Perception - November 2010 Flash Fiction Contest Winner
Bryan’s eyes were tinted red behind salty tears, and he could feel every part of his body pulse with the forceful pump of his heart racing to the point of explosion within his chest. Everything felt backwards with his mouth bone dry but his body covered in sweat, streams of the fluid cascading from his brow like tributaries of some great jungle river stretching to an unseen ocean.
Katie lay there on the bed feebly fighting against the arms restraining her. He watched in horror as the color drained from her face as if she were a chameleon blending into the tightly fitted white linen sheets, now stained thick and sticky in bright crimson.
He felt the French manicured tips of her fingernails pass beyond the borders of his skin into the hot flesh beneath. The pain should have been excruciating, but the adrenaline coursing through his veins dulled the sensation to nothing more than a mild irritation. He tightened his grip; her tiny bicep clamped within his right hand to the point that he swore her muscle had given way leaving only the bone to retain his grip.
Katie’s eyes stared up at Bryan from the bed. The didn’t simply lock onto his, they pierced through their glossy surface, passing beyond any recognition of self and into the realm of his soul where the rational mind couldn’t reach; that portion beyond the control of his consciousness and rationale where only those most intense of emotions were held; bone numbing fear and irrefutable love. They probed through that foreign place looking as he had never seen them before, a turbulent concoctive mixture of madness and sadness.
“Why,” Katie pleaded to him. “Why did you do this to me?” Her voice was feeble and raspy, choked by enduring such pain; pain she had never thought possible. In a sudden flash her eyes shifted from their search for humanity in his soul to weapons of blame and hatred. The glare became sharp as a razor and Bryan could feel them slashing into his very being with the relentlessness of a berserker. Her dulcet strains at speaking morphed into shrill shrieks of defiance as her body stiffened below him in defiance of her anguish.
“Let go of me you son-of *****!” she snapped as she writhed within his grip. “Don’t you dare touch me. Get your hands off me. You said I be fine. You said everything would be okay. YOU’RE A *** DAMNED LIAR!”
Bryan had always heard the first time would be the hardest. He expected the nausea, the feelings of dread, the need to turn and run away from the scenario would all be there. He just had to force himself through it till it was all over. Then it would all be okay, everything would be perfect again.
As he stared down at Katie’s writhing body his mind began to drift back as if riding an ebbing tide to when he had first met her. He knew she was the one; the perfect choice. She’d give him everything he needed. He thought about everything he had gone through with her. There were definitely those times when he was ready to let it all go. The fights, the harsh words, the threats all placed the seed of question in his mind of whether any of it was worth it. But none of that mattered anymore. Soon, it would all be over. Soon, he would be a new man.
Exhilaration filled Bryan with his new found resolve in the cumulative result of all his efforts. He bore down again, summoning up all of his physical and emotional strength for the climactic finish as Katie let out a howl that would make a banshee cringe. The screams energized Bryan, his eyes widening and his breathing becoming more of a slight spasm. A broad smile crossed his face as he continued to hold her down against every bit of strength she could offer to free herself of the incredible pain. The pitch of her wailing grew till he was sure any glass in the small room would surely shatter, but his anticipation only grew within him; fueling him, bypassing any hint of fatigue that attempted to interfere.
The sounds of Katie’s screams filled Bryan’s mind, rattling in his head like a trapped fly. His rapid and shallow breathing began to take its toll. The world around him became light and airy. He felt as though his skin had become tight and ice cold. His vision began to tunnel around him, growing bright in the center as his brain starved for precious oxygen. Realizing what was about to happen he drew in a deep breath, barely halting the oncoming loss of consciousness. His eyes shook in their sockets, disobeying his will to focus on the task at hand, to focus on Katie and her pain.
Then silence. No more screams. No more struggling. The body held in his grip went limp in submissive release. For a moment the entire world felt at complete peace as a sense of euphoria filled Bryan in a pulsing wave. Tears began to stream from his eyes, not of pain or sorrow, but tears of complete joy that the ordeal was done. The silence only lasted a fraction of a second before being replaced by the slightest raspy cough followed by the tiniest wailing cry.
“Congratulations, Bryan,” the doctor said as he laid a perfectly wrapped bundle of blankets into his arms. “It’s a boy.”Stumble it!