Drama Sad Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

Trigger warnings include: death, car accidents, depictions of grief.

    Earl sat against the wall opposite his sister’s bedroom. He wasn’t allowed in, so when he couldn’t sleep, he sat outside, staring at the door as if it might open from the inside. The sun was coming up, reaching its fingers in through the windows, and Earl had been in that spot since one in the morning, completely sleepless.

    Earl’s mom, a slight woman named Lacey, stepped out of her room and into the kitchen as soon as it seemed appropriate for her to be awake. She had been awake already, of course. Evie, Earl’s sister, had been prone to sleepwalking, so Lacey was used to being woken in the night one way or another. Earl knew the rest of the script, too. His mom would poke around the kitchen as if she planned to make breakfast, planned to eat anything at all, then offer to make some oatmeal if Earl wanted. Earl would say no thanks, and his mom would wander to the couch and get the sleep she couldn’t find the night before.

    “Want any breakfast?” she asked. Earl thought of when Evie used to rewind the same parts of her favorite show over and over until the words didn’t sound like words anymore. “We’ve got oatmeal left.” He thought the days were starting to sound something like that.

    “No thanks,” Earl said, right on cue. He knew that she knew he hadn’t slept, and there was no overlooking the way he touched Evie’s door when he stood. Lacey overlooked it anyway.

    “Do you have that algebra test today?”

    “It’s Sunday.” It was algebra II, and it was a final, but Earl didn’t bother with that. His mom hummed and nodded, pretending she cared, pretending it mattered whether or not she did, and Earl didn’t bother with that either. He shuffled away to his room, and his mom didn’t look as he went. She moved past him and sat on the couch.

    Earl’s room was just about completely empty, and that was the way he had always liked it. His bed sat longways against the far wall from the door, and near the foot of it, he had an old desk that did the job and nothing else. He sat at this desk and pulled a notebook from the drawer.

    Earl didn’t like to sit outside Evie’s room when his mom was there. It felt like a private moment being interrupted, looked in on. When she went out, and the cold emptiness had not yet left him, Earl did the only other thing he knew that did anything for his mind. Earl opened his notebook and flipped through page after page of buildings, cars, machines, all sketched in faint graphite. The lines weren’t quite straight—Earl didn’t keep a ruler handy—but otherwise, they looked almost professional. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with this particular skill, or even if he wanted to make anything of it at all, but it calmed him, and that was hard to come by.

    Earl pulled out a stack of magazines, leftover from when his mom still did scrapbooks and collages, and flipped through to find a reference he hadn’t drawn from yet. There were bridges, clock towers, trucks. Earl turned another page, and there was a Cadillac.

    A Cadillac had taken Evie out as she crossed the street. There had been time enough to stop, but the driver wasn’t paying attention and tore straight through her anyway. That was all they knew about it. Their mom had seen the whole thing, and all she took from it was that the man driving that Cadillac could’ve stopped, could’ve stopped, and didn’t. She didn’t even get a color off the vehicle, and the useless police didn’t get enough out of the investigation to narrow it down. Whoever had killed Evie was still out speeding in his Cadillac, and Evie wasn’t even buried like their grandparents were, like she was supposed to be.

    There had been too many pieces of her, and Lacey couldn’t bear the thought or the expense. Evie was cremated, and since there wasn’t a single nice place in town to spread her ashes, not a single place that had meant anything to her, they’d scattered her right in front of the house, where she was struck. Said the wind would carry her where she was meant to go.

    Earl doubted that. He couldn’t imagine the wind would carry her through school, carry her name to the spines of books. She had been a storyteller, even as young as she was. She became only one story to be told, and it was told over and over. Earl heard it in whispers in the halls of his high school, never told quite the same way. The car was going 40, 50, 75 when it hit. The driver had stepped on it when he saw her, grinning the whole way down. The wind carried the story of Evie, and Earl imagined it would carry her to the ends of the town and back again, over and over and over, never quite telling it how it was. The car was going 35, maybe even 30, with time enough to stop, and the driver wasn’t looking at all.

    The page with the Cadillac crumpled under Earl’s hand, and he tore it from the magazine in three messy chunks. His chair scraped the floor as he pushed back from his desk, notebook clutched in his hand. 

    No one would speak of her. His mother was nearly as lost to the world as Evie was, and no one who was still awake enough to tell the story ever said so much as her name. That girl who got hit, the hit and run. All the same to Earl. Evie, Evie, Evie. He stepped out into the living room with the name on his tongue. He would speak of her, and he would make his mom speak of her again, make her wake up and smell the tar.

    Evie died on Earl’s tongue the moment he reached the couch. This day was just like the one before, and Earl’s mom was sleeping, with bags under her eyes that could have been shopping bags. Body bags. This day was just like the one before, and Earl’s mom had probably spent the whole night awake and whispering into the wind, Evie, Evie, Evie.

    Lacey’s breath heaved enough as she slept that it sounded like her lungs might collapse, and Earl had no urge to wake her up one way or the other. He thought of the way they closed the eyes of corpses on crime shows. Lacey drew in a long, wet breath that truly sounded like it could have been her last, and Earl watched, with more pity than concern, to see if she might die. He wondered if she slept through the day because it felt like dying. He watched her let the breath out, and all at once, he realized there was nothing left for him in this house.

    Earl thought of going into his sister’s room one last time before he walked out the door, and then he stopped thinking. He held his notebook in his hand, a pencil crammed into its spiral binding, and stuffed his feet into shoes that he hadn’t bothered to untie the last time he took them off. The door closed behind him, and it sounded like a long, steady inhale.

    Earl walked unwaveringly until he reached the end of the driveway, where the weight of everything tugged at his bones. It was the same childish feeling of shameful regret he had gotten from trying to run away as a much younger boy. As quickly as the whim had come, it left him, a shaky breath out. There was nothing for him here, but what was waiting for him anywhere else? Where would he go?

    He faltered enough to take a half step backward, and it slipped sideways, dragging his heel off the pavement and into the grass. He imagined the ground beneath his foot blackened and stricken with ash, as if Evie had become the world, pulsing with every thrum of the earth. The wind blew, a sigh against his cheek, and he took another stumbling step onto the grass.

    Where had the wind carried her? Where would it carry him, if he let it? Above him, the sun melted against the sky, running with pinks and oranges and something in between. Where had it taken all the life Evie had left? If he found it, what could he do with it? Who could he share it with?

    The wind brushed him gently along, guiding him like a soft hand, and Earl let it. 

March 02, 2024 16:16

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Alexis Araneta
15:45 Mar 10, 2024

Again, a succinct piece with so much packed in it. Lovely job !


D'Spencer Luyao
00:45 Mar 15, 2024

Thanks again! Really appreciate you giving it a read :)


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Mary Bendickson
23:37 Mar 03, 2024

Poignant. Encapsulated so much without words. Thanks for liking my 'Blessings Tree '.


D'Spencer Luyao
00:59 Mar 04, 2024

Thanks so much! Gotta love community support :D


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