Twitches


Had I been told that I would be attacked by a rabid, maniacal, salivating, snarling Mrs. Goldberg early Sunday morning – on my way to mass, I might add – I might not have made the effort to get out of bed, put on my new and uncomfortable shoes to begin the fifteen minute walk to church. But no one told me that. (Yes, God, that is a hint.)

I had just put on my Unwittingly Strained Face, as I tried with all my might not to look bothered by the fact that my feet were being chafed to the bone by raw leather, when the sound of someone closing in on me from behind made me take a step to the right to allow them passage on the sidewalk. By the fury of the sprint I gathered it was someone either incredibly fit or more prone to masochism than I was and so I curiously turned my head to get a proper look at the approacher, when that very someone smashed into me. A nearby tree broke our would-be fall, but the person clinging to me with fiercely snapping jaws and spittle in the corners of her mouth and something not far from a growl in her throat was not the hunk I had secretly hoped for, but was actually my neighbor – Mrs. Goldberg.

My big handbag had lodged itself between us and kept her somewhat at bay, but the strength of the petite woman was incredibly unnerving and her elusive motive for seemingly wishing to climb me like a pole was even more so.

I tried to fend her off. I’m not sure what words I managed to utter, but I’m sure they were incoherent with shock and ill-disguised abhorrence. However, she was more determined than I was – the rush of adrenaline at facing my destiny never set in since I couldn’t even in my wildest dreams have imagined my destiny to come in the guise of a severely infested little old lady.

So she bit me.

Now, that was one of those moments, though, that you hear about – when she finally got at my throat and sunk her teeth into me I did have this crystal clear realization hit me that she was actually harming me and that this was the proverbial it and something close to a life flashed before my eyes: eating Easter chocolate eggs with my little brother on the porch swing; fighting with Constance Evans on the playground over who got the swing next to Gary Brittle (he had the greenest eyes you ever saw); going to dance recital with my hand in my mothers, hers cool and soft, mine clammy with nervous sweats; hearing the first bars of Janis Joplin and Piece of My Heart and being lost in that music forever. And my father and mother, laughing by the sink. And my brother in his little coffin after the accident. And my grandmother with her tiny hands that could knit a hat in under ten minutes flat. Or at least that’s how I remembered it.

And then I woke up and the sun was still shining and a dog was sniffing my face and I felt dizzy when I sat up and for a moment I couldn’t remember where I was, but then I looked down at the hand of mine that the dog had begun to lick and I realized it had blood on it.

I felt a strange twitch somewhere inside of me and I understood that the shoes I was wearing didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I’d spent five hundred dollars on them and had been looking forward to showing them off to Elizabeth and Anette and Irma at church; it didn’t matter that I’d worn my good perfume and spent half an hour on my hair; it didn’t even really matter that I’d forgotten to bring my coffee with me to drink on the way and that I’d been worrying I’d be stuck with a headache half-way through mass – none of it mattered because I was dying.

I stared down at my oversized Chanel handbag and wondered for a moment at its sleek design, at its functionality, at its normalcy, sitting there in my lap, sticky with blood and still so utterly indifferent. I undid the clasp with a light snap that made the dog jerk a few steps back, observing me curiously as I dug around in the bag’s insides, stirring them with my hand, blindly searching until a touched the smooth, flat and cool glass of my cellphone. I brought it out and switched it on.

Another twitch. Somewhere inside.

But no pain. I wondered why there was no pain. Was it shock? Could I feel shock? What did I feel? I wasn’t afraid, but I wasn’t exactly calm either. I didn’t feel like getting up off the grass and dirt I was sitting in and getting myself straightened out, but I was aware of the mess that was me, the daughter who had always been so buttoned-up, so focused, so conventional and safe. Safe. Someone to safely be proud of because she would never let you down, she would never stray from the path you had laid down for her or question whether it was right that you had.

I squeezed the cellphone suddenly, violently, glaring at my reflection in the surface of it. My throat was a black mark below my face and I blinked, eyes caught on it for a second too long and I turned my head, feeling nausea like a thousand worms writhing up my air pipes; the sensation had me draw a deep breath, which made my throat gurgle ominously.

Where had Mrs. Goldberg disappeared to?

The street was deserted. I looked at the clock in the cellphone display and noted that not much time had passed – not more than five minutes – since she’d attacked me. My eyes blurred for a second as I pressed the Contacts icon and found M for Mom.

The dog had taken a seat on one of the warm stones of the sidewalk, its brown eyes resting on me and for a second I felt as though it was guarding me. I couldn’t see a collar. There weren’t that many strays in the neighborhood and I’d never seen this one before. Was it waiting for me to kick it so it could scamper off with my remains?

“Hi, this is Maureen Simmons, please, leave a message and I will try and call you back as soon as I can.”

Of course, they were all at mass.

Or.

Or they were all dead.

I swallowed. It felt funny.

“Hi, mom.” My voice didn’t sound like me, it sounded like someone speaking with a mouth full of water. “I love you.” I paused. Why had I called them? “If you’re alive…” Morbid. “I think something’s… wrong with the world. I think…”

There was a sudden, rumbling noise to my right and I soon realized that it was the dog, it was showing its teeth, on its legs again, head low, fur on end as it stared me down.

Oh, Sweet Jesus.

“Mom,” I got out, swallowing again, tasting the blood this time. “Run away. Far away. And… lock…”

I couldn’t get any more words out and I finally relented, dropping the phone in the grass as I leaned my head back against the trunk of the tree behind me.

The growl of the stray was deepening. It gave a loud bark. A warning. To others? To me?

The twitch was more profound when it came for a third and final time. It felt like what I could imagine a bedspring might feel like if you had it inside you and pressed it down, down, before releasing it. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it didn’t exactly tickle me either.

The change came within moments after that.

It rattled through me as though I was lying on a railroad track that were shaking with the approaching of a train and I looked up, into the branches above my head, into the sunlight filing through the light-green leaves and the patches of blue beyond and I hoped and I prayed that I was headed there. Up and away.

The last sound I heard was the dog barking madly and the soft, bubbly exhale of my final breath.

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~ by mescribe on March 21, 2011.

One Response to “Twitches”

  1. […] ago I was part of the non-zombie community of bloggers (shame) and have therefore rectified this here. Zimple. I have written posts about the undead, several, in fact, but as the second rule stipulates […]

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