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Cole(6)
Author: Tijan

Was that Liam?

My heart was in my throat.

I didn’t want it to be him. It couldn’t be, but still I came closer—running even though the dog’s barking and the shouting intensified. I shook my head. I didn’t want to hear them, but I couldn’t silence them. The pounding in my heart grew louder, competing with the screams and sirens for my attention. I couldn’t focus on any of that. I had to get closer.

Then I was there. I knelt down.

God—it was Liam. I saw his wedding band.

Tears flowed down my face. The wetness registered, but I also felt pain—and burning. So much burning. It was so incredibly hot, but I had to get to Liam.

My knees touched the ground, and I heard crunching sounds. None of that mattered. Liam—

I ducked down so I could see him. He looked right at me. His eyes so alert and clear, almost as if he felt no pain, hadn’t been in a car accident. I knew he had been, and this didn’t make sense, but then he choked out, “Addison.”

“I’m here.” I reached out my hand, fitting it into his. I wanted to pull him clear.

“No, Addison.”

“Why not?”

There was glass under my hand. I heard the pieces crack under me, but I didn’t think about it. I just needed to get to him. “Liam, please.” I wasn’t sure what I was begging him for. To come to me? To let me near?

“No, Addison. You have to stay.”

“Why?”

He lifted his head. A pipe was lodged in the back of his skull, and I scrambled back, choking as I saw it. I tried to tell him to stop, not to move, but he pulled his head clear. The pipe had been thrust up from the back of his seat. It was sticking out of his headrest, and blood poured from back of his head.

“Liam, please.” I sobbed. I felt the tears. I could hardly see him. My sobs sounded like they were choking me.

“Why are you here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t want you here.” His eyes flashed, darkening in anger. “I don’t want you here! Get out.”

“Liam—”

“GET OUT!” he roared.

I fell back, startled by the sudden change, and I landed on the street. Pain sliced through me. Stabbing, searing pain. My hands were coated with blood. Pieces of glass stuck to them. Pain exploded all over my body. Every muscle ached. My insides were on fire, and I hurried backward, scooting over the street. More pain. More glass. More burning.

I was halfway to the curb when I heard his laughter. I stopped, my chest heaving.

Liam was laughing.

My heart squeezed in a tight grip as he began to move. He was crawling out of the car, coming to me. His eyes pinned me down, and then he was standing. I couldn’t move. I was held immobile.

I knew I should run. I should yell for him to stop, but I couldn’t do anything.

He came toward me, saying, “You failed. Why did you fail?”

I tried to shake my head. I didn’t know what he was talking about. But he kept coming. His eyes were so accusing. Blood had soaked him entirely. It dripped from his face, his hands, his fingertips, even his feet. He left bloody footprints over the glass, and still he came.

“You failed me, Addison. You betrayed me. Why?”

“I didn’t—” I was crying too much; no words could come out. My throat closed, and then he was over me. He seemed to grow in size, foreboding and intimidating.

He grasped my shoulders. His fingers dug in, piercing my skin. “Why, Addison?!” He shook me. “Why did you betray me? WHY—”

I woke up screaming and jerked upright in bed, my entire body soaked in sweat. My heart pounded, and all I could do was sit as my chest heaved up and down, taking in gaping breaths of air. I had to settle down. It was a nightmare…a nightmare. I closed my eyes, telling myself that over and over again.

My hands curled around the blanket, forming fists. That was when I heard his laughter.

I lifted my head. My eyes snapped open, and I heard it again.

It was the laugh from the nightmare. It had been eerie then, and it sent shivers down my spine now. I gulped. Liam’s laugh was so clear, so vivid; it couldn’t be my imagination, though this laugh lacked all of Liam’s warmth.

I sat there, afraid to move, and he kept laughing. I lay back down, but my eyes never closed. My hands never uncurled. And Liam never stopped laughing.

My mind was made up.

It was time to move.

“I’m so damn happy you decided to go for this.”

Sia was unpacking a box in my new kitchen, pulling out pans and plates. I sat in the living room, stacking the books I hadn’t been able to leave behind.

“What changed your mind?” she asked.

I paused, holding on to the box between my legs. It’d been a few weeks since that nightmare. Since then, I’d been staying at Sia’s. When I arrived, she hadn’t questioned me, and I was thankful I didn’t have to explain my temporary relocation. I had a few more nightmares, but I heard no more creepy laughing at Sia’s. Thank God.

The movers brought in the last piece of furniture around nine at night, and it was nearly two hours later when my stomach started growling. I hadn’t eaten all day.

Sia frowned at one of the pans. She held it up as I approached. “What do you use this for? I just realized I have some of these, but I’ve never used them.”

I took it from her, placing it beside the empty box on the counter. “Step away from the pan and promise me you’ll never use one unless I’m there with you.”

   
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