Chapter 3: Duel Knowledge
The days turned to weeks and shortly months. I lay in bed of the hospital filled with flowers and get well cards. It seems everyone wants to see me. News reporters who covered the crash, students who had never spoken a single word come in and speak as if we're the closest of friends and even doctors and med students wondering how I could have survived. I was never supposed to wake. My neck had snapped from the impact against the window. Several other bones had also broke or had been crushed from the weight of the car but, the worst was my face. A direct impact into the car window has resulted in the loss of my left eye. Greg and Gramps were my daily visitors and would normally stay through physical therapy.
It's nice to see a face of someone who truly cares for me.
Nurse Ross had become almost like a mother to me. Every day after her shift she would come in telling me stories about herself and what TV shows she had seen the night before along with the daily gossip. I’d be an ear to talk to and in return she would help me forget reality, even if it were only a moment.
Nurse Ross walked in holding a bag of what seemed to be clothing, her face seemed sad but in the same happy.
"It's not ten yet?" I questioned.
"You get to go home today Dominic," she smiled but was a bitter sweet grin.
Home I haven't thought about home. Alone in a too big town house, alone in the battle field. I feel sick. "I do?"
"I brought your clothes," she spoke handing me the bag. I pulled out the jeans so familiar and black warm jacket torn across the back in a deep line that matched with the one on the orange cotton.
I looked confusedly at the tear. "I didn't have a cut on my back?"
"That's the mystery isn't it?" Nurse Ross said looking at her pager, "I must take this, your Grandfather will be here shortly."
With that she left.
This whole situation is a mystery. Greg has asked me countless times what I had seen on the other side but I never told him, I don't think he'll even believe me if I told him.
I pulled out the jeans and pulled them up past my leg braces and gently to my waist. I looked at the orange shirt stained with a mixture of blood and dirt. I didn’t want to put it on but I was given no other clothes. I looked to my jacket, it was still better than that shirt. I pulled my arms slowly through the black fabric and zipped up the fleece. It was warm and smelled different from everything else. It smelled like home. I bit my lip hugging myself and looking at my bare feet.
I’m not putting on shoes, I refuse this part. I don’t want to cover my feet I hate shoes. I hate the hot, sweaty feeling of sneakers and socks. Mom had to convince me almost every day to wear the hot mess. No one tells me to put them on so I won’t. Seems so childish, seems so stupid maybe that’s the reason I refuse. Childishness has taken hold of my thought with the poison of my adult mind that wipes away innocence leaving only confusion and loss.
Childish thought, all I have left. Thought. So much has happened, there are so many holes and unknowns that the whole thing is more of a dream than reality. Black and wet, Pandora…. I snapped from my rambling thought as Gramps appeared in the doorway. I smiled a fake smile and then grabbed my crutch. Therapy has allowed me to go from two to only the one. I stood shaking slightly hanging on the crutch for dear life as I limped across the floor. Three feet seemed more like a mile. Gramps tried to help me through the doorway but I seemed well on my own. Walking is harder than I ever thought it would be but I am at least doing it again. Sitting in that damn bed all day was giving me a rash.
“Are you fine by yourself Dominic?” Gramps asked.
“I’m fine,” I said focusing on walking.
We made it to Gramps’ Volvo with its rustic charm and grey rained color. I paused as he unlocked the doors moving leafs off the windshield.
He noticed me staring, “Are you coming?” He requested in his rickety old voice.
I shook my head quickly with a small yelp. God knows I’m not getting into that thing. Cars do nothing but remind me of what I’ve tried to forget.
“I know it must be scary but we have to get home-” I cut Gramps off.
“And there'll be nothing…” I finished sitting in the back seat.
I returned to a trap I wish never had happened but I found no hope in arguing in it. I knew I’d lose, with little evidence other than my own fear. I could feel myself clinch and stiffen as I sat against the shabby seats that smell of liquor and cough drops. I quickly buckled my seatbelt as Gramps drove from the parking lot.
I nervously stared out the window watching the dead trees’ colors fall and the variety of pumpkins filling up the porches of small businesses and homes as we drove away from the hospital neighborhoods. Halloween just ended and the madness of Christmas has filled the air of New York. The peaceful homes came to a close as the smog of the city took place, home. Traffic filled my ears as the radio played the new crappy pop songs with no one to sing to them.
I dazed out running from my memories or at least into new ones. Black, cold and empty; Pandora. I wish I could know if it was a lie or truth and what exactly I even saw. Was I truly dead? Did everyone see it when they die? And who or what is she?
The car stopped quickly I jolted forward screaming. I looked up in terror seeing Gramps looking at me with a determined face. We were pulled over to the side of the highway on the way home. We were in a dead stop and he just stared at me.
“What the Hell?” I screamed still freaked out from the sudden stop.
“What did you see?” He questioned.
“What?” I asked confused and annoyed.
“What did you see when you were dead?” Gramps requested in a serious tone.
“I already told you nothing!” I lied.
“You and I both know that was a lie to protect Greg. Now what did you see?”
“What did you see in Pandora?” His voice shook as he yelled.
I froze in shock. Gramps knows about what I saw?
“What did you see in Pandora?” He asked again.
“Ummm…. Not really anything, I saw some eyes but nothing more I promise,” I stuttered thinking about the event.
“What did you hear? Did someone talk to you?” His voice grew with concern.
“I heard a girl,” I spat with muddle.
“What did she say to you?”
“That I smell good and- “Gramps cut me off.
“Did she tell you anything about your eyes?”
“Yes well no, she just called me a Seeker and that I need to ask him?” I examined loss to the conversation.
Gramps eyes widened as he turned back to the road. He kept silent as he pulled back onto the highway and continued home. I frowned, he knew what Pandora was and that I spoke with someone. There’s something he’s not telling me.
“What did she mean by Seeker and him?” I asked.
“There is nothing to worry about, your eye has vanished she can’t find you,”’ Gramps said with a sense of relief.
“Find me? Who wants to find me? And what does my eye have to do with anything?” I asked desperate for his knowledge.
“Never speak of this again do you hear me? Don’t trust a word she says it’s nothing but a trick and a lie.” Gramps’ hands clamped tighter upon the wheel as he spoke.
“But she said if I made a contrac-“
“Did you make a contract?!” He yelled in fear.
“No she told me to ask him and then come back.” I flinched from the old man’s yell.
“You may never go back there, it’s a miracle you got out in the first place,” he sighed.
I stared at my feet deep in loss. So many things conflicted to what I had thought a few months ago. Gramps looked back at me for a moment noticing my position.
“No matter what she had promised you can’t take her word.” He sighed, “Look in the box on the floor, I want you to have what’s in it.”
I glanced over to the cardboard box that he had spoken of. It looked much like a clothing gift box with nothing written on it, only blank. I picked up the brown cardboard and removed the lid. My eyes widened as I looked down to what it held. Two pistols appearing to be western like design. Many symbols filled the metals. Curves and twists that seemed so familiar filled up all visible space. The guns were identical, all but their color and metal. One was painted black with what seemed to be silver coat. The second held a white coloring with patterns of gold.
I sat mouth open wide as I looked down into the box. “In case you ever become trapped in that a cursed place use these to get out.”
“Gramps I can’t have guns I’m sixteen,” I shouted throwing the box to the ground.
“You will never become a Seeker I promised myself you wouldn’t go down that path and as long as I’m still kicking you’ll be free of that curse.” Gramps growled.
“What are you talking about you crazy old man?” I questioned.
“Evil will tempt you, you must stay clean,” Gramps spit.
The car stopped before I could speak, we had reached the empty town house that I’ve been free of for so long. I left the conversation as I stared out the car window. This was once home but now it is nothing but a cold temptress. It looks so different with half vision.
I carefully scooted out of the car holding myself up with my crutch as I limped into the house. The quietness of the town house was chilling. I can’t remember a time when this house was silent. I can’t remember a time when Cassie didn’t come running towards me at the door asking me to play with her and me telling her maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow never came. I felt a tightness in my neck from the thoughts of never seeing anyone I held so close again. Over the time in the hospital bed and therapy sessions I often found myself wishing that I had indeed died in that car wreck with them. It wouldn’t be the first time I wished my own end.
I limped to the stairs and looked at the mountain that had once been only a pebble in my way. I looked at the pattern that I had followed daily. Up and down and up and down. Coming to see the senseless mornings that will never again exist.
I sat against the wooden stairs and I began pushing myself up one stair at a time. Gramps looked at me with curiosity as I completed this process. He shortly followed me up helping me stand once I had reached the top. In his hands he held that box. I looked sourly at it. I didn’t even know Gramps owned pistols, but then again I didn’t know he knew about Pandora either.
I limped into my empty bedroom that had remained the same as it had before I left. Clothes remained hung, bed was still unmade and the cracked image of myself still held up on in the mirror. The image was more beaten and sickly looking than the last time I had used this mirror. It has become weak and tired with a defeated look. I didn’t like this image. It was not my image, it was not me, but it is what I’ve become. A mirror never lies, a mirror is the truth of myself.