Authors: Debra Anastasia
Copyright (c) 2016 Debra Anastasia
All rights reserved
Published by Debra Anastasia
Cover Art Design - Teresa Mummert
Cover Art Image: Depositphotos
Editing: Jessica Royer Ocken
Formatting by CP Smith
The Revenger is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents are all products of the author's twisted imagination and are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976, no part of
this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any
form by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without
the prior written permission of the author.
For T, D, and J
It’s always all for you.
The gravestone felt cold against her back. From where she sat, Savvy could hear the squeals and happy voices in the playground just over the hill. Maybe it was torture to come here. It never brought her peace. It did bring tears. And sitting on top of her husband and daughter felt sacrilegious, but what else could she do? It was the closest thing to hugging them she could find.
She wanted to believe she could feel them, but she couldn’t. She wanted to see them in her peripheral vision. She never did. Her mind refused to play any hopeful tricks at all.
There was no way to make the pain go away. She turned her wrist over to look at the scars her failed suicides had left behind. If she almost completely closed her eyes, the harsh lines spelled the word
Hugging her stomach, she took another traitorous breath. She told her brother she came here to talk to them, and that it made her feel better. Both were lies. She never spoke a word, in her head or from her lips. The heartbreak was white noise, an endless, desperate background.
A bright red playground ball launched into view from the happier place. It bounced and rolled to a stop close to her feet. In the time before, she would have thrown it back over the fence in the distance to the child who was surely missing it.
Now she looked at the ball without even really seeing it. Her daughter had loved to play. The word
ripped Savvy’s soul open again.
“Do you want to play, sweetheart?”
“Yes, Mommy. Yes!”
Savvy closed her eyes when she heard a set of little feet coming to retrieve the ball.
“Lady, are you okay?”
She didn’t answer. She let the silence create enough unease that the child picked up the ball and trotted away.
She hated seeing children now. The soft hair, the big eyes—she just couldn’t make her brain do it.
And her husband was buried here as well. For a moment she remembered how they’d been wrapped in each other’s arms, the way he would rock her daughter to sleep at night.
Savvy bit her lip. She needed the physical pain to stop her tears. She ran a hand through her blonde hair and tensed her body. Standing quickly, she brushed off her jeans. She looked at the empty stone. It bore no words; it was blank—just like the rest of her life. Today was the anniversary of their death.
She still couldn’t bring herself to have their names etched in everlasting print. She couldn’t bring herself to clean her daughter’s room. She still slept on one side of the bed, leaving his side free, as if he might crawl under the covers and pull her to him.
The sun was bright, deceiving. Savvy hadn’t worn a jacket, but the crisp wind certainly demanded one. Her body still sought such comforts, and that pissed her off. She didn’t want to eat, yet she got hungry. She didn’t want her hair bouncy and clean, yet she showered. Habit maybe. Betrayal is what it felt like when she put on a coat. They certainly weren’t warm in the cold ground.
She began the walk back to her house, one she knew too well now. She’d seen the seasons pass, the green leaves on the oak turning colors and dropping to be a blanket for her feet. Snow had come as a crunchy announcement of the winter. Her daughter had loved snow. It was magic floating from the clouds, a whole world covered with white cotton candy like a cartoon. And now spring had burst on the scene again. This time as a cruel reminder of all she’d lost.
Savvy opened the door to her house and was greeted by a loud Stanley Cup playoffs game and her brother’s angry shouting. His team was losing. She closed the door with a careful click. She appreciated that he was here adding life into the house, even if nothing could put life back into her eyes.
“You back, Savs?”
. His voice was so familiar, the sound of her childhood. He was Toby to everyone else now, but always Tobias to her.
“Yeah.” She knew he was just making her talk, and that was fine.
She stood in the entryway but could tell he’d pulled the recliner into its upright position by the familiar sound it made. Her husband had loved that chair. Late in the evening, she’d used to hear that noise and then reliable footsteps to each door and window would follow. He’d made sure the locks were turned and hit the combination on the keypad to arm the alarm system. Keeping them safe.
She snorted at the irony.
You did your best, babe,
she told him silently.
I was the one who messed up.
“Did you go to the uh…” Tobias filled the doorway with his tall frame. He reached up and grabbed the doorjamb, stretching his back.
She nodded and busied herself with taking off her sneakers.
“I know today is the anniversary, but do you really think that’s helping? I mean, maybe you should give that therapist a call.” Tobias’s arms were well defined, and his bicep twitched. He was worried; she knew that. She wished she could help him, but she felt like she was inside a thick, glass bubble and the rest of the world was on the outside.
She put her shoes in the front closet and stood there a second too long. She saw her husband’s work shoes, which he would never put his feet in again. She closed her eyes and pinched her arm, but her tears ignored the pain and fell.
“Damn it. How can I do this?” Tobias asked. “I can’t watch you just be stagnant. You don’t do anything. You won’t move anything of theirs.” He came behind her and hugged her tightly, too tightly.
Savvy hated to talk about it, about anything. He deserved a better sister who would at least try.
“It’s been a year,” he continued. “I’ve been living here half a year, and there’s no change for you. How can I help you? Tell me what to do; I’ll do it.” His desperate words moved her hair.
She spoke before she could stop herself, and she knew there would be emotional hell to pay for uttering anything about them. “Every morning, I get hit by a truck. Every afternoon, my mind gets to take a bath in lava. Every night is so black. I don’t want to be here without them.”
Savvy reached around her brother’s strong arm and wiped at her cheeks. It was pointless; once she started to cry, she couldn’t stop for hours, sometimes days.
“Tobias, I’m too weak to die, and I have nothing to live for. If I could just stop breathing, maybe the pain would end. It never stops. My heart’s cracked open, and all the love has spilled out. I can’t fix it. I don’t even want to—”
Her sobs stopped their conversation.
He held her strong, saying, “I know. Let it out. I know.”
No one knows,
she thought bitterly
. No one knows. They’re gone.
Tobias did his best, he always did. He was a wonderful brother, but she could tell she was wearing him down. He needed his life back.
But Savvy was too scared to act normal, to convince him to go, because then the house would be empty—like another grave for her sweet family.
That night, Savvy had tucked herself under the covers on her side of the bed when she heard the loud squeak of Tobias getting into the guest bed a few doors down the hall.
She had finally quieted her tears enough for him to leave her, but now they came back. Like a cough, they forced themselves on her. But Savvy could cry silently—a skill she’d never wanted to know she had. Her pillow drowned the sobs. The tears never fixed anything, though—just another bodily function in her day. There was no relief in the salty wetness.
When finally her eyes had given up all the moisture they had, Savvy sighed. Another long night lay ahead. She got up and paced, just like the night she’d been in labor with her daughter. Then she sat, trying to put a lid on the memory, but it all came back. Her husband, Kal, was rubbing her back and reading from the pregnancy book Savvy had jokingly called
Savvy punched her mattress and shook her head. She wanted to pretend she didn’t know where she had to go now. But she did. She told herself she needed fresh air. She didn’t.
The front hall’s closet squeaked, and Tobias was sure to hear it, so she slipped a pair of red heels from her closet and put them on her feet instead of her sneakers. She’d have to wear her fancy shoes. She took her keys from the hook by the front door. Pressing the alarm buttons would jolt Tobias awake, so she slid open a non-alarmed window instead.
Outside, the motion-sensor light blinked happily to its brighter setting, illuminating the driveway and the sensible sedan Tobias had insisted she buy to replace the van that was totaled in the wreck. Once inside the car, she let the shakes take her over. This was a requirement before driving now. Her nervous system staged an involuntary rebellion each time she returned to the driver’s seat.
Finally, when she could hold still, she put her keys in the ignition and popped the car in gear.
I’m really doing this
She’d been numb for so long that she almost liked the feel of her heart clattering against her ribcage. Savvy took all the correct streets to find her way to the worst part of town.
I can’t kill me, but I’m sure I can find someone who’ll do the deed.
For the first time in a year, Savvy smiled.
What Have I Done?
Savvy hadn’t driven somewhere with a purpose in a long time. Before, there’d been well-baby visits and trips to the store for diapers, then socks, then school dresses. Now Tobias usually drove.
She was getting the sweats again. This sensation had come and gone periodically since the accident. Sometimes she thought it was growing progressively worse, but it was hard to tell. Either way, Savvy chalked it up to guilt. The accident report in the newspaper the day after her life was over had been simply worded. The dichotomy between the brief write up on the impact of Savvy’s life was staggering.
Police are looking for more information and witnesses regarding the van vs. truck accident. The incident resulted in the death of a father and daughter. Anyone with information about the substance found at the accident is asked to call the non-emergency number at the Police Station. The corrosive effects will cause a detour until the road can be repaired.