Before Your Eyes

BEFORE YOUR EYES

 BY EDWARD DRAKE

 

When you look back at your life what achievements and events come to mind?

At the end, what will you see?

 

Standing by the trees in our local park he kissed me. Jimmy Smith, with rosy, dimpled cheeks and scruffy blonde hair. We were both eleven years old. It was a warm summers day, the sun setting in the distance and barely anyone around except the two of us. I could smell freshly cut grass from the field nearby and the bark of the trees around us. He was my first boyfriend. That was my first kiss.

Gathered in our kitchen, my Mum, Dad and I watch in awe. Abbey, my Border-Collie, the dog I owned since I was little, looked weak and kept shaking. I was so worried about her, but Mum reassured me she was okay. Laying close by her were four tiny puppies, with no fur and eyes that had yet to open. Abbey wraps herself around them, giving them warmth, protecting them. They were Abbey’s puppies.

Walking to the supermarket, I hear my name called out above me. I look up and sitting upon a tree branch was a girl my age, with dark hair tied in a pair of ponytails. She lowers herself down to the ground, grinning happily as she dusts of leaves and twigs from her hair. Introducing herself, Sammy says that she remembers me from our taster day at High School. We talk for ages and I meet her later that day at the park. Sammy would go on to become the closest friend I ever had.

The crowd cheers, my parent s among them, and I know we have but seconds to score a final goal. I see Sammy run and collect the ball and turn, looking for someone to pass too. Sprinting into an open position I scream her name and she throws an amazing long pass straight to me. I catch the ball and turn. I know the distance was far, but I know we are so close to running out of time. The crowd hushes as they see me raise the ball, taking aim. Out of the corner of my eye I see the whistle was already in the referee’s mouth. I shoot, praying that I am quick enough as everybody watches the ball fly and then drop through the hoop, a second before the final whistle was blown. The place erupts and Sammy runs over to me, screaming and shouting, hugging me tight as do the rest of our team. I had scored the winning goal in the Championship Netball game.

I knew something was wrong. Walking into the dining room I see something that utterly destroys me. My Mum, always the supportive one, always the rock of our family, she was sitting at the table, crying. I ask what’s wrong, and she struggles to speak, more tears emerging. My Mum utters three words and I nearly collapse. We hug each other tightly for what seems like hours, both sobbing.

 Feeling numb I sit at the front of the service. Friends and family members offer their condolences, but it does little to comfort myself or Mum. Then his song plays, It’s My Life by Bon Jovi and I remember driving for hours hearing that song on our family holidays, his wide grin ever present. The song and the memory makes me smile for the first since my Mum told me what had happened to him. His Norwich City shirt hangs over the coffin, JAMES 40 printed on the back. Goodbye Dad.

Sitting in the university library, working hard on yet another essay that was due in days, I see him. He was tall, with short, dark hair and a cute, infectious smile. He was a footballer, which I knew from seeing his picture in the university magazine, and normally that would not have been my type. There was something about him though that drew me in. It was not the first time I had seen him around campus. He was in a few of my lectures and at a few of the nights at SU Bar when I was. He catches my glance and smiles. I feel my face instantly turn red. Walking over I see that he was a little embarrassed too, but it does not stop him from approaching me. His name was Matt O’Conner.

Standing before the class, I hold my hands tightly behind me, trying to steady them. I see their faces, all looking to me expectantly and nervously, their first day. Nerves creep through me to, but in a good, excited way. Clearing my voice I introduce myself as Miss Price. It was not just their first day, but mine also, my first day as a teacher.

Boxes cover nearly every inch of the floor in the house. Tables, chairs and sofas are covered in plastic sheets, having only just been carried inside, brand new. The walls are patched with a variety of colours, testers to see what we should paint with. I look out to the garden, the sun beaming down, and I feel his arms wrap around me from behind. This was our house, our first house, and we would make it a home together.    

We stand in a church, staring into each other’s eyes, mine filled with tears, and we both smile so happily. Sammy was beside me as was my Mum and I can feel the eyes of friends and family upon us, all gathered for our day. We barely hear the vicar’s words, lost in the moment. ‘I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.’ We kiss and the church becomes more like a stadium with the immense cheering. I am so happy, together with my friends and loved ones. I was Mrs Annie O’Conner.

Soaking up the sun in my back-garden, Sammy and I relax, watching the clouds pass overhead. Despite having a smile on her face, I could tell something was bothering her. Eventually she tells me what was wrong and I feel the terrible, earth-shattering feeling creep over me again, just as it had when Dad died. I clasp her hand and she manages to smile, trying to shrug it off and make a joke, typical Sammy. I can see though that deep down she was frightened. We’ll fight it, I tell her and we’ll fight it.    

My hands shake as I wait for the results. I have done the test twice already, but this one I do with Matt. Laying down the test I clasp hands with him and I see the eagerness, the excitement in his eyes. Both of our eyes fall upon the indicator, waiting to see the symbol emerge. It was positive.

Exhaustion overwhelms me and I am ready to give up at any moment. Sweat covers me and I can only imagine how terrible I look. Matt was clutching my hand urging me on, repeating again and again how much he loves me and how proud he was of what I was doing. He and the doctors encourage me to try one last time, one final effort and I delve deep inside for that last vestige of energy. I find it and though the pain was horrible I push through. Moments later she was in my arms, my daughter, Elizabeth O’Conner.

We sit in the woods outside her house. Although she barely had the energy, Sammy wanted to go there. Her breathing was labour, her skin pale and we both knew what was soon approaching. Amongst the trees where we played as kids and where we first met, Sammy smiles at me. ‘I’m, happy,’ she tells me, gripping my hand. She finally thanks me for always being there before leaning back against the trunk of a tree. A few seconds later her eyes close, never to open again. Sammy Nelson was the best friend I ever had.

Walking along the beach I cannot help but feel at ease, calm. Beside me was Matt and we both watch our daughter, little Lizzy, toddle away across the sand. She was following our dog, Max, Abbey’s fully grown puppy. She loses balance and falls a few times but does not crying, only landing in the soft sand. I hear her laughing and it was simply beautiful. We are a family.

Wiping the tears from my eyes I watch my aunts lay roses before the plaque. Lizzy, thirteen years old, was standing beside Matt and she wipes away tears of her own. It comes to my turn, the rose already in my hand, but my legs will not move. The vicar, the same one that married me and Matt and christened Lizzy encourages me forward and finally I move. I place the rose amongst the others, atop the ashes that have already been sprinkled. Upon the plaque were two names, my Dad’s and then my Mum’s. Goodbye Mum, I whisper. They were at last together again.

Pacing up and down the hall I worry. Matt was asleep on the chairs nearby, never good with missing a night’s sleep. I ask the passing doctors if there was any news but all tell me to wait patiently. Wishing I was in there with Lizzy I continue to pace. They had dismissed me from the room, telling me there were too many people, but then I would give anything to be back in there. After hours they finally summon us and we walk back inside. There we see Lizzy, looking utterly drained. In her arms was a little baby, Lizzy’s baby, my grandson.

We are walking along the path, just taking an easy stroll, me, Lizzy and Adam, her son. We talk about nothing serious, just day to day stuff, Adam mumbling in his pushchair happily. Words would soon come and then he would really begin growing up. Lizzy talks about her husband and their plans to have more children. I am so happy for her. Then we hear the horn and rev of an engine of a car. I see it hurtling towards us, out of control, L plates on its bonet. Without thinking I push Lizzy and her son away as the car mounts the curb. I then feel an impact and eventually fall to the ground. Feeling no pain, I am pleased to see that my daughter and grandson are unharmed. My eyes begin to close, darkness taking me.

Then there is a white light.

My last thought is this. It was a good life. I was happy.

Copyright. Edward Drake. 2011

Comments
  1. Penelope27 says:

    Tears in my eyes by the end. Keep up the good work.x

  2. Megs says:

    Really liked this. I hope I feel the same at the end.x

  3. Edward Drake says:

    Megs, Me too and isn’t that what everyone hopes for deep down.

  4. jen bale says:

    loved this one – new to your site, i was recommended by a friend, and have downloaded all your samples onto my sony ebook.

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