The life i left behind, p.1
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       The Life I Left Behind, p.1
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           LThornhill Crane
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The Life I Left Behind


  The Life I Left Behind The Life I Left Behind

  by L.Thornhill Crane

  Copyright © 2012 L.Thornhill Crane

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

  This is a work of fiction. Characters, places and incidents used are fictitious and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Any actual names used have been used with permission.

  Cover photo image by Donna Padgett Photography © 2012

  Cover model Destin Padgett © 2012

  To Dawn-

  Because you believed in me from day one- even when I didn’t believe in myself.

  Special Thanks:

  To God first of all who gave me His most precious Gift and then gave me stories to tell.

  To my husband, my children, family and friends who support my crazy dreams.

  To the Sand Mountain Girls: Dawn, Gabi, Hannah, Autum and of course, Momma. Without your encouragement I would still be writing stories and sticking them under my bed instead of sharing them with others.

  To Mara, Chance and the YWC who’ve inspired me.

  To Destin and Donna for the photo.

  To Joanne Lewis for giving me pointers in writing and helping me with my grammar.

  To my church and community friends who prayed and encouraged me.

 

  Prologue

  I wonder how many people have wished for a fresh start, a new beginning. The night I ran away I woke up with a clean slate and all I want is to find out what was written on it before. The life I left behind is gone now and all that remains are a few remnant memories of the accident that took it all away.

  I remember flashes and sounds; bits and pieces of thoughts and emotions flood through me, leaving me out of breath.

  I remember topping the mountain, the lights of houses twinkling on the steep sides and reflecting off the water below.

  Tears sting my eyes and run down my cheeks. I wipe away messy mascara with the back of my hand as I navigate the little car past the first curve.

  My heart beats wildly as I scan the rearview for headlights following me.

  I’m running from something. For the life of me I can’t remember what.

  Headlights from a large vehicle illuminate the inside of the car and my heart seems to stop beating. My breath catches in my throat.

  Someone is coming for me. I know it with dead certainty.

  I know I cannot look behind again. The mountain is treacherous in the daytime, much less in the dark. I force a breath between my clenched teeth and grip the steering wheel.

  The first curve was the most dangerous but now I am nearing the third hairpin curve. A small drop and up a little hill and I will be upon it.

  The headlights are gone, turned off on another road somewhere behind me. I breathe out and take my eyes off the road for a second to glance in my rearview. When I look back I scream and smash both feet on the brakes.

  A figure in white stands unmoving in the beam of my headlights.

  It seems to me that many people have lost their lives on this road. Is it a ghost? An angel? Some unfortunate traveler stranded on this isolated mountain road?

  I turn the wheel but it is too late. There is only blackness where the road once was.

  Then I only remember flashes.

  Sounds.

  Tires sliding on gravel.

  The series of bangs, groans and breaking glass as the car crashes through the treetops.

  The sound of someone screaming.

  A sickening silence for seconds that seem to tick into eternity.

  Golden dots twinkling below me like Christmas lights; tiny beacons of warmth from houses snuggled cozily in the side of the mountain.

  Falling, feeling my body come up out of the seat.

  Weightlessness.

  That is where I always wake up.

  But this time I don’t. Could this be real?

  More glass breaking, a thump and the groan of bending metal. My head jerks forward and then back. Like riding on bumper cars at the fair.

  Darkness.

  Coldness.

  Wetness on the side of my face; my feet and legs are wrapped in a cold wet embrace.

  Water seeps in slowly, for a second I imagine I am in an aquarium and my eyes close of their own volition.

  I fight my way back into consciousness.

  I gag and spit a thick dark liquid; the unmistakable taste of blood fills my mouth.

  The lights are above me, as I sink into the inky water.

  I fumble for my seat belt. My hands are wet with something; they slide over the seat belt lock.

  I reach for the handle and push against the door.

  It won't budge.

  This was the way it was ending?

  My life? How could it be?

  I refuse to believe that it could end like this.

  Someone will rescue me… Someone had to see the car when it went off the road.

  Someone will come…

  Then I am floating. I don’t know how I escaped from the car.

  Big hands jerk me. Air escapes from my lungs in big bubbles, I see it floating over my head in the light from above.  I try to follow it up but I am being pulled up and down at the same time.  Someone is with me; a dark figure silhouetted by the twinkling lights above pulls me. A voice in my head urges me to move or I will die. I am pulled along by the unknown stranger- swimming, pulling, swimming... I fight to keep my mouth closed; if I breathe in I will drown.

  My body is awash in pain and my lungs cry out for air but I am moving toward the surface. My lungs feel like they are going to burst; it is unbearable, this agony. One breath and it will be over, but my mind fights me and the breath will not come. Only a few more seconds. I tell myself but seconds seem like hours as I hover toward the surface. I will be safe in a few seconds. The light from the full moon dances over me, refracted by the rippling waves above my head.

  I feel myself break through; I remember this was what it felt like to be born. The light is bright above me and I gulp air greedily but then I fall into darkness.

  I am nothing, only a vapor floating like a cloud pushed by angry winds. There is nothing- the absence of everything. Not even darkness because darkness would be something; something to fear, something to fight against. I wonder if this is death. Some people say when you die then there’s nothing…it never sounded this awful. This, I decided could be Hell. Because where I am… God isn’t. There is no light, no happiness, and no contentment. Only longing remains; hunger for something I don’t have or know.

  Please God… If you can hear me… Give me one more chance.

  Darkness is my only reply.

  But then…

  Voices… far away. Am I hearing voices or could it only be my imagination?

  Darkness and nothing covers everything.

  It isn’t until then that I realize that I am sleeping; I don’t know how long.

  People float in and out of my consciousness like ghosts; disembodied spirits that flit in and then flit out in the twinkling of an eye. They lean over me. They say things I don’t understand.

  I am here and then I am gone again.

  A man is here. He is vaguely familiar.

  He is crying, but I don’t know why. His tough hands are calloused but gentle as they touch mine. I know this can’t be a doctor. Doctors don’t have rough hands like this one.
He talks to me. He tells me to wake up.

  I wonder if this is the man that saved me.

  I remember the big hands jerking me out of the car, the dark silhouette pulling me towards the light.

  Yes. This must be him. My hero.

  Poor guy. I want to tell him that he did okay. He can go home now but I’m too tired. Too tired to talk or move so I sleep and dream.

  I dream of Paris. The city sparkles underneath me like a jewel. I can see my breath from up here and I smile down on my adopted city. A man to my left gets down on one knee. The woman with him starts to cry as he holds out a ring to her. I don’t understand any of it. They’re clearly German- there are no French people on the Eiffel Tower. Just tourists like us. We get into the elevator and ride back down. My stomach grumbles as I fight my way through the souvenir hawkers. The metro is warm at least. A man passes me. I am struck by what a beautiful man he is and though I was brought up never to stare, I do from under my lashes when he thinks I am not looking. He is the kind of man I thought only existed in the movies; well built, blonde hair, blue eyes and sharp features. He has that typical French cockiness and sex appeal that I find both irresistible and somewhat intimidating. His eyes catch mine and though I know French people don’t smile at strangers on the subway so I’m not offended when my smile is not returned, but being American, I can’t help it.

  It’s been years of saving to bring me here. Right now, I don’t care if he thinks I’m a stupid American. I don’t care if he looks down his French nose at me- bumming around in my blue jeans and white sneakers and my camera flopping against my chest as the train screeches to a halt. Nothing can get me down. I’m here. In Paris and I’m happy. I see him again, when I get on the train and I take my seat. His blue eyes hold on to mine. This time the corners of his lips turn up and he doesn’t take his eyes off me until I look away, embarrassed by his attention. I have a fiancé back home; I know I shouldn’t be flirting with strangers on the metro. I know I shouldn’t even be looking at another man but I look up again. He is still looking at me as if he knows me, almost as if he can see right into my soul. I feel a connection with him, something I can’t explain and don’t quite understand. His eyes are a striking shade of blue- almost violet. They speak to me. Come with me. Come with me and leave everything behind. Come with me and I will make your dreams come true… The Metro train grinds to a stop and we both stand but he never takes his eyes off of me… I know it’s wrong but I smile at him again and he follows me out.

  “Hello pretty American girl.” He says in English. He isn’t French, perhaps German. He has only a slight accent which I can’t place. “It is a cold night and a cup of coffee would be perfect. However I hate to sit in a café alone. As I see you have no escort, would you care to allow me to buy you a cup?”

  My heart thumps wildly in my chest. Men like this don’t even acknowledge me back home; much less invite me for coffee. I know I should say no. I have a fiancé back home, but tonight I am in Paris- the city of love- with a handsome stranger. I know it’s wrong but I also know I will never have this chance again. I slip my engagement ring in my jean pocket and when he extends his arm; I take it.

  That dream fades. The voices come back.

  A man’s voice: “You have to wake up.” He is saying: “You’ve got to come back to me….Please… for the children…” Is the talking to me? Surely not, I don’t recognize him; perhaps he is speaking to someone else. Yes. That must be it, because I’m only sleeping.

  A woman’s voice: “If she does come back, she’ll have brain damage.”

  Somewhere that man is crying like his heart is broken and I feel bad for him.

  “I can’t. She’s my wife. I can’t leave her.” The same man says.

  Another voice: An older man this time. “She’s basically a vegetable.” He tells someone in a hushed tone. “The best thing would be to pull the plug. Let her go in peace.”

  I open my eyes. I’m in a little cubicle and somehow I know it’s the ICU. I wonder if this is a dream or real.

  I hear bits and pieces of conversations from around me before I fall asleep again.

  I wonder where the man is who was crying. He seems so close but far away at the same time. Like we’re on opposite sides of a very tall wall and I can hear him but I can’t reach him.

  “Wake up and come back to me.” He is begging but it is from somewhere else, I realize, he’s in the next cubicle. I wish I could get out of this bed. I’d give him a hug at least…

  I drift off again… sleep is good…

  I see a man in white, a large, strong looking man with olive skin and dark curls. He holds out his hand to me. Tan, rough fingers reach out for my small hand as it hovers over his, my sleeve falling in folds of delicate lace but I never take it. All I have to do is take it, and I will be his. Part of me wants it but another part wants something else… some one else. I back away, leaving the man reaching for me. I cannot see his face, but I hear the anguish in his voice as he calls out for me.

  “Please don’t go; I love you! Come back, my beloved, come back…”

  The sadness in his voice threatens to tear me apart but I run from him nonetheless. I cannot turn around; I run blindly, tears obscuring my vision.

  I drift away again… I want to leave. I cannot stand it.

  “You know you love only me...” A silky voice says and I feel an overwhelming rush of desire. I know that voice! “Come with me and I’ll make all your dreams come true…” That’s what he said… I remember. That’s what he said…

  I want to slip away with him. Just like I did on the metro… that was so many years ago. A lifetime ago…

  “Just squeeze my hand.” The man is begging in the next cubicle. “Just let me know you hear me. Please, baby. I love you.”

  “She can’t hear you. She’s… not there any more… the person you loved is gone… you should think about ending it.”

  I hear him wail pitifully and my gut wrenches. I want to leave. Why won’t they let me out of this bed?

  Another nurse leans over me. More medicine, more sleep. Sleep is good.

  “Come away with me my love. Come to me…”

  “Come back baby. I need you. Please, please, open your eyes!”

  I want more than anything to be away from this man’s pain.

  “Come to me and leave the world behind. It’s only you and I, my beloved. Come to me and leave everything…”

  “Yes.” I tell him. I’ll go with that voice. I’ll do anything to get away from this place. I’ll do whatever it takes to escape the sounds of hopelessness and sadness from this man next to me and the pain that he carries with him. He threatens to tear my very soul asunder with his pain. Get me out of here. Please. “I will go with you.”

  “Good…The choice is made…”

  The nurses are moving me again. They’re always pestering me. They’re always poking and prodding, trying to get me to wake up. Don’t they know that I’m just sleeping? I’m sleeping, if only they will let me alone… Go bother someone else….someone who needs help. I’m fine. Just leave me alone… No, I don’t want to wake up. Oh, won’t they let me sleep just a bit longer? I’m so tired…

  Morning.

  Night.

  Nurses.

  White lights.

  Bare walls.

  Bleeps and alarms.

  I close my eyes and float in darkness until a voice calls me into the light.

 
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