There is no explicit sex in this story. I wish to thank the people who helped contribute to and edit this story, per their wishes, they remain anonymous. This story is totally fictitious; any resemblance the characters might have to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental. No part of this story may be published at any other site without the express permission of the author. © January 20, 2010
Dazed and barely conscious, Eric slumped forward against his steering wheel. As blood began to pulse from the gash in his forehead his mind went totally blank. And for a second or two, nothing registered, not even the loud ringing in his ears.
Then as the red fluid began to drip from the end of his nose, flashes of memory started to return. But they were too disjointed... too out of place... and too distant for him to make sense of.
Suddenly, somehow... somewhere in all the muddle, Eric was finally able to piece together just enough to wonder, 'Why does everything seem so confusing... why can't I think?' With that, his brain forced itself to search for something familiar. Something it could latch on to and use as a focal point.
All of a sudden the mental image of, 'Sharon' popped into his head. He was momentarily confused, but then remembered, 'I'm not alone.'
Instinctively Eric tried to turn, but quickly discovered that even the slightest movement would require more effort than he could muster.
Frustrated, Eric strained to look sideways, but what he saw wasn't what he had expected. Sharon was lying on her side next to him, her face covered with blood from busted lips and a broken nose as she sobbed in pain.
Then without warning, Eric's own protective wall of shock began to crumble. As the first wave of pain broke through, he groaned loudly.
Sharon reacted to his sound, but Eric could only watch helplessly as she struggled to lift herself. After a couple of attempts, Sharon paused to get her breath while bracing herself on one elbow. Then using her other arm, she slowly pushed herself back up into a sitting position.
Now more confused than ever, Eric vaguely wondered, 'What the hell just happened,' as he desperately strived to recall an evening that had started out like any other.
When returning from a night out, Eric and Sharon always parked at the curb in front of her parent's home. It had become their spot, the place where they could take a few extra moments to just hold each other before she had to go in.
Tonight though, Sharon seemed preoccupied. Even the shadows inside the car couldn't hide her concern as she kept glancing at the house.
Suddenly Sharon turned and with a beaming smile, teasingly replied, "First you have to promise."
Eric knew it was her playful, loving way of bringing the evening to a close. Still he pretended to have no choice, and relented, "Oooookay, just one more kiss. Then say the magic words and I'll disappear... but," with a mischievous grin, added, "I will be back in the morning."
In return, she teasingly wrinkled her nose at him and smirked, "I had no doubt."
Ever since her mom and dad had begun to treat Eric like part of the family, it wasn't uncommon on weekends when he was home from school to see him at their breakfast table.
Sharon was in her senior year of high school and Eric, his second year of college. Even though very young, they were deeply in love, and had been almost since their first date two years ago.
With Sharon still three months away from graduation, it had been quite a shock that morning at the breakfast table. No one seemed surprised when she and Eric announced their engagement.
While making some toast at the kitchen counter, her mom turned and said, "That's nice dear." Sharon's twin sister was reading a fashion magazine and didn't even bother to look up. Her dad just grunted as he finished eating a spoon full of cereal. Eric and Sharon looked stunned until everyone started laughing, then the hugs, congratulations... and real questions began.
Her parents had given it their best shot, but Sharon refused to wait. At the end of summer Eric was transferring and would be starting the fall semester at a graduate school in another state. Since he could only come home on holidays, Sharon didn't want to be separated that long, so the wedding was planned for the end of June.
It was a great family and Eric knew it. Both girls loved and respected their parents immensely.
James, their older brother, was married and had a home of his own. He had taken a liking to Eric from the beginning. When told they planned to get married, him and his wife gave them four thumbs up.
But Eric did feel that Sharon's father was way too lenient and spoiled his daughters rotten. Like tonight, Eric enjoyed the extra time, but it was already past Sharon's usual 'twenty minutes late going in.'
Normally her dad would come to the door right at midnight, look out, spot them, then point to his watch. It was his way of saying, "Time to come in, evenings over." But Sharon knew just how far she could push her father. He always came back exactly ten minutes later, got their attention, firmly pointed at his watch and waved for her to get her ass inside. At twenty after, he would stand in the doorway until Sharon got out and came in.
But for some strange reason, her dad hadn't made his usual appearances. And since their cars were in the drive, she knew her parents and sister were home.
Now more than a little concerned, Sharon wanted to get inside and find out what was going on. So this was going to be her and Eric's final kiss for the evening. Sharon tilted her head slightly and they leaned in towards each other.
Suddenly the passenger windows facing the house exploded inward, scattering bits of safety glass through out the car as the impact from the explosion forcefully lifted that whole side of the vehicle off the ground.
It hit so hard and fast that Eric and Sharon never even heard the sound as it slammed their faces together. Instantly his eyebrow split open and her nose snapped as teeth sliced and bit through lips and tongues before cracking together, chipping a few, but one gave way.
Sharon's initial scream turned into gasping sobs as she fell over sideways on the seat. A loud roaring in their ears was all either could hear while excruciating pain reverberated through their bodies. Both were dripping blood as Eric's tooth slid out in a red drool.
After Sharon sat back up, they rapidly became conscious of their surroundings and what was happening. As Eric moaned, Sharon looked at her parent's house. Flames were rolling out the top of now empty window frames and a huge gaping hole stood where the picture window and front entrance used to be.
Gurgling a scream, Sharon began clawing at the door. Finally getting a grasp on the handle, she jerked and pushed with all her might. As the door swung open, Sharon went rolling out onto the ground, not realizing that her whole body was in shock from the impact of the explosion.
Suddenly Eric saw what was happening and tried to jump out, but his muscles and nerves still weren't functioning properly. With his entire body in pain, it took all his will power just to stand. Then through pure resolve, he staggered around the car, frustrated, knowing that he had to get to Sharon before it was too late.
By the time he reached her, she had given up on standing and was now desperately crawling towards the house, screaming, and crying, "Mommy, daddy, sissy."
Eric knew she was not thinking and would crawl right across the yard into the burning structure. The only thing he could think to do was to fall on the back of her legs, pinning her to the ground as he reached up, grabbing at the waistband of her jeans. Finally getting hold of her belt, Eric hung on for dear life.
In their determined efforts, neither noticed that windows of nearby houses had been blown out, or that lights were coming on up and down the street.
People were pouring out their front doors to see what the hell was going on. Distant sirens could start to be heard. Help was on the way. But Eric and Sharon were oblivious to it all as they continued their struggle on the grass.
Striving to get to her parents and sister, Sharon jerked one leg lose and half way rolled over, still screaming and sobbing, "ERIC, LET GO DAMN IT... Oh God... please make him let go."
Eric knew that if he did, she would crawl to her death. His hand kept a tight grip on her belt.
In a desperate attempt to break loose, Sharon drew back her free foot and kicked Eric hard as she could. Her shoe caught him right above the ear as it raked down the side of Eric's head, tearing the top of his ear loose.
Realizing that he was still hanging on, Sharon sat up and swung with all her might. Her fist caught him just below the same ear as her engagement ring sliced a gash the full length of his jaw.
On the verge of passing out, and only partially aware of what was happening, Eric suddenly felt his hand being pried loose from Sharon's belt. At first he panicked, but then realized others were taking hold of Sharon and dragging her away from the immense heat now radiating from the burning house.
Eric had a brief feeling of relief before vaguely hearing her scream, "You son-of-a-bitch. You killed my parents." Then she sobbed, "I could have saved them.... Why did you stop me...?" At that point Eric blacked out, not even knowing he was being carried to safety also.
After coming to in the ambulance, Eric tried to sit up while managing to slur, "Sharon... how is she?" A firm but gentle hand pressed him back down, just before the needle penetrated his arm.
"She's fine," the attendant's voice sought to reassure him, "now just lie still and relax. Everything will be fine. We'll be at the hospital soon."
That was all Eric remembered. The drug went to work and he slipped off into a painless sleep.
The creases in James' forehead displayed his concern as he sat in his small den and stared out the window. James and his wife were terribly worried. It was the end of summer, almost six months since the explosion, and Sharon wasn't getting any better.
With no where else to go when she got out of the hospital, Sharon had moved in with her brother and his wife. Of course they were more than happy to help and at first thought Sharon's depression would pass, that she would gradually improve with time. Instead, she seemed to be getting worse.
With each passing day, James and his wife could tell that Sharon was becoming more withdrawn. She was going through the motions, but there was no life in her step, or light in her eyes. She just moped around and after losing several pounds, still only picked at her food.
James and his wife just finished discussing the problem and both agreed that something had to be done, and now. Sharon couldn't go on like this. It wouldn't be much longer before her health would be in serious jeopardy.
His wife had gone to Sharon's room to get her. James was mulling over what he needed to say, and do.
Even though he dreaded the fact that things had reached this point, for his sister's sake, James knew, 'I have no choice. She has to have help.'
After Sharon stepped into the den, she just stood, staring blankly at her brother. James was shocked; her skin was even paler and her eyes more dark and sunken than he thought.
Collecting his thoughts, he said, "Sharon, please sit down. We need to talk."
Without a word, or expression, she mindlessly followed his instructions and dropped into the chair he had set up across from him.
"Sharon... I'm going to be blunt. I have a friend. He's a psychologist. His name is Patrick and he has agreed to see you. He's good. I truly believe... no, I know that he can help you,' James informed her.
He could tell by the look on her face that the words hadn't sunken in yet. Finally, with a slightly surprised look, she replied, "I don't need any help James. I'm fine."
Sadly, he stated, "No sis, you're not. Sharon, this is not an option. You don't realize what's happening to you. Something has to give. Sis... either you see Patrick... or... for your own sake, I'm going to have you committed for observation."
Sharon had been very upset, but finally agreed to see James' friend. Her appointments were scheduled for twice a week. At least in her mind, it would get James off her back.
At first, the questions were nothing to be upset about, but this was her fifth visit. And Patrick started off by saying, "Sharon, correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that it was an accident, a broken gas connection in the basement. The fire marshal thinks your parent's two pet dogs probably knocked over a freestanding heater while playing. And the coroner's convinced your parents and sister were already asphyxiated from lack of oxygen before the explosion?"
Slowly and ever so slightly, Sharon nodded her head in a positive manner.
Casually he asked, "Then why do you feel so much guilt, Sharon?"
Surprised and a little angry, she suddenly resented this man and his constant questions. Then without thinking, replied, "Because you don't understand. It wasn't fair or right. I should have died in their place. It should have been me in that house... or at least I should have been with them."
Angrily, Sharon thought to herself, 'He has no right to invade my privacy. My feelings and thoughts are my own, no one else's.' Suddenly she mentally cursed her brother, 'Damn you, James, for making me come here anyway.'
The psychologist's next question caught her off guard again. As usual, she immediately tried to figure out where he was going, and what he was trying to accomplish. This one had her though when he asked, "Sharon, tell me who you've met that made you feel you could live their life for them?"
After cautiously pondering the question's potential for a moment and coming up empty handed, she replied sarcastically, "Why no one. You can't live someone else's life... for them or yourself."
Patrick nodded, leaned forward, and very seriously but with great concern, asked, "Then why do you think you could or should have died someone else's death?"
As the correlation between the two questions hit her, a tear rolled down Sharon's cheek. For the first time since her parents and sister's death, someone had finally broken through her façade. Patrick got through to her.
When she got home that night, James and his wife could tell for the first time, there was a difference. Sharon, even though ever so slight, responded to her surroundings, and the most important thing to them, she ate some of the food on her plate at dinner.
James smiled, Sharon was back to her old normal self. Patrick had performed a miracle, at least to James it seemed that way. Except James and his wife noticed that as Sharon got better, she also seemed to be more nervous, agitated, anxious... it was time for another talk.
As Sharon stepped into the den, James pointed once more to the seat across from him. Sharon looked puzzled, but happily sat down and asked, "What's going on, James?"
Not looking overly concerned, he replied, "You, sis. Do you mind telling me what's making you so edgy lately? It's almost like you are constantly walking on pins and needles."
Embarrassed, Sharon turned slightly red, but knew exactly what James was referring to. "Well... I...," she stuttered.
"Come on sis, we've always been able to talk about anything and everything. Now fess up, get it off you chest, what's got you so flustered?" James jokingly inquired.
"It's... it's... damn it James, it's Eric," Sharon said as her eyes became teary.
Confused, James asked, "What about Eric?"
"That's just it James, there is NO ERIC." With that she broke down and started crying, "I miss him... I love him... I wish he was here."
James nodded his head and smiled. He had suspected, but was glad to hear Sharon finally say it as he leaned forward and clasped her hands between his.
"Then why don't you tell him?" James queried, making it sound so simple.
"Because I'm afraid that after all this time, and all that's happened he will no longer love me," she now started bawling.
James didn't mean to be disrespectful to his sister's feelings, but he couldn't help but chuckle, "Sis, you will never know if you don't ask. If you stop and think about it, what have you got to lose?"
"I know... but I just couldn't bear the pain of seeing rejection in his eyes... that would kill me," she sniffed as James handed her a tissue to wipe her nose.
"But you have to admit, after everything that's happened, you owe Eric that much. He has the right to tell you, face to face, how he feels, one way or the other," James stated firmly.
Then Sharon hopefully asked, "How about I call him on the phone?"
"No way sis," James informed her, "that's not our way. Mom and dad didn't raise us to be afraid. Plus, no matter what happens, you will feel better about yourself in the long run. Just do it and get it over with."
"I know... you're right... I'll leave tomorrow. I've put this off long enough. It's time to face the music... but... what if he hates me James, I don't know if I can stand that," Sharon painfully cried.
"Then you will live with it, and life will go on sis. That's just the way it is, but you're doing the right thing. At least you're giving Eric the choice, and he deserves that after all that's happened," her brother replied.
Eric loved Sharon with a passion so intense that it had made life unbearable the first couple of months after the explosion. He tried repeatedly to see her. But starting at the hospital, and then at home, her family put up a protective wall around her.
They sympathized with his plight. But with Sharon's recent loss, her depression, and her insistence that Eric was to blame for stopping her from saving her family, they had no choice. Claiming that she was adamant about not even talking to him, they blocked Eric's attempts at every turn.
By the end of summer there was no option left, school was starting and Eric had to return. After picking up the pieces of his life, he'd done his best ever since to move on.
But now with his arms folded across his chest and his neck lying over the backrest, Eric sat half sprawled on the campus bench across from his dorm. Looking up at the evening stars, he only knew one thing for sure, after several months without a single word from Sharon... he had finally given up.
But unbeknownst to him, at that very moment, just hours away, Sharon pulled her single piece of luggage from the trunk of her car, before shutting the lid. Holding the room key in one hand, she stood with her suitcase in the other as she paused to look up at the heavens. With bitter sweetness, she took a short opportunity to enjoy the moment, relating it to some beautiful memories.
'They used to belong to Eric and me,' she thought. Then as tears filled her eyes blotting out the stars, she wondered, 'Is there any chance they ever will again?' She would know tomorrow.
Sharon stood outside Eric's dorm, peeking inside. She had watched several boys and girls coming and going, but could see a front desk just inside. There was a 'Visitors Check In Here' sign just in front of it.
Suddenly a male voice said, "May I help you?"
Looking up, Sharon found a friendly looking face smiling at her. "I... I don't know. I'm looking for a friend of mine. I haven't seen him in almost a year and I hoped to surprise him," she replied.