When your body flew through the windshield, your spine soared out of place as if reaching out to me.
For the longest time, I only stared at it. Somehow, I had managed to make it out of my car and cross the few feet to where your spine remained. I had ignored the smoke arising from my blown engine that carried your soul off to Heaven in its wispy embrace. I had not felt the aching pain crushing my chest. I had not heard the explosion of my car that would be heard miles away in the innocent quiet of night. I had not felt the shards of glass dusted throughout my hair. I only saw your beautiful spine.
Arching slightly to the left, your spine made it look as if you were turning in that direction to answer somebody’s call. Your skin remained in one piece nearly punctured by your spine’s edge points, like little pearls wanting to jump out of your pretty, pink flesh. Your long legs went this way and that, accentuated dramatically by the black dress flowing in the wind. Above your high cheekbones were almond-shaped eyes, closed forever, and hair splayed across the blacktop in a chestnut bob. Spiked gauges sliced through your ears like crystal swords. I sat next to you, knowing then that I could never forget you.
Hours later, I found myself rocking wildly with all the blood drained from my legs. My jaw clenched, my knees tucked, my knuckles white, I had reverted back into a helpless child with shock. I couldn’t think or feel anything. I saw your spine. Your powerful spine struck me and forced me to hold on.
But your spine was attached to your body. And eventually, without thinking, I reached forward into the subtle pocket at the hip of your dress. My trembling fingers eventually grabbed onto a leather wallet. Plucking it from your body, I tore the Louis Vuitton leather open and out spilled the contents. A piece of folded paper, as soft and worn as parchment, fell onto my lap. And the only other thing that remained was the driver’s license. Shaking too much to properly read the fine text, I dropped it onto the ground and began heaving.
5’9. 130 LBS. BRWN hair. DOB: 03/21/1986.
Her name was Sammie Stone.
When I knew her name, the world came crashing down upon me faster than I had crashed into her - Sammie, I killed you - and I nearly went into panic. Everything rushed back into place in a smoky and hazy mess; the smoke from my blown engine spread over the rising sun like a gas spill into a huge fire. The horrid odor of asphalt rushed up to me and I placed my palm onto the baked asphalt to hold myself up. By doing this, I accidentally placed my body dangerously close to hers. The open wound on my chest, a deep slash nearly gutting me across my torso, dripped fresh blood onto the dead girl. I killed Sammie Stone.
Screaming until my hysteria left me in a hoarse whisper, I began breathing in and out like they taught me at anger management all those years ago. I counted to ten, hoped I could die...and repeated. And then I forced myself to head over to my 1996 Chevy truck, the red monstrosity that had been, in a way, my inheritance from birth. I wished I had died in it today and not her. Autopilot mode. Understand the damage, know how to replace or repair the parts. If freshman year autoshop taught me anything, it was how to be a mindless mechanic.
In some special variety of “physics forgot after freshman year,” my car had blown its cooling engine caused by a dramatic impact to the alternator. Using the back of my hand to waft away the thick plumes of smoke emanating from the blown hood, I saw that the front of the car had been nearly demolished. The airbag from within failed to inflate - the old machinery nearly obsolete - and I saw that the sticky, drenched steering wheel had pushed into my chest. If my chair had not been pushed so far back, it would have impaled me completely. The crumpled piece of paper remained on the dashboard.
Swiping the sweat from my face, I looked over to the grey Aston Martin that carved curved skid marks into the new road. It had spun once, twice, three times in a chaotic whirlwind that spit out Sammie onto the pavement. A starburst remained on the windshield, the tiny cracks like the little lines in some greater map. Curiously, my eyes oscillated between her car and mine; other than the starburst on the windshield, how had her smaller car remained so spotless?
Mindless. Jogging over to her car, my eyes sharpened as they tried to observe any damages to the Aston Martin. Without the windshield, it was nothing less than the million-dollar-mark of perfection. From the outside, I saw the velvet leather seats and a Cherry air freshener hanging on the mirror. Confused, the colder car door slipped under my cold fingers and I ducked as I headed into the car, being careful to avoid any fallen glass. After taking a cursory look around the inside, the puzzle grew beyond physics as I realized the keys were no longer in the car either.
Half-expecting her dead body to have arisen, I breathed a sigh of relief as she remained. These murderer hands trembled as they picked up her corpse, so light in my arms, to place on the flower beds dotting the side of the road. The red morning glories bloomed as they burst all around her like shots fired. I picked up her note and her driver’s license. I couldn’t fix this. I couldn’t change the fact that it was her, and not me. I couldn’t change the fact that I saw her car too late, far too late, always too late, and tried to spin out of the way but I failed again. I couldn’t replace or repair her.
I ended up on my knees, sobbing. I became protective over her spine, over Sammie Stone’s body, and felt revolted by the thought of leaving her here alone. But after a moment, it became apparent that we weren’t alone after all. I heard a jangling in the wind, like bells sounding from her soul. When I realized it wasn’t something lost in the wind, I looked down at her body again. in the upturned and pearly palm of her hand, she held a pair of keys.
It was alive. I shuddered as I watched it float from her hand to above her head like a halo. It twirled in a little dance before me, rocking its keys and looking up at me with a pouting face. With a rounded little o-shaped keyhole for a mouth, as if it was left inspired by its owner, and a key atop its own sterling little body, it looked like something fashioned from fairy dust. It jumped into my hands and shook violently in the direction of the Aston Martin.
“Klef-klef!” it exclaimed in a sing-song voice come from somewhere deep within it. It twirled in my hand again before shaking a single, reddened key in my direction.
“Dave,” I heard myself saying. It spun, satisfied. I hoped I was actually dead and this was a form of purgatory where keys came alive and (please God, people too)-
“Key, Dave, key!”
The keys interrupted my thoughts as it kept pointing towards the Aston Martin with a key dipped in gold. It clasped onto me with its other keys, as if holding me hostage. Ducking my head, I entered and hesitantly waited. Before I had time to walk out of the car and relive this causality again, the key ring jammed the gold key into the Aston Martin. It roared to life, the dashboard too alive in a conflagration of rainbow controls.
Pantera filled the car with a deep ballad, as if mourning the loss of the true owner of the car. I reached for the volume control, already afraid I had violated the car of the person I’d killed. When my clumsy fingers fumbled with the control, I saw that an intricate GPS system too came alive on the dash. Sammie Stone was heading for a location I’d never heard of, seven more miles away, when I had killed her. Struggling now, my heart jumped a few beats as this thought was beat into me again: she had a mission, an active goal, a promise to somebody. Glancing at the passenger seat, I saw a weathered, brown suitcase clasped shut, waiting to be taken to somewhere far away.
“Klef kiki klef!” the adorable creature bubbled again. When it rattled in the direction of the suitcase, my eyes began welling up again. I had already violated her car, her wallet and now –
Chiming again, it forced its way into my palm. The cooling steel soothed me, and I thought no more as I turned a rusted, tiny key that cracked open the suitcase. Curiously, my hands flew over the plain white t-shirt and a bottle of Aspirin. Nothing else remained; my mind began swelling with questions of who this was for. I imagined a husband waiting to see his Sammie again at work, calling for a spare shirt and his extra bottle of pills –
I chugged two of the pills and peeled the matted shirt off of me. Wiping up any of the remaining blood, I tossed it on the back and pulled the new shirt over me. I’d been ready to die with the plain jeans I was wearing, so I was pleased to find them mostly in one piece. I looked towards the keying creature, who danced in a little circle by itself. I named her Kiki because she reminded me of some cranky little queen, who caught me under her spell. Kiki jumped to attention and extended the keys of the Aston Martin in my direction. She looked at me with the greatest urgency in her eyes; the pink drop above her eyes glowed like the GPS system at my hands.
I needed to fulfill Sammie Stone’s final quest. She was heading in this direction, speeding like I was, for some reason that I had to understand. The Aston Martin moved on with life like I did, roaring down the road until Sammie and my Chevvy were nothing but red blurs in the background of the rising sun.
Despite Sammie Stone’s death, the world lived on. Kiki and I watched the world awake, the city buzzing to life with the 7 A.M. steady flow of traffic. Kiki sung me a lullaby, as if sleepy, before we edged towards the destination. The road rolled underneath us like the red carpet; the opulence of the area became apparent with the numerous country clubs and huge spans of greenery with jockeys riding horses for the rest of their lives. The scent of freshly cut grass and fine leather baked by sunshine filled our nostrils. I looked at Kiki, who only twirled; this seemed to be close to Sammie’s destination! I dipped into the extravagant turn signaling a huge neighborhood.
Shot of the most expensive neighborhood in the country – and I died at the lavish extreme of it all. The security guard at the elaborate gold gates simply looked at my car, the classy Aston Martin with the tinted windows, assuming Sammie Stone was returning from another night of epic. He didn’t even bother to see the cracked windshield. He waved a gloved hand before opening the doors to huge mansions and cars that made Sammie’s Aston pale in comparison. I cursed something fierce as I practically ran into an 1800’s antique fire hydrant. I had never been good at focusing, but damn! Even the dogs being walked by professional dog walkers along the finely-trimmed, mile-long lawns had nicer hair cuts than me. Kiki giggled at me, before pointing to our destination to the left.
Cutting a corner to land on the driveway, I left skid marks that I’m sure somebody would buffer out before the day was over, if we would make it through this insane day. I held onto Kiki’s ring with my pinkie finger, trying as discreetly as possible to exit Sammie’s car and break into her house. Early-morning joggers, clad in the most ridiculously expensive tracksuits, stared me down. I knew what they saw: 6’2 young Hispanic male, swimmer build, square jaw, short black hair that’s not really short anymore – good Lord what is he doing with that mop on his head?! Blue eyes that look dead, pair of Lucky Jeans he wanted to die with and new white shirt. Possibly Vans, or Converse, whatever those damn kids wear these days. Empty cigarette pack in the left back pocket: can we arrest him for that too? Kiki played dead in my hands. My second victim of the day…Yeah, it was all bad for everyone involved.
I cranked open the oak door with Kiki’s silver key shaped like a crescent. “Dave, key, Dave!” she exclaimed in ecstatic bubbles. She held my hand, leading me through the exterior of the mansion. I didn’t know what Sammie was heading here for, and I didn’t even know what I could have done to fulfill her last wish. Maybe it was something as small as getting her grocery list off the immaculate granite countertops or turning off a light somewhere in the vast upstairs. Whatever whim the woman left the world with, I would try my hardest to accomplish for her. It was only right.
Kiki and I crept along the mansion. Cuddling the frightened Kiki, I too felt the unease of the place sweep through my spine. Not a single portrait decorated the house. I had no reason to think about the future, but even I would have wanted a picture of my father who never called or my mother who was never home. No family, not even an Instagram selfie, hung on the expensive walls of this place. A vanilla scent wafted through the air where rays shot through the bamboo blinds, reminding me of a model-move-in-ready mansion. Regardless, Kiki led me here because Sammie wanted to go here. And if Sammie wanted to be here, I’d be a damn madman to ignore a lady’s death wish. We rounded the grand staircase that curled around two marble columns from the high ceiling. The master chamber sat in the middle of the upstairs like a jewel.
“Kiki, what was Sammie like?” I asked as I gently pushed open the slightly ajar door. My voice had returned even though it still trembled a little.
“Keys, Dave.” She said this like a fact as she looked up at me with hopeful eyes. I couldn’t be sure if that was the only thing she could say, or if Sammie and her were keeping some secret from me in the afterlife. Regardless, I turned back into the plush bedroom. Velvet everything. Motion-sensor lights illuminated the mostly-bare room. Knowing exactly where to go, Kiki floated down to underneath the bed. Ducking underneath the giant frame, I found a tiny jewelry box with a keyhole that glinted even in the dark. Nothing else remained under there.
“Dave, key!” she cooed. She held up another key, a crimson arm with a tiny red flag wrapped around it. Opening it up, I found only another key on the inside and an address scrawled in a cursive, elegant font.
“What in the world…” I mused out loud. Before I had time to think about where this led or why she put this here, a thought struck me: why would Sammie plug, into the GPS, the coordinates to her own house?
Sirens wailed outside as they circled the mysterious path Sammie led me on. I wasted no time – I had already wasted Sammie’s life – and slipped the key and address onto Kiki’s ring.
“Let’s get out of here!” I yelled, finally finding my full voice. The sirens thundered down the road. I burst outside, holding Kiki and sprinting into the Aston Martin. The neighbors formed a radius around Sammie’s mansion, watching me with full eyes behind their Ray Bans. Cursing, I headed into the car and swerved out of the massive driveway. Kiki punched in the address from the piece of paper, her keys clanking as they moved across the GPS touch-screen. The path burst to life before my eyes.
“For you, Sammie,” I murmured under my breath as I raced through the neighborhood. The sirens caught up to us, two sets of red and blue lights flooding the black road behind me. “I do this for you.” I crushed the gas pedal and flew through the neighborhood at a hundred miles an hour. Taking a chance at the gates, I held my breath: if this car could maul my 1996 Chevy, I was excited to see what it would do to the gates. Holding my breath and covering Kiki’s little body, I ran down the gates that hit the ground with a groan. The security guard didn’t seem to see through the starburst in the windshield, but I watched his body spring up from his magazine and Coca-Cola as if in slow motion. It was something I definitely laughed about later. For right now though, my brow clenched as I balanced my attention among the GPS, the empty road before me, Kiki’s squeal of excitement, and the mystery that Sammie Stone left for me to solve.
“Go Dave, go!” She bounced to the sides, dancing to the drums of Pantera in the background. So we sprinted forward, blurring the lines between mortal and supernatural, Heaven and Hell. The full sun shimmered in the sky, holding onto another secret it shared with the stars and planets we would never understand. The immensity of it all overwhelmed me and my mind swam in the vast unknown. The image of Sammie’s spine flashed into my vision and I held on. I would be the brave bastard I never was, if only for her. The police cars shouted something about my arrest in the background over the fresh air that caressed our faces and sunlight that energized our skin. The blades of a helicopter roared from above, cameras ready to spit fire down at us from above. I would put on a show for them.
Sammie taught me that a lot could happen in one day.
“I’ll live this day, the day that you gave me,” I absently said to her as I sharply turned the car into the heavy forest swallowing up the road. Kiki giggled and the GPS instantly recalibrated, the newest technology. The police cars screeched in the distance; the helicopter moved like a drunken dragonfly in the sky, struggling to pinpoint me among the huge oaks that spread out their mighty branches, as if shielding us. Wheels trampled over thick foliage, throwing us this way and that against our seats; overtaken with a fresh grief, I reached over and pulled the seat belt over Kiki’s tiny body. The green filled our vision as the Aston Martin shot through the forest like a bullet.
“Key, Dave!” Kiki exclaimed again. I looked at the GPS, noticing that we were closing in on the address. Dead ahead, I saw a new drive way. I was too disoriented to understand the forest gently giving way to the gliding waves beyond the shore where green blurred into blue. The birds called overhead, as if shooing the helicopter away. The sound of the police sirens buzzed this way and that, and I thanked the forest for protecting us with their great walls of green. The tires continued crunching through the undergrowth before effortlessly sliding onto the hoisted driveway above. The car stopped but my heart pounded on. I looked next to me, smiling something foolish at Kiki.
The gentle pulse of the sea underneath us, the doorway in front of us and the huge roof that reflected the shimmering pattern of the waves with its glass…This was a yacht. I looked around. The surreal quality of it all kept me looking like a fool. Yes, this was definitely a yacht.
“Sammie…” I whispered to no one in particular as I unbuckled my seat belt and Kiki’s. The GPS murmured something about reaching the destination. “What do you want me to do here?” Kiki leapt onto my palm. I held her as we both exited the car to examine Sammie’s yacht. Or was it her yacht at all? Regardless, she led us here for a reason. Kiki pointed towards the doorway, guessing rightfully that the key to unlock the inside of the yacht was the one we found in the jewelry box. It smoothly slid open and we entered.
A chandelier reflected the big bottles of wine lining shelves in the yacht so that everything jiggled in white waves, aligned to the beat of the sea below. I touched the spotless bar, the big leather couches and coffee table in the middle. It looked like a bathroom lurked somewhere in the corner, probably too lined with fancy perfumes and towels. I wondered what Sammie did in life to afford the extravagant wool rug spread over the floor or the perfectly carved wooden clock on the wall. She was so young. I wondered why she wanted us to here in the first place. I was too young for all this.
Inspecting the yacht’s main room, I heard the buzz of the police cars return again. My heart skipped three beats and I moved around like a fool, not sure what to do now or how I would get out of this when we got caught. I didn’t know the first thing about driving a yacht. Cursing, a shock of pain traveled up my foot when I realized I hit it on a mini fridge in the corner of the bar. Kiki whirled around me and then the fridge, spinning faster and faster until she wooed. My hands shaking, I tore open the fridge door. Atop the freezing shelf that bit at my fingers, a big black box sat. Steam arose from the sheer cold of it, and in the center of the box a silver key hole shined.
“WE’VE GOT YOU SURROUNDED,” a megaphone voice boomed from above. I flung the black box under my arm and stumbled into the control room, panicking as the complicated knobs and buttons faced me. A huge window revealed the endless sea and the blue sky speckled by clouds and black dots approaching – more helicopters were arriving! The buzz of the cars increased until I knew they had to be right outside. I donned the cap embroidered with S.S., for Sammie Stone, in gold thread and gripped the leather wheel of the yacht. I had to learn now. I had to do it for Sammie. I wanted to do it for myself.
“Oh oh! Key, Dave!” Kiki exclaimed. I watched a memory come to life in her little head, causing her to spin in happiness again. It made me oddly happy too, and I patted her head with my pinkie finger. She extended another key in my direction. This one was the tiniest of all, a gold key with three rings on it. I jammed this into the keyhole next to the steering wheel and lurched forward as the yacht lived! We bobbed to and fro as the red and blue lights bobbed on the waves behind us.
Powering forward, I grinned as the yacht cut through the water, leaving fountains of foam on either side of us. We left the shore faster than I thought possible, breaking apart the rope that barely connected the yacht to the forest in the first place. I had no idea where I was going now or what Sammie wanted me to do on this yacht. I turned my attention to the water scooters that the police officers used to follow me with now, manmade sharks seeking their prey. Curiosity washed over me when I saw that more people followed me besides the police officers. Athletic people with big belts and beanies raced towards me too, and they almost seemed to be in conflict with the police. We converted the whole sea into a battlefield when the grey and the black started shooting at each other, launching translucent bullets that whizzed through the salty air.
“Kiki, take the wheel!” I yelled, exiting the control room and shutting the door behind me. I left Kiki with the box, out of harm’s way. Bile built in my throat as two buff men blasted down the door from the outside with their kicks. Full grey coated them, from their grey jeans up to their grey beanies and the stone-grey pupils that held my death in their irises. Little did they know that I already escaped death once this morning.
Become the brave bastard you never once were.
Screaming, elbows out, knees bent, I ran into the first man and took him down out of surprise. We crashed to the wool rug below, my heart threatening to beat out of my chest as I beat him with my right fist. Again. And again. I got two solid punches in before the other man kicked the wind out of me, nearly crushing my ribcage. My scream tore through the room as I struggled to get up as fast as possible. I no longer thought, only letting my leg block the first man’s punch. My other fist instinctively went up again, gutting the second man before my leg twirled through the air and caught the jaw of the first man.
“Give us the box!” he wheezed in an accent marked by high intonations. I imagined a million dollar’s worth of drugs being snuck into the box or a weapon of mass destruction or the finest diamond on Earth – and this little detour from my focus had me spinning to the ground in a dazzling show of blood. I hit the ground and the world weaved in and out like the waves outside. My lip busted open, my chest reddened with bruises, I scrambled to my feet. I thought of Kiki and Sammie. I needed to protect them both, and I would, even if Sammie was dead. Maybe I was dead. But I had promised to fulfill her last wish. And I’d rather protect the mere thought of her than run like a coward.
“Kiki, hold on!” I assured the little girl waiting for me. I rammed the back of the first man with my kick, forcing him to bang his head on the granite bar top on his way down. He sighed as he passed out, unconscious. Whipping my head around, I saw the latter man reaching for my jugular –
To see the pink veil that swirled through the room was to believe in the fairies themselves. The air, dusted with pink orbs, refreshed me and I watched, dazed. The latter man passed out, falling to the ground too in a limp thud. Kiki whirled across my vision then, her little eyes aglow. She turned to face me next, spinning and smiling in a way that lit my heart up. I hugged her in my hand and led the way back into the control room.
With the box still sitting on the control board, I watched outside as madness raged on. The grey bandits and the policemen bogged each other down, losing me as they shot at each other. The yacht surged on in this sea where I’m sure we would be lost forever. The new helicopter focused on the policemen, the reporters inside chatting loudly as they brought the public live news of the mightiest heist in the sea. My lip and chest ached, but a new aching in my heart began when I saw a new helicopter drone in from the distance. All gold, the helicopter also had the cursive S.S. initialed onto it. I held Kiki in one hand, the box in my other, and felt to make sure Sammie’s driver license and note were still in my wallet.
The S.S. Chopper shined brighter than the midday sun as it hovered closer to the yacht. Ladders made out of golden rope were unfurled above us, beckoning us onto safety somewhere else. With the coppers battling the bandits to our sides and the sea stretching out beyond the horizon, I knew this was the only way out. Pulling on a giant red lever stopped the yacht all together, and I looked at Kiki’s hopeful eyes before opening the hatchet.
With the wind whipping my hair in all directions, I shielded my eyes and snuggled Kiki into my shirt pocket. I grabbed the blowing ropes of the ladder and began climbing, banishing my fear of heights. The blades of the helicopter became louder and louder, deafening us so we couldn’t see the face of the man who extended a hand. He pulled me in with an incredible strength, drew the ladder in, and pointed towards the empty passenger seat.
The brother of the sky shimmered below, the sea rippling away in the distance. Grey and black dots danced where the police officers and the bandits gathered, our helicopter seemingly lost to the war down there. Whirling around, I looked with tired eyes to a man who grinned at us from behind sunglasses. A leather jacket, Lucky Jeans, and black dress shoes made him look as discreet as I did. A ring of keys jangled on his belt, and from that, and the golden watch and fine short hair cut, I guessed that he was more than a little wealthy. He spoke with big words befitting a big heart.
“Glad to finally see you, Kid. You’ve got one hell of a backbone in you!”
“Who are you?...And thanks,” I tacked on, truthfully grateful. My head leaned back onto the headrest. All of the aches of today came pouring back onto me; the emotional pain that clutched my chest when I thought of Sammie, the bruises left by the steering wheel nearly impaling me, the fight with the two grey mystery men left on the yacht. I held Kiki close to me, listening to the silent rustle of her sleeping.
“Eh, someone you know,” he replied with a gentle shrug. “Get some rest. You’re safe with me now.” He said no more as he donned a hat and firmly controlled the helicopter, dipping it a direction away from all of this. The propelling force of the helicopter cradled my body and I couldn’t resist closing my eyes to the afternoon light that illuminated the glory of the day. I didn’t mind leaving the black box at the foot of my seat. Sammie taught me to trust. She trusted me with her beloved Kiki, her car, her yacht, her helicopter, and her final wish. I trusted her and Kiki too. The lullaby of the chopper sent me into deep dreams.
The pilot gently shook me awake. “Here we are, Kid. Thanks for making it all the way here.” The sincerity of his words wasn’t lost to me, and I wanted to thank him for so much more than simply saving us from the deep sea. But there wasn’t time; he moved with urgency as he motioned for me to get out. I unbuckled, careful not to disturb the still-sleeping Kiki. Grabbing the still-cold black box, I jumped out of the helicopter and landed on the concrete landing pad below. I looked back up to the man’s silhouette, made glorious in the dying rays of the setting sun. He took off his sunglasses, winking at me before taking off again. His eyes were mine.
“Dave!” Kiki exclaimed as she awoke. I hugged her close to my chest as I watched, in complete wonder, the helicopter that became a gold glint against the sky. Dazed, I looked around. Huge, tropical trees draped across rolling hills holding old, colorful buildings. A few cars slowly passed, hoods open, people of a tanned skin tone laughing the day away. Smells of exotic foods wafted up to my nose and I looked at Kiki, who only smiled back up at me.
Across from us, a door led us back into the building that we stood upon. I didn’t need a key for this one; Kiki and I both chuckled as we realized it at the same time. I turned the golden knob of the door and was met with the hustle and bustle of a hospital. Nurses clad in all white spoke quickly, speech flying across the well-filtered ar. More than a little confused about why the pilot dropped me off here, I held the black box close to me as doctors whizzed all around me. I all but blended into the atmosphere until a short and plump lady looked at me with huge eyes.
“Ah! The anonymous caller said he’d be here! There he is, the man with the heart for the transplant patient! Grace has a chance!”
A roar of applause followed. Blinking, my arms were grabbed here and there by nurses that escorted me through the pastel hallways. We ended up in a room where a girl lay splayed onto a big, puffy hospital bed, a million tubes connecting her to this machine or that regulator. Her hair was tied into a big honey bun, her short legs and tiny body paled as her body struggled to live. Her breaths came in short spurts; her heart beat in jagged spikes that played across the monitor. The scene broke my heart, and I felt Kiki shudder in my shirt pocket. I held the box out towards the main doctor with meticulous instruments spread across his hands like fingers. With the last key on Kiki, I popped upon the freezing box.
A flurry of activity whooshed all around us. Somehow, I ended up outside of the operating room, where I watched the operation occur with the window. At least five doctors whirled around in a deadly waltz, handing this nurse a tube or that other doctor a new chart. The heart in the heart of the box seemed to glow as the doctors prepared it with a focus I knew I could emulate from here on out. I collapsed into a plastic chair, Kiki on my chest, still tired from the events of the day. The nurse I met from earlier promised to wake me up when it was all over.
When the sweet nurse shook me awake, the moonlight from outside spilled into the hospital in heavenly splotches. I scrambled to my feet, placing Kiki back into my shirt pocket, where she peeked up to look at the happenings. Inside, the rush of activity had slowed down, leaving only one nurse watching over the girl like a guardian. Only the steady patter of her heart against the monitor interrupted the silence, and I smiled in relief. Walking into the room after thanking the nurse, I looked at the patient who housed my heart in her chest. She smiled up now, awake, color already blushing through her round cheeks. Her eyes glazed over with hope and it was clear she now had the rest of her life to hope, to dream, and to live.
“Dave…do you believe in guardian angels?” she whispered, her voice barely audible. I leaned in closer to hear her and was met by her soft lips against mine. Kiki danced in my shirt pocket, and my hand quickly flew up to cover the pocket.
“I, uh, absolutely do,” I began, one jumbled mess. With a sincere smile and my eyes aglow, I appreciated her in the moonlight. “It’s a wonder meeting you, Grace.” My words were breathless and she smiled back; we were caught in a warm cocoon that left us feeling like we were flying.
That night, I dreamt of Grace. With Kiki nestled onto my hair, we ventured to the strangest of places. I imagined Grace, Kiki and I out on the yacht, surfing past huge waves that could never overcome us. And I saw huge mountains of tropical trees that held the sweetest fruit, one where the seeds grew in the belly to sprout flowers of bountiful hope. Finally, I saw Sammie standing by her house. She winked at me before embracing the pilot, before they sprouted wings and the halos hovering over their heads became apparent. They flew up, higher, and higher, so high that nothing could dare pin them, ever…
The following morning, I found the yacht waiting for me by the seaside. After exchanging contact information with Grace, Kiki and I made the long and wondrous journey back to our homeland. It seemed as if it were all a dream: the car accident, the bandits, the police, the yacht, the Aston Martin, the heart, Sammie herself. After spending a few hours traveling, Kiki dancing the whole time, we stopped in front of Sammie Stone’s house. I meant to return her car, her yacht, and everything to its rightful place. My only job was to finish her last request, and I had honored that. Now it was time for things to return to the way they were before Sammie changed my life.
With police cars buzzing around Sammie’s house, I ducked into one of the mighty hedges lining the mansions. In the green sanctuary, I overheard the police officers who sipped coffee and ate big doughnuts. I needed them to leave so I could return the Aston Martin, and everything else. I tuned in.
“Damn! Did you hear ‘bout the war yesterday for the lost heart? The organ trafficking around here’s gettin’ crazy. Yesterday, Unit 5 managed to arrest all the bandits within this vicinity, but still couldn’t find the heart. That lady Samantha Stone who passed a week ago due to a tragic fall? They’ve totally lost her body and her heart, man. Who knows what the coroners are doing up there. That’s some freaky, fairy-magic stuff.”
“Fairy-magic stuff indeed,” the other officer spat out. “What about the crash on the highway? It’s crazy, man. They found a red n’ dead 1996 Chevy stranded on the road with a blown engine. We’ve been trying to uncover the case – some back-boned bastard left a suicide note for his parents on the dashboard of the car. Signed it Dave. No body’s turned up yet, though.”
“And then this lil mystery here. Random people have been squatting in this house for a week now. Neighbors called, reporting someone yesterday, but the cops lost him too. Those are the finest cops ‘round these parts, too.” The cop pointed towards Sammie’s house and drank more coffee.
“Damn. Fairy-magic stuff,” the other cop grumbled.
I walked away at that point, completely mystified. Kiki and I headed into the Aston Martin and hit the road home.
Maybe I had truthfully died with Sammie Stone and this was some weird form of afterlife. Regardless, she had given me so much more than I ever could have imagined. With Kiki at my side, I opened up my wallet and took out her note. I was ready, finally ready to hear her voice, to hear her story so I could tell it to everyone I loved.
Life’s worth living after all! Enjoy it!