The geometric figures dissolve before me. They melt and fall like sap on a hot day. Yellows and reds and blues flow down and away from my consciousness. A horrific rrrRRRRRIPPING sound bores a hole through my head and at once I open my eyes.
Oh my god, the crash! I look over to see if Cora is okay. Shock rips through me because I don’t see her. My vision is blurry though, maybe I just need more light. I know I’ve got to move fast because the crash looked bad. The semi flipped itself over the median right in front of us. It was a kneejerk reaction that I took, driving my car into the guardrail to help slow us down and get as far away from the barreling mass of metal careening towards us. I push myself up with my hands to try and sit forward but my vision goes dark.
The shapes again. They visit me. I’m at home with them. I like to think that I’m just like they are. That is, constantly changing and evolving and becoming more interesting with each moment that goes by. I’m immensely sad when one leaves. Though they change often, you can clearly tell when one leaves. A void is left where they once were and the other ones try to fill the space but it’s just not the same. It’s so much better when they’re all together with me. Oh the ringing is back! Make it stop!
Light, real right, enters my retina. It’s my room. I hope the shapes aren’t playing tricks on me. How’d I get in my room though? It’s all hazy but I can see. I blink. In the darkness behind my eyelids I can still see the shapes playing, but they’re leaving. I call them, “Don’t leave!”
“Jared, my sweet Jared, I’m not going to leave you!” my Mother’s voice cries out. I open my eyes and see her. Her face is full of tears. I’m having a hard time placing myself. I can’t step through how I got here. She looks hopeful, her eyes red and the bags underneath looking as if she hasn’t slept in a week. Her face seems like she’s urging me to say something again. I move my head to speak and I feel a hot rush of blood enter my skull. It hurts so badly. A migraine starts at the back of my head and grows forward towards my forehead. When the extent of the pain reaches the top of my eyebrows I black out and fall down.
They’re having a party without me, the shapes are. I feel humiliated. Like I wasn’t worth the invitation. Though they seem to be happy to have me. They sit me at a chair that begins melting into table. I jump back and observe it transforming from there into a tree and growing, growing, growing. The shapes ride it higher and higher away from me. I latch onto the trunk and up I go. I climb with a fury that a friend shouldn’t have. But I feel betrayed. They left without me. Perhaps it wasn’t their fault. Maybe they were caught up in the branches of the table-tree.
I reach the upper canopy of the grand tree and spy my colorful friends. I climb over to them and I see a figure that makes my stomach queasy. Bumble-jumbling around it seems to me that things are inside my belly. It hurts so I open my mouth and iridescent butterflies come fluttering out. It’s my girlfriend on a branch with the shapes. The shapes beckon to me in their strange way to continue. I hurriedly cut my way through the foliage and hug Cora from behind. She lets out a little yell as I almost push her accidentally into the void below. I bury my face in the nook between her head and shoulder.
“I thought you were going to kill me, Jared!” the girl says. She hesitates and then adds, “again..”
I move farther away from her. She turns around and I can see a ghastly red stain that has soaked into her turquoise sweater. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. “Take that off, Cora, it’s disgusting!” I tell her. I tug on the sleeves of her sweater and she meekly obliges. I get the sweater over her head after some struggling. I look at her face, now streaked red from the material, and freeze. Her white undershirt has the same stain on it. She reaches her arms out and brings me close. I don’t know what to do. I can feel her stain seeping into my clothes but I do nothing about it. I want to be with her right now. Her hands feel cold around me. She separates us and looks into my eyes.
“It’s not your fault, I want you to know that,” she says. In earnest she continues, “just promise me you’ll come and visit.”
I mouth to her, “I will,” because the words don’t come out. I embrace her again because I can see the shapes getting closer. They meld together and spin around and around until the colors all blend into white.
I wake up. The sun is beaming through the window of my room into my eyes. It hurts so I begin to roll over. It sends a shooting pain through my back, so I wait. I expect the migraine to come back but it doesn’t. I attempt to move again and turn enough to see a lump at the bottom of my bed. It’s my mother. She’s kneeling on the floor with her face down on my bed. Her black hair is messy but looks beautiful in the golden rays of the morning. I try to call her but only a squeak comes out.
She looks up though at me and I’m frightened by the way she has aged. I look at the calendar on the wall behind her. It says April 26th. Like a tsunami the memories rush back to my mind. The night. Oh that dreadful night! The trip with Cora to Boston! It was supposed to be just for the weekend. It was raining that night. Cora told me to keep my eyes on the road but I couldn’t help taking a glance at her. She positively dazzled under the headlights that shone through thousands of tiny water-droplet lenses. That’s when she screamed. I remember I turned and saw the truck. I slammed the brake pedal but it was no use. I lost traction so I tried to steer towards the guardrail instead of the trailer of the truck now coming dangerously close. It tore itself apart as pieces of furniture and boxes of household items came centripetally whipping out. The table! The chairs! I saw them! They were there at the guardrail! They smashed through the windshield and we flipped over the guardrail into the pine trees below. That’s when I closed my eyes and the shapes came. But Cora? My eyes shoot wide open as I take it all in.
“No tears Jared, please,” implores my mourning mother, “there’s nothing to worry about, you’re home now.”