Since the day he woke up in the morgue, Alex was haunted by the words Dr. Ben uttered to him. “I know this is a little confusing for you, so I’ll explain it in layman’s terms. Last night, after trying for twenty minutes to resuscitate you, you were pronounced dead. Your body was lifeless for well over an hour. All the cells in your body should have died, but they didn’t. There is no known scientific theory to explain what had happened. Yet here you are.
If only Dr. Ben knew what Alex had experienced during the time between the car crash to the moment he woke up, he might come to realize there’s more to reality than what science can explain. But Alex stayed silent, and Dr. Ben remained unaware of what had happened to Alex.
Time went on and by the time Alex was released from the hospital, the world was made aware of this resurrection and the press was hot on it. By the time Alex returned home with his family, he knew things would never be the same. As soon as they pulled up to their house, the reporters swarmed in. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, Alex wedged his way through the crowd, eventually entering is house.
Closing the door behind silenced the din of the reporters, Alex’s father, Jim said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that.”
Nora, Alex’s mother glared at Jim. “What did you expect? We’re driving Lazarus back to Hamilton and you think the press wouldn’t hear about it? At least you could have done was stop in Norwich and waited until nighttime to go home. At least we might have made it indoors safely.”
As his parents bickered, Alex, along with his siblings, Paul and Casey, decided to stay out of the argument. Peering out the front window, Alex saw cameras facing towards him. There was no denying it, he thought. I’m a prisoner in my own house.
Soon after they arrived, Jim made an excuse saying he had to see someone about a remodeling contract, but they all knew that meant he was going to a bar. Not long after that, Nora had to report for work at the Grand Union supermarket. Casey and Paul escaped to their rooms upstairs, leaving Alex alone by the phone.
Imprisoned, Alex felt the pangs of isolation. Even the phone became his nemesis. He tried to call his girlfriend Tara, at college, but his call was answered by the Dorm monitor, who was glad to take a message for him. Sadly, she never returned his calls herself. Several times he tried to call her, but it always ended up with the same results. He assumed she was having a difficult accepting what happened to him and with all the reporters on the hunt, she was thinking of leaving him for better prospects at her college. Still, he was hoping beyond hope he was mistaken.
He recalled the joy he felt after the car accident, as he was about to ascend into heaven, followed by the ache in his heart for leaving Tara behind. It was at that moment he awoke in the morgue. But the unbearable thing he felt now was the thought of the one thing that pulled him back to this world may have abandoned him.
There was only one way to find out the truth. I will go to Hamilton College and meet Tara. Only then, will I know for sure. If I leave the house around four in the morning, I might be able to sneak out without any reporters noticing me leaving. I’ll need to keep this a secret, especially from my loose lipped father. Even if I can keep the trip a secret, my timetable would be short without tipping off the press on where I was going. It was all set, then. Tomorrow will be the day.
The next morning, Alex’s alarm went off at three fifty. Not wanting to wake anyone up, he quietly got out of bed but left his light off. He didn’t want the press to know he was up either. After getting dressed in the dark, he tiptoed downstairs. Then he snuck out the back door and walked to where he parked his Volkswagen. He started it up and slowly drove out of the parking lot. When he looked in the rearview mirror, he found no one following. It turned out to be easier than he expected. He headed down Route 12B and left drove to Clinton. The trip didn’t take as long as he thought it would and so, he arrived before sunrise. With nothing better to do, he decided to take a nap, before searching for Tara.
Alex didn’t know how long he slept. All he knew was the sun shining on his face, when he opened his eyes. Looking at his watch, he realized it was eight thirty. Jumping out of the car, he scanned the people walking to class. Then, he saw her. Tara was about twenty feet away and walking towards him. He was about to raise his hand and call out to her, when he saw she was holding the hand of a boy walking next to her. His hand dropped, along with his heart. There was no hiding the truth. Tara had moved on without him. Dragging his feet, he went back to his car and drove away.
It was still early in the morning, and Alex didn’t wish to return to his jail cell, but he wasn’t sure where he wanted to go. Part of him wanted to drive to the other side of the country and disappear in some city. Another part wanted to confront the news media and put them in their place. In the end, he drove in circles around town.
As the day dragged on, pangs of hunger reminded him he hadn’t eaten all day. Not wanting to risk running into the press, Alex drove out to Randallsville and stopped at Tate’s market. There, he bought a package of Twinkies and a Giant Baby Ruth bar. An All-American Lunch, for an All-American boy. He jumped back in the car but didn’t go anywhere. There was no safe place to flee to. Even home felt hostile. He was at a loss as to where to go or what to do.
He fired up the Volkswagen and headed aimlessly into town. After driving through the narrow streets of Hamilton, he finally surrendered to his destiny. He parked behind his house and snuck in through the back door. The home he once knew had turned into a prison, but at least he was surrounded by familiar walls. Alex climbed the stair and jumped in his bed without changing. Staring at the ceiling, it dawned on him that no matter what he did, his world had changed forever.
I might as well have died in that crash, he thought. The world went on as if I already did. He closed his eyes forcing himself to fall asleep. It was a long, dreamless night.