Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two
Title: The Whole World Went Insane - Part 10
That night, in our home, Valerie noticed the airline brochure, like I knew she would. I’d picked it up on the trip, but I didn’t really know way. Maybe I wanted to talk with her about taking a trip. Maybe I wanted to tell her about how I’d always wanted to fly on a plane.
Maybe I wanted to let her know about the dreams I’d had and how I felt when they all died.
She’d dumped the contents of my bag on the table. Our table. The one we’d made together. We’d found a tree that had fallen over in the woods. We’d cut a diagonal slice through it, and taken it back to the camp, proclaiming we could make tables. Unvarnished, unpainted, rough cut wood, you can get splinters from them tables.
It took us days to figure out how to put legs on it. And it took weeks to get it anywhere near level. It still wasn’t level. But it didn’t rock around. It was solid. And it was mostly flat. And it was ours. I’d had to make more since then. Hannah had one. Jessica had one. It was kind of expected, when someone joined our group, I showed them how to make a table, and helped them make it.
When she’d dumped everything on our table, the brochure wound up on top. I’d buried it in the bag. Kelly and the others never found it. But there it was, on top of everything. An airport runway, going to the horizon, and a jet in the sky at sunset. All it said was, “Take Me Away”.
Her hand shook as she reached for it. At first, she didn’t pick it up, instead, she touched it. Her fingers shook, and she seemed afraid of it. She stared it at, and didn’t move. “Val? You OK?”
She nodded and picked it up, as she started to cry. Silent tears fell from her eyes, and I couldn’t stand by and watch. I wrapped my arms around her, “I used to have a dream. I wanted to fly on a plane.”
She clung to me, and I felt every tear as I held her.
When her tears stopped, she didn’t let me go. “We lost everything.”
“The whole world when insane, didn’t it?” I ran my fingers through her hair. I wished there were a way to fix things. To make everything alright. “I lost Mom, Sis, Dad. My home. My friends. I’m not going to lose you.”
That night, we sat on the log outside our home, beneath the canopy of leaves, and the stars. I held her and she snuggled into me. Eventually, she fell asleep, her head on my lap. “I lost everything that was. But I found you.” I brushed the hair from her face, and let my eyes drink in every line, every curve, every texture. “And that makes it OK.”
I watched the stars, visible through the leaves, until the sun rose. I’d have to talk with Jessica about the trip, and the others I’d found along the way. Kelly, and the girls felt relieved, free, granted new lives. They didn’t know.
In rescuing them, Kelly and I’d started a war.
I watched Valerie sleeping. “If they come, they come.” I let my fingers lightly touch her lips. “I’m not losing you.” As the sun rose, I promised her, and God, “I’m not losing you.”
Then, I waited for the first of the battles to begin.
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.