Out In The Cold


She clasped her hand around his neck. Her eyes looked over each bloody scar on his face. "You're bleeding!"

"I'll be okay," he gasped. "Look out the window. Do you see any cops?"

"No," she said, scanning the street outside. "Dad came alone."

"We don't have much time," he said urgently. "Find Dad's keys. There is an APB out on our car."

She rummaged through the pockets of the still body, finding what she needed. Matt put his arm around her gingerly and she led him down the stairs of the ratty motel. They thought they had all their bases covered.

"Never underestimate the extremely Evangelical Deputy Chief of Police," she thought, helping her wounded brother into the backseat where he could lie down.

Carol hopped into the driver's seat and revved up the Buick. Her mind was already planning out a course of action. She would stop by the house and get whatever cash was in the open and then...

"There is no other option," she rued. "Just run and never look back."

"We'll make it, Carol," said a weak voice from the back. "I know we will."

As much as he forced some conviction into his words, she still knew he was lying.

"Not getting any better at it," she thought wistfully.

* *

Carol finished applying the stitches on his forehead. The gash remained, bound together by the fibre thread. The bruise on his cheek turned a darker shade and the bleeding from his lips ceased. She tenderly traced his lips with one finger.

"I love you so much it hurts," she confessed, her tone quivering with grief.

"I love you too."

The blizzard was easing around them, but no one was crazy enough to be caught outdoors. The light inside the car was dim from the perilously low gasoline. She wrapped her arm around his head and drew him to her for a kiss. He moved a few inches forward and then stopped abruptly, his face clenched in pain.

"What's wrong, Matt?" she asked, her face ashen with concern.

"Nothing," he lied through gritted teeth. She turned her head and stared at him obliquely.

"Show me your stomach," she said.

"It's nothing," he persisted, "... just still sore from the blow."

Carol leaned over and grabbed two handfuls of his shirt. She raised the hem to his chest and gasped out loud. Even in the dim light, she could see a large patch of bluish-black extending from under his ribs to his abdomen.

"Oh God! You're haemorrhaging," she screamed. "We need to get you to a hospital."

"No," he choked out. "No hospitals. He'll find us."

"I'm a med student, Matt," she said, cradling his head in her hands. "I know what happens if you don't get to a hospital right now."

He looked down, unable to meet her gaze. She placed a palm under his chin and lifted his face to his. The scars looked blurry through her tears, even as she pleaded with him.

"Please. For me. I don't care if he finds us."

Each word was punctuated by a heart-wrenching sob.

"I don't care what he does to me, but I can't let him get near you again," he said solemnly. "Not after what he tried to do."

"Please let's go, Matt. I can't live without you. Can't you see that?"

"You won't have to," he smiled.

The look of surprise on Carol's face was momentary before she sighed. He knew. She had obviously not disposed of the pregnancy test properly in her hurry.

"You will have your own little piece of me, always," he said, patting her stomach.

"Do you want our child to grow up without a father?" she said, emboldened by the new discovery.

"I want our child to grow up far away from all this," he said. "And I'm sure his mother can give him enough love for two parents and then some."

"Please come with me," she reiterated.

"Carol, half the cops in this city are looking for us right now. You know how much influence Dad has. They will report back only to him so that he can handle it without staining his name and political ambitions," he said, adding. "What do you think will happen to us then?"

He paused, the pain knifing through his chest. His next sentence was a mere whisper.

"What do you think will happen to our baby then?"

Words did not come out of the jumbled mass of thoughts in Carol's head. She looked into his eyes, seeing the hope die out in them. It broke her heart into a million little pieces.

"Can you get out of the city?" he asked.

She shook her head sadly, using every ounce of willpower to prevent herself from breaking down in a flood of tears. As much as she wanted to believe there was a ray of hope, all her eyes saw was a murky darkness.

Matt looked at her quietly, unsure of what to say. She spoke first.

"No one will ever understand the way we feel about each other, Matt. We will always be misunderstood and hated for the way we feel."

He nodded in silent agreement. The blizzard was beginning to pick up again outside. A splatter of snow hit the windscreen and swept off in the wind.

"If you don't want to live, I don't want to either."

He opened his mouth wide in shock, but she put her palm over it and continued speaking.

"I admit I haven't thought this through entirely, but I can't bear the thought of carrying on without you."

"You have to," he said, ignoring the pain for a moment. "For our baby."

"Why?" she said, finally ceding her battle to tears. "So we can live our lives looking over our shoulders, hunted like animals? I don't want that life for our child."

She stopped to let out the sob choked in her throat. Matt softly caressed her hair, the very present pain was not important any more. His angel was crying and that hurt him more than any silly haemorrhage ever could.

"This world is a dark and evil place and our baby deserves better," she said, having completely broken down now. "As far as the world goes, our baby is a symbol of our grotesque love."

He slumped back in his seat, a deeper pain than internal bleeding searing through him. Carol wiped her eyes and was surprised to see a small, clear tear drop sitting on her beloved brother's cheek.

"It's not fair," he bawled. "It's just not fair."

"Shhh... don't cry," she said, wiping the tear away. "Be strong, honey. You know what we have to do."

An unsaid understanding passed in their gaze. He nodded his head slowly.

"I'm scared, Carol."

"I know," she said, stroking his jaw. "I'm scared too."

"What do we do with the money?"

The blizzard promised to get intensely heavier. Carol opened the door and stepped out. She supported her brother's arm around her shoulder. There was hardly anyone left on the streets, but the doors of a large church were open nearby. A large throng of people had gathered inside.

They slowly made their way through the biting cold and the ornate entrance. There was an air of joy for the holidays. The inside of the church was brightly lit and laurel wreaths hung along the walls, decorated with ribbons. People laughed and mingled freely. An elderly man sat beside the donations box, blessing those kind enough to spare some money.

"Bless you, my children," he said, his eyes as large as saucers at the wad of bills Carol put down. "May the Lord bless you for the rest of your lives."

They smiled and turned to leave.

"Won't you be staying for the service?" he asked. "The snowstorm outside is getting worse."

"Don't worry," said Matt, forcing a grin. "We know where we're going."

At the far end of the church, the colossal organ rang out the opening notes of "Silent Night". The choir puffed their chests out, ready for their big moment. All eyes turned to the front and they held hands. The pews were lined with folks from all walks of life, swaying to the tune. The cheery pastor took his place on the rostrum in front.

Carol tucked Matt's head under her arm. He buried his face in her side, unable to look in any other direction. Their lives had unravelled faster than they imagined. All that remained now was the formality of ending it.

She led her brother out of the church doors. The snow had covered the grass in a soft white layer. Leaving his side, she ran and fell flat on the cold layer. He limped along till he reached her.

"Look at me," she squealed, waving her arms and legs in the snow. "I made a snow angel."

He lay down beside her, smiling. The blizzard was getting stronger by the second.

"You are a snow angel. You are always, my angel."

She turned on her side and faced him, her lips changing colour from the cold and her skin unnaturally pale. Flecks of white littered her face.

"Do you think we would have had a boy or a girl?" she giggled, hysteria setting in.

Matt looked thoughtful for a moment, then said softly, "I think it would have been a girl. Little Elizabeth Delancey."

"Only her dumbass father could think of such a dorky name," she said, playfully.

"I bet our little Elizabeth would have your eyes," he said.

"And hopefully not my taste in men," came the snide reply. "Her father was such a wuss. Do you know how much I had to persuade to get him in the sack?"

"Okay, what do you think about our hypothetical baby?" said Matt, throwing a small fluff of snow at her.

"You mean our son Matthew Jr.? MJ?"

"MJ?" he said incredulously, adding an eye roll. "He's not even born and you've made him into a pop star?"

"Hey!" Carol said, smacking his arm. "I liked him."

The cold was already getting to her. She could not feel her legs. Her senses were slowly giving in, touch being the first casualty.

"So tell me about MJ Delancey," asked Matt.

"MJ would have been remarkably intelligent. Valedictorian for sure. I think he would want to be a scientist. Nothing less than the top of his class in MIT for our little MJ."

"Elizabeth would have been smart too, you know?" he shot back between peals of laughter. "Might have gone on to become the CEO of one of those big Silicon Valley startups. Probably the next Google or Facebook."

"So it's settled then, we'd have two children. MJ and Elizabeth."

They laughed for a while, the cold driving them delirious. The singing had begun and the notes of every hymn floated out to them. They could make out snatches through the whistling wind an sang along, horribly out of rhythm.

The giggles stopped and Matt looked at Carol again. Her skin was deathly pale, the blood having retreated deep within her in a last gasp effort to keep the internal organs warm. Her body was still trying to keep her alive.

"Do you believe in the afterlife?" he asked, his voice growing weaker.

"I do," she replied.

"What do you think it looks like?"

There was a contemplative pause. The snow was falling in cascading torrents, covering them in a multitude of snowflakes. Her face was still visible under the cloud of white. Her lips had turned blue from the cold. Matt craned his neck forward and kissed the cold blue skin.

"I think," she said, her body beginning to lose the fight to the bitter chill. "I think there is a meadow, filled with flowers. It rolls and spreads, over hills over land and never ends."

"Wait for me behind the hill," said Matt, barely sentient, his fingers interlaced in hers. "I'll find you there."

"Do you think our love will be accepted in the afterlife?" he asked after a pause, having difficulty forming words through the cold which had spread to his lungs.

She opened her mouth to answer, but only wisps of vapour came out. The relentless snow was starting to bury them under an icy sheath.

Carol had completely lost feeling in her limbs. Her breathing was laboured, a dreadful chore which would come to an end soon. The numbness spread through her body, replacing the icy chill with a feeling of nothingness.

She looked at him one last time, admiring every scar on his face.

"Does it still hurt?" her throat managed to squeeze out before finally giving in.

"No," he said with his widest smile.

This time he did not lie. It really did not hurt. He could not feel pain anymore. He could not feel anything anymore.

Strains of the hymn floated through the air.

"Sleep... in heaaaavenly peeeeace
Sleep in heavenly peace"

A park employee found the cold, blue corpses the next morning while he was shovelling the snow away. Their hands were still locked together.

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by Anonymous

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by honybipola12/04/17

you're a good writer

your stories are really great but I hate sad endings since I read in leisure to escape the grim realities of life

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