I open my eyes and I am 6 years old. It’s dark and I am feeling very cold. The room is silent. I am extremely afraid. I look over toward where my night light should be and all I see is darkness. There is a sound out in the hallway. Heavy footsteps, getting closer to my room with each thudding stride. I pull the blanket up to my face and begin to weep. My bedroom door rattles and opens with a flash.
It’s my dad. I throw off the covers and jump into his arms. The power had gone out because a drunk had crashed into the power station down the road. I remember seeing the aftermath on the way to the store the next day. Just as I begin to see the power station, the scent of my dad’s mouthwash gets caught in my nose and overpowers all my other senses and everything begins to fade into blackness.
I smell the minty tang and again open my eyes to a dark room. The sound of guitars begins to fill the air around me and the front of the room ignites in flame. I am 20 years old and am standing in the middle of a crowded theater. There is a band playing at the front of the room and I begin to notice all the people. It’s packed out with people dancing and I’m doing my best to keep up. I have just shot a spritz of breath spray into my mouth and attempt a smile at the cute girl dancing a few feet away. She smiles back and we work our way toward each other. The bands pyrotechnics flare again and I see all of her friends watching us dance. She turns around and begins to dance up against me. I can feel the fabric of our shirts catch and the friction against my skin spreads from my chest to the rest of my body. That feeling of warmth becomes everything and as the bands pyro dies down, everything washes out.
I can still feel the rubbing against my chest as I begin to smell pine and smoke. I don’t open my eyes, but I begin to feel a pressure on my lips. I feel a cold draft against my back as a pair of soft hands touch the sides and back of my neck. I feel my own hands touch someone’s waist and my knuckles scrape the wood of a tree as I slide them behind Linda’s body and pull us close. I am 17 and making out with a girl in the woods during a bonfire. I can feel her body against my own and I hear her giggle a little as I move my lips to her neck. I hear someone calling my name and I sigh. Just as I pull my face away from her neck, I hear them call out again. Their voice fills my ears and before I can open my eyes to give Linda the “Let me tell them to leave us alone for a bit” look, the sound of their voices echo’s inside my skull and I begin to feel her fade away as the sound fills my senses.
I don’t feel anything, I just hear someone yelling my name. I hear the sound of rain on a car roof and the sound of a radio playing. There is a hissing sound behind the music, but not coming from the music. I try to listen close and I hear my name again, much louder, and the sound of music and rain begin to fade.
I hear my name again and again and it begins to gain a rhythm with a loud pounding. I hear glass and metal caps clinking after each thud. The smell of alcohol fills my nostrils at the same time as I taste beer flowing down my throat. I open my eyes and the lights of the room are eclipsed by the stein I am draining during my 23rd birthday party. I slam it down on the table and the chanting and pounding on the table turn into frenzied cheering. I throw my hands up and roar. My friends all swarm me and I turn to look at a score board. My time puts us on top to win the beer-o-lympics. I wipe my face and walk toward the couches at the far end of the apartment. I put one hand on the back of the couch and jump over the back, landing right beside a very cute girl. Just as she begins to turn to look and see who just dropped in beside her, I feel myself sink into the couch a little farther and feel myself jerk forward very hard.
The sudden jerk makes me flinch and I feel myself stop just as suddenly as I was pulled forward. I feel my ribs compress and my head jerks down. The sound of rain is quieter now and I feel a sharp pain in my forehead.
The pain spreads and my head feels like it’s going to explode. I’m still reeling forward, but my body has stopped moving and the sound of rain has been replaced with the sound of gravel crunching. The pain in my head localizes and I feel a burning in my palms. I hear someone speaking very fast and before I can recover enough to open my eyes, I feel something soft cover my eyes and forehead. It’s my mom talking and I remember. I am 9 years old and I just pulled the front brake on my bike at top speed. I flipped over the handlebars and threw my hands down onto the driveway before I smashed my head into the ground. My mother is trying to keep me calm and squelch the bleeding before I begin to panic. It’s dark under the towel she has my forehead and eyes covered with, but I can feel something warm and wet spreading through it. I begin to smell the iron in my blood just as some runs down onto my lip. I open my mouth to wail and the blood drops onto my tongue. The hot, metal taste is rich and I don’t hear myself scream.
The taste of blood is thick and the sound of screaming is far off, not my own. I realize that it isn’t screaming, but sirens. The wailing sirens mixes with the radio. The highest pitch of the sirens matches the hissing behind the radio. The sound of rain drowns out the lowest tone of the sirens. I can’t open my eyes. Just as the sirens get close, they cut out and I hear the sound of an engine roar and I open my eyes.
I’m driving down the highway in the rain and a semi-truck roars past. I’m going very fast and I can feel a heat in my face. The heat isn’t turned up, it’s my blood pressure spiking. I’m 26 and very pissed off. I check the time and it’s a little after midnight. The moon and stars are blocked by the storm clouds and the world past my head lights is invisible. I have the radio turned up to try and match the volume of the downpour on my windshield. I look over at the passenger seat and see the little black box illuminated by the light from the dashboard. “How could she say no?!” I say aloud to myself, a mix of anger and disbelief in my voice. I look forward and see the water standing on the road. I hit the brakes in an attempt to slow down, but the car begins to hydroplane across the oncoming lane and my tires squeal as I hit the last section of pavement before my car leaves the road. The screech echoes in my head.
The echo shortens. It goes from a screech, to a squeal, to a squeak. It finally settles to a beep. It repeats in my ears, no longer an echo. I can’t hear the rain anymore, but there is a whisper. Voices behind the beeping. I hear my name again followed by more whispers. I don’t feel anything. There is no taste in my mouth. All is see is blackness. Just the beeping fills my ears, but it keeps getting farther away. Just before it fades completely, I hear it lengthen. One long tone following me as I descend into darkness, the last flash fading away.