Wednesday, May 13, 2009
There he was. Trapped in his 1984 Ford Bronco. Rachael could almost smell the thick black smoke billowing to the sky, she could see the bright red flames roaring over, nearly devouring the Bronco. She could barely see Todd through the wild flames, but what she could see is embedded in her head forever. The blood on his face did not hide the tears of helplessness pouring from his blue eyes. She tried to run to him but she could not. She tried to yell to him words of hope and comfort but again, she could not. Her heart filled with anguish as she watched her husband struggle trying retrieve himself from the overturned burning Bronco.
The continuous beeping of Rachael’s alarm clock forced her awake. She tapped her overly used “snooze” button, noticing it was 4:45am. She rolled back into her sweaty damp sheets and sobbed quietly as familiar tears began to roll softly down her face.
“I’m so sorry Todd,” she whimpered to herself, hoping it would mend the past. These nightmares began the night of Todd’s death six months ago, and they have no mercy for Rachael. She was not at the scene of the car accident, her mind had placed together a scenario based on the facts from the police reports, the condition of his crushed Bronco, and the newspaper articles. This scenario haunts her every night and reminds her of the painful death Todd endured.
Todd’s Bronco had been found by a traveler passing through their small town. It was laying on its side in a shallow ditch off the side of the road. When the traveler called 911 he was informed that a fire truck and ambulance were already on the way, because the smoke had been seen by a near neighbor, who called the nearest fire department. The man could do nothing to help, because Todd was already unconscious from the smoke and the Bronco was still on fire and too hot to touch. The vehicle continued to burn until the firemen arrived. They managed to put the fire out within minutes, extracting Todd from the vehicle was what took awhile. The paramedics said that he had died before the fire was put out from smoke inhalation, and even if he would had survived that, the burns would have killed him within hours. The police said the accident was caused by a deer crossing the road. Todd had been speeding and swerved to miss the deer which caused him to hit a tree that sent his car rolling like a tumbleweed.
Rachael had received the call from the police station at around 11:00pm. Todd had been a policeman and Rachael and him were good friends with everyone from the local police station, in fact, they were like family. It had been Kevin, Todd’s best friend, that called Rachael to inform her of the horrifying news.
“Hello?” Rachael answered the phone half asleep.
“Rachael…I have some terrible news, I think its best if I tell you in person.” Kevin said.
“I’m half asleep Kevin and Todd will be home any minute.” She said, thinking nothing of his “terrible news.”
Todd’s work always called her with “terrible news.” Since Rachael knew Todd was not at work she could care less about terrible circumstances at eleven o’ clock at night.
“Please Rachael, its important, I’m on my way up to your house right now.” Kevin persisted.
“Listen Kevin I finally just feel asleep, me and Todd got into a big argument this afternoon and he took off furious in his Bronco about five hours ago. He will be storming through our door at any moment and let me assure you, he won’t be too happy to see--”
“Todd is dead Rachael…” Kevin blurted out loud losing his patients.
Silence from both ends of the phone followed Kevin’s mouth full of bad news. Rachael placed her hand upon her heart hoping to ease the immense ache within. She waited a moment for Kevin to say just kidding or Todd is dead for eating my lunch again, but nothing.
“Rachael…are you there? I’m on my--”
“Wh… What do you mean Todd is dead!?” Rachael held her breath…still waiting, hoping, and praying for Kevin to admit he was teasing her.
Kevin was lost for words and Rachael heard him desperately trying to contain himself from crying over the phone.
“KEVIN! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN TODD IS DEAD!?” Rachael screamed in confusion and frustration.
Rachael’s snooze button broke its slumber and her alarm rang again. She rolled back towards the clock, which now read 4:50am. Once again, she reached for the snooze button, hoping to fall back asleep for a few more minutes, but she could not help but think back to the day Todd died. He came home from work around 5:30ish like always. She was going about her normal routine in the kitchen making dinner. Todd came into the kitchen and stood in the doorway, still in his police uniform. Rachael glanced up at him and knew something was wrong.
“Hi honey, I’m making your favorite dish tonight and I put a pie in the oven for dess--”
“What the fuck is this Rachael?” Todd tossed an old yellow napkin on the table.
“…An old napkin…” She replies sarcastically while cleaning her hands off with a dish towel.
“Don’t be a smartass Rachael…what does it say?” He reached his arm out and moved the old napkin towards her. Rachael walked closer and read aloud.
“Thinking about you.”
“That is your handwriting Rachael…why was it in Kevin’s truck?” Todd asked using every bit of control he had to communicate calmly.
“I don’t know…I always leave you little notes everywhere Todd, you know that.” Rachael turned away and continued to prepare their dinner.
“Damn it Rachael…why would you leave me a note in my best friend’s truck?” He asked letting his anger unveil.
“I don’t know, It could have been stuck to Kevin’s shoe and he tracked it into his truck Todd!”
“Maybe, and then what? He picked it up off the floor and taped it to his steering wheel…?” Todd grabbed the napkin off the counter, ripped it in half and tossed it in the garbage. Rachael slammed the knife into the cutting board.
“What are you trying to say Todd? I don’t know how it got there, maybe someone is trying to fuck with you!”
“Your right Rachael…someone is trying to fuck with me! You are! I’m going to ask you one time Rachael and I want a fucking straight honest answer!”
“Don’t you dare ask me what I think your--”
Todd walked towards Rachael slowly and with tears lining the bottom of his eyelids, he interrupted her.
“Are you seeing Kevin?”
They made eye contact for a moment before Rachael looked away and let a tear go.
“I can’t believe this Rachael!” Todd turned away and stormed out of the kitchen. Rachael heard him rummaging in the hallway for a moment and then heard the front door slam. Rachael knew that Todd’s special way of cooling off was to go for a long drive, little did she know, that was the last time she would ever see him again.
Rachael‘s alarm clock broke her thought. She reached over for the last time and tapped the “alarm off” button, it was now 5:00am. Laying in bed, Rachael could do nothing but think about Todd and how she felt so guilty for betraying him and not being honest with him when she had the chance. He deserved the truth and he never got that from her.
She replayed these thoughts every morning before getting out of bed and knew they would not disappear, for she still felt like she was being unfaithful to him, even now. The soft sound of the bedroom door handle twisting and the bright hallway light brought Rachael back to reality.
“Good morning beautiful.” Rachael heard a soft voice and rolled over towards the light with a smile on her face, that only she knew was fake.
“I hope you had sweet dreams, there‘s breakfast on the table when your ready.”
“Thank you Kevin,” she responded.
Story written by my daughter Alex