Chapter 1 - Elizabeth's Inner Correspondence
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Nothing but darkness encompasses me. I can’t see anything. Hard earth lies still beneath my feet. Someone…someone is here with me; possibly more than just one other. They won’t speak to me. All I can hear are whispers. Whispers in the dark surround me.


Someone is breathing right in front of me, but I can’t see. I can’t tell if it’s menacing or questioning. Something inside tells me it may be a combination of the two. There’s definitely more than one “else” in the (room? Is this a room I'm in?) with me.

Echoes in the dark...

Suddenly falling, the ground quickly came to greet her.

Her eyes fluttered.

     Elizabeth must have been dozing again. She was doing this much more frequently since her time in the hospital. It was almost as though she fell victim to trance-like states more often than she'd like to admit these days. Taking her off Carbamazepine was a good choice to be certain, but she still couldn’t seem to find an appropriate cocktail for her type of crazy. Mentally, she was a wreck, and she lacked many necessary distress-tolerance behavioral skills that she should've learned as a youth from her family of origin: her parents. This meant that she would be overcome with emotion during times of stress to the point where it would paralyze her, giving her grievous panic attacks or anxiety attacks, only to then entirely crash her system, leaving her memory a foggy mess of colors and shapes. 

She blinked, looked up at the ceiling, and then swiftly closed her eyes one more time before opening them again as she came to full consciousness.

     She glanced idly, wondering if the drugs had finally made it through her system. She felt the weight of her body in the chair and decided to try sitting up. She lightly pulled herself forward and moaned at the dull ache in her tailbone as she sat straight up. She had always struggled with spinal pain, but rarely did anything about it. It was almost as though she was a living, self-fulfilling prophecy for chronic and debilitating sciatica. Rubbing her lower-back, she realized she was not feeling too well and decided against standing.

     A wave of dizziness washed over her and she slowly moved herself back into the recliner, even farther back than she had previously been before the failed attempt to sit up.  Her head lolled backward onto a pillow and stayed put. Right hand slightly trembling, she lifted the remote control off the arm of the chair and turned the TV off.

Not in the mood for the bitchy house hunters today, she thought. Closing her eyes, she relished the great silence which surrounded her. Sometimes, she truly loved the deafening silence. 

Moments later, she felt a furry nuzzle on her lower left leg. Without looking down she knew what to think of the situation and instantly felt a surge of happiness. She smiled. 

Gambit must be hungry again. 

Gambit was her slick-nosed, heavy-pawed, good-natured, muscular (and perhaps slightly obese) black cat who followed her everywhere, especially when he was hungry. He weighed roughly thirty pounds, which was quite large for a cat. His disposition was very genuinely calm and brave, and he managed to greet everyone he met with open interest. Elizabeth was no stranger to his affections, as he frequently requested through a series of mews that she pick him up and hold him like a baby for as long as he felt it was necessary. Whenever she held him, he would move himself upward in order to lick her face like a happy dog might to his owner. He always knew the second she was awake and the moment she was nodding off to sleep. It seemed as though he enjoyed picking these specific occasions to ask for food or belly scratches.

“I already fed you Love-Bunch, now off with you.”

She extended her right arm, pointed in the direction of his food bowl for emphasis, and yet, she KNEW he hadn’t moved an inch. She felt the lightest bit of exasperation knowing she was going to have to actually get up this time. 



     Re-feeding Gambit took more strength than she had at the moment, and she suddenly felt a deep urge to retire to her bedroom for the remainder of the day. Sure, she fed him a little earlier than expected according to his feeding schedule, but she figured she wouldn’t be awake much longer and he would need his resources while she was unconscious. The good Lord only knew how long she would be out this time. Her sleep patterns were so erratic that she gave up trying to even monitor them anymore. At one point her doctors had advised her to keep track of her sleeping habits, but without sticking to a routine it seemed almost pointless. She knew she wasn’t getting enough of the right kind of sleep, although she slept for hours upon hours at a time some days, and she knew she was never in a state of true rest and relaxation.

…At least not unless she was drugged.

     Smoking marijuana was her crutch and outlet. She went through a brief period of self-medicating with pills like Vicodin or Percocet when they were made available to her, but she never went out of her way to acquire new medications to tamper around with. Marijuana was a much safer way to escape the pain of life and the physical pain associated with living it. Mentally she felt freer. It was liberation of functioning...

…It also made her sleep like there was no tomorrow. In the absence of dreams, sleep was her escape. 

Coming back to the present moment, she rounded the corner of her hallway and wandered accordingly into her very own safe-haven: her sanctuary, her bedroom.

     Lazily walking to her cherry oak night-stand, she removed the hair clips that were pinning her bangs to the top of her head and took out the tight pony-tail holder to release the tumbling masses of blonde hair from their suspended prison. Glancing in the mirror, she had a flash of panic as she thought she saw movement in the reflection. She thought to herself,

There’s nothing there. You know there isn’t. Just ignore it and get some sleep.

     As she positioned herself comfortably in the bed, she prayed to God in Heaven that she wouldn’t have any more nightmares. The dreams were simply too much as they left her feeling anxious and depressed when she awoke. That was another thing - she had nightmares, all the time. When she wasn’t heavily under the influence of medical marijuana, the disturbing visions and feelings would come flooding back to her like a tidal wave. Her medication was always under adjustment, so that wasn't a comfort she could rely on at all times.

     The nightly terrors encompassed her previous failed marriage and all the heinous things that had occurred before, during and after the tempestuous divorce. Sometimes, the pain of it all would resurface and would leave her trembling with tears streaming down her face. She fought her own feelings daily and found no refuge in sleep when the dreams would run rampant in her mind. The only good thing was that the manifestations of her ex-husband were starting to fade into a shadowy blur. She could no longer see the expression of anger and disappointment on his face, but rather just a silhouetted figure of a charcoal-colored specter, slowly being forgotten in the sands of time. So many changes had been made to her life in such a short period that it was no wonder she was left feeling like an emotional corkscrew. Just thinking back was enough to put her into a frenzy of regret which could last days, possibly even weeks.

She was tired. It was time to try to rest. If only she could forget, her grief and suffering would then be eradicated. She would be free...

Until then, there was always Gambit

Almost as soon as she thought the name, the fuzzy feline jumped up on her bed and curled up beside her to sleep. His fluffy tail tickled her nose and she sneezed. After a few moments of petting the resting body of the black cat whom she loved, she laid her head back down.

Closing her eyes, Elizabeth briefly saw another flicker of movement coming from beside her bed towards the entryway to the hall. It was only for a fraction of a second, but it was unmistakable.

Something was in her room.

Next: Chapter 2 Part 1- Eye of the Beholder

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A. S. Deller      3/25/19 8:57 AM

Great descriptiveness-- You could teach me a thing or two about turning a phrase! And just in this first installment I already am emotionally invested.