only love could ever hit this hard...

This body doesn't move like it's supposed to. The old thoughts swim in her head. Worthlessness. Uselessness. Disgust. Anger. Guilt. Katya tries to push past them, to keep one foot moving in front of the other. Her chest hurts, feeling like it's going to explode as her heart hammers wildly in a hard casing of ribs. It feels like she's suffocating, the tears are still streaming down her face and she tastes the salt of them on her lips. The sirens are getting louder as she approaches, but she's still too far away to see anything. "Sasha!" she tries to shriek, but her voice is choked out as she gulps desperately for air. There are memories of childhood that flash across her vision. The day her little sister is born. The day they bring her home. A tiny, pink bundle with big blue eyes that reaches out a hand and curls it around her finger.

"This is your sister, Alexandra" her grandmother smiles, offering her the bundle, keeping a steady hand beneath the head of the newborn who sleeps peacefully. Katya falls in love for the first time when she cradles the baby to her chest. The baby soils itself but she won't give her up. It takes a half hour for her mother to convince her that the child needs to be changed and it's an adult's job. Katya wishes she was grown so that she could help. All she wants to do is help.

The lights blur ahead of her, patriotic reds and blues. They are foreboding, the wail of an ambulance, of police cars, of concerned neighbours as witnesses gather around the scene. But she can't see anything yet, her myopia is worse in the night, shapes and shadows clouding her vision but it's no use to swat at her eyes. There is an internal thrum, somewhere in her belly, it is something bestial, a human instinct that is older than her from a time that she cannot comprehend.

Mercy, her body sings out, but she does not hear its pleas. There is no other option but this. Katya trips and falls, skids forward and scrapes her knees and grazes her palms. They take most of the impact. It starts to rain. The heavens add insult to injury. Her body is hypnotised by the fall, wanting to rest, wanting to crumple up and expire. It is all too much to contend with and her legs are aching, the muscles are pulled taut, screaming out for reprieve as she pushes herself back up to her feet and starts to move again. There's a heaving in her belly, like she's going to be sick, it's a clever biological ploy, to force her to stop, but she keeps going, knowing there isn't far to go now.

Then comes the kick, something changes inside of her, an instinct of old that wakes up the last of her energy reserves as she swallows back the caustic taste of bile. Her feet pound down hard on the road as adrenaline surges through her and though it hurts to move, she pushes past the pain, roaring as she charges forward, her body is on fire as she races up the hill toward the lights. Her brow is drenched in sweat when she finally reaches the scene.

"Take care of your sister," her grandmother sighs with the last of her strength, holding her hand, a wistful smile on her face. The family gathers around her bed and one by one, they say their goodbyes, kissing her grey head. Sasha is sitting in her lap, crying into her shoulder when it happens, when the old woman finally slips away, smiling as she goes, mumbling the name of her deceased husband. Her eyes find Katya's before she goes and she gives her a knowing smile that tells her not to be afraid. Her hand grows cold but her granddaughter won't let go.

"Sasha!" she cries out as she pushes through the crowd of people, searching for her sister. A faceless man stops her, he wears a uniform and holds her tightly by the shoulders when she approaches the lifeless form in the middle of the street. "No!" she cries out again, thumping fists against the man's chest. "That's my sister! That's my sister!" Katya cannot see anymore as she crumbles against the EMT. "Please! Please, let me see her!" He holds her off, tries to calm her, but she won't listen anymore.

"You're too late," the EMT tells her. "I'm sorry. You're too late,"

There's another kick. A superhuman feat of strength, that forces the man out of the way when she pushes hard against his chest and runs past him to the body. Katya falls to her knees, they are bloodied from her fall, but she is too distraught to pay any attention. Her hand moves to Sasha's head, to smooth back the hair from her face. Her sister's body is mangled, so she dares not to look past her face. The big, blue eyes are closed and she cradles her little sister's head, her hand trembles as she moves to brush her fingers over her pale cheek.

The rain falls down hard on her body, soaking through her clothes, but it does not wash away the blood from her face. It is only a moment that she gets with her little sister before she is pulled away by the same EMT, his colleagues swarm on Sasha's body, hoisting her into a stretcher and carting her away. Katya reaches out for her hand but it's too far out of reach. The EMT lets her go when her sister is safely moved into the ambulance. There is nothing left for her to do but cry.

Shivering, Katya stands in the middle of the street in a daze, surveying the scene. The police have started to file in, taking their notes, collecting their evidence and she moves out of their way silently, stumbling through a sea of people. Aimlessly, she trudges toward the lights of a silver car. The car looks familiar though the licence plate is blank. When she approaches the driver's side, she sees the broken windshield, there's an impact fracture in the glass where her sister's body struck. Moving to the driver's side, she sees the deployed air bag and when she looks past it, inside to the person behind the steering wheel, her heart stops.

The face she has memorised. The strong nose, the dark brow, the handsome jaw, the piercing blue eyes stare back at her. There's a piece of glass stuck in Ken's temple and blood pours down the side of his face and neck. It has ruined his crisp, white shirt. Katya is screaming when the firefighters pull her away and set to work on removing the car door. The sirens are louder now, ringing in her ears.

A glitch. A moment sets her off. Logic. How had she heard the sirens of the accident when she was still in the car? This same car. When the firefighters pull out Ken's body, she does not look. Her hands move to cover her ears as she struggles against the sound of sirens. "This isn't real!" she cries out. "This isn't real!" shutting her eyes tight, she forces herself to remember how she got to this place. The EMT's hands are on her again and he is pushing her away from the crash site, she doesn't struggle against him but she won't open her eyes. He keeps pushing her forward and when she finally opens her eyes, she is alone, at the edge of a precipice. The road has run out. Katya laughs loudly. "This is a dream," she jumps.

to be continued...

pt. 1back