A hopeful woman swayed side to side on the rushing train bound for Towns Square. Town Square is where that very woman would have to reenter the hustle and bustles of a buzzing city, which she hoped would soon die down. Time Square is of little importance to her, she was merely passing through to obtain a rental car to take her area of interest. Interest was the worst word to describe her destination. The white-washed building she was hoping for held everyone’s latest nightmare. The white-washed building held the stench of death and of the dying. The white-washed building is the last place someone would want to visit.
The woman mindlessly swiped right on the frequently-visited dating website, looking up occasionally to check the places the train passed through. The outcry of a child roared over the commotion of chatter. The train rushing over the train tracks created an omnipresent distinctive sound that created shuttering jolts of motion through the feet of the passengers. Every 5 minutes groups of people would create an uproar of laughter before dying back down to an acceptable level. There wasn’t an ounce of quiet on this form of locomotion, which was expected because of the time and day of this affair. How can people be so happy, when others can feel so, so, the woman’s mind struggled for the right word. Empty is what was shouted in the woman’s mind with astounding anguish. Wanting to be ignored for the remainder of the duration on the noisy train, the woman plugged wired earbuds into the bottom of her phone. Soft low fidelity rhythmic notes danced circles around the woman’s fatigued brain.
The woman carefully counted down in her mind how many towns were left before she would be dropped off. Rock Creek, Fort Tainley, Lascer, and Highton’s Pointe came and went before the train operator announced that the next stop would be Town Square. Making sure to gather her small-scale carry-on and backpack, the woman got ready to depart.
A chilling gust of wind entangled the woman’s hair as she stepped onto the metal platform, wheeling around her bags. Making sure to move quickly through the thickening mass of individuals going about their daily business, the woman made her way to the small shop that read ‘Car Rentals’. The wind seemed to be a mere afterthought as the woman pushed through the awkward commotion of noises and motion. Almost warming to the weather.
After pushing the metal door with shining crystal windows, a bell chimed from overhead, signaling the arrival of a guest. A few people from the chaos outside of the walls were seated with employees. Only intending to stay for but a couple minutes, the woman strode to the front desk to request a rental. Making matters quick, the woman offered up legal identification and was brought back to the parking garage where she would absentmindedly pick a random car that wasn't a truck or van. With the latter set in stone, and the paperwork filled out, the woman inserted the key into the ignition and headed North for the Amity Medical Center.
Great cypress tree blurred in the corners of the woman’s vision as she drove deeper into the forest. The chaotic and unorganized energy from the city slowly dissipated, as the woods swallowed the frequencies whole. The branches of a weeping willow tree hung with serenity, as leaves fell with the grace of an experienced ballerina. Flowers drifted lazily through the wind, casually getting stuck in the rental’s windshield wipers. Driving on, the woman continued until she saw the tall luminous hospital in view. Why did they have to put this monstrosity in the middle of a budding field of life? I guess it has its irony, she thought. Pulling into the parking lot, the woman chose her usual space and proceeded to enter the internally decaying hospital.
At the front desk, Marie greeted the woman with a smile and wave before permitting her to enter the wing where her father has been kept for the past 2 months. Though, before taking the immediate right to the hospital rooms, the woman walked aimlessly around the building, admiring little details that haven’t changed. Flower pots, staff members, paintings, and tvs were never moved from their usual spot making the place even more dreary and uncreative. The lack of color and decadents was enough to make the patients develop a mental illness on top of other ailments. Taking note of the time, the woman headed to her father’s “abode” to stare at death himself.
Hanging by a literal string, a whiteboard advertised who was inhabiting the room, and that too has stayed the same since the father-daughter duo arrived. The stench of hospital and vanilla mixed together, as the scents slapped the woman in the face as she entered the boring, uninspiring room. The only thing different, the only thing with non-artificial light glowing was the raspy words of her father from the hospital bed. “My dear Cherry, I'm feeling exceptionally ill today. I can’t move a muscle in fear of spewing my remains. Could you be a darling and fetch me some food, that isn’t hospitalized food. I would enjoy some coffee if that isn’t asking too much,” her father smiled weakly. Laying soft lips atop of her father’s frailing head saturated with beads of sweat. “Yes my sweet father,” Cheryl whispered. Taking one more long look at the pitiful sight, she left the room headed for the food court.
Slow, steady clicks of sneakers on waxed linoleum echoed through the vacant halls as Cheryl walked to the cafeteria. Only a handful of people sat at a cheap table with plastic chairs for their only mode of relaxation. Oblivious to the rest of the world, their eyes never diverted from their phones, avoiding any awkward condolences for something that could be temporary. Cheryl’s eyes and mind studied the frays’ dark circles and daunting eyes, not noticing the man approaching her. Instinctively, Cheryl put a hand up to fend off the blow, touching the man’s lower abdomen, only feeling the grind of hard work. Taking a step back, Cherly blushed before muttering, “Sorry.” “Woah, hello,” blushed the man in return. Lifting her eyes, Cheryl noticed a cigarette dangling loosely from his lips, and his eyes were fixated on hers. A billow of smoke rested above Cheryl’s head. Pushing greasy locks of hair from his eyes, he brought his slender hand to her face and pushed a simple strand of ruby hair admiring her facial features. “Sorry, that was my fault, I wasn’t paying any attention. But I am now,” he flirted. Almost falling to the floor with overwhelming lust, Cheryl tried to muster up an invitation to grab coffee with her. “Would you like to accompany me to coffee,” she asked, mentally face-palming at the word ‘accompany’. Doing a quick side grin, the two made their way to the coffee shop, making sure to keep a reasonable distance. “I’m going to need a latte with a triple shot of vanilla, and an iced coffee with a spoonful of syrup,” Cheryl ordered, adding a pleasing smile. In a deep voice, Cheryl didn’t notice until now, “A cold brew for me, extra caffeine.” The 2 waited in line for the waitresses to finish pouring and mixing.
“So, what are you here for, you seem perfectly stable to me,” the man stated matter-of-factly. Scoffing at this comment Cheryl replied, “I didn’t know you have to look a certain way when entering a hospital. But I’m here for my dad. He has a terminal illness, he doesn’t really have much time. What about you,” Cheryl tried. There has been a gaping hole where her heart used to be. The organ left her body after her father first got diagnosed. Somehow her heart came back, but only for a second. Finally being able to share something so fragile with someone made her heart swell a little before contracting back into its hideyhole. “My little sister is in the ICU. Car accident,” he grumbled without much emotion. “You say little? How old is she,” Cheryl asked carefully, not wanting to seem too nosy. “8, the doctors told us she had a concussion. The damages are so damning that they don’t know how long she is going to be in the hospital for,” a tiny voice crack was audible signaling the first peak of emotions. “I’m sorry, you have my condolences,” Cheryl apologized. “I shoul-,” the man was cut off when their names were called. “I should probably be heading back to my father’s room, he is going to be wondering where I am by now, but see you around,” she asked promisingly. “Yeah, see you,” he responded with another side grin. Cheryl turned and took one step before stopping at the sound of the man’s voice,” Wait, we should swap numbers. Ya know, for comfort.” Numbers were swapped and smiles exchanged before the 2 headed back to their depressing states.
Now back to her father’s death bed, she noticed he was struggling to sit upright. Rushing to his aide, Cheryl held out an arm for a support beam. Sweat clung helplessly to the man’s shirt, and fresh tears poured from the man’s eyes in utter frustration and daunting helplessness. Making room for herself on the placid hospital bed, Cheryl cradled the fraying man, like he once did when she was a child. “I just want to get better,” the man sobbed into her shirt. “For you, I want to get better.” Salty seas rushed the barrier holding pent-up feelings, sloshing over the sides, and out onto her cheeks. “Dad, you don’t have to apologize. You didn’t choose for any of this to happen. It isn’t your fault,” she blubbered, whilst trying to soothe him.
Almost forgetting entirely about the coffees, Cherly gingerly nursed the liquid to her father’s parched throat. “Thank you,” he said weakly. Resting his grayed matted head back to the plush pillow, he closed his eyes and almost immediately began to snore on impact. White-washed comforter, with slightly acrid fumes of nurses and doctors, was peeled back from Cheryl’s body. The soft cotton of cherry red socks padded on the floor, leading Cheryl over to a window seat, letting the sun wash over her face. The rays of sun hit Cheryl’s face in the right angles to give her angelic undertones. The presence of the sunny weather soon to be turning to violet and red hues, enlightened Cheryl.
A light buzz tickled the corduroy of Cheryl’s jeans, announcing there was a text to be read. It read I need to talk to you again ;). Soft pink heat produced on the surface of her skin at the message. Who’s this? Cheryl smiled at her snarky reply. Almost instantly another text appeared underneath hers. Ya know, the hot bad boy you were drooling over in the cafeteria today? Why do I care? Is love at first sight even real? Cheryl asked herself. Does this ‘hot bad boy’ have a name? Typing bubbles flashed then disappeared, flashed then disappeared.
Feeling skeptical, Cheryl turned off her phone and padded to the bathroom. A counter-image of the woman in front of the mirror looked as if she had been struggling in an upward stream, constantly swimming upward to reach the meadow at the end. To try and reach the happy ending she was struggling for. Except for every single time her father failed at simple tasks, she kept sinking further and further to the rocky bottom infested with the sharks of depression. The cool tap water gushed out of the faucet, running bubbles that bobbed up and down on the surface. Holding her hands under the icy liquefied state, Cheryl splashed a few handfuls onto her pale complexion. Water dripped like tears over the rough bags under bloodshot eyes. Inflamed and puffy skin from a plethora of inadequate sleep and excessive crying. Cheryl’s carroty red hair was bunched in handfuls in depressed anger, threatening to tear every single strand out. Cheryl opened then quickly closed her mouth, wanting not to disturb her napping elderly. Cracked exhausted lips decided on a sigh, packed with just the same emotion as a scream, and after, she patted her face dry, leaving the bathroom with spare emotions. Picking her phone from the window seat, she scanned the notifications. Just meet me in the same spot, the text simply read. Slipping on the same dirty sneakers, Cheryl pocketed her lemon-colored phone and made her way to the coffee shop.
The whole way butterflies danced in the pit of her stomach. Some would fly dangerously close to the missing heart, and fly away in fear of falling through. Freshly showered and wearing black clothing, the man from earlier stood before with a wayward grin on his face. White teeth sparkled but quickly disappeared. “Hello darling,” he teased when she was close enough to smell a waft of cedarwood cologne. A new flurry of butterflies arose at the use of the word ‘darling’. Offering an arm, the man led Cheryl, without much protest, to a winding metal and rusted staircase. Cheryl’s eyes lifted to watch each stair descend higher and higher into the rafters. While entranced by the stairs, a steady hand weaved strong fingers through hers, sending shivers up her spine. Ascending in deafening silence, the man walked ahead of Cheryl leading her higher and up and up until they reached a large double door positioned squarely on a white-washed wall. Behind the disturbing ghostly walls of the hospital, lay magnificent boughs of trees and falling pink petals drifting slightly through the wind. This is different, Cheryl marveled. A bench was positioned at a safe distance from the edge of the building where the couple took their seats, on opposite ends. The sky hadn’t quite conformed to the edges of dawn, but the sunlight was slowly dwindling.
The mid-afternoon with blaring sun would soon turn into a spectacular sunlight festival of colors. “So, my name,” he began,” is Jax.” Smiling up at his glowing wonderous face, she couldn't help but take a gander at his plush pinkish lips. “Are you going to tell me yours,” Jax asked. “Cheryl. My father calls me Cherry, as a sort of pet name,” she reminisced. “It suits you nicely. So your dad, why is he here. What’s his story,” Jax asked carefully, not wanting to stur in any more emotions to the boiling pot of misery. “Doctors say it is motor neurone disease. He doesn’t move much let alone walk. Most of the time he is ordered for bed rest. He just keeps getting worse every single day,” tears threatened to spill, but she pushed away from the emotions. An inch was added to the empty space between them. “What about your sister, her story,” Cheryl asked, wiping away rampant tears. “I told you, car accident,” Jax responded shakily, bringing a hand to his black locks. Cheryl noticed the skin on his lower lip was cracked from, she assumed, excessive lip biting. Must be an anxiety tick, Cheryl thought. Another inch was added, closing the gap further. “You don’t sound too sure,” Cheryl pushed. “Well, I. I-.,” a sigh escaped his cracked lips at the realization he wasn’t able to escape the conversation. “I caused the car accident. I was the driver when this all happened. I di-,” broken sobs burst through the bad boy ploy, shattering the facade altogether. Another inch. “You can’t blame yourself for that,” Cheryl soothed. Another inch, which closed the gap. Jax began to sob uncontrollably, body wretching in gaping breathes. Soft caressing hands were laid upon his soaking cheeks. “Let us be broken together,” Cheryl whispered. Before Cheryl could enact her plan, Jax turned abruptly pulling her body in closer. Hands with unwaning fervor clung to Cheryl for dear life, afraid of letting go.
After departing from each other the two stood to admire the slivers of sunset soon to dip out of consciousness. The last drops of divinity lay glowing on Cheryl’s cheeks. As she was admiring the sunset, she mused about how beautiful it was, while Jax stared admiringly not at the sunlight. The wind caught Cheryl’s hair, which Jax noticed, and moved it from her cheek, gaining her attention. “What,” Cheryl asked, almost giggling. Bringing a hand to her hair, Jax brought his lips crashing down on hers. A flurry of emotions mixing in the melding pot of romance. The bodies began to move backward and towards the drywall which harbored the door, they entered from. Jax's fingers touched tenderly on the surface of Cheryl’s arm sending fire to her skin. Saliva trailed from her jaw bone to Cheryl’s neck. “I need you," he whispered into Cheryl's skin. The only thing keeping the couple from maximum pleasure was the wall of clothing. Shivers lit afire on their skin as Jax lifted the edges of the cotton coverings. Lifting his face from her stomach, he looked with wanting eyes into hers, "Is this okay?" Breathing heavily, Cheryl locked her eyes onto his, nodding, sexual fervor fluttering in her eyes.
A loud thunderous pounding came from behind the wall, ruining anything else from continuing. Untangling themselves from each other the couple scrambled to the bench, watching as purple streaks flashed through the sky. Stars seemed to fall, and the universe was in line. Silver undertones outlined the edges of humanity in that very moment. The double door swung open ferociously, demanding top priority. "Are you Cheryl," someone asked in blue clothes from the frames. "Yeah," she replied shakily. "It's your father. He passed away. He was-," Cheryl couldn’t comprehend any further for the foreign voices reverberated as humming. Shifting a quick gaze to find relief in the phenomenon. In the core of everything, clouding all life like that damned hospital, was a black mass in the shape of a face. It was laughing at her.