There is something about the phrase “I shouldn’t be here” that invites a writer to pen something sad. We’ve all been somewhere we feel we shouldn’t be. Perhaps we took a wrong turn and got lost. Or maybe we are at an event where we feel out-classed by the other attendees. It could even be feeling like we don’t belong when we are supposed to be wherever it is we are.
This piece was one of the rare ones where the story just fell onto the page without much fuss. I sat down, typed for a few minutes, and the story was done before I knew it. I’m sure I had a plan when I started, but what ended up on the page did not stick to that plan, whatever it was. But I will take a story that doesn’t stick to the plan and is enjoyable to write over one that fights me every step of the way.
Prompt: I Shouldn’t Be Here (from the Tale Foundry writing group)
Darkness. Everywhere was darkness. Sheila was certain her eyes were open. Even the hand she held shakily before her face was swallowed by the absolute blackness around her. She was dimly aware she was lying down. Her hands found crisp sheets tucked around her. A plastic tube draped across one of her arms. The incessant beeping that had filled her ears long before she had tried opening her eyes finally made sense.
She was in a hospital bed. That couldn’t be right. She shouldn’t be in a hospital. Only moments ago, she had been on her way to pick up her brother from the airport. Why wasn’t she in her truck? Why was is so damned dark?
Panic rose in Sheila’s chest. She clenched her fists by her sides, trying to fight it down. The persistent beeping quickened. Perhaps it was night. But there should still be light of some sort. Where were all the blinking lights on the machines? Those should show up in the dark at the very least.
Her brow furrowed in frustration and something tugged against her skin. There was something on her face, something that was covering her eyes. No wonder she couldn’t see anything. She must have covered her head with a blanket. Sheila raised a hand to pull the fabric away, but someone grabbed her wrist.
“Don’t… don’t touch your face.”
Her brother’s voice. But Mell was supposed to be waiting for her at the airport. He wasn’t supposed to be here. She wasn’t even supposed to be here.
Sheila tried to speak, but all that came from her mouth was a rasping croak. Mel sighed shakily and twined their fingers together.
“There was a tree, sis. They were cutting to close to the road and—” A sound came from him Sheila had never heard before. “And there was a fire…”
“Dark,” Sheila managed to whisper.
Mel squeezed her hand. “It’s not good, sis. Doc says it’s probably permanent.” He pressed his forehead against her knuckles. “This is my fault. If you weren’t coming to get me… You shouldn’t be here.”