Karen, he said

He opened his eyes. He saw the sun, the intersection. Things seemed strange, almost slower. There was smoke and a silence of sorts, though he could hear noises, hissing, clanks. There was a smokiness to everything. Some haze. A sheen that hung over it all, rising slowly in waves. It could be the sun, he thought.

Karen, he said. He couldn’t seem to move his head.

Dear, oh dear, she said. He heard her move towards him.

Are you all right? His mouth felt very dry.

Oh, dear. Dear, she said. He could hear her crying and felt her hand on his face.

That really was something, he said to her. He coughed and heard a crunching, a noise that sounded terrible but didn’t seem to cause any pain. He could hear Karen crying harder.

My door is stuck, she said. He could hear her wrenching away at the door, then her kicking. Fuck, she yelled. He could hear her grunting, frantic gasps. He couldn’t seem to move. Outside, he saw dim figures through the haze. It could be the sun, he thought. They all seemed to be tilted one way or the other, walking slowly. He could faintly see their mouths moving.

Karen, he said. Karen.

What is it, what? Are you trying to say something? He felt her hand. He could hear her breathing next to his face.

You were right, he said, You were right.

Outside there were more shapes moving towards them. He saw someone try to open his door out of his periphery and then move away, running. He could feel it getting hotter.

Karen, he said. Karen. You were right. Not about the time at the Reed’s, that first time, but the Mitchell’s, that time you were right. It was just an accident, that was all. Karen, he said, It was just an accident, that was all.

He heard her start kicking the door again, more frantic. Fuck, she said. He tried to hear her crying but couldn’t seem to, though she may have been still. He thought about this.

Karen, he said. It was just an accident, that was all. He tried to look over to her, to see if she could hear him. I don’t know if she can hear me, he thought, I just don’t know if she heard me, that’s all. Karen, he said, can you hear me?

He saw her face for a moment. She leaned across him, and put her hands on the topmost part of his door, right below where the window started. She looked over at him through the haze, her green eyes red around the rims. Then she looked down, arched her back and clenched her face, raising her torso. She must be trying to open her door, with her legs, he thought, that’s a good idea, that would be a good thing. She yelled, louder this time. Her body stretched upwards.

Karen, he said, Can you hear me? You were right, that’s all, I just need to tell you that you were right, that one time. Not all the times, he said, but that once, you were right, Karen.

With the sound of wrenching metal she fell across his lap. Noise streamed inside. He could hear sirens in the distance, frenzied speech, people calling to one another, doors slamming. A hissing.

Karen, he said, did you hear me? You were right, that one time. Can you hear me? Karen, he said. I don’t know if she heard me, he said to no one in particular.

She got on her knees and was again right in front of his face. Her eyes were red and she reached towards him. Too quickly, it seemed, though the haze made everything look strange to him. She drew her hand away and he saw blood on her fingers and palm. She looked downwards. He could see her body shaking with something, sobs maybe, but he couldn’t hear her. Karen, he said. Karen, you were right.

 

This, he thought he heard her say, was an accident. This, he thought he heard her say, is an accident.

 

She pushed, with her right arm, against his door and righted herself in her seat. He could barely make out her form on the chair next to him. Then, it seemed, she went outside. It sure is hazy, there above the hood, he thought. Maybe it’s the sun, he said out loud. It could be the sun, he thought, It sure is hot today.

He saw glass pebbles cascade across his body. A faint noise came through the window. Above him, he saw a piece of metal a foot or two long enter through the broken window. That sure looks like half a pair of scissors, he thought. It cut above him. Hell, he said, It is a pair of scissors. Big mother fucking scissors, he thought. They opened, and closed, again.

Karen, he said, You were right, you know, about the Mitchell’s party.

He saw the world shift as his head slumped towards his right shoulder.

Karen, he said.

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  1. ROGER SAYS: THIS IS BLAST NO. 2 | Roger Presents: - March 31, 2012

    […] we carry ourselves in times of terror, struggle and pain speak volumes about who we are. The story Karen, he said, written by James Weir, is a snapshot of two people, made vulnerable by jarring […]

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