Flashes Before Your Eyes

Inspired by stories from the TV Series, LOST

 

The desert floor was dusty and dry; not a lick of moisture hung in the air. The dark clouds settled low yet offered no hope for rain. Lighting flashed in the distance but it certainly wouldn’t crack open the skies to let the water fall on the burnt and parched landscape. Clouds of dust rolled along the countryside creating a light haze completing the darkness.

An old highway stretched for miles across the desert from emptiness to emptiness. Few vehicles found themselves traveling across it. Those that did were those leaving nothing only to arrive at nothing. The asphalt was old and worn down to sand – not from travel but from the erosion from the earth. Some highways wear and break down after carrying too much of a load; others wear and break down from not carrying enough of one.

Henry Adams found himself driving a ’69 Camaro down this highway. The roar of the engine and the tires on the asphalt created little stir in the air – just another lost soul fleeing a lost life. He hadn’t seen another vehicle for almost an hour but he most likely didn’t notice. He was half drunk and held a bottle of whiskey in his right hand along with the steering wheel.

Henry was a man just shy of middle-age. His dark, brown hair was long and unkempt. His face needed shaving but he didn’t yet have a full beard. His skin was dripping in sweat from the heat and exhaustion.

Tears filled the bottom of Henry’s eyes. He released his foot from the throttle and applying a small amount of break allowed his car to slow to a halt on the bottom of the desert floor. Holding his foot on the break he fell forward in his seat placing his forehead on the top of the wheel. His shoulders began shaking with sobs.

“It’s gone,” he cried, “I’ve lost…” the rest of his words were indistinguishable through the tears. He finally found himself whispering over and over again, “It’s all gone.”

The lightning continued to crash throughout the desert. The storm moved steadily – almost methodically. It made its way towards Henry’s halted vehicle. And when it made its way overhead it stilled and waited. An eerie calm filled the air.

And then another bolt fell and there was a great flash.

***

            Henry awoke in his bed. Or at least, it used to be his bed. As he opened his eyes a sense of confusion overcame him.

Gently, Henry lifted himself up. He was back in his apartment – the apartment he had lived in ten years prior. Looking towards his right he saw his roommate Samuel still sleeping.

Sweat poured from all the pores over his body. He could feel the dampness of the shirt that lay over his shoulders. Yet, when he looked down, it wasn’t the same shirt he remembered wearing in his car just minutes before.

He bolted from his bed and ran towards his desk in the office a room over. He was surprised to see his old computer sitting there. It was his old desktop that ran off of Windows 98. He cursed silently to himself as he turned the ancient PC on and heard the familiar whir of the desktop computer attempting to start. What was going on?

The dinosaur of a computer finally came to life and Henry looked straight at the bottom right corner of the screen. The date showed dim and pixilated: 2/28/02 – February 28th 2002. Henry cursed again, this time more loudly.

Leaning back in his chair, he began to think. There was something of importance to this day. It wasn’t just any day. No, this was the day directly following the worst mistake of his life. The tragedy that was his existence had begun only hours earlier. He had broken the heart of Sophia, the only person he had ever truly cared about. The days, weeks, months, and years following that fateful decision had been a spiral of depression mixed with drugs and alcohol. His decisions would eventually lead him out onto that desert road.

But was it all a dream? Henry let his mind fall into a deep state of thought. Perhaps this was nothing more than an incredibly vivid dream caused from making a dreadful decision.

“You in there, Henry?” Samuel asked shuffling across the floor and coming to halt in the doorway to the office.

Henry chuckled as he saw his old friend half awake with his eyes barely open and his hair sticking out in odd directions. “I’m fine.” Henry lied with a laugh.

Samuel cursed, obviously annoyed with being up at such an early hour, “Then shut up. You’re yelling and jabbering is enough to keep the sand man awake.”

“Yeah, sorry pal.”

A quick flash of light filled Henry’s eyes. He moved his forearm over his face.

 ***

            A flash and a crack of lightning woke Henry up from a slumber. He was back in his car out in the middle of the desert.

His face lay against the steering wheel. His foot had slipped off the break and the car was now idling slowly down the highway and drifting into the other lane. The whiskey bottle had fallen out of his hand and spilled over the floor. Henry cursed out of confusion and sorrow for his spilt alcohol.

Henry applied the brake to stop the car from rolling any further. He looked back into his rearview mirror remembering all that he had planned on leaving behind.

Why is this happening?

Another bright flash filled his eyes.

 ***

            “You okay there, man?” Samuel asked.

Henry found himself back in the office in his old apartment. But he was no longer in his chair – he was sprawled on the floor.

“What happened?” He asked.

“I don’t know man, you just passed out. You feeling okay this morning?”

Henry rubbed his forehead and tried to think. He certainly wasn’t okay, his head felt as if it were about to explode.

“I have no idea what is going on.” He said continuing to rub his forehead.

“Well go take a shower and I’ll make some breakfast.” Samuel said. Like always, Sam had an easy fix. “If you’re not feeling better then we should probably get you to a doctor.”

Henry gave a nervous chuckle. “No, I’m fine.” He replied, getting up and moving towards the bathroom.

He found himself staring in the mirror. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw himself. His face was clean shaven, his hair was short. He was also incredibly younger than the last time he had seen himself in the mirror.

What is going on?

He took his friend’s advice and had a short shower and then made his way into the kitchen for eggs and toast.

“I think I know what this is all about.” Samuel said as he sat down to join his roommate at the table.

Henry gave a polite grin, “And what’s that?”

“You’re feeling bad about Sophie.”  Samuel replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “What do you think?” He asked sarcastically.

Henry didn’t look up, didn’t make eye contact. The name and the reality behind those words struck him to the core. “What do you know about it?”

“What are you talking about?” Samuel laughed, “You told me all about it when you got home last night. You were a blubbering mess.”

“Yeah, I guess I was.” He took a bite of his eggs.

“What I don’t get,” Samuel said as he poured some orange juice into a glass, “Is why you did it. I mean, if I’ve ever seen a man love a woman it’s how you love her.”

“I guess I just got scared.” Henry replied with surprised simplicity. Unbeknownst to his friend, he had had 10 years to think about it. “With her moving out of state and me stuck here. I just didn’t think we could last the separation.”

Samuel clicked his tongue and seemed to roll the idea around in his brain, “I suppose that makes sense. You were afraid that she’d break your heart so you decided to beat her to the punch broke hers instead – just in case.”

A dark glare formed over Henry’s face. He remembered this conversation now from all those years ago. He remembered this turn of events that was happening right now. It was like an incredible experience of déjà vu. He had ruined his closest friendship the day after he had ruined the life he had with the woman he loved.

“Like I said, what do you know about it?” Henry finally replied.

“Ah,” Samuel nodded, “I guess I don’t know anything. You’re only my best friend after all. The sad thing is, just yesterday morning you were talking about proposing to her – moving with her even. And then you just couldn’t follow through.”

“You shut up about it!” Henry ordered raising his voice and pointing the fork in his friend’s direction.

Samuel just shook his head, “I care about you too much to shut up about it. It’s not too late, Henry, you can still go back to her. I mean, she loves you man.”

Without even realizing what he was doing Henry bolted out of his chair and into the table knocking it over. He grabbed Samuel by the collar and pulled him out of his seat as he threw him against the wall. He got right in his face and screamed, “There’s no going back, Samuel! I’ve lost her! It’s all gone!”

Samuel, somehow and someway, maintained his composure even as he was pinned against the wall.

“You can always go back, Henry.”

Samuels face shone bright for a moment as a bright flash overcame Henry.

 ***

            The desert highway once again lay before him. The words mentioned by his roommate poured through his brain. “You can always go back, Henry.”

Tears welled back up in his eyes, “I’m too far gone, Sam.” He whispered. “I’m too far gone, Sophie.” He sobbed

The words still resonated in his ears as if he had just heard them only moments before. Had he heard them only moments before?

Henry glanced up and into his rearview mirror. He saw the highway that lay behind him. His eyes fell lower on the road before him. Chuckling, he thought of an old Robert Frost poem.

“What the heck” He whispered to himself. “Why not”

Henry put the car in reverse and began heading back the direction he had come from.

The road through the desert was a straight shot. The sun was bright and glorious as it reflected off his car painting a beautiful portrait on a dying landscape. Tears continued to flow down his face as he began to see the desert giving way to civilization. He still had miles to drive.

The lightning continued to flash overhead.

 ***

            “Henry!” Samuel screamed, slapping his friend’s face in an attempt to get him to come to, “Wake up!”

Henry was on the kitchen floor with his back against the wall. Looking up he saw that he was back in his old apartment with his roommate.

“What happened?” Henry asked.

“You just passed out, that’s what happened.” Samuel said out of frustration. “Here let me help you up.” He was able to get Henry up and put him in the only chair that hadn’t fallen over in their scuffle. “What’s wrong with you this morning?”

“If I told you…” he thought about it for a second, “Naw…you’d never believe me.”

“Try me.” Samuel insisted.

“I don’t know if I’m here…I don’t know if I’m…there.” Henry was trying to work it out for himself. “Ah, maybe I’m just going crazy.”

“Well I already knew that.” Samuel chuckled. Henry couldn’t help but join in.

“Moments ago…” Henry tried to start again, “I was ten years in the future driving in the middle of a desert. What’s happening here – now, this morning – it’s an old memory of mine. Its like I’m living in this memory.”

Samuel squinted, obviously not understanding.

“I don’t know…it’s just that…”

The flash returned.

 ***

            The car was skidding across the road. Henry awoke with a fright and heard screaming as he looked up and saw that he was about to hit another vehicle head on. He tried to react but he there wasn’t enough in time. His Camaro crashed head on with an SUV.

At first, everything turned into an utter darkness. But then flashes of light began to seep into his yes.

 ***

            Henry awoke with his head on the kitchen table which apparently had been righted. Samuel was walking back into the kitchen with two cups of coffee. “So you’re awake again.” He said as he took a seat next to his friend, sliding a cup towards him. “Look, Henry, I think we need to get you to a doctor. Something obviously isn’t right.”

“You don’t say,” Henry replied as he lifted his head off the table and began to rub his forehead.”

“Uh…Henry…” Samuel said with a start.

“What? Henry asked.

Samuel made a notion towards his nose.

Henry looked at him questionably and then did the same. A cold, wet feeling touched his index finger. He lifted it away to see blood. Cursing, he reached across the table and grabbed a napkin to clean up his bloody nose.

“Why don’t you try explaining again what is happening.” Samuel asked with a cool composure.

Henry chuckled, “I’ll try, brother.” He finished dabbing the blood with the napkin then sat it down. “To my memory, everything that’s happening now happened about ten years ago. The last thing I remember before all of this started was driving into the desert more than halfway drunk. In my memory, you and I aren’t friends anymore. I don’t even live in around here anymore. I threw my life away after what happened last night.

“Then, this morning, I woke up and I was right back here. But it wasn’t a dream. I keep…flashing back to my old self…well, my future self. And then I flash right back here. The last thing I remember, I was driving and I crashed because I’m passing out there just like I am here. I know you probably think that I’m crazy.”

“I already told you I knew that, Henry.” Samuel said with a sympathetic smile. “I can’t say I understand or believe what you’re telling me. But I believe that you believe it.”

“Thanks,” Henry laughed, “I suppose that’s a start.”

“So…about last night.” Samuel continued

“Back to that?”

“Back to that. It seems that’s where this whole mess started.”

Henry cursed, “I just don’t see why she has to move so far away. I mean, things were so perfect right now. Why did she have to go?”

“You know why, Henry.” Samuel attempted to console. “That’s where her family is, that’s where she had a job lined up.”

I was her family.” Henry insisted. “I could have provided for her.”

“Why didn’t you just decide to go with her?”

Henry swore again, “It’s not that easy, Sam!” He replied slamming his fist on the table, “What if she stopped loving me? Then I’m stuck out there all by myself.”

Henry’s own words struck him to the core. He was afraid that Sophie would leave him and he would end up being in a strange land alone. Yet, by throwing her away that was exactly where he ended up.

“So don’t blame any of this on her.” Samuel said, still calm but raising his voice. “This isn’t about her going or not going. This is about you being a coward.”

Without thinking, Henry’s fist went right into Samuel’s face. “Don’t you call me that again, you…” The light flashed before he could finish.

 ***

            Henry awoke in a hospital bed. He heard the beeps and the whirs of the medical room. He felt the scars on his face. He swore, finishing the sentence he had started. Looking around he saw the entrapment of the hospital room. Sobs began welling back up inside of him.

“You can never go back,” he cried. “There’s no going back.” He remembered the feelings of having Sophie in his arms; remembered running his fingers through her hair and the love he felt for her. But it wasn’t enough – for either of them. “It’s never enough.” He sobbed.

“Henry,” a familiar voice spoke in the doorway. A voice that seemed so far away – yet here it was.

He found the strength to lift his head. There, in the doorway, surrounded by the light of the hallway, stood Sophie. She was older than the last time he had seen her – but still beautiful. Her long, dark hair still found a way to shine. Her eyes still weakened Henry’s heart. Her voice still made his soul leap within him.

“Sophie?” Henry asked not believing his eyes and ears. He began praying that he didn’t flash back to his apartment.

“It’s me.” She replied, tears were welling in her eyes as well.

“What are you doing here?” The question wasn’t out of anger but rather joy.

She hesitated, “Henry, I’m the one you crashed in to.”

Henry’s jaw fell open, he couldn’t believe it.

“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen you.” An obvious tear fell down her right cheek. “When I saw them pull you from the car…I…”

“You’re okay?” Henry insisted.

“I’m fine,” Sophie cried, “I just…I can’t believe it.”

“Sophie…” Henry started, “The reason that I was driving…the whole reason I was out here…all the way out here. I was going to find you. This…” he searched for words, “Sophie…maybe it’s a sign.” He began becoming excited.  “Maybe…we’re meant to be together.” He realized he probably sounded like a raving lunatic but he didn’t care anymore. “Maybe its destiny.”

Sophie’s tears turned to a full sob, “No Henry. Don’t tell me about destiny…you had your chance.”

“Oh, Sophie. I’m so sorry. If I could I would change it. I promise you…if I could. I was a coward, I’ll admit it. I…I’m sorry. But we can start over. This is destiny, this is fate Sophie. We get our chance to go back!”

Sophie’s voice turned cold, “No, Henry, we can’t. You had your chance but that’s gone now. I have a new life here. So don’t you dare talk to me about going back. I’ve put you behind me…And I don’t want to go back.” She finished as she choked the tears down and turned to leave, “But you’re right about one thing.” Turning to say one last thing, “You were a coward.” And those were her final words to him.

“Sophie…” Henry whimpered, “Wait,” he pulled himself out of the bed ripping out his IV’s. He began moving towards the door and started to call her name one more time.

But then a knife plunged through his heart. Not a literal knife made of metal – no, this knife cut much deeper than that. Henry would have welcomed the metal blade over what his eyes beheld in that moment.

Sophie walked into the arms of another man and the two embraced. A young child, no older than five, clung to her leg. The three of them held each other for a moment and then turned down the hallway to leave. One of Sophie’s hands held her husband’s, the other one held her child’s.

And there, Henry fell to his knees and wept. “You can’t go back,” he whispered. “You can’t go back.” He was sobbing uncontrollably when the flashing took him again.

 ***

            Henry woke up back in his apartment. He was lying on the couch.

“Don’t mind me.” Samuel told him as he sat in a chair not far from his friend. “I carried you out here to lie down so that if you fall you can’t hurt yourself.”

“She’s gone.” He whispered.

“I know” Samuel replied with sympathy. “But you can still change that.”

“You can’t change it…you can never change it.” Henry whispered with defeat.

“Well…that may be how things are where you come from. But back here in the past – which I happen to enjoy calling the present – you still can.” Stillness filled the air. “If what you’re telling me is true…if you’re really flashing back and forth between now and the future… well, then the only way that I can think of fixing it is to make this future of yours to where it never happens.”

“How do I do that?” Henry chuckled as if it were impossible.

Samuel smiled, “Go to her.”

A tear fell down Henry’s cheek. “Could it really be that simple?”

“There’s only one way to find out,” Samuel grinned

A new sense of hope overwhelmed Henry. It was kind of hope he hadn’t experienced in a very long time. Perhaps, just maybe, he could change things.

He jumped up and ran outside. Barefoot, Henry ran down the street towards the one he loved. The morning sun was bright – brighter than the flashes. A song began to play deep inside Henry’s soul as he reached Sophie’s apartment complex.

The run hadn’t taken more than ten minutes. When he got to the door he began knocking loudly. “Sophie! It’s Henry! I’m sorry!” His cries were filled with both sorrow and joy. “I’ll change it! I’ll go with you, Sophie! Just give me another chance! We can still change things!”

Henry hoped and prayed that she heard him. He hoped and prayed that if she did that this would work – that he could hold her again.

The door began to open and a light began to flash from inside – a light brighter than all the ones before it. The light began to flash and the thunder cracked – for the final time.

 

THE END

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: