tagNon-EroticLevel Ground Bk. 01 Ch. 08

Level Ground Bk. 01 Ch. 08


My eyes fluttered open slowly; the room was blurry for a moment, and as my vision focused I could make out the wooden panels of my bedroom walls. I blinked a moment before realizing where I was.

Staring up at my cracked ceiling, memories slowly flooded back into my mind and I felt tears spring to my eyes. It wasn't right. I gritted my teeth and felt a hot surge of anger. It wasn't right! How could she be dead? She was perfectly fine when they left on Friday. How is this even possible?

Maybe my parents fought. She got upset...

I shook the thought from my mind and sat up, looking around my bedroom, as I had done a million times, but something was different. My once normal, bright life had turned dull. It felt as if I was stuck in an old black and white film and there was no way out.

I glanced back at my bed, remembering I had just woken up. Maybe I dreamt it, I thought. Maybe she wasn't dead at all. It was just another nightmare, I concluded.

But my theory was proved wrong when I walked into the kitchen to see my father sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the glass in his hand.

Then I saw the bottle of bourbon on the table. It surprised me; I had never seen him drink anything stronger than wine.

"Do you really think that's going to help?" I asked my father, suddenly angry at him for handling mom's death this way.

He looked up from the glass and stared at me for a moment. "No," he said, "Probably not."

I sat down at the table across from him. "What happened?" I asked him. "She was perfect when she left."

"Apparently, she wasn't, Lance," he said. He took a drink of his whiskey and looked at me again. "Look, Lance... I'm sorry for dumping it on you like that. I should have been more sensitive."

I shook my head. "No... It's okay. I mean, I asked for it."

"We went dancing," my father said, staring at his glass.

I looked at him for a moment. "Dancing? You dance?"

He chuckled. "Yes. We used to, your mom and I. It was something we did every weekend. But when the work load got too heavy we had to stop."

I was staring at the floor, afraid to speak, to move.

"We were in Nashville," he went on. "I talked her into going out with me. We were having such a wonderful time. She seemed happy. I didn't even know that anything was wrong until she collapsed on the floor. She died before I got her to the hospital. I shouldn't have taken her out." He took a staggering breath, looking at me. "I know this is horrible. This happening was my worst fear... that she would be the first of us to go. Now it's happened. We have to accept it and move on, Lance. She wouldn't want us to mourn her."

I was angry again. "That might be easy for you," I said. "For someone who has no feelings, shows no emotions."


"No," I said, cutting him off. My heart was racing; mixed emotions were racing through me. I could cut. I could cry. I could scream. I could... I couldn't catch my breath. I excused myself and went to my bedroom, closing and locking the door behind me. I was pacing back and forth, my mind spinning in circles.

This couldn't be happening. My eyes burned and my heart was racing so fast, I was sure it was on fire. The burning in my chest told me that it was true, making me wish I could have torn it out of my chest.

Suddenly, at that very moment, I needed my friends. I needed Maranda. Where the hell were they?

But out of all the people in the world, I needed my mother. For the first time in my life, I needed my mother. I didn't think I would ever need her as much as I did at that moment. But that wasn't possible. She wasn't here; she would never be here again.

Suddenly, I found myself reaching for my pocket knife. It wasn't in my pocket and I felt myself panic. I'm sure I looked like a madman, running around my bedroom searching for that damn knife. But it was nowhere that I looked.

I was panting, my breath coming in small, short gasps. Leaning against my closet door, I slid down to the floor and sat there, hugging my knees. I felt like I was slipping into a black hole that I couldn't get out of. I felt lost, hopeless, like there was no way out.

I closed my eyes so tight that it hurt. "Mom..." I began my voice a whisper. "If you can hear me and if there really is a Heaven... Please," I pleaded, not really sure what I was asking for. "Mom... Please..."

Suddenly there was a knock on my door, causing me to jump. "What?" I snapped.

"Lance?" a voice said from the other side. It was my father. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm leaving," he said.

I got up and opened my door. "What?"

"I've got to get back to Tennessee," he explained. "I've got things to do. I'd rather stay busy."

I just nodded.

"Do you want to come with me?" he offered.

I shook my head. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a car with my father. "No," I said.

"Okay," he said. "Call my cell if you need anything, okay?"

I nodded again. A few minutes later, I heard it car leave the driveway. I was grateful, to be honest. I didn't want to be alone, but I didn't want my father hovering over me.

After a few minutes of standing in my bedroom doorway, motionless, I made my way out to the kitchen.

I was like a man possessed. I remember pulling out the silverware drawer. I remember pulling out the knife my mother used to cut vegetables when she cooked.

Slowly, knife in hand, I walked back into my bedroom. I sat on the floor and leaned against my closet door, something I had done since childhood. I was always afraid of what was hiding in the dark and I thought leaning against the door would keep them from escaping.

Slowly, I stretched my left arm out straight. With the knife, I traced the scars of my old wounds. I didn't feel the quick slits. I only felt the delicious pain that came with them. After the blood came, I sat there limp, my arm dangling off to the side and my hand lightly grasping the knife. I slowed my breathing and lowered my eye lids as I felt the warm liquid coat my arm.

I rolled my eyes over to stare in amazement at the blood; the thick, crimson liquid surrounding my hand. With every breath I took, the blood spill grew, leaving me with a calming sensation that I welcomed.

Finally my breathing steadied and my eyes closed completely as I slipped into sweet dark bliss. I loved that oblivion.

"What are you doing, Lance?"

My eyes snapped open and standing in front of me, was a transparent image, of my mother. I chuckled, weakly. "Oh, I get it," I said. "I'm dead."

"No," responded the image. "Not yet. You can't do this, Lance. Your father needs you."

"Needs me?" I repeated. "He doesn't need me. He doesn't need anyone."

The image faded, leaving me confused. Was she real or was it my imagination? I shrugged it off and closed my eyes, again.

I'm not sure how long I sat there. I was beginning to doze off when I was jolted awake by the slamming of the screen door and footsteps that became louder and louder.

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