DEATH UPSIDE DOWN
by Andreas Economakis
I’m sitting at my desk in my room upstairs. The light from my desk lamp casts trembling shadows against the pale cream walls, just like in a monk’s cell. In front of me, a calendar counts the days until my departure. I cross out and count the remaining days each morning. I am alone in the quiet house, alone except for the dogs.
Idefix is lying on my bed, shuttering in a dream, emitting an occasional whimper. I wonder if he too is counting the days. He will be dead in less than a month. The bad smell that has been coming from his mouth for weeks should be a sign to me. I take it for simple bad breath. Occasionally, I put toothpaste on my finger and coat his palate to cover up the smell.
The room is very still, the kind of still that is thick, padded, drugged. Like antihistamine, like trying to breathe through a damp wool blanket that’s been draped over your face. The woods outside are quiet.
Suddenly, a loud skidding noise fills the room, my ears, my skull. Like a knife cut. It’s the kind of skidding you know will result in a metallic crunching sound, a heart-skipping, life-shattering crunching sound. I brace for it. It comes, deafening, piercing. I am startled out of my seat. Idefix awakes abruptly and looks at me with that strange ruffled look he has when waking suddenly from a dream, one ear pressed warm against his head.
I jump up and run down the stairs in two bounds, out the front door, down the dark driveway, to the empty street. I look to the left. Smoke and glass and red light and liquid are everywhere. It is surreal, a silent dream in daytime. Only thing is it’s night. I run to the wreck. A car is lying upside down on another car. How did it get there? The smell of gasoline fills my nostrils. I am the only one here. No. A man runs screaming down the street, fading into the darkness. He runs in slow motion. Everything is in slow motion.
I creep up to the cars. The top car is billowing smoke. Is it going to blow up? I go to the car’s broken window. A woman is trapped in the driver’s seat, suspended upside down by her seat belt. She is crying. Upside down. Dark tears trickle down her forehead. Her eyes are open. She keeps looking at me. Her eyes don’t blink. We look at each other for what seems like an eternity. Do we recognize each other?
“Go call 911!” says a voice behind me. “GO!” It’s my neighbor. I turn and run back to the house. By the time I get back to the wreck, the police have cordoned off the intersection. I look at the neighbor. “She didn’t make it,” he says. I walk back to my house and lay on my bed, hugging Idefix. I wonder… is he still counting the days?
This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.
Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.