So, unfortunately Tunnels: Part 3 is delayed, as my second semester is proving a tough workload, which is honestly just my excuse for not having it done :). So enjoy this short story in the meantime, but look out this weekend for a surprise!
Ford can’t breathe. He doesn’t know where he is. He doesn’t know which way is up or down. He’s floating ever so slowly. It comes back to him in flashes, as he floats in the deep dark water. A name, first. Not his, but the name ‘Lillith’ written neatly at the top of a letter. He sees himself write the name with such tender care, all those weeks ago, caught up in love.
The next flash he sees is a face, her face. From a few days ago, when he first took her out on his lake, and he strummed his expensive guitar ever so softly, plucking out a tune for her and only her. The memory confuses him; he wrote songs and poems and stories, not just for a living but for her specially. So why did this happen?
Another memory surfaces a millisecond after the last, as his long dark hair twists gently. A few nights ago, when he brought her to his parents, Ford’s mother and father talked to him in hushed tones about how he was moving rather quickly. They assured him he would just get hurt again, like the last girl, and the one before that, and on and on. He had stormed out of the house, grabbing Lillith by her beautiful hand, unrelenting in the face of his parents. He was so sure, so in love, as in love as every twenty-three year old can be. She was different than the others, and he knew what he was doing, or at least that was what he shouted when he left.
Darkness is creeping at the corners of his sight. He is still so confused. He was never very good at reading people or understanding them in any way, really. Lillith had asked him today, right whenever he had finished the new song for his client, to take her out on his lake again. He happily did what she said, as he always did. But, once they reached the middle of the lake, he looked back to her to see her hand, with the costly wedding ring he had gently placed on it, against his chest, pushing him backward. The next thing he knew, Ford couldn’t breathe.
The pain Ford feels tells him to stop. To let himself float forever, away from Lillith, away from his sad existence. Looking back on everything that had happened, he can only think how naive he is, and how he should just let go.
But then, her face appears again. His mind finds his muscles again. He thrashes, twisting his body and his limbs, in the direction he thinks is up. His light shirt and jeans now heavy with water, he tears his shirt at the buttons, yanking it off, and then he does the same with his pants. Much lighter, he floats upward, breaking the surface.
Gulping in air, Ford’s lungs clear themselves out, as he coughs and wheezes. The cold seeps into his skin, and he attempts to tread water as well as he can. Blinking the water out of his eyes, the huge lake is empty, a long stretch of nothing but the glassy surface. Ford can barely see the lakehouse, tall and regal and about a mile away, and the small motorboat that he and Lillith sat in not five minutes ago is tucked safely in the boathouse.
While the cold water laps at Ford’s face, rage burns a hole deep inside him, keeping him warm. But his limbs start to ache, so he forces his legs to kick him toward the right, where the land is closest. His mind goes blank as he swims with labored breaths to the shore.
In a minute or ten or an hour, Ford drags himself with clawing hands on the rocks of the small peninsula. He rolls to his back, sucking in the sweet air, the water lapping at his feet and the tree branches stretching out above him. The sun is falling, lighting up the lake with the fiery colors of the sunset. After a minute, he heaves himself to his knees, and he can just glimpse the house to his right. A golden light shines out of one of the rooms. Their bedroom.
Pulling himself to his feet, Ford doesn’t take his eyes off of the light emitting from the house. The low-hanging branches tap the top of his head, but he doesn’t notice. Jaw clenching, hands in tight fists, breaths heavy and labored, Ford stalks off into the woods in the direction of the house.
He thinks about what his parents told him, the day the first song he wrote hit number one, about how people might try to take advantage of him. At the time, he had laughed them off. But at the time, he was naive. He isn’t anymore.
Featured Image: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=6332&picture=summer-lake