The soft hum of the radio sounds throughout the car, as we continue to drive down the empty roads. My eyes skirt towards the window, as I watch the passing tree’s that are almost completely engulfed in snow. The chill of the cold evening causes goosebumps to arise on my arms, and my hairs standing on edge.
Tugging on my gray, wool winter coat, I rub my hands together in an attempt to warm myself. With Christmas coming up soon, my family is driving up state to purchase our own Christmas tree. Jake, my younger brother, was excited beyond belief, yet impatient over the fact that we haven’t arrived yet. Christmas is his favorite time of year, and I guess you could say it’s mine too because I get to see the large smile on his face when looking at all the décor.
“It’s a beautiful evening, isn’t it?” Dad comments, and in reply, I just simply nod. Leaning my head against the cold, hard window I shut my eyes in an attempt to relax because I doubt I’ll be able to have any peace and quiet with all the things we have planned for today.
Of course, with my luck, it wasn’t long before my peaceful moment was taken from me.
“Watch out Alice,” Jake shouts. I wince at the sound, due to the fact it was practically right in my ear, “The airplane is coming!”
His small, white jet zooms in front of my face, and Jake purses his lips attempting to make the sound of the airplane’s engine. Letting out a groan, I roll my eyes turning away. Sure, I love him more than anything, but Jake can be annoying at some points.
When I don’t participate in his game, his face scrunches up, and he lets out a small sigh. Sticking his tongue out at me, he unbuckles his seatbelt and leans forward tapping on Dad’s shoulder.
“Dad, can you play an airplane with me?” Dad didn’t reply but instead looks over at him with concern.
He says, “Buddy, I need you to sit down. It’s dangerous to not have your seatbelt on.” Jake just rolls his eyes, before plopping back down in his seat. When attempting to put back on his seatbelt, it gets caught on his belt buckle.
“My buckles stuck,” He complains, “Alice help me!”
Turning towards him, I attempt to pull it back through, but let out a groan of annoyance when realizing it was also stuck on the fabric. Jake wasn’t much help due to the fact he was still playing with his plane, throwing it around the back seat of the car.
“Jake stay still--!”
“But my plane--!” Dad interrupts him and turns back to look at both of us.
He has a frown on his face, “Can the two of you just be quiet for one moment, please? I need to concentrate on the road.”
When he went to turn back, we went over a bump between the bridge, and the road. Our car bounces up, landing back down on a thin sheet of ice. It isn’t long before we are swerving off the road, and we ram into the railing of the bridge. Dad’s head rams into the windshield of the car, cracking it. My eyes widen, and I open my mouth letting out a silent scream in shock.
We are thrown off the bridge, and Jake lets out a horrified scream. I clutch onto his hand and look at the water beneath us with fear in my eyes. It doesn’t take long for us to slam into the water. The car begins to fill with water, and I look over at dad to ask him what to do.
Although, I doubt I’ll ever get to ask him. His body lays limp over the steering wheel, and blood trickles down his forehead. A cry escapes my lips, and in an attempt to not worry Jake I cover the view. Dads dead. He’s dead. My eyes water and I feel the car lean forward slightly causing me to lose balance, and land on my hands and knees. My hands are completely underwater, and I can’t even see them clearly. That’s when I realize how quickly the water was filling up the car. It was pouring in from the now broken front windshield.
I have to react fast.
“Jake, we have to get going. Help me get this seatbelt off, hurry!” He nods and begins to tug at the seat belt buckle. When it wouldn’t detach, I grabbed his pants and slide them off.
Now the water sits at my waist but already covers Jake completely. He swims up in an attempt to take another breath but is soon brought back down. Turning towards my door, I pull the handle and push but the water pressure seals it shut.
“No, no, no. This can’t be happening. Just. Open!” I feel tears begin to stream down my face.
Jake, he can’t die. Not now, he’s too young.
The water is now at my neck, and I duck my head under to find him. He is struggling to open the other door as well, and he looks faint. My head now barely floats above the water, and I gasp tilting my head up in an attempt to have air as long as I can. When I know the air will be cut off in mere seconds, I take in a deep breath before being completely submerged underwater.
Jake’s chestnut hair floats towards the top of the water, as he watches me his mouth agape. He attempts to yell something to me. Petrified is the only way to explain his expression. Kicking harder at the window, my motivation being Jake, I hope to see it crack in any way, but it was almost as if it were sealed with glue. A few minutes pass and my chest begins to burn.
Turning back towards Jake once more, I freeze. His body now floating in the water, he lays limp and silent.
No. This can’t be. Everyone’s gone.
Swimming towards him, I push his hair away from his head and look at his now expressionless face. Running my hand down his cheek that’s now cold, I feel a sob escape past my lips. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was going to go to college one day, get married, live a normal life. This is all my fault.
Reaching towards him, I pull him to my chest and clench onto his shirt with all my might not wanting to let him go. Placing his limp head on my shoulder, I continue to sob out, not even caring that letting the water get into my lungs would just kill me.
I wanted to die.
It isn’t long before black spot could my vision, and I notice his small, white airplane float past me no longer with his rightful owner. Then, I feel the darkness take me completely, and everything goes blank.
Shooting up from my bed, my breath comes out uneven and staggered. My eyes dart around the room, and even though I’m only able to see the few things the crescent moon lit up through my window, I recognize it as my room. Sighing, I place my head in my hands and try to control my breathing. My body is shaking, and I feel how my eyes are watering badly.
It’s a nightmare, I think to myself, It’s just another nightmare. It’s not happening again.
In an attempt to calm myself, I take in slow, shaky breaths, repeating ‘It’s just a nightmare’ over and over again in my head. Eventually, I am calm enough that I wipe the tears away from my eyes, and sniffle once more. My covers now pool at my waist, and I push it off not wanting to feel suffocated any longer.
Swinging my legs over the side of my bed, my bare feet come in contact with the smooth wooden floor of my apartment. Pushing myself off the bed, I pad my way out of my bedroom, and towards the kitchen. When I arrive, I pull open my cupboard and pull out a single glass. Filling it with ice water, I don’t waste a second to tilt my head back, and gulp down the entire glass in one go.
It helps cool down my body that was practically drenched in my own sweat from my nightmare. Every time I have that dream it becomes more vivid- feels more real, like the actual day, and it’s honestly terrifying. Placing my glass back down on the counter, I make my way towards the bathroom. Flipping the light switch, the lights flicker momentarily before lighting up the room, and I lock eyes with myself -and I look horrid might I add- in the mirror.
My light brown hair is a rats nest, and my eyes both sport round, blue bags underneath them. Turning on the sink faucet, I cup my hands allowing the water to pool in and then splash it on my face. It wakes me up slightly, and also allows my face to no longer look like I was just cast as one of the zombies in the Walking Dead.
For now, I leave my hair and walk back into my room. The blinking red numbers on my alarm clock reminds me of the time.
With these nightmares, I’m not even allowed some of the simplest things, like a good night’s rest. As soon as I go to lay back in bed the sound of my blaring ringtone startles me. Who could be calling at this early in the morning?
Grabbing my phone off the nightstand, I glance at the number not recognizing it. Hesitantly, I click ‘Accept’.
“Hello,” I speak groggily, and clear my throat in an attempt to sound more awake, “How can I help you?”
The static voice spoke, “Is this Miss. Alice Kingsley?” Her German accent evident in her voice.
Raising a brow I reply, “Depends, who’s asking?”
“This is Gruelwitz Memorial Hospital calling you on regards of Mr. Peter Kingsley. He recently suffered from a life-threatening seizure, and you were the first and only number in his emergency contact file-”
“Is everything alright,” I ask the lady, as I sit up straight in bed, now wide awake.
The other line is quiet for a moment.
“He is currently stable, and able to go back home.” I sigh in relief, “But in order to do so, he needs to be accompanied by a living relative. Due to the fact records have shown you are indeed the last Kingsley, we’ll need you to take care of Mr. Kingsley until he is in better condition.”
“Sure, where is he currently?” My grandfather over the years tended to move a lot, and travel so I was never exactly sure as to where he was. We weren’t that close, but he was here for me when Jake and Dad passed away, so I would do the same for him.
He had attended the funeral but was the last to arrive. I had only been able to catch him in time due to the fact I was still mourning over their graves.
"I’m so sorry my dear Alice, I wish I could’ve been here sooner.” He had said before mourning over the grave with me until I shed all my tears. He was there for me when no one else was.
“We are going to need you to fly down to Austria.” My eyes widen, and the image of the small toy airplane clouds my vision.
“Did you say, um ‘Austria’?” I ask, hoping I heard wrong.
“I-I don’t really think that’s a very good idea. I-I can’t f-fly down there, I just can’t,” I croak out, not being able to get the image of the crash out of my head.
“Miss. Kingsley, do please understand that in order to allow your grandfather to leave he needs to be signed out by you. No one else.”
Taking in a shaky deep breath, I shake my head back and forth, and I feel my breathing become unlabored once more.
“I can’t do this- I-I really can’t-” She interrupts me.
“Please, he needs you here. If you don’t come we’ll have to stop treating your grandfather.”
“B-but--” I stutter out.
“Ma’am please calm down and just think about this for a moment!”
Both sides of the line go silent, and I sit there just thinking.
Can I even do this?
But the better question is, will I be able to get on that plane without the constant reminder of that fateful day repeating over, and over, and over in my head?
I contemplate my answer, and the woman clears her throat on the other side of the line, waiting for me to reply.
I can’t just leave the last of my family to die. Not again.
He’s my grandfather, so I should be there for him. I need to.
“I’ll be there.” And with that, I hang up.