaro to head back to Nicole’s house, which was directly across the street from Sophie’s.
Although Nicole’s parents were not very strict with curfews, they would not be very happy if their underage high-schooler turned up shit-faced at two in the morning.
“Nicole?” Jane questioned impatiently through the boom boom in her head. “I need my keys now. It’s three. I need to get the both of us home, ASAP!”
“Keys?” Nicole retorted back, laughing hysterically.
Her mascara was smudged around her black eyes, creating a raccoon-like illusion and her black dress was hiked up a little bit further than class would call for. At this point, she was only wearing one heel. The other one was lost in the abyss.
“You’re kidding, right? I’m serious. I need my keys. We both need to go home. There are some seriously shady men in the corner eye-balling us like we’re big juicy steaks or something…and I have the worst headache from drinking…” she sort of trailed off as she looked around the nearly empty makeshift dance floor in the dim, unsettling room.
“I ain’t got your keyssssss…” Her s’s hissed for ages as she nearly fell off a barstool.
“Whatever, Nicole, we don’t have time for this right now. Stay here while I hail a Green Cab. We’ll just grab the Camaro in the morning. Nobody will want to steal that piece of crap anyway. Plus, Sophie will be glad I didn’t drive home after drinking.”
Boom, boom, boom. Sophie was instantly awakened from her deep slumber. What the hell is that? She thought to herself as she sat up in bed. The alarm clock was blinking red, 4:30, 4:30, 4:30, and it burned a horrible image into her tired retinas. Boom, boom, boom.
She knew the sleep habits of her mother, and that she would have to be the one that hopped out of bed and trekked down the stairs in the morning gloom.
“Who is it?” she screamed from the other side of the yellow door.
“It’s the police, open up miss.”
She opened the door hesitantly and was immediately overwhelmed by the mixture of morning fog and the flashing red and blue lights. It seemed very patriotic, in a creepy way.
The officer, a heavy-set blonde female, brought her back to this world again as she uttered, “Miss, I’m sorry to let you know that your neighbor has been in an accident. Mrs. Valasquez couldn’t bear to come over here herself, so she asked us if I’d speak with you.”
Before she could finish Sophie had collapsed. She was having another episode.
“Somebody call 911!” Sophie heard her mother screaming. She sounded so far away.
“Mom? What happened?” Sophie whispered as she opened her eyes from the hospital bed. The boom boom in her mind was consuming her entire being.
“You had another attack, cupcake, but you’re alright now.”
“But, that doesn’t make any sense. I thought the doctors decided that my episodes only came along when something traumatic happens to me…when my brain can no longer process the information, the pain..” The words exploded out of her mouth so quickly that they were hardly distinguishable.
“Honey, I’m so sorry.”
“For what, mom? I don’t understand. What is going on? Please tell me what you’re talking about.” She sounded very frantic, frustrated even.
“It’s Jane and Nicole.” Boom. Boom.
“Jane and Nicole, what? What happened? Please tell me they didn’t get arrested for D.U.I.” Her words continued to flow out in a steady beat: boom, boom.
“No, baby, they got into a really bad car accident. They hailed a cab home and were hit head-on by a drunk driver. We lost both of them.” Her mother’s words hit her one by one, each a separate, painful dagger.
Sophie did not know if it would be worse to have been with them last night, or to be without them that horrible morning.
She remembered vividly the night she got into an accident with her dad. He usually made her sit in the back seat, joking that he didn’t want her petite, 110-pound body to ever be injured in an accident. But, everyone knows there is a little truth in every joke.
Sophie had been having episodes since she was younger and any more pressure on her brain could be seriously life-threatening. That night, she sat in the front because it was her twelfth birthday. Her dad took her to their favorite Italian restaurant to catch up, just the two of them. They had not seen much of each other since he was forced to take on more and more hours at the family business. He hated himself for this and his daughter saw it written all over his face.
Boom, boom, boom. Before Sophie realized what was happening, what had just happened, it was all over. The car had flipped upside down and she was trapped by her seat belt. Her body was limp and numb and would not allow her to speak. She could see her father, breathing lightly, but could not utter as much as a word to save her own life. She had since blocked the bloody images of that accident and moved a long way in five years from having the incapacitating episodes.
Sophie laid there in the stale hospital bed for weeks after she heard about Jane and Nicole. She could not bring herself to do much more than just stare at the ceiling. She did not move, eat or speak. With this time she allowed herself to grieve. Her tears were relentless and continued to bring on episodes.
But, every so often she allowed herself to think about no longer being the passive passenger in her life. She wanted to take control of the wheel, the wheel that had steered her life into so many unfair downward spirals. As good as this all sounded, she was unsure of how these thoughts of hope were going to manifest into action. She knew the days to come would hold more and more uncertainty. But, such is life.