Trace and Adison's story
Tightening his embrace until she leaned back against him, Trace enjoyed the feel of her in his arms. Her scent, a mix between sunblock and grape soda, wafted around him, and he felt like this moment would last a lifetime.
In silence, he and the woman he loved watched as brilliant shades of every color in the rainbow began exploding above them. When there came a pause in the show of fire works, he pulled loose the tie that held her braid in place, and then ran his fingers through her silky hair until his hands were tangled in it.
Leaning forward, he nuzzled her ear and whispered, "I've been waiting to be alone with you all day."
"Me, too," she said, and he could hear the smile in her voice.
"I love you," he whispered.
She did not answer right away, but sat still in his arms, watching the display above.
When the last shower of stars faded in the night sky, he felt her turn her head until her lips brushed his ear.
So soft he almost missed it, she said, "I love you, too."
He tried to hold on to her, but even as his arms tightened, her warm body faded until he felt nothing.
"Adison! Adison! Where are you, baby?"
Her face was so vivid in his mind's eye, the feel of her had been so real, but he could no longer see her on the river bank. Then, he knew; she was not at the river; she was just ahead of him, guiding him as he ran toward safety.
No! No! This wasn't right!
But, he could not deny what his eyes told him; she was there, urging him one way and then another, as bullets rained all around.
He heard her voice then, that distinct alto that was hers alone, and it was reassuring him that she would show him the way out.
In the end, she had done as she had promised; gotten him out.
All of a sudden, his eyes flew open, and he tried to sit up. Knifing pain coarsed through his head, and he fell back against the pillow. It took all his concentration to keep from passing out. It was several minutes before he could focus once more on his surroundings.
He lay flat on his back, looking up at the ceiling. He was in the hospital, he knew, and all around him were sounds of a busy day: a woman's voice calling for a Jill to report to the nurse's station, an AT&T commercial playing on a nearby television, and nearer still, the sound of someone quietly weeping.
Something lay over his nose and mouth, and if he crossed his eyes, he could just see the out line of an oxygen mask. He tried to lift a hand to remove it, but his hands would not obey.
Why did he feel so weighted down?
It came back to him, then, what his sister had said to him in one of those odd, lucid moments he had before the dreams came.
A spinal cord injury, she had said.
But, what exactly did that mean, and why the oxygen mask? Was he still unable to breathe on his own?
Taking an experimental breath, he ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth and felt no foreign objects there. His chest felt a little tight, but other than that he was definitely breathing on his own.
Thank you God.
Thankful the rain had stopped, Britney concentrated on the ground beneath her and tried not to think about the stealthy noises she kept hearing ahead of her. The way was slippery, but there were enough tree roots to brace herself against as she struggled upward. The very real possibility that she was heading in to danger, made her feel sick to her stomach, but what choice did she have except to go on? Maybe, the noise ahead had been a rabbit, or a dog or cat.
Probably not; a dog would have barked...unless..."
Oh, Lord,, please don't let there be any cujos out here!
No matter what lay ahead, it was better to face a living thing from whom she might be abel to escape than the dark waters of the stream below that absolutely terrified her. She had not always been afraid of water, but ever since that long ago day when her world had turned upside down, she could not bare the thought of being in water above her knees. Her lack of sight only made it worse.
Pausing against a pine tree, she stood to her feet and listened. There was the sound of the rain as it moved off in to the distance, the breeze as it rustled the trees, but she heard nothing more. The way the wind in the trees sounded, she knew she was nearing the edge of the tree line, simply because there was no rustling ahead of her, only behind. She reached out a foot to check the ground immediately ahead. Realizing it was too steep to walk, she got down on her knees again and went forward, hoping to find a place where she could rest.
After several moments of crawling in the wet grass and mud, her left hand brushed against an outcropping of rock that for a few feet was straight up and down before leveling off. With her right foot braced against the sloping ground, she hoisted her left knee up and using it for leverage, pulled her other leg up on to the rock ledge. Then, she froze, fear running like ice water through her veins.
All at once, she knew she was not alone. The rock beneath her hands was dry and warm to the touch, whereas everything else was soaking wet from the rain.
Someone was there;she could hear him breathe.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she kept her head down. The sting of tears made her feel helpless, something she prided herself on not being.
The woman was a mess; Trey could see that right off. The only thing she wore that was not covered in mud was her backpack.
Funny, her backpack looked like the one that he had bought for...
Leaning to the side, he reached out and adjusted the backpack, looking for the monogram he knew would be there. Sure enough, there it was.
How on earth had she gotten here?
"P…Please, don't hurt me. I…I didn't s…see a thing."
The pleading in her voice tore at his heart. She still didn't know who he was. But, there was no forgetting that red hair or the slope of her cheek. In what felt like another lifetime, Trey had known this woman as well as he had known himself.
He watched as she scrubbed her palms on her jeans, then shoved her wet hair behind her shoulders. At sight of her face, his breath caught in his throat. It was her, all right, Britney, his ex-wife, the one to whom he owed so much.
A splattering of mud ran down her left cheek, and her nose was running. Tears were gathering in the corners of her eyes, and there were bits of leaves and twigs trapped in the mane of her hair. Something was different, though, something about her eyes. They were still a vivid green, big and clear, still rimmed by lashes other women only dreamed of having. But, for some reason, she would not meet his gaze. It felt like she saw him, but there was no recognition, no emotion at all. A shaft of afternoon sunlight fell across her face, right in to her eyes, but she did not react. Her pupils did not contract, she did not blink or turn away.
Reality, cold and painful slammed in to him then; she was blind.