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16+ Language Violence Mature Content

My Family Experienced a Deadly Car Crash (Full Story)

by PhoenixEmberly


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language, violence, and mature content.

Eight-forty on a Saturday evening.

They say that there are some moments in our life that we’ll remember for an eternity. Events that we find are branded into our minds, whether we like it or not. We say that we recall these moments down to the minutest detail, and I can attest to that theory quite well. The clear water droplets plummeted from above, splashing onto the windshield. Cars traveled alongside the vehicle, their headlights illuminating the rain, and the night sky contained thousands of dazzling stars above.

Inhale.

My chest rose, my lungs taking in crisp air from the slightly opened window beside me. I turned my head, my eyes meeting with hers, and then falling about her gorgeous teeth and her rose lips.

Exhale.

My gaze fixated on my rearview mirror, observing my young boy strapped firmly in the backseat, fast asleep.

Inhale.

My eyes grew wide as the high beams flooded my vision. In an instant, I launched my foot toward the break, clenching my teeth hard, jaw locked firmly shut. The sound of metal colliding terrorized my ears, and my car’s momentum carried us forward. Glass shattered as the vehicle came to a violent halt, causing my body to jerk forward and my face to plant directly into the steering wheel.

Two shrieks, one from beside me, and one from behind erupted into the night. They died down as soon as they began, and suddenly there was no sound at all. My body was rendered immobile, and my eyesight faded away, yet my lips still functioned. They gently parted, but all I could squeak out was a measly “No…” before darkness overwhelmed me.

From that point on, I vaguely recall the noisy sound of bustling people, and being in a white corridor. Beaming lights shone overhead, beckoning for me. I tried reaching out towards it, yet I could not move my arms. My eyes fluttered, and I once more drifted away into sleep.

I would stay in the hospital for several weeks, recovering from various fractures and undergoing multiple surgeries. My body ached, yet my physical pain could not compare to my worries about my family. Although I felt a relief like no other wash over me when the staff informed me that my son had survived, a familiar sense of dread later overtook me as I learned my wife was in critical condition.

Those nights took an eternity to pass. I consistently glanced towards the clock on the wall, observing the hands tick by minute by minute. Tears would claw their way from my eyes at strange hours of the day, drenching my cheeks in moisture until my cheeks burned red, and the sweat forming in my palms dampened the bedsheets I clenched.

Each time one of the staff or doctors came into my room, my vision darted towards them. I knew they could read my mind. They would give me this pitiful look when they looked into my pleading eyes. Every time I asked, they would give me the same non-answer.

“I assure you, Mister Johnson, we are doing our best to treat your wife.”

Every day I met with some variation of this response. Yet, I persisted, determined to hear that my wife would be okay. Until one day, one of the staff entered my room. Shakily standing up to greet him, I grinned and extended my arm towards his. That’s when I noticed the sullen look plastered on his face, and my heart descended below my chest.

He spoke calmly, methodically, each word exiting his lips in slow motion. My knees quivered, lightly at first, and then more rapidly as he continued. As they eventually buckled, I collapsed to the floor, my chest furiously heaving, each breath I took growing more exasperated than the last.

Several people restrained me and placed me back onto my bed. I think they were trying to give me words of encouragement and sympathy in the process, but whatever they said blended into an incoherent mess. The men and women beside me blurred into unrecognizable forms, and I stared straight ahead. The abhorrently foul stench of perspiration dripping from every orifice of my body dug into my nose and pricked my eyes. My mind, blank as a paper, grew weary, and I finally gave in to the staff attempting to keep me still.

The nurses helped clean me up shortly following that outburst. After receiving fresh clothing and being given time and space to come to terms with the news, my nurse escorted me to the lobby. There he stood, waiting for me. I rushed towards him as quickly as possible. Stooping down, I embraced him, resting my chin on his scalp and gently patting his back. He buried his head into my chest. My shirt moistened, and I held him even closer.

He knew.

Before we left the hospital, I received a few recommendations for psychiatrists and therapists in my area. After thanking the staff for all their help, my son and I took the bus back to our neighborhood later that night. We had baked chicken with rice that night, but he just sat there, poking his food with his fork. Sighing, I finished my plate, hoping it would inspire him to do the same. Instead, he pushed his dish away from him, in front of where an empty chair stood before the table.

I knew he wouldn’t budge, but I knew the hospital had been keeping him healthy and nourished. I told him he should go to bed and get some rest, and he obliged, hopping up from his seat and making his way to his room. After he crawled in bed, I tucked him in and asked if he’d like me to sleep in his room for the night. He shook his head, rejecting my offer. I bent down and kissed his forehead, wishing him a good night.

I opened my laptop and researched the therapy centers cited in the pamphlet I received earlier. I grimaced when I read the costs for each one. My wife made money along with me for our family. That, combined with the opportunity cost forfeited by my hospital stay, took immediate therapy out of the question. Sighing, I closed the computer and trod over to my bedroom.

Placing my palm against the wooden door, I traced my fingers along its perimeter until they met the cold brass knob. Counting down from five, I forced myself to open the door upon reaching zero. I set foot into the room, flicking the light switch upward. As the bulb cast its light onto dull, grey walls surrounding me, I mustered the courage to set one foot in front of the other. Making my way over to the oak frame of my queen-sized bed, I looked down upon the blankets before me. The bed felt so different.

It felt so empty.

Beside the bed sat a dresser, with a picture frame placed atop it. There stood a man and his soulmate, their faces beaming with glee. Feeling the tears trickling down my cheeks, I glanced back toward the bed, realizing I was dampening the sheets while I wept. Breathing in deeply, I turned and exited the room with haste. Retreating to the living room, I laid down on the couch, and after a few hours of tossing and turning, my body finally shut down and let me rest.

I didn’t recognize where I was. All I knew was that pure light surrounded me, overloading my senses. My mouth opened, yet I didn’t make a sound. I extended my arm, groping ahead of me for whatever surface I could find. My fingers were met with… a wheel.

The sound of an engine roared from somewhere within the light. Tires swerved, and voices shrieked.

Bang.

Metal tearing into metal. Incoherent, shrill cries produced from the back of the car. Was this truly happening again? My head jerked forward with the momentum of the vehicle. The commotion ceased as suddenly as it arrived, leaving me in a state of disarray. The cold night air seeped in through the shattered window, erecting the hairs on my arms. Everything was still.

It was a dream. I knew it was a dream. So why could I so vividly sense the beads of sweat trickling down my arms and pooling around my knuckles? How is it that a figment of my subconscious mind was able to perfectly replicate the texture of the leather-coated steering wheel which I so desperately clung to? Internally, I knew what would greet me if I were to shift my gaze to my right. Then I felt it. The round object slumped against my shoulder. The messy strands of hair against my arm. The warm liquid droplets falling and splashing against my hand.

I couldn’t even form a coherent thought before my attention shifted to the sudden weight pressed against my left shoulder. Five slender fingers held me in their grip. My head spun around in the opposite direction to observe who was touching me. Upon doing so, my gaze was met with an arm reaching through the shattered window. I tilted my head up, and before me stood a man.

He stood tall, adorned with black jeans and a grey dress suit. His frame was much too small for his clothes, however. He appeared fragile; the skin of his arms seemed to loosely stretch over the bone underneath. It was as if he would disintegrate if even the slightest force were applied to him.

Despite the situation around me, my body eased into the seat. I felt a sensation of relief wash over me. He carried an unexplainable aura of familiarity about him. Even despite his malnourished frame, even despite his lanky stature, even despite his face appearing to have been blurred out of existence entirely, I did not fear him.

It almost depressed me that my encounter with him was brief, as I awoke before my eyes scanned what should have been his face. It all happened so fast. I placed my hand on my left shoulder, running my fingertips along its surface. The imprint that would have been left by the man was not there. Of course, it wasn’t. It was just a nightmare, after all. I can’t say for certain I understand what I dreamt of that night. It all felt so real. I didn’t recognize the man I encountered either, so how could I possibly have felt such an intrinsic connection between him and I?

Although I’m not sure what to make of it, I can’t help but get the sneaking suspicion that there’s more to this than I’m currently comprehending. After all, a dream is said to be a gateway into the subconscious. Whatever the case may be, I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated. Thank you for reading all I’ve had to say up to this point.

(An Update)

I felt a soft tugging on my beige shirt. The small hand of my boy gripped the polyester tightly. I placed my hand on his head, gently massaging his scalp and pulling him closer to me. The funeral service had occurred just hours prior. Our family wasn’t particularly social. We had a few friends and family stop by and offer their condolences to me.

It was nice, but if I’m honest, it didn’t make me feel better in the slightest. Excuse me for feeling this way, but I wasn’t exactly receptive to socializing at my wife’s funeral. I only went out of necessity, as well as in pursuit of some form of closure. That closure never did arrive. After it was all said and done, the other attendees left, and it was just my son and I standing before her casket, all alone.

I stepped forward, placing my hand on the wooden box. The casket sat on a platform. Roses and candles were placed near it on a table. It was a lovely set-up, yet it didn’t feel complete. I knew her body wasn’t inside. Her mangled corpse could not be presented for an open casket funeral, so we planned on having her cremated, and having her remains buried. I turned, preparing to leave, but before I could, something peculiar caught my attention.

Thump

I spun around, eyeing the casket. Had I been hearing things? No, the only ones in the room were my son and I-

I turned back to exit the room, only to find my boy had disappeared. Where had he gone? He couldn’t have left the room, I hadn’t heard any footsteps. Before I could call his name, I heard it again.

Thump

I most definitely had not been imagining things.

“Sean, where are you buddy?!” I called out, now aware of the anxiety bubbling within me. I heard no answer. Rather, the only thing I heard was a faint laugh coming from behind me, near the casket.

I recognized that laugh. My breath got caught in my throat, and I spun around, facing the source of the noise. There she stood, her angelic presence seemingly illuminating the room.

“What the f**k…,” I uttered, staring ahead in disbelief. It was impossible.

“I have to be hallucinating,” I muttered. Had I gone mad? I had been so wrapped up in my thoughts that I hadn’t immediately noticed myself moving towards her. I extended my arms, resting them on her shoulders. Her red freckles adorned her face, having just enough opacity to be noticeable.

She smiled, revealing her pearly white palette, whereupon her dimples appeared. It was her. She was standing before me, in the flesh. I wanted so desperately to speak, but I could only choke on my own words. She delicately placed her hand on me, the cold, smooth surface of her ring grazing my cheek. Lowering my arms to her waist, I held her against me.

When gazing into her eyes, the rest of the world simply ceased to be. All that existed was her and I at that place, at that time. Gently we swayed back and forth, like the leaves of a tree on a gusty Autumn day. Rocking forward and backward, we held each other in our arms. Her skin was warm, and I became entrapped in her aura.

My muscles relaxed and soon enough, I was no longer conscious of our movements. My body went on autopilot as we danced to the beat of our hearts, conjoined as one. I was in heaven, for my love was alive again. I closed my eyes, smiling in contentedness.

Drip

I heard a wet splash. At the same time, liquid pooled onto my hand. Its warmth juxtaposed the suddenly cold surface I felt pressed against me. My eyes sprung open. The once lively eyes of Elizabeth were now sunken and dull. Her appearance was now ghoulish, and her skin appeared to stick closely to her bones.

Looking down at my hands, I saw that they had been covered with blood. A large laceration covered the surface of her stomach, and the stench of charred flesh infiltrated my nostrils. I shoved her away from me and collapsed to the floor. I only had a split second to process what had happened before thick chunks of vomit erupted from my throat.

I wish I had not met her gaze again. Her sweet smile had transformed into a sickening grin. She dragged herself towards me, leaving a streak of blood and pus in her path. I attempted to get up and stumble away from her, but to no avail. I felt nauseous and struggled to do anything besides clumsily shuffling away. I grimaced in pain as I felt her latch onto my arm, digging her yellowish, rotten nails into my skin.

She used her momentum to lunge at me, shoving me to the ground and landing on top of me. I screamed and I fought and I clawed at her, desperate to get her off of me. Somehow, even though her body appeared rotten and broken, she overpowered me, scraping and clawing at my flesh. Then…

I felt a tug on my beige shirt. A tiny hand gripped the polyester fabric. I picked myself up from the floor and looked down at my son. He looked back up at me, a look of concern and fear on his face. A puddle of vomit and tears occupied the floor beside where I had collapsed. Did I imagine everything? No, I quickly realized that wasn’t the most important question at that time.

Had my boy witnessed what had just happened? How could I have allowed myself to appear so weak in front of him… A boy is meant to see his father as a superhero. A strong man who can persevere through anything. Not only had that persona collapsed in the hospital, but it collapsed here as well. What would he think of me?

Regret and dismay ran through my veins at that moment, but those feelings were interrupted as Sean embraced me with as much strength as his little arms could muster. I froze, and then gently reciprocated his embrace. He had seen me collapse, seen me cry, seen me at my most vulnerable. Yet, when I looked upon my son, comforting me when I needed it most, I didn’t see a child who felt disappointed in his father. All I saw was an act of compassion.

Not wanting to weep more than I already had, I let go of Sean and stood upright. He was only a child and had already suffered the loss of his mother. At such a young age, I doubted he had much understanding of the concept of death at all. But I knew for certain he missed Elizabeth, and so I knew I had to be there for him. I promised then and there, that I would be strong for Sean.

We arrived home that evening. I treated Sean to the best pot roast I could make, and was ecstatic to see he had finally regained his appetite. I tucked him into bed soon after. I brought a chair by his bed, pulling his sheets and covers over him. The lamp by his bedside shone brightly.

“You doing okay, little guy?” I inquired. He didn’t respond, of course. He hadn’t uttered as much a word since the incident. I didn’t understand why, but I didn’t want to press him on it, either. I would get him some help as soon as I could.

I grabbed his stuffed teddy bear from a nearby shelf and waved it in front of him.

“You remember how we got this? How we went to the fair last year and you played the baseball game and won Teddy?”

I had hoped bringing up this memory would elicit a response from Sean, but he simply smiled and continued to look at me. Sighing, I returned his smile and patted his head.

“When mommy and I got married, we knew we wanted a baby. Every night, we would pray to the angels that a baby boy would come, and one day, you came to us! It was the happiest day of our lives, Sean, and from that point onward, you made us the happiest parents around. Mom… won’t be around for a long time. But I promise that she’s watching you with the angels. And she’s smiling, Sean. She’s so, so proud of her beautiful baby boy. And so am I. We will always love you.”

Again, Sean’s lips never parted once. Yet I knew that he understood. He had to have understood, I just know it. I just wanted to hear his voice again.

“Goodnight, Sean,” I said, getting up to leave his room. Before I could, he reached out and grabbed my arm.

“Oh, right. Sorry, buddy,” I said, leaning over and kissing his forehead. He nodded his head in satisfaction and laid down. I turned off his lamp and closed his bedroom door.

Making my way to the bathroom, I went inside and stared into the mirror. I had kept my promise to myself, to stay strong for Sean. At least for tonight. I gripped the sink tightly, leaning over and peering into my reflection. What the hell had happened earlier? Could it have been related to the dream I had the other night? Why was I experiencing these disturbing visions?

I had never really had to deal with mental trauma in the past, so I was unfamiliar with how to process this information. If people knew about the experiences I was having, would they think I was crazy? For the first time in my life, I felt small, and out of control. I balled my hand into a fist, pounding it into the wall.

That night was a sleepless one. All I could do was look up at the ceiling. Empty thoughts occupied my mind. I couldn’t make sense of what I had experienced, so I merely dismissed them as nightmares. I’ll keep you guys updated on any future developments. I need an outlet to get my thoughts out. I don’t want to vent to my son, so I’ll type my thoughts here. Thank you for your attention, I appreciate it.

(Another Update)

I've found it hard to eat recently. Besides the pork roast I had with Sean, I haven't had much of an appetite for anything. I've lost quite a bit of weight, evident by my rapidly thinning frame. I haven't been sleeping well, either. Despite this, I've been giving my best efforts to stay strong. I truly believe Sean and I will get through this.

When Sean fell asleep during the evening I decided for the first time in a while to try driving again. I had been walking or using public transport to get from place to place, but I knew that I couldn't just avoid driving forever. We had taken Liz's car that night, so I was able to use mine. I went out to the driveway and entered my vehicle. I put the keys into the ignition, slowly turning it until I could hear the hum of the engine. Taking a deep breath, I shifted the gear into reverse and backed out of the driveway.

Deciding I would get off to a slow start, I drove through my neighborhood streets at a low speed. The car methodically made its way down the road, and I eased up a little. I was getting comfortable driving again. Mustering up a little more courage, I turned onto a public road, so I could practice driving among other vehicles again.

My hands started to tremble, so I gripped the wheel tightly. I turned on my hazard lights. I needed to pace myself and keep my cool. I applied a little more pressure to the accelerator. My body stiffened as the car picked up speed, and I responded by slowing my breathing. Doing so allowed me to loosen my body, and I pressed down on the accelerator even harder.

I lowered the windows and felt the wind blow against my face. Horns beeped all around me. The noise of chattering pedestrians and restaurant music was omnipresent. I remembered this feeling of driving down the road at night in my car. The way the breeze flowed through my hair, the way the paved roads felt underneath my tire. As I looked into my rearview mirror, I almost thought my eyes were betraying me. I was smiling. Not just a smirk, but a full-on grin. I released my grip on the wheel and simply drove.

For miles I traveled, not having a care in the world. Oh, how I missed this. This liberating feeling coated me in pure bliss. As darkness enveloped the environment, I flicked on my headlights. Peering into the night sky, I saw the millions of stars sparkling above. Momentarily pausing to appreciate the serene view, my attention was drawn to an alternative source of light ahead of me. The headlights of another vehicle rapidly approached.

I defaulted back to clutching the wheel. Those lights... They flooded my vision just as memories flooded my mind. Remembering to be calm, I once more inhaled a surplus of oxygen, letting it stir in my stomach before a prolonged exhale exited my nose. For a moment, the light covered my entire vehicle. In a split second, it was over. I observed my rearview mirror once more, watching the car travel down the road behind me. Pulling onto the shoulder, I put the car into park and leaned back into the seat. I let out an audible sigh of relief, followed by a single sentence.

"I did it."

Returning home later that night, I quietly entered my house and went to check on Sean. His door opened with a slight creak, and I made my way over to his bedside. I turned on his lamp, only to find the covers of an empty bed pulled to the side. Confused, I exited his room and called out his name. There was no response. The door had been locked when I arrived, so I knew he had to have been in the house.

I checked the kitchen and the dining room before making my way to the hallway. The walls were coated in a darkness as black as tar, except for the very end of the hall. There stood the door to my bedroom, the glow of light outlining its perimeter. I approached it, placing my hand on the doorknob and entering the room.

There sat my son on my bed. In his arms sat a picture frame that held the image of Elizabeth, standing by Sean. He stared at the image, his face as still as stone. I went over to him, sitting by his side and placing my arm over his shoulder. I noticed dark splotches on the picture frame. Placing my hand under Sean's chin, I lifted his head to face me. Red circles surrounded his watery eyes.

Using my thumb to wipe the remaining tears from his cheek, I tried to offer him the best smile I could, but his frown remained. There I sat, at a loss for words. My gaze lowered and focused on the picture in the frame. Placing my hand on his, we sat in silence and viewed the photo together. Eventually, I broke the silence, realizing just how late it was.

"Hey buddy, let's head to bed okay?"

Sean gave me a head nod and arose, traversing the corridors of the house to his room. I tucked him in, as per usual, before retreating to my bed. I picked up the picture frame and held it in my hand. Elizabeth was as beautiful as ever, and for the first time in ages, viewing her did not cause me distress or pain. Rather, I felt a sense of acceptance.

I recalled what I had told Sean, about her watching over him with the rest of the angels. Though I had said it to ease his mind, I too had begun to tell myself the same thing. That somewhere out in the universe, my Liz was watching, hoping for the best for me. I glanced at the image of Sean, standing by his mother. He had the purest grin on his face. One that could melt my heart one thousand times over. I knew he did because I remembered taking that photo. Yet, that was not how he appeared now.

In his place stood a different Sean. A Sean without the grin, without the energetic and hopeful eyes. Rather, one with deep gashes and bruises embedded into his flesh. One whose limbs appeared contorted into unnatural positions. In the blink of an eye, his happy demeanor changed into one of shock and terror. Taken aback, I dropped the photo and rushed back to Sean's room. I burst through the door, only to find him peacefully asleep in his bed. He was there, alive, in one piece. I saw him with my own two eyes.

Making my way back to my bedroom, I scooped up the picture frame and gazed upon it once more. There he stood, looking perfectly happy. Rubbing my eyes in hopes to clear my vision, I viewed the image again, hoping to confirm that what I saw was real. The photo remained unchanged, still showing Sean as the gleeful little boy I knew him to be.

I put the photo away and climbed into bed, pulling the covers over my body. Sinking my head into my pillow, I closed my eyes. Although it took a few hours, I finally drifted into a deep slumber. The following day I woke up early. Entering the kitchen for a glass of water, the sound of footsteps caught my attention. They were heading down the hallway which leads to Sean's room. Figuring Sean had woken up, I followed them down the hallway, where I saw his bedroom door ajar.

Inside, I found my boy sitting beside the Being from my dream all those nights ago. There he was in his slick grey suit. He appeared as malnourished as ever, his thin frame giving him a feeble look. His face remained blurred, so much so that I could not discern any of his features.

I watched as he extended his bony fingers towards my son, laying them atop his head. He brushed Sean's hair with his hand. Neither one of them faced me, and despite the circumstances, I did not feel fear for my safety, or Sean's. I walked toward the creature, attempting to touch it. Mere centimeters before the tips of my fingers grazed its figure, my body lunged forward, my forehead drenched in sweat. I observed my surroundings, realizing I had not yet left my bed.

I decided to put the picture frame away in my closet for the time being. The thing freaks me out, and after that dream and what I would assume was my hallucination yesterday, I can't bear to view it. Once again, I'll be sure to keep you all updated on future updates. I cannot express my gratitude enough to all of you.

Truly, thank you.

(A Final Update)

"Sean, I need you to speak to me."

I must have uttered several variations of that phrase for at least half an hour.

"Please, buddy. You can talk to me, okay? I promise you can talk to papa."

No matter how many times I repeated these words to him, he simply wouldn't answer. I desperately needed to know that he could speak. I... I needed to know that he was real.

The truth is, the constant barrage of delusions had taken a toll on my psyche. Distinguishing between what was real and what was merely a figment of my imagination had become difficult. I had to know Sean was real. I wanted to believe he was, and I would know he was real if only he would speak. Could he not see the anguish in my eyes? Why wouldn't he just utter a single word?

I gripped his shoulders tightly, begging him to even part his lips once. He never obliged my only wish. No amount of bribery or pleading could elicit a response from him. All he did was grab my arm, turn towards his room, and march towards it.

As I followed him, an overbearing sense of dread began to brew within me. I felt my heart intensely pounding in my throat as we entered the room together. There the entity sat. My head hung low as Sean released me from his grasp and trekked towards the Being ahead. I too approached it, once again attempting to touch the thing. Preparing to suddenly awake from what I had assumed was another nightmare, I placed my hand on the figure. Only, I didn't wake in my bedroom once again. Instead, it too placed its hand on me, and we felt each other's papery frames.

Slowly but surely, the details of the Being's face were revealed to me. As I looked upon it, I recognized its features, for they were my features, too. I stumbled backward, watching as the thing with my appearance leaned towards my son, gently kissing his forehead. I ogled the creature, swallowing the oceans of saliva that had built up in my mouth in a single swift gulp.

The creature locked eyes with me, and I locked eyes with it. As this occurred, a sense of familiarity washed over me. My mind darted back and forth, unsure of what to make of the situation. That is until my thoughts inexplicably settled on the memory of the accident on that fateful night. I recalled the blinding lights, the shrill cries of fear and suffering... no, there was more. The overhead traffic light, from which a soft, red hue shone in the night sky. My vehicle had passed underneath the light, and then the impact happened. The doctors...had they truly told me my son had survived?

"They say that there are some moments in our life that we’ll remember for an eternity."

It was a quote that I wrote back towards the beginning of this text. So then, why couldn't I recall the words of the doctor who told me that Sean was still alive...? Could I truly have forgotten?

I snapped back to reality, keeping eye contact with the Being before me. Only now, Sean was nowhere to be found. The sense of familiarity I felt soon dissipated and was replaced with boiling hatred. I glared at the monster, my palms balling up. I rushed towards it, tackling it to the ground. Before it could react I began pummeling it with my fists.

"You're the reason Elizabeth is gone. You're the reason Sean is gone. I'm going to kill you," I exclaimed, gritting my teeth and continuing my assault on the Being. It showed no resistance. It simply allowed me to keep striking it. Again, and again.

And again,

And again,

And again,

I had no plans on stopping. Blood flowed from the thing's face and onto my fists. With every strike, I could feel my body breaking. With every blow, I could sense the light within me begin to extinguish. Yet I had no plans on stopping. I was going to kill this man, for taking what I held dearest to me. At that point, I couldn't even see the thing. Tears had clouded my eyes, blurring my sight. I simply pounded my fists downward, hoping to murder the figure in my fit of rage.

I felt a soft tugging on my beige shirt. It was gentle, yet enough to pause my assault.

A tiny hand gripped the polyester fabric.

My arms fell to my side, and I turned my head and there he was. My boy stood by my side. I froze, my eyes widening like saucers as I witnessed his lips parting for the very first time.

"I forgive you, papa."

He smiled at me and embraced me once more. I embraced him too, feeling the stream of tears begin to erupt from my eyes. Not wishing to get my tears on his shoulder, I closed my eyes. I soon found that a second pair of arms had wrapped around me. The smooth surface of a ring pressed against my skin. I didn't let go for what felt like hours, but I knew I couldn't hold on forever.

As I opened my eyes, I found myself alone with the figure in what was once Sean's room. I stood up and approached him once more. In one swift motion, I hugged the thing, pulling it close against me. When I let go, the thing vanished from my view. It was over.

I fetched the picture frame from the closet and placed it back on my bedside. There stood Sean and Liz, standing beside each other with grins on their faces. In the reflection of the frame, I could see my face besides theirs. I smiled with them for one final time.

I know Sean and Elizabeth and the Angels are looking from somewhere out there, wishing the best for me. I know they would want me to forgive myself. Though doing so isn't going to be easy, I think I'll manage to do it.

They may not be with me on this Earth, but I know that they're with me in my heart and mind. Thank you all for reading my account. I think I'm going to be okay from this point forward. Don't expect any more updates from me. I have the feeling that I should move on. It was a pleasure writing to you all.


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Thu Oct 14, 2021 2:39 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi PhoenixEmberly,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

The title definitely rings a bell, but I don't remember everything that happened, so I'm going to go in from scratch and pretend I don't have any experience with the story, in case anything sounds familiar.

You have a very very good way of introducing the reader to the story without saying exactly what happened. You remain so vague that you build up a tension and drama that you would not have created with the effect of a simple explanation.

The narrative voice continues to be constant and has a good delivery in general, so you realise straight away that Mr Johnson is quite a concerned man. I like his deductions and also the thoughts that reflect him. This switch between his thoughts and reality change seamlessly and even during a thought you manage to bring about a change that can be seen externally and internally, such as here for example:

Shakily standing up to greet him, I grinned and extended my arm towards his. That’s when I noticed the sullen look plastered on his face, and my heart descended below my chest.


There are a number of passages like this throughout the text, but here in general you manage to create a really good shock. You build and drag out the next section a bit and yet it doesn't feel so drastic, but level-headed and thoughtful to the point.

Johnson's subsequent reaction is done really well and convincingly, you've built up to this moment before by mentioning that he's not just thinking about himself, but also his wife. Again, you manage to say something without saying it. Instead, you show it, which is what a very well-written literary text is all about.

I find your alternation between some longer paragraphs and a short one an elegant way to bring the story into different stages that tell you a little bit more and more, like a kind of memory, how it goes on but above all how it happened.

I knew he wouldn’t budge, but I knew the hospital had been keeping him healthy and nourished. I told him he should go to bed and get some rest, and he obliged, hopping up from his seat and making his way to his room. After he crawled in bed, I tucked him in and asked if he’d like me to sleep in his room for the night. He shook his head, rejecting my offer. I bent down and kissed his forehead, wishing him a good night.
I opened my laptop and researched the therapy centers cited in the pamphlet I received earlier. I grimaced when I read the costs for each one. My wife made money along with me for our family. That, combined with the opportunity cost forfeited by my hospital stay, took immediate therapy out of the question. Sighing, I closed the computer and trod over to my bedroom.

These two sections stand out because the "I" is dominant here and for the first time we see that Johnson is also trying to think about himself, after he has also realised that his son is still in shock. I think it's a good change and also realistic to present it in such a way that these thoughts only come back when he's calm.

There stood a man and his soulmate, their faces beaming with glee.

I really like the way your language seems so distant and alien. Johnson is so devastated that he doesn't even see his former self as himself anymore, but as someone completely different. His brain has been so dependent on his wife that he doesn't even see himself as his own individual anymore.

The flashbacks in his nightmares testify to the fact that he is still struggling a lot with himself and I also like this alternation between the hospital and home here. In the hospital, the nightmares are not mentioned in detail, there he is still in a kind of extroverted perspective, and only afterwards at home, where he is "alone", does he sink into his inner self.

The second half begins with the funeral and the start of possible hallucination. Where it seems quite obvious how the story gets to that point, and what Johnson is experiencing, that his dead wife is in front of him, seems quite mundane and think you've read and seen that many times before. But I really like the way you've described it, creating a real horror effect. Not only do you get that anxious feeling of loneliness here, but also this depression that you are alone and there is no other option. Johnson is so low that he still sees other people, but at times wants very much to avoid it.

A boy is meant to see his father as a superhero. A strong man who can persevere through anything. Not only had that persona collapsed in the hospital, but it collapsed here as well. What would he think of me?

What was considered a noble character trait in the first half now seems more like an obligation that Johnson has inserted. I think it makes good sense that he sees it as his duty to present himself as great, not to show sadness when he is surrounded by his son.

I see the progression of the story now focusing more around Sean. I think it's a good build-up to Johnson always seeing himself first after receiving the news and then finally trying to bring his son more into the centre. I like this development.

At the same time, I had the feeling that there would now come a point when Sean himself is long dead and he imagines it, but I have to say that the ending was quite open there to give a definitive answer. I notice that Johnson is preparing for a new point in his life and I think you've done a great job, but it still leaves me sitting there a bit, because I don't immediately see what's going to happen next. On the one hand I notice that the character has found peace and yet it seems so strange. That's not to say that the story is bad, but I find it quite unsatisfying how I'm standing there now, not knowing exactly what will happen next.

In general, you managed to communicate in good words in a detailed and exciting way to the reader and made sure with many effects that I was in the middle of it from the beginning to the end. I like your writing style and how you manage to keep it the same for such a long time and yet always surprise me with new things.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:31 am
Buranko wrote a review...



Hi there. Here, reviewing prose, something I barely do, on account of the checklists. I saw short story in description and decided I should get into it. I will read one log and review, read another and review and so on.

So, for the first log we (the readers) are introduced into a colorless world, senseless world, a world where the only light is coming from the stars and headlights and the only sound coming from the rhythmical drop of rain beads on the roof of the car. After the narrator inhales our first encounter with color is presented. The narrator's wife is presented superficially but enough to make her one of the important characters of this story. What follows is him exhaling and then observing his peaceful child strapped in the backseat, sleeping.

This plain world and state of being is quickly altered by the sudden flash of light which fills the narrator's eyes, the sudden impact and the shrieks of terror from both his wife and kid. The darkness enveloping the driver has both literal sense and metaphorical sense. Besides the logical explanation this darkness can also be perceived as the state of being which follows this man in his life, after this accident.

The background quickly changes to a hospital environment, filled with the sound of crowds and the stress of doctors, all living under the white color of such a building. The narrator is trapped between two feelings, one of relief at the sound of his son being fine, the other of pain and restlessness at the sound of his wife's critical condition. He gets the identity of Mr Johnson after asking the doctors how is his wife and receiving the non-answer of them working on it.

After some painful times he is greeted by one of the staff and, observing his face, guesses what they have to say to him. The news shock him and send Mr Johnson in a state of desperation and strong grief. He feels pained to hear this and directs all his love to his living son which shares the same state of depression as him, proof of him crying in the narrator's shirt.

They move back to their house where after a dinner which had barely been eaten, his son is sent to sleep. His son seems to be in a state of denial and wishes to isolate himself, therefore refusing his father's offer to sleep together.

Mr Johnson himself isn't in a better condition. His room feels especially lonely, reigned by the picture of him and his soulmate, which is no longer among him and his son. He finds it difficult to sleep and when he finally does, the dream that he witnesses makes him wish he wasn't sleeping. He finds himself back on the road, back in the accident, and the vivid images and sensations make him question whether he is or he isn't in a dream. His dream materializes a man, strangely familiar which holds his shoulder. It brings long wanted comfort, not fear despite his unusual looks. He doesn't understand the relationship between him and this man but he has a suspicion there is more to dreams than he can comprehend.

The second log transitioned really nice into the background of a funeral. I loved how vividly you presented the service, the young boy's sadness thrown onto the father, his need for being close to someone he loved etc. Seeing Mr Johnson getting close to the casket we are presented with an auditory image, a thump, followed by another one, a laugh. You did a great job by presenting his anxiety, his calling for the son which gets an identity as well (Sean). The laugh makes him question himself as he can clearly recognize it everywhere. And there she is. The only significant drop of color in the poem. You made her pretty distinct among the few characters that play in this story.
Seeing his wife I could understand Mr Johnson a little better. His love, his addiction to his soulmate is clearly visible as he can't contain himself and jumps into her hug.
But, not everything is how it seems. From this point onwards the story really begins to unfold itself. The wife loses color, her smell is of charred flesh and the only real color is the crimson blood on his palms. The imagery gets quite grotesque afterwards. Vomit, pus, blood, rotten nails, disgusting grins, all dance together in this macabre setting. The creature is also really distinct from the innocent characters around (his wife, son) in its disgusting nature.
The transition from this dubious setting to the innocence of him being met by his son is quite unsettling, but works out in the end. Seeing how desperate the father is, it makes sense for him to not sense his son coming, therefore no smooth transition. Sean's character shines through the father's desperation as he calms him by hugging him tightly. Mr Johnson promises him to stay strong, a promise he seems to intend to keep

So far the story is good. Mr Johnson is portrayed as an individual with strong will but really weak as well, Sean is innocent and the creature is chaotic.

I don't like how episodic it feels. We've had two episodes so far, one in house, one at funeral and what follows now is another house episode. You could try smoothing the action a little in between these parts

I am not going to continue with explaining the action because I did only where you explained the characters. Now, with the personalities and thoughts, all that remained was to put them to the story. I love how you gave that plot twist at the end, and the ending with I forgive you papa and the hopeful tone omg.
The lack of dialogue further enhanced this monster tone in the story, the inhumane action. I expected to not like it, and yes, I prefer more dialogue in my stories and what I read but you did it really well.


This was a horror story because of the psychological horror, more than the actual horrifying stuff. Great job, of course, if you do it this cool in the psychological genre I wonder how you do in other horror genres. Good luck in your works and keep writing <33




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Fri Sep 03, 2021 8:29 pm
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Stellarjay wrote a review...



Hello Phoenix Emberly,
Let’s jump right into the review shall we?

Roses


This was such an intense story! I loved it so much. I even teared up at some parts. Like here:
Yet, when I looked upon my son, comforting me when I needed it most, I didn’t see a child who felt disappointed in his father. All I saw was an act of compassion.

My heart!

"I forgive you, papa."

AND THEN AT THE END OF THE STORY SEAN FORGIVES HIM!!!! *Bawls uncontrollably* His journey though, from start to finish is heart wrenching….and warming at the same time. Like basically as he goes through his grief he struggles with his guilt up until this point.

I got completely invested into it and was trying to figure things out ahead of him but completely failing in doing so. For the most part it was really well written. I personally thought that the dialogue was natural and the structure of the story was coherent and easy to understand. The premise of the plot was a little confusing at first, but I think that’s a good thing since our main character doesn’t know what’s going on either. It forces the reader to buy into the hallucinations along with him which makes the story even more creepy. You did a really good job with that.

Buds


Below are a few things that are grammatical errors and or just questions that I had.
Glass shattered as the vehicle came to a violent halt, causing my body to jerk forward and my face to plant directly into the steering wheel.

A small question: Wouldn’t the airbags turn on? Unless this was before airbags were invented. If so I would just add a note on the top with the date. Or even put a date by each log entry!

He nodded his head, rejecting my offer.

I think you mean shook.

I positioned myself on the couch,

I would reword this, it doesn’t read very well.

as I awoke as soon as my eyes scanned what should have been his face.

This could also use a little rewording, I had a hard time trying to decipher what you meant here.

although I’m not sure what to make of it, I can’t help but get the sneaking suspicion that there’s more to this than I’m currently comprehending

I don’t know about this. The transition between the past tense and present tense was...odd? I think it may have to do with the fact that he was reflecting on his emotions in the moment that made it like that.
she overpowered me, scraping and clawing at my flesh. Then…

I felt a tug on my beige shirt.

First off, hallucinations much? The transition was a bit undefined. I had to read it over a second time to catch what happened.

There he stood, looking perfectly happy and happy.

Maybe change the second happy to joyful or content or something. The repetition just completely breaks the moment here.

Inside, I found my boy sitting beside the being from my dream all those nights ago.

I would capitalize ‘the being’, since it’s kind of like it’s name/identity. It also creates a better distinction in the next sentence of who the main character is describing

The biggest issue I noticed throughout your writing was the awkwardly worded sentences. They were sprinkled throughout the story and would sometimes just break the moment. At first it wound like he was doing one thing but in fact doing another. I would suggest thinking about what you are trying to convey and stick with that. Also a second pair of eyes is extremely helpful in the editing process!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Overall this was a really good story! I cried, I laughed and I got shivers up my spine. I loved how he went through the healing process through his hallucinations. Also how, since it was a first-person narrative, I learned things along with him. It was a really well rounded story.
Anyways I hope this review was helpful and if you have any questions feel free to ask. Keep on writing and have a great rest of your day! <3

- Stellarjay






Hi Stellerjay! I must admit I often have trouble finding typos and grammar errors in writing. This is especially true in long stories, so I heavily appreciate you taking the time to point out a few of them in my story. I will correct them ASAP!

I honestly did not notice the lack of airbags in the story. Unfortunately it wouldn't make much sense for this story to take place prior to airbags in cars being common, given that the Husband uses a computer in the story. Unfortunately this is a detail I overlooked, and I'll try to think of ways to correct that as well.

I will say that I am somewhat intentionally trying to blur the lines between what is real and what is fake in order to make the narrator unreliable. Though this is intended, your point about it being unclear when the hallucinations stop and start is still very important. After all, whether or not this aspect is intentional or not doesn't matter if it makes the story less enjoyable or coherent for the reader as a result.

I am glad that you enjoyed the story overall though. I hadn't written in a while, so I am happy to be able to finally get to writing again. Thank you a lot for your time and effort in reading and reviewing this story.




There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
— Arthur C. Clarke