Sunday, September 4, 2011

Committed in a Dream

"The heart-wrenching groans of a man suffering pain forced Carin on her feet. Her heart was pounding in her chest, like a wild animal captured in a cage too small for its size. As if in a daze she walked down the hallway. In the doorway of the living room she shrunk with shock. It was her father who lay stretched out on the couch, his face twisted with pain. A presbyter, Mr. Williams who lived across the street, dressed in an old-fashioned swallow-tailed coat, was pouring boiling water on her father's chest, rubbing it in with his bare hands.
“What are you doing to my father?” Carin screamed, but the presbyter ignored her. She knew he was Death in person, trying to kill her father. Instinctively she looked for a weapon she could use to scare him away. Her eyes fell on the black marble paperweight on the coffee table. It was a piece of art, the emblem of her father's family. It was heavy. She had no doubts; she could and would kill Mr. Williams with one blow in order to save her father's life. 
“Don’t come closer, Carin!” her father groaned when he saw her move.
“But Dad, he is hurting you! Look at your chess – all red and writhe,” she cried.  
“Stay away!” her father gasped, “On my way to heaven I have to travel through hell. This is a ritual that will keep the flames from burning me.”  
“No-o!” Carin screamed before she brought the paperweight down on Mr. Williams' head. 

Carin was sitting upright on her bed with her hand on her racing heart. She had one of those weird dreams. She was eleven when she had the first one, or at least the first one she was able to recognize as a prevision. The night her grandfather died. She saw him dying from a heart attack while he was actually miles away from her. 

Now, at the age of thirty-three, she had the umpteenth dream of this nature. He black marble paperweight, engraved with the family's emblem, was not on her coffee table, but twenty miles away on the coffee table in her parent’s living room.

She subdued the urge to call her mother.  

Finding comfort in hot, black coffee, she looked through the window of her living room at Mr. and Mrs. Williams' house across the road. It was only a dark shade in the darkness of the night, as the lights in the street were for some reason out and the moon was nowhere in sight. She could not remember when she had last seen the elderly couple; she had been too busy to pay any attention to her neighbours' comings and goings. The last time she looked, Mr. Williams had been sitting most of the day on the veranda, like a corpse waiting to be buried. 

At six o'clock  while the sun rose on the horizon, Carin was in her studio upstairs, sketching the scene she had seen in her dream, when the sirens of an ambulance forced her to the window. She was not surprised to see the vehicle coming to a standstill in front of Mr. and Mrs. Williams' house. She waited until the ambulance left before she crossed the street to support Mrs. Williams. 

“Mrs. Williams, I am so sorry. Can I make you a cup of tea, or coffee?" The poor woman stood abandoned on the veranda with her favourite poodle in her arms.

“Yes, I am dying for a cup of tea,” she said, wiping tears off her cheeks with the back of her hand.
Sitting at the kitchen table, compulsively stroking the poodle on her lap, Mrs. Williams gave an account of her husband’s last activities. “He woke up at about three, complaining about headache and a feeling of not being in his own body. He said he needed fresh air. When I woke up again... God, I can't believe I have fallen asleep while knowing he was not well! I found him in the lounge... on the floor...." She was crying like a child. 
"And now for the bad news about my father," Carin thought while she returned to her house, cold with anxiety and a feeling of guilt. Was she perhaps the one who had ended Mr. Williams' life? 

As Carin entered her house, her telephone started to ring. 
Her mother’s voice on the other side of the line was soft and calm, as always. “Carin, I have good and bad news. Dad is in hospital. Apparently a blood clot went through his heart during the night, but he survived.... our man of steel."

"Mom, you have no idea how relieved I am. I'll be there in half an hour."

"Don't you want to hear the bad news?" 

"What?" Carin asked perplexed. What could be bad news? Her father to be an invalid for the rest of his life? 

“Remember that black marble emblem of a paperweight you gave Dad for his birthday?"


"Well, it's broken now, and don't ask me how you father has managed to break it." 

© Martie Coetser 2011

Credit to my mentor in English grammar, Maria Jordan

How to present your life experiences in the style of a Short Story