Trigger Warning: Slight gore, blood.
“You’re so difficult!” I screamed, the wind lashing my hair in front of my face. She yelled something back, but I couldn’t hear her over the violence of the wind. It surrounded us as if we were the only two people in the world, swirling around us in massive gusts, all directions, spinning like a top. It rushed through the leafless trees, stormed through the old bones of the faded red barn at the end of the cornfield. It was winter, and the corn was all gone, yellow and dead, old stalks smashed flat against the ground. Country was all I could see for miles, acres and acres of fields, farmhouses, and the gray sky that loomed overhead, willing to take it all from us with a snap of the fingers. There were trees around the barn, their old trunks struggling, leaning against the wind. A rock flew through one of the windows of the old building, and in that moment, I saw her clearly.
Marie, furious, was visible for a moment five yards away from me, then obstructed again as her long hair whipped across her face. Her green eyes sparked in rage, her lips saying words I couldn’t hear, and I was yelling things I didn’t mean, until I saw but not heard her scream. I saw her mouth open, saw her hands go into fists, saw her raise her head up to the sky, but I didn’t hear her anger. Her dress whipped up around her, blown in every direction. She turned and ran to the barn. I stood there, alone, watching her run, hampered by the sky’s fury.
The old barn gave an ominous creak as the scream of the wind reached new heights. I saw the central beam, from outside the open barn doors, begin to bend, and when I saw it splinter, I ran. When I took my hands off my head, my hat blew away, but I didn’t care. The fallen corn stalks stabbed at my bare feet, but I was so close, so close. If only. I could see her where she was standing, turned away from the beam, but she was the beam’s target. Her arms were crossed as she kicked shards of glass. She didn’t see it.
“Marie!” I couldn’t yell loud enough. “Marie!” I could barely hear myself, so how could she hear me?
She couldn’t. The beam groaned and snapped with a sound like lightning. Part of the roof tore open, exposing us to the wind again, although the barn had given little shelter. She turned around, realizing too late what was happening. “I’m sorry!” I told her. What else could I say for what I had done, and failed to do? I had failed to warn her. She screamed, but before I saw what happened, a piece of the roof hit me hard enough to slam me back into what of the barn was still standing. My head hit the wall, and I saw an explosion of color before I saw black.
I heard a sound. It felt like someone had stuffed my ears full of tar, and my head was stuck, swimming sluggishly. As my hearing came back, I realized that the sound I heard was what was left of the wind. It was weaker now. I opened my eyes. The wreckage of the barn surrounded me. A big piece of wood pinned my legs down and glass was scattered across my chest. Everything was covered in a settling layer of dust. “Marie,” I croaked weakly, and was dizzy instantly. My throat felt like it was coated in sawdust, and my head like someone had hit me with an anvil. I heard no response. “Marie,” I tried louder this time. Nothing. I tried to shove the wood off of my legs, my head pounding as I began to sit up. It fell to the floor with a sharp, flat smack and I stood, looking around the place I knew so well. Used to know so well. It was gone now, beyond repair. “Marie!” I called out, searching.
I saw out of the corner of my eye, not far from where I was standing, something bright enough to catch my attention. It was fabric, with a flower pattern, little leaves crisscrossing together, small colorful blooms. Marie’s dress. I walked over the wreckage, the splinters, nails, glass, to get to her. I dragged the heavy piece of wood off of her with much difficulty. It took me a while to get a good holding on the wood, and I could barely lift it. I revealed more white fabric.
She was lying against the wall, her hands covering her head. All I could see was her hair, full of splinters and glass, and her back. Her hands had little cuts all over them, and blood had dried red around them. “Marie.” No answer. “Marie!” My heart pounded in my chest. “Please!” My hands waved in the air while I tried to do something. I didn’t know what to do. I reached out, carefully taking her hands away from her head. They fell limply to the ground. “Marie?” I shook her shoulder.
I was horrified that I would find blood, that maybe I would turn her over and blood would be running down her face, or her throat would be embedded with glass. I would rather not know, but I had to. I had to know. So I pushed her shoulder and tried to turn her body over. “Marie,” I kept saying, over and over. I dug my heels into the ground, feeling more shards go deep into my feet, and pushed her as hard as I could, trying not to hurt her more, succeeding in turning her over. She was completely limp, almost immovable. My heart almost stopped beating when I saw spots of red on her face. A trickle of blood down her temple to her neck. A busted lip. A bloody nose. Bruises all over. She’d been rammed into the wall, face first.
Her hand jerked and her eyes opened slowly. She stared at me blankly. A tear ran down my cheek. Marie’s eyes, usually so bright, understanding, feeling, were dull. “Marie,” I said. “Are you okay?”
She said nothing. Her eyes searched me, searched everything in our little corner of the world, the wreckage in my eyes, the pain, the regret. I pushed her hair back from her face and sat down next to her. “Marie, talk to me, please. Please,” I begged.
She opened her mouth and coughed. Red splattered onto her dress.
“Marie, Marie, I'm sorry. Please.”
Her eyes saw. “I understand,” she murmured quietly, laboriously. The words caused her pain, and all I wanted was to go back. I wanted to go back to when she wasn’t hurting, to when I could’ve prevented all of this. Her eyes went blank.
“No, no, wait. Marie. Marie. Marie! I’m sorry, I’m sorry-” I kept speaking to her meaninglessly, mindlessly, because Marie, the one person I couldn’t live without, was gone, and it was my fault. I knew it was, and there was nothing I could do about it but stare into her lifeless eyes. “Marie, I understand.”