A Writer’s Book of Days Exercise: All Fall Down

A Writer’s Book of Days Exercise: All Fall Down

She knew that she should know the name of the mountains in the distance, but she didn’t. It bothered her every time, just a little niggle in the back of her mind where she knew this was a dream. That sense wasn’t strong enough to keep her from jumping when the door closed behind her. Didn’t stop her from turning around, even though it remembered what she would see.

Her father stood inside the door, plaid shirt torn, T-shirt slit and bloody. She ran to him anyway, through her arms around shoulders that were too thin, bones that were too sharp. There were tears, warm as blood on her cheeks. When she leaned back to welcome him home, it was Chuck, smiling at her as well as he could with his jaw missing.

Her hands were wrapping the bandages around his head before she thought about it. Not that he seemed to mind the damage, not like he had when this hadn’t been a dream. Then he’d been lying down, bleeding all over her lap, though.

And now he was lying down, bleeding all over her lap, tears in his eyes. If he was still able to talk, she couldn’t hear him, not over the sound of the drops. Not over the sound of everyone else screaming. She couldn’t smell the bodies, couldn’t taste the gas, and the part of her that knew it was a dream repeated that over and over and over to keep her quiet. It worked better than not wanting to scare Chuck more had; she’d screamed then.

She almost did again, when it seemed everything slowed enough to last forever: her hands, the bandages, his tears. But then his breathing stopped, and the rest of it went away. No more sound, no more gas, no more fighting. Nothing left but the bodies, nothing but her and her useless fucking medkit.

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