“Dusty in here, isn’t it?” the voice whispered in my ear and I whirled to find the owner.
The joist was lower than I’d expected. The sudden white flash of pain caused me to stumble, drop the torch, and with a pop of the bulb, I was plunged into darkness.
My head throbbed, starbursts flickered in front of my eyes. A hand to my brow came away damp and sticky with blood.
And the voice said, “Dark in here, isn’t it?”
Then came the ride to the hospital. The rush of EMTs, the neck brace, the back board, and the embarrassment of having my neighbors watching my journey to the ambulance. They gathered on the sidewalk like I was the float in some bizarre parade.
And the voice came again, “Busy out here, isn’t it?”
The slamming doors, the siren, the sweet, Hispanic paramedic asking me what happened in her lyrical voice.
“I thought I heard something,” I said.
“Loud in here, isn’t it?” the voice said.
“Can you tell me what you heard?” the paramedic said, but I think that’s when I passed out.
Then came the psych-eval. A conversation in hushed tones with Frank, my husband. Someone, and I’m not certain who, suggested further tests, talked about looking after me.
“For my own good,” they said.
“I’m not crazy,” I said, but they didn’t listen.
“Crowded in here, isn’t it?” said the voice and I cried harder than I’d ever cried before, harder than when they told me David was gone, that he’d fought bravely and I should be proud.
I was always proud of him.
The doctors looked uncomfortable and even Frank couldn’t meet my eye.
“Perhaps it’s for the best,” he said.
Then came the other hospital. Convalescence, they called it.
“Think of it as taking some time away from it all,” the nurse said. “Time to yourself, free from the worries back home.”
“Boring in here, isn’t it?” said the voice and for once I agreed with it. I didn’t need this, didn’t need time to myself. I just needed to shut that little voice up once and for all.
That hurtful voice that put me in the hospital.
That wicked voice that just wouldn’t quit.
That evil voice that made me miss his funeral.
I wanted quiet. I wanted it gone.
Then came the bridge and the ocean below. The rush of the wind as I leaned into emptiness, as I fell into space. It blocked out every sound save for the roar of air past my ears.
The thud of the water. A crushing weight. Water above me, beneath me, around me. It cushioned and held me. Like a lover, it wrapped me in a strong embrace, whisked my body down and away from everything wrong with the world.
Darkness, stillness, silence.
Wonderful, blissful silence.
“Quiet down here, isn’t it?”