Luke woke feeling as if a truck had recently plowed into him. He pulled himself off of the couch and made his way into Paul's kitchen, Paul staring daggers through the coffee pot, willing it to brew faster before his temporary energy wore off. As Luke opened the fridge, a terrible buzzing noise took up the house, invading Luke’s senses much like the effects of the long white quartered pills invading his life.
“Shh, What is that?”
“Just listen…. There! Did you hear it?”
Paul shook his head. “I think you just need to sleep those meds off, man. Who the hell swallows a handful of Xanax?’
Luke nodded in agreement. “Yea maybe you’re right. I'm going to get out of here before I pass out again.”
The frigid air burned his lungs as he made his way down the littered walkway and icy street. His teeth chattered while he recounted the last few days events or atleast, what he could remember. He quickened his pace when he couldn’t recall what day he left his home and girlfriend behind to binge with Paul on the prescription of bars they swiped from Paul’s mother. ‘Two grown-ass men stealing pills from people with actual medical problems just to lose days at a time, what fuck-ups.’ He shook his head as he internally scolded himself.
When he finally arrived home, he found the driveway empty of Sarah’s car. He hurriedly stomped his feet releasing glistening, fresh powder at the door before entering and peeling off his clothes and rushing to the thermostat. It read forty eight degrees fahrenheit. “Jesus, Sarah” Luke muttered as he brought the heat to life with the flip of a switch. He made his way to their bedroom.
Inside, he found everything seemed normal.. The bed made up with Sarah’s favorite throw blanket and pillows adorning the head gave an allure as if he didn't belong. Luke resented Sarah’s pleas to stop taking pills and on days when they hangover was at its worst, he was glad she wasn't around for the brunt of his addiction “The bitch might calm down if she'd take a few herself.” He scoffed at the queen suite and shut the door behind him before returning to the kitchen hoping to ward off the haze of the narcotics.
A few hours passed by allowing time for his anger to subside. Luke finally thought to check in with his girlfriend. He tried calling her cell but it went straight to voicemail. Keeping in mind Sarah had terrible service at the convenient store she managed, he decided to text: “Hey babe, I was just checking on you. Haven’t seen you in a few days or week maybe…. Im sorry Sarah. I’ll see you when you get home.” As he pressed send, he heard a familiar ding just barely above a whisper and a chill ran down his spine. It sounded as if it were coming from the bedroom.
Luke stood, phone in hand, and stared in the direction of the room he and his girlfriend had shared many wonderful and not so wonderful nights together. He carefully approached the door.
“Sarah,…babe…, you in there?”
No answer. Just before walking into the room, he tried calling her phone once more. Voicemail again only this time, for just a split second he could of swore he heard the ringtone of her phone.
Holding the handle and mustering up the courage, he quickly turned the brass knob and gently pushed open the door. What was their neatly made, empty bed was now filled with his unmoving girlfriend, thousands of pills and her cell phone. He shakily called 911 while checking for a pulse.
“911 whats your emergency?”
“I.. I just found my g…girlfriend Sarah…. I think sh…sh..she may have overdosed. I'm not sure what happened. She wasn’t here wh…
“Sir I understand you’re upset but I need you to confirm your location. Are you at 87 North River Road?”
“Very good, does she have a pulse?’
“Ok sir, you need to perform CPR. Open her mouth and check to be sure her airway isnt blocked.”
Luke tilted Sarah’s head back and pulled down her chin. Her mouth was filled with pills of all shapes and sizes. He turned her head and tried to scrap them out of her throat all while relaying this to the dispatcher in a frantic voice. She shouted direction over weeping and pleading as Luke did everything in his power to revive her.
When the ambulance and police arrived, shock was beginning to take hold. Luke sat outside on the porch as emts and policemen poured through the remains of their lives. After an hour or so of repeating the same story, Paul hurriedly made his way to Luke’s side. “Can he have a minute to breathe?’ He questioned the crowd around him while pulling Luke off of the porch and into the yard. Luke gestured to a variety of pills stuck in the snow that slid off Sarah’s person as she was wheeled toward the black van causing Paul to visibly shuddered.
“This is insanity. How the hell did this happen?” Paul inquired as he stared at the white, motionless sheet on a gurney. He turned his attention back to Luke uncertain of what to say how to help his friend. He cleared his throat,
“Come home with me.“
Luke arose from the couch and wandered to the kitchen, met by Paul stationed beside the coffee pot, eyes fixed on the black substance. Luke reached into the fridge for the milk and was overtaken by the sound of electrical buzzing.
“Shh, What is that?”
“Just listen…. There! Did you hear it?”
Paul shook his head. “I think you just need to sleep those meds off, man. Who the hell swallows a handful of Xanax?”
Luke froze, carefully taking in the details around him. Deja vu maybe?
“Hey Paul, what did we do yesterday?”
“Well, like I said you took some bars and then we came here, I think we went and got a pizza and a bottle of rum, maybe? Shit, I don't really remember Luke. I've been just as fucked up as you have.”
“I gotta go.”
Luke rushed into the bitter cold all the while dialing Sarah’s number and getting the familiar voicemail message. When he arrived at his door, he didn't bother dusting off the snow. Instead he barrelled through the entryway, passing the thermostat and making a mental note to check it later. He swung open the door to his bedroom where he found Sarah calmly positioned on the end of their bed, hands neatly folded in her lap.
Luke fell to his knees and crawled to her, sobbing out, “Sarah, Oh My God, Sarah, baby, is it you?” He laid his head in her lap cradling her thighs, silently crying of relief to see her face once more. She methodically ran her fingers along the nap of his neck while cooing to calm him. “Everything is ok. Everything is ok.” They remained in this position for what felt like hours.
Finally, Sarah lifted Luke’s chin to her face. She pulled him closer until their lips touched. Overtaken by emotion and love, Luke leaned into Sarah, kissing her deeply and only stopping when something foreign found its way into his mouth, a pill. He stepped back and spit the capsule into his hand.
“Sarah, what the fu…” Luke found Sarah was once again lying on her back on the bed, pills lodged into her throat and all around her.
Luke awoke on Paul's’ couch. He sat up and smelled the coffee brewing in the kitchen. As he rounded the corner, he noticed Pauls’ cup, the same damn cup. Same clothes, same feeling, and of course the same noise coming from the fridge. This time, Luke decided he needed to do things differently to avoid his girlfriends death. But what? It's not like he put the pills there and he only restarts in the morning of her death so there's no avoiding the xanax.
“Hey man, got some stuff I gotta do today, I'm gonna head into town.”
“Cool, man. See ya.”
Luke shut the door to his friends house and instead of turning left to head towards home, he turned right. “Maybe if I switch up enough things today, I can keep Sarah from dying. There's a word for it, movies about it, ‘the butterfly effect’” he concluded on the barren, icey street. As he rounded the corner home, he could make out Sarah in the distance. He ran the rest of the way and wrapped his arms around her, taking in her sweet scent all the while warming his nose against her sweater.
“Did you miss me?” She giggled.
“You have no idea.” Luke tightened his grip as Sarah let out a playful “Oww!”
Inside, Luke took note of the temp displayed on the thermostat, forty eight degrees fahrenheit. Instead of making a fuss, he turned up the heat and listened as the furnace sprang to life. He lead sarah into their bedroom and for the first time in a long time, he made sober, passionate love to his girlfriend, one of the better times in the room.
The morning after, Luke was overjoyed to find he was still in his home, in his bed, in the arms of Sarah, who was very much alive. He slid out of the suite carefully and got dressed. He made a breakfast for two and even pulled out his own coffee pot to enjoy a cup. He gazed out of the window as a bird pecked at a colorful substance in the front yard. The Robin hopped this way and that, shaking its head occasionally before it haphazardly flew away. Curiosity took over as he decided to trudge out into the wintertide to investigate. As the capsules came into view, Luke fell numb.
“It was all bullshit!”
He sprinted towards the house awkwardly, sliding in the snow until making it onto the porch, where he was met in the entryway by Sarah, eyes heavy from the sleep overruled.
“What the fuck is going on, Sarah?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know EXACTLY what I mean! You were dead two days in a fucking row and now you're here, alive and there's a handful of pills out front! Are you trying to to drive me insane?!”
“Calm down Luke, ever..”
“Everything is definitely not ok! Tell me now SARAH!”
“Luke,….. “ She exhaled defeated, ”Luke, it's all in your head.”
At this Luke cackled a maniacal laugh causing Sarah to take a step back.
“I know what this is” He chuckled as he leaned beside Sarah, whose back was to the mantle, and wrapped his fingers around a fire iron, “This is you messing with me because I take pills occassionally, this is you finding a way to fuck me up so bad in the head that I decide to quit.”
“No, Luke, listen to m…”
“This is you finding anyway you can to control me, have me right up your ass 24/7. Why?! Who fucking knows at this point, maybe its to work the goddamn thermostat!!”
As Luke brought the fire iron down, he could of swore he saw the slightest grin on Sarah’s face.
Luke awoke and was immediately aware he felt like absolute shit. He removed the cover and stretched in the bed while wincing in pain, all the while eyes closed. Coffee, the smell is once again coffee. And the bed he lay in wasnt his own, it felt tiny. He peeked open his eyes to see he lay on Paul’s couch once more. Not sure what to do, he decided to lay there until he himself died. “I cant take this anymore,” he mumured. He heard Paul bang his fists on the counter, “slowest brewing shit Ive ever seen, come on already!”
The buzzing from the fridge sprang to life causing Luke’s teeth to vibrate. He closed his eyes tight, and instead of being in the comfortable dark, he found himself moving toward a light until white exploded into view.
A televsion produces a faint forcast, “….Its a great day folks with warmer temps than weve had all winter, expect that snow to start melting over the next few days with temps like 48 degrees…"
“He’s back! Lets get him to ICU.”
“Right away, Doctor.”
“Man, this guy is lucky to be alive. Who the hell swallows a handful of Xanax?”
Submitted June 12, 2018 at 12:14PM by jadednicole