Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Chapter 34, part two--Michael!!!
This completes Chapter 34. I'm not going to blether on because I know you're dying to get to it.
MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME 10
Dive Buddy: Leesie
Location: Grand Cayman
Leesie’s face, eery in the cave’s flickering light, blanches white. She hides it against my shoulder.
I bend my head and speak into her ear. “That fight you had with Phil. You never told me what it was about.”
She wraps her arms around me—too tight. I feel something damp soak through my T-shirt. Her reaction makes me want to take back the question.
I run her back and stroke her head. I don’t want to know what she’s so carefully hidden—don’t want to stain the perfect picture we’ve painted—her dad baptizing me next week, a year engaged in Provo, a wedding next August at her temple in Spokane. I don’t know if I can survive what I do know she’s going to say.
Everything’s fallen into perfect place. I want this joyful haze we’ve been walking around in to last forever. But as we sat here waiting out the storm, with hours to reflect, the tiny flaw in her story cracked open. Now I feel like I’m dangling on the edge of a deep crevice hanging on by my fingertips.
She turns her head to speak, but keeps her cheek pressed against me. “My mom said I should tell you.”
“They know?” How can I ever face them again? Every time they see me they’ll see the guy who caused their son’s death. “And they still—”
“It doesn’t change anything.”
“Freak, Leesie, it changes everything.”
She grabs a handful of my shirt. “Don’t go down that road Michael.” She sniffs and wipes her face. “You saw what it did to me.”
I can’t reply. I’m cold—inside and out. Turmoil tosses my heart against a wall, and it shatters into a million pieces.
Leesie tries to kiss me, but I pull back.
She retreats into my T-shirt. “It doesn’t change how much I love you.” Her arms tighten around me.
I can’t breathe. I try to break her grip, get up, get away. She won’t let me. I unhale and hold my breath, stop struggling.
She kisses my neck, squeezes her eyes tight a moment, then opens them up starts to speak through her tears. “I love my brother”—she swallows hard—“but it’s not your fault he’s dead. It’s not my fault, either. I didn’t undo his seatbelt. I didn’t put ice on the road. I didn’t say vile things about you.”
“You’re blaming him now?” The wind starts to blow again outside. Cecilia’s back.
“I let him get to me.”
I bend my ear towards her mouth so I can hear better.
Leesie raises her voice. “He slept while I drove up through the forest and into the mountains. I tried to figure out how I felt about Jaron, and all I could thing was you.” She touches my face. “Surrounded by all that beauty and stillness, the Spirit finally got through to me. I saw I’d misjudged you cruelly. Every mile closer to home brought me back to you. I was so happy.” She squeezes me again. “It was sacred. I should have kept it to myself. But I didn’t.” A sob stops her. She gets control and continues. “Phil drug all my sublime feelings into the gutter. I blew up. Lost control. You know the rest.”
I turn my face to the wall—trying to escape her voice.
She yells so I can hear over the roaring storm. “It’s Phil’s fault. It’s my fault. It’s ice on the road.”
I’m shaking my head, starting struggling again.
She still won’t let me go. “You had nothing to do with it.”
I look down at her. Freak, I stole her entire life—even her brother. “If you’d left me alone—”
“Suffering like that? How could I?
“Phil would be packing his bags for BYU and making out with Krystal.” The weight of that reality smacks me hard. It unlocks the dark place where the guilt I struggled with when I failed to save my mother when Isadore had us both in her clutches and stirs it up into a rampage.
I break free of Leesie’s hold, struggle to my feet. She bows her head to the ground and sobs. Part of me longs to kneel down beside her, hold her, comfort her. But the other part needs to breath. I’m suffocating in this cave.
I trip over bodies and step on fingers as I race to the entrance and stare over the sand bag wall I helped build earlier. A Cecilia fueled wave breaks against it. The spray that hits my face beckons me.
I climb over the wall and into pure wildness. Rain and waves drench me. Powerful winds drive me back. I fight them with each step forward I take. There used to be a road betweent he path that leads up to the caves and the exposed broken coral that creates the shoreline. Now all I can see is water swirling white around my ankles as the wave recedes. The wind is full of sharp shards of shell and glass, tiny sand pellets, and bits of slime that used to be palm fronds. A piece of corrugated tin torn from a roof flies by me.
Inhale. Hold it. Exhale. Repeat. Inhale. Fill my gut, my chest, my throat, my head. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Isadore didn’t get me. Maybe Cecilia’s interested. I struggle three steps forward. Cecilia blows me back.
I close my eyes. I can’t Mom. I’m sorry. I tried. But I can’t do this without you guys. I hurt everybody I love.
“Michael! Michael! Where are you?” My mom’s voice melds with Leesie. “Michael. Come back. Don’t leave me alone.”
The voice advances on me. I glance over my shoulder. She’s followed me. “Michael!” She screams frantic. She sees me, rushes forward. “Michael! Michael!”
Cecilia flings a mangled chunk of metal at Leesie.
“No, babe!” I scream as she goes down.
I let the storm blow me to her, grab her limp body from the swirling ebb before waves suck her out with them. A wave crashes just behind us. I scramble to the cave’s mouth and over the wall before a monster attacks and drags us out with it.
I kneel by the wall, panting and praying. “Please, Heavenly Father, let her be all right.”
Her eyes don’t open.
She doesn’t touch my face and whisper, “I love you.”
I bury my face against her wet head. She’s breathing. I press my hand over her heart. It beats.
Strangers discover us—try to take her from me.
“She just hit her head.” I won’t let anyone touch her. “She’ll be all right.” I try to remember what the doctors said about her last concussion. Something about further injury. “Please, save her. Please,” I whisper.
No one asks what the hell we were doing out there. They seem afraid of me. Do I look that freaked?
I hold her close and cry. “Come on, babe. Please.” I rock her until I fall asleep.
When I wake my arms are empty.
I leap up. Cast my eyes around the cave. Where did they put her?
And there she is.
A few feet away from me.
Talking to Alex.