From my Work in Progress Romance novel, Autumn Fire.
The dream shifted, and Sam was staring at Jon and Dori again in their kitchen, laughing and teasing each other. The sunlight seemed to drown them all in ethereal light, so bright that Sam could barely see Jon’s face. He saw Dori’s clearly, but not Jon’s.
He was heading out, beckoning Sam to come with him. When they’d gotten in the car, Sam could feel them driving – rolling through an endless tunnel of white light, cocooned in an unknown void. When the impact hit them, shattered glass littered around him, cutting through flesh and singing through the air. When he looked up, darkness killed the heavenly light, and Jon was slumped over in the driver’s seat, the metal fragment piercing his brain, spilling out his blood into the car and onto Sam. Sam could feel his own pain dulling when he’d seen his lifeless friend.
Over and over again he saw Jon die. The dreams, the memories, the fear played on an endless loop, trapping him in an amber web of his own terror, his own guilt that his young friend had died that day and some higher power had spared him.
Suddenly, he felt very wet, and he wondered if he was covered in blood, but instead, Sam was weeping, almost endlessly, the cries of horror and agony coming out in small whimpers, echoing through the black corridor as his friend laid lifeless beside him.
He couldn’t save him. Sam had saved him once from alcohol addiction. He’d saved him and helped him, and Jon had finally become a wonderful man – a soldier, a caretaker, and a loyal friend. Sam couldn’t save him from this. No matter how much the dream looped, Sam couldn’t save Jon from a fate like this.
He was gone. Jon was gone and Sam still couldn’t breathe or think the moment he realized his friend was gone, that he’d seen his death wedged in his mind like a cancer, haunting him and making him weep.
He’d inhaled a sharp breath and his eyes opened in surprise. His cheeks were wet, and he turned to Dori, whose hands were on his shoulders, bringing him awake.
“You were crying,” Dori said. “I’m sorry; I didn’t realize you were sleeping.”
“No, it’s okay,” Sam said in a small, crackled voice.
“No, it’s not. Jesus Christ, Sam. Is this every night for you? These dreams about my brother?” she asked, and she slid next to him on the couch. Her thighs lightly grazed against his, and he felt stilled from the touch.
“Yes,” he answered her, unsure of how to feel about her closeness and worry. He’d always dealt with his demons alone, and he couldn’t burden her with knowing that her brother’s death had literally changed his life. And not for the better. He’d struggled every day with it, the memories, the trauma – and he couldn’t tell this sweet woman that her brother’s death had brought him so much struggle and pain.
© H.K. Rowe
This was really moving and beautiful, Sam’s vivid grief, memories, and sense of responsibility and guilt were powerfully conveyed. It was so painful and intense. I love Dori’s concern too, and how he felt that he couldn’t burden her with his own pain when she’d lost her brother. Great piece!
Thanks so much!