Everyone agreed that it was the worst sort of tragedy.
Lacey Kensington was five years old when a drunk driver veered up onto the kerb and slammed into her tiny body one bright afternoon. The impact jerked Lacey’s hand out of her mother’s and threw her clean over to the other side of the road. Kendra Kensington watched with horrified eyes as her little daughter slammed into the pavement and lay unmoving in a growing pool of blood, both legs sticking out at crazed angles. Ignoring the slurred apologies of the driver (who didn’t seem to know where he was), Kendra ran across the road, desperate to reach Lacey. She knew if she could just lay her hands on the girl and beg her to sit up, to speak, to plant one of her sweet soft kisses on her mother’s cheek, Lacey would be alright.
But the air was thick sludge around her, and as she struggled to move through it, each moment agonizingly slow, Kendra was filled with the sudden certainty that Lacey would never gift her with a warm wet kiss ever again.
She didn’t know it, but she was screaming even before she saw the gaping hole in Lacey’s head.
Five long months in hospital followed, plugged into an IV drip, a respirator, a catheter, a colostomy bag, and riddled with wires and monitors. There was not much of the little girl left in Lacey. She had become a skeletal old woman, her diminutive form pitiful under the stark white sheets and fluorescent glare. Her skull bore a visible crater from the fracture she’d sustained, and her legs were twisted beyond recognition. Their healing had been slow and problematic, plagued by recurring infections. Her sunken eyes were perpetually closed, ringed in garish yellow. The only sound in the bare room was the whoosh-beep, whoosh-beep of the respirator and heart monitor. Kendra heard that noise in her sleep; not that she got much sleep these days.
Every time she dangled on the brink of slumber, she heard the shriek of brakes, the squeal of tyres, and the grisly whump as the car hit Lacey’s body and plunged them both into an endless waking nightmare.
My baby. My darling, precious, poor tiny baby. Look what’s become of you. It’s beyond unfair. It’s…evil. Do you blame me? Sometimes in my dreams, you tell me it’s my fault. I should have seen the car coming. I should have saved you. But I didn’t.
Kendra kept a photo of Lacey from Before propped on her steel bedhead, so that when it became too overwhelmingly terrible and she wanted to run sobbing from the sarcophagal room, she could look at the picture and remember who the ravaged creature in the bed used to be. A plump girl with curly blonde hair and an impish grin twinkled at Kendra from the photo, all blue eyes and small white teeth.
You used to tell me I was your best friend in the whole world. You used to tell me you loved me THIS much. You used to crawl into bed with me in the morning and smother my face with your kisses. I’d give anything for one of your kisses, Lacey, my cherub, my angel, my wee one. Please, darling. Come back from where ever you’ve gone. Come back and give mummy a kiss. Just one last kiss.
Kendra’s tears fell on the parched wasteland of Lacey’s face like desert rain.
A strange sort of suicide. Kendra was found sitting next to Lacey’s hospital bed, face buried in the blankets. Her blue lips hinted at asphyxiation, and the autopsy backed up their story. She’d been alone when she died; the nurse had been just outside at her desk all night, and could vouch that nobody entered or left the room. Ms. Kensington must have simply put her head down in the bedding and held her face there until the last breath was smothered from her body, the nurse said.
Lacey, though still unconscious, was smiling. Her lips, dry and pale for so long, were red and swollen. She seemed suddenly healthier, and there was speculation she might wake up—alas, too late for her mother to see.
Everyone agreed it was the worst sort of tragedy.
Felicity Dowker is a 28 year old Australian writer with a husband, two young children, and a not-so-hidden feminist and atheist critique nestled in much of her work--especially the flash pieces, for some reason. Quite a few people have been foolhardy enough to publish her short stories, and she has one limited edition chapbook. For ramblings, news and a bibliography, go to http://holeinthepage.blogspot.com/ but enter, stranger, at your riske; here there be Tygers.