Have you ever been so terrified you couldn’t move?
But It happens often to me. I am frightened of so many things.
As the smoky haze closed in around me, My legs stayed planted on the blackened rug. One of the beams had fallen from the ceiling and now I watched, unable to run from my burning home. My father was under that beam. I couldn’t bring myself to go over and help him out. I couldn’t even move to save myself. I was petrified.
Paralized by my fear.
“Colette!” He called.
He wouldn’t ask me to save him. He wasn’t like that. My father would want me to save myself, to go and live my life. But without him, what was there? Was a life without my father even worth living?
“Colette! Please get out. I love you darling, please. Go! Good—”
“NO.” I screamed. As quickly as the ash settled on my cheeks, my tears washed it away. “I can’t leave you!”
“But you must.”
I could see the struggle. The panic in his eyes. Why couldn’t I move as the flaming tongues licked the walls?
“Je t'aime de tout mon coeur.” He whispered. “Good—”
Finally my limbs snapped into obedience. My legs would move. The adrenaline began finally coursing through my veins, my body activating its will to survive. But I refused to let my survival instincts take over. I shook as the fire closed in around me. The heat was almost unbearable. But I would bear it. I would get my father out. I clapped my hand over his mouth.
“There will be no goodbyes today père.” I said. He closed his eyes, instantly relieved.
Neither of us wanted to be parted. So neither of us would be.
I could hear the sirens wailing behind me.
I put my hands beneath the beam and lifted. I used every ounce of strength I ever had. It hardly budged.
“Father.” I clasped his hands. “I can’t move it.”
“I know chérie. Leave me. It is my time. You must get yourself out.” He smiled.
How could he be so calm? He was dying!
“Good—” Again, his farewell was interrupted, but this time not by me. It was the second beam. A loud crack sounded and my father’s voice cut off.
I thought I knew how to cry. I thought I had been crying my hardest. I was wrong. There were no trails of tears, there were salt and dread filled waterfalls pouring heavily from my eyes.
First my mother years ago. Now my father. They would both be Above together.
I curled myself against the burning wall and let the heat burn my skin. I had no sense of self preservation. I closed my eyes and let the melody of the fire play in my ears.
As I waited for my own end, I understood my father’s silent resolve. I knew why he was so calm. It wasn’t fear in my heart. It was an instant relief. I would no longer suffer this pain. The feelings.
The rhythmic melody was interrupted by the continuous wails of an engine. My only hope.
I had no hope.
The sounds of axes making their way through our newly refurbished home, cut through the sounds of the flames as easily as they chopped through the front door.
I felt arms embrace me as I was lifted. My eyes had fluttered closed.
It was time for me to go.
But then I winced.
Hadn’t pére said there was no pain in the Above? Why did this touch hurt?
The sharp pain flung my eyelids open. I could see a blue sky, filled with smoke. I could see a burning white house. My house. The man carrying me was not an angel. The pain was my blisters. My arms were covered in them.
I was given to more people who strapped me to a stretcher and wheeled me into the ambulance, and drove away.
There were murmuring voices in the background, all faded and blurred together.
I kept my eyes shut and tried to relax my tense limbs.
The sirens are still here, hurting my ears. I feel the vehicle come to a stop, and then the chaos picks up again, right where it left off.
I peeled my eyes open to see where I was, but that was too much effort. My will for most anything was gone. Burning in that house with my father’s body.
I couldn’t smell anything but smoke.
I had been to the hospital a few times before. To visit my mother. I knew it had a distinct overpowering smell.
But even through the smoke, I couldn’t pick up the scent.
It turns out that even death can triumph life. This smoke, death, this hospital, life. I took it as a sign. I was meant to die.
I was wheeled into a room and the doors were shut. I felt a pinching in my arm, and the last thing I could remember, was thinking that I was born to die.
I can’t feel, I can’t see, I can’t hear.
That's a lie.
I can do all those things, but there is only one emotion, one thing.
I could have saved him. But instead I watched. I silenced him as he tried to tell me goodbye, but goodbye would mean he was gone. Gone for good. I knew I would see him again soon. I knew it.
What does guilt sound like? You might ask.
Let me tell you.
What do you mean? You might ask.
I could have saved my father this morning. The very morning his laugh cut through the large pristine house. The very same morning he made me pancakes and let me sleep in. I watched as he called my name, begging me to help him. I had tried, but I wasn’t strong enough.
I was so transfixed, so mesmerized by my fear, my limbs refused to move, to even run as the scent of death filled my lungs.
But now there is no laugh. No father to make me breakfast. He is no longer there to keep me going day after day. He is gone.
And so I decide that the sound of guilt is silence.
What does guilt look like? You might ask.
It is something similar to the tears of a teenage girl.
To the wails as she tears at her hair and claws at her face.
What does it feel like? You might ask.
Guilt is like a burning flame, spreading within you. The only thing that could possibly put it out is water.
Guilt is an endless, unforgiving pit of torment. My personal Tartarus, the prison of endless agony that my father once told me tales of. He said it was a prison for the wicked, and I feel more wicked than ever, knowing I let my father burn.
But the water will never come, lest I unclog the pipes and let it through.
I think I would rather burn.
And I will stay among the monsters of the myths for as long as I shall live.
It will be for eternity.
I cannot die, I am already dead.
I will never be able to see my parents, for they are Above, and I am Below.
And neither of them got to say goodbye, so that's what I'm doing right now. To anyone who cares, I'll make sure to write goodbye before I leave.
DOCTOR: Renee Thompson
PATIENT: Colette Farrow
DATE OF BIRTH: 4-26-2000
DATE OF DEATH: 2-30-2014
TIME OF DEATH: 9:17
HOSPITAL: Sunset Point Clinic
MANNER OF DEATH: Suicide
CAUSE OF DEATH: Asphyxiation