She just wanted to start over. A new environment, new people. And none of...him. She'd finally gotten him out of her life. Now...he's back.
We drove down a long, winding road in the mountains. We just kept going down, down, down into the unknown. It snowed endlessly, but we hadn't wanted to get trapped in the hotel, so we'd hopped in the car and started to drive. We had no choice but to go back down the way we'd come. A horn blared into the night, making me jump. I screamed out, "Dad!"
Then the searing shrill of twisting metal, the immortal whine of the horn from one of the cars, and the white painted with a scarlet red that just kept...flowing. On down the pile of snow. It dripped onto his face. And I lay there, petrified in the cutting night air, staring at the dark sky. The whisper of the few dead leaves against the ground as they washed over us. Shouts, screams, cries into the void. And with each one, it felt as if someone was digging a knife into my heart over and over and over again.
But then it was over. All of it. A black wave washed right over me, enveloping me in its cold grasp.
My eyes snapped open and I sat up in bed, breathing heavily. It didn't take long for the tears to join in on the sob party, and I pulled my knees up to my chest, rocking back and forth, back and forth. And then I heard his voice.
My skin crawled and I jumped up onto my knees, looking behind my bed, which was in the center of the room. He was hidden by the moving shadow cast by my curtains. My window was open. I was on the goddamn seventh floor of the sanitarium. Not to mention my window was barred.
“Wh-who are you?” I stammered breathlessly, swiping at my cheeks as I slid off of the bed.
“Why, Kira, you know who I am…” he said with a smile. He stepped out of the shadow, revealing his face, and I flinched as if someone had delivered a fresh slap to the face. “Ah. The reaction to recognition.”
“The reaction to ‘get the fuck out of here’ more like it,” I growled, stabbing my finger in the direction of the door.
“Why so mean?” he said with that crafty voice of his. “I thought you loved me?”
I flinched again. “I don’t. Y-you…you don’t exist.”
“Now…you can’t possibly mean that, Kira dear.” He closed the distance between us, and I wanted to push him away, run, scream, anything, but I couldn’t move. “You just like to listen to what your dear old therapist tells you. You know she’s only trying to keep us apart…” His fingers brushed my cheek and I swatted his hand away, my eyes widening in terror.
“I-I created you when the crash happened…” I replied. “You aren’t r-real. Not real…”
“Those aren't your words, Kira,” he whispered, leaning in. I flinched away and backed up, shaking my head.
“Those are! Y-you have to leave! Go away! I can’t…do this. Can’t.” I shut my eyes tight, wrapping my arms around my bony frame. There was silence, and when I opened my eyes again, he was gone. I sighed and nodded to myself. Doctor Cartier’s advice had helped. ‘Tell him to leave, and he will leave,’ she’d said. And it worked.
“Or it didn’t.”
I yelped and turned around to see him fiddling with something on my dresser. It was a porcelain doll made to look like a cowgirl. My father had given it to me. “Don’t!”
“I need to find out a way to make you believe I am real… What do you want me to do, Kira?” His easy tone was no longer all that easy. It had morphed into a cold, harsh manner. “Go across the hall...? Get rid of that girl you like to talk to?”
I trembled as I clutched the bracelet on my wrist, and twisted it. I could no longer feel my left hand. “N-n-no, please, no. I-I believe in you!”
“Now, now…I don’t entirely trust that. And nor do you, do you? You still think I’m imaginary.”
“No, I swear!” I shrilled, breaking the bracelet. I dropped it and winced as the blood rushed back to my hand. “I s-swear I believe you’re real.”
“…Then come with me,” he said, his eyes narrowing, taking in my terrified facial features. “I’ll take you away from here. This isn’t a place for you, Kira. You…aren’t crazy.”
“I c-can’t leave yet.”
“I guess you don’t…” He sighed and the doll dropped. I cried out, taking a few steps toward him, and it crashed onto the ground, breaking underneath the clothing, which collapsed inward.
“How could you?!” I screeched, eyes filling with tears as he nudged a piece of the doll’s head with his boot.
“You won’t leave with me.”
“B-but…I will! Okay, I…I will. I promise.”
“Swear. On my life.”
“On Clara’s life.” Clara was the girl across the hall I’d grown accustomed to.
Swallowing, hands trembling, I hugged myself and whispered, “I swear on Clara’s life…”
He grabbed my hand then and led me to the window. My heart started to pound in my chest. I thought back on Doctor Cartier’s words.
‘Don’t do what he tells you to. You have to fight it, okay? Okay, Kira?’
“Okay,” I breathed aloud and he turned around to face me, narrowing his eyes. “I can’t.”
“You will.” His grasp on my hand tightened and he leaned in, planting a kiss on my forehead, my nose, my cheeks. “You will, Kira.” He pressed his lips ever so gently to my lips and my resolve crumbled. The bars on the window were gone. Had he removed them like some magician?
He stepped onto the window sill and looked to me. “I’ll go down first. Then you can jump into my arms, okay?”
I nodded weakly and he disappeared. I stepped onto the ledge and looked down. He was standing, unharmed, seven stories beneath my window.
“I’ll catch you,” he called.
I bobbed my head. The blood was pounding in my ears. He’d catch me.