The Last Call
Death collects its ransom from the living.
3AM. The phone beside my bed is ringing. Nothing good ever comes from a call at 3AM and this one is no different.
Forcing myself from slumber, I answer.
Screaming and yelling on the other end of the line.
“Get over here now! I need to talk with you immediately!”
My trembling voice, “I can’t, not this time. I have to work in the morning.”
“I don’t care I want you to come now.”
Again, I say “I can’t, I told you I have to work in the morning. There’s nothing more to talk about. I have asked you over and over to get help, I can’t do this anymore. Get some sleep. We’ll talk tomorrow. I will always love you but you have to get help.” These are the last words I ever say to him.
The next morning I go to work. but my mind is elsewhere, on the call from last night. It stays with me all day, but for whatever reason, I do not reach out to him. I justify this by thinking he is sleeping off his hangover or whatever drug he’s taken; I won’t disturb him.
Somehow, I get through the day and leave. As I am driving, I keep replaying the conversation from last night in my head. I analyze it and agonize over his words, looking for signs this was different from all the other countless calls we’ve had in the 7 months since we separated. I find nothing unusual. The same desperate call, on a different day of the week. I love you, come home. I can’t, get help. I will not enable you. After work, I drive to his sister’s house. Both of them are there. We stand in the kitchen and I ask, “Have y’all heard from him? No, we haven’t. “Have your parents heard from him?” No.
We all look at one another and finally I say, “Well someone should go and check on him.” His younger sister and I drive to the house, which is not far away.
I approach the two-story white house with black shutters and try to peer in the window. My sister-in-law follows close behind. We are both anxious, as if sensing the outcome, fearing the discovery. The vertical blinds block any view inside. The house is deathly quiet.
All at once, Neisha the dog, jumps through the blinds, and exposes the ghastly horror inside. One fleeting look and I know he is dead. Five seconds are all it takes; five seconds that feel like they last forever.
He lays there with his arms and legs sprawled out around him in an unnatural pose, his head at an awkward angle. The gun is on the floor, cold metal steel glinting in the deepening shadows.
After this, everything changes. The world comes to a screeching halt, and all I can hear is screaming, mine and my sister- in-laws’. Deep ragged gasps of despair. We run from the horror that is now forever tattooed on our souls and in our minds, and fall into each other’s arms. My spirit leaves my body as I look down on the scene below; it is the only way I can cope.
Trapped together in a nightmare, sobbing, screaming, call 911, call 911! In our hearts, we know it is much, much too late.
People step out of their homes to see what is going on; no one comes near us. We hold each other fiercely; it is the only way we can remain standing. Our grief echoes through the neighborhood like a mournful prayer of anguish. Nails raking across a dry chalkboard, raw, exposed, uncomfortable. Neighbors frozen on their front porches with looks of shock. A still life of agony, as if we are a living version of Edward Munch’s The Scream.
What follows after is surreal and distorted, as if looking through the bottom of a glass. Someone calls the police. They arrive, don’t come near us, walk to the house. The front door, locked tight. A fire truck arrives, with an ambulance following it. Confused, I think, ‘What are they doing here, there’s no fire. My brain is short-circuiting; I cannot connect the paramedics to the fire department. The firemen break down the door, and proceed inside. We still stand together, arms around each other. Our sobbing is quieter now, but still no one approaches.
His parents arrive. They see the firemen, police, and us. They rush past us with hardly a look, running into the house.
Heartbreaking. Devastating. A waste.
Here’s the thing: Once we separated, there were plenty of nights he called in the middle of the night after a gig (he was a lead singer/lead guitarist). Begging me to come over; I would go and make breakfast for him. When we were together, it was our family tradition. After we arrived home from the club, we made breakfast at 2,3,4 in the morning. There was a time when there was so much love; so much laughter, so much hopeful joy but then something changed.
I don’t know why I didn’t go to him that night, but I do know God had a hand in it.
That night as I lay safe in my bed a few short miles from him, God dropped a blanket over my eyes and heart. I could not feel or see his desperation the way I did at other times. Once, I was on a business trip 1500 miles away from home. I awoke in the middle of the night and knew something was wrong with him. I was right. This time, it felt like another normal middle of the night call, but I stood fast even as he threatened to come to my house.
After the memorial service, everyone gathered at his parent’s home. The one and only thing I remember is this: I overheard his father, speaking to someone. He said, if Linda had gone there that night, my son would still be alive.
Twenty- five years later, I am still not so sure about that.
I will never know what may have happened had I gone. Would he still be alive? Or would we both be dead?
But this much I do know; my life was forever altered and rearranged. There was a foreboding black darkness for so long. It was many months later when I realized he was forever gone, and I at last saw the beautiful light that still shined: Me.
I would like to share with you something I wrote in 2017 when I started my blog. It best defines the person I have become after all those years of heartache.
Writing in Prisms
Sun dogs and moon bows Crystal Prisms and rainbows Relieved of any constrictions Lay their colors upon my soul While I, within creative throes Of writing with utter conviction.
They fill my mind with colors That bounce around my head
As I write to feed a hopeful heart With love and endless wonder Washed in fractal prisms, I see God is love is God is prose is art.
They paint a landscape I behold My pen on paper, composing Seizing these miraculous moments Grasping elusive prisms of light Before, as storm clouds lurk
To deliver the night’s lament.
I put down my pen once again Satisfied with what I write Capturing poetic prism words While thoughts in tinted light Shimmering within my head Soar as free as vibrant birds.
©2017 Linda Lee Lyberg
Linda Lee Lyberg, a native Houstonian, destined by fate and the stars to be a writer. Her grandparents, father, and uncles all performed in Vaudeville. Her grandmother was a blues singer and her grandfather a contortionist. She discovered her passion for writing early on. Her dad once said to her, “Of course you’re an artist. You come from a family of artists. I’m an artist, your grandmother was an artist, and so was your grandfather.”
Linda is a wife, mother, writer, poet, and author. She resides in Mesa, AZ with her husband of 22 years and her dog, Ricky Bobby who loves to go fast.
Linda writes various forms of poetry, as well as short stories. She is also the author of a blog Charmed Chaos, where she has amassed a following of writers, kindred poets, and those who share a passion for words. You can find her at: Charmed Chaos or her Author Page on Amazon.
Written for the From Darkness to Light event. If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more information Here. But first, leave a comment and let Linda know what you think about her words, and be sure to visit her over at Charmed Chaos when you’re done.