RUN - Chapter 1 - The Crash
     Alexa James awoke covered in blood, her own screams echoing in her head as though they belonged to someone else. Each of her next few movements was a task; wiggling her fingers and toes, slowly parting the lids of her eyes, easing her gaze around the inside of the car. Thinking was like swimming through a muddy pond; she struggled to shake off her complete disorientation. She was sitting, or hanging really, upside down, still buckled into the passenger seat of a car. The grey leather interior around her was splashed in the same blood Lex could see on her clothing, and scattered with innumerable pieces of shattered glass. What the hell, she thought, panicked. Straining to check herself for an unknown injury, she struggled to remember how she came to wake up in this predicament. Suddenly she remembered their date. 

      “Connor.” The first time she spoke his name it was almost under her breath – a statement of realization more than a greeting or alert. When she realized she had spoken aloud, Lex stiffened. The air inside the car was still and silent, the only exception being the pitter-patter of rain against the undercarriage and the pavement beside her window. Had it been raining all evening? She seemed to remember carrying an umbrella in her purse, having to take it out before stepping out of the restaurant to walk to his car. It was somewhat blurry now, but she thought she could remember Connor taking the umbrella from her hand when he let her into the car. Yes that’s it, she thought. He had smiled, opened her car door, taken the umbrella, and covered himself with it as he walked around to the driver’s side of the car. He sat down beside her, closed the door behind him, and took her hand. Connor, she remembered. Her tone grew urgent as she beckoned him. 

     “Connor?” There was still no answer, so she tried awkwardly to shift the position of her body so that she could see his side of the car. In the dim light of the street lamps around them, Lex was barely able to make out her boyfriend’s crumpled form. She could see that he was not moving, and she knew from his seat’s crimson coating it was Connor’s blood splashed about in the car. Suddenly the crash came back to her, a million images flooding her mind as she fought to process them all. She and Connor had been on a dinner date, and they were traveling home when the rain strengthened to a downpour. The road was wet, but Connor was driving carefully. He had turned to smile at Lex two or three times, squeezing her hand and telling her he loved her. Approaching the darkened stretch of road leading to the highway beyond the streetlights, the couple was passing a tiny side street. Out of nowhere there were two high beams, a blinding light that seemed to cover everything; a small pickup truck was hurtling through the stop sign toward Connor’s side of the car. The memories faded now into foggy sounds: the screeching of futile breaks, the crunching and breaking of glass and metal as one car bounced off the other, her own screams as they tumbled through space, and Connor’s last words shouted over the commotion: her name. The final scene in her mind sucked her back into reality, and she began to panic.

     “Connor? CONNOR!” Lex shouted and then screamed his name, not wanting to believe the images glaring before her eyes. Her cries were only met with continued silence, and slowly her panic heightened into a wretched despair. She whimpered and then sobbed for Connor – begging him to answer, begging him to stay, and finally begging him to come back. At first, she accepted his death quickly and numbly. It felt as if she were pushing through some heavy curtain, desperate to find her way out into the light; as that light washed over her, with it washed her realization. Connor was gone. The interior of the car began to spin just slightly. Nauseated from the stench of blood and the stealth of death, Lex felt dizzy and confused and lost. Death, she thought to herself. She felt the rate of her heart continue to accelerate beyond her capability to breathe upon the simple thought of that one word. She whispered Connor’s name in one last bout of quiet desperation and looked down to find her hand still resting beneath his. Lex squeezed his hand as the rain continued its gentle fall against the asphalt outside, only loosening her grip when the flash of blue and red lights shown against the back window of what used to be Connor’s car. The lights slowly faded away with the rest of the crash scene as Lex let go of her consciousness, and stepped back within the heavy curtain of her mind.


*          *          *          *          *          *          *


        “Lex! Lex! Come back! Slow down, you know I can’t run as fast as you!” Connor was huffing and puffing, struggling to keep up as they raced through the back yard.

       “Aw, come on! You can catch up! You’re a whole YEAR older than me!” She threw up her small hands in frustration. “Am I gonna have to teach you everything?” At only six, Lex could already run faster than any other kid in her neighborhood. Most of them were older, but Connor was only seven. Just one extra year, and he was greatly irritated that a six year old could show him up at all. He also lived next door to Lex, so she loved to do just that: show him up at any chance she was given. At her last teasing snip, she had truly struck a nerve; Connor’s small round face screwed up in anger, turning a pretty shade of pink just before he yelled.

       “Alexa James if you don’t slow down and let me catch up, I’m going to tell your Daddy that you snuck out of your window last night to go out to the woods!” Now her own cheeks were turning pink to match his. “With ME!” His last yell proverbially iced the cake, and Lex’s little body shook with anger. A tear rolled slowly down her cheek.

       “He is NOT my daddy.” She spoke it rather than yelling, and she had Connor’s attention quickly. He stared at her, mouth gaping, ashamed and unable to speak. He knew when he made his cutting remark that it would hurt her feelings; everyone in town knew the Delaneys were her foster family. Connor was pretty sure they were mean to her, too, but no one was ever able to  prove it. Lex was openly crying now, glaring at him as though she could tear him apart with her eyes. “You are very mean,” she whispered. She turned to walk away, toward the woods edging her back yard.

       “Lex? Lex! Hey, wait up! Lex! I’m sorry! Hey, come ’ere!” He called after her as he followed her across the grass. She was walking quickly, but it was not as difficult to catch up with here at this pace. “Lex? Hey, please talk to me. I didn’t mean it –“

      “You KNOW I don’t like them.” She had stopped walking, her back still facing him. Her shoulders quivered as she tried to speak in a firm voice through her tears. “You’re the only real friend I have here, and now-“ She lost her composure and broke into ragged, but soft cries, unable to speak clearly. She felt Connor draw closer behind her until she was able to hear him breathing, and then he moved to stand beside her.

      Lex closed her eyes. All she knew or could remember of the world around her was bad. Her mother was some unknown face in the crowd; the phantom who had breathed life into her body and then left her with strangers at a nearby facility. Her father was a complete unknown; she had never heard the first mention of him from anyone. And her foster parents – she winced. The Delaneys had “taken her in” when she was about four. In their early forties, they had never had children of their own, and neither Sue nor Ed were ready for the responsibility, even now. So Lex had become more of a nuisance than a treasure; it was apparent to her from a very early age that she was generally unwanted and unloved. That was, of course, until she had seen the large moving van in the driveway across the street – and the little boy that looked about her age climbing out of it. How her heart had leapt when she first met Connor; now she would have someone to play with! Now she would not have to be so alone. She would have someone to tell –

      She shook off her thoughts with a shiver, feeling hurt and disappointed. Connor had never once picked on her. He had always been different than everyone else, the one right thing in her universe, and now he was falling away like the others. Finally, Lex turned to face him. His cheeks were still flushed brightly as she spoke.

     “I thought you were my friend.”

     “Lex, I AM your friend. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. It makes me feel bad that I can’t keep up with you. All the kids on the street have friends and games and things to keep them happy. I don’t do anything well and I’m too shy to make any friends. You’re the only friend I have, too, ya know.” He urgently meant every word that he spoke, and his small frame seemed much larger when he spoke such grown- up words. He knew, however, that his friend was hurting because of him and no matter how mature he sounded, his apology still sounded like a load of excuses. He hung his head, not wanting to make things worse.

     “Really?” Lex responded, mystified. She was his only friend? Suddenly she felt important and special – wanted, for once. She smiled through her drying tears and looked up at him. “Me?” she giggled. Connor smiled.

     “Yes, YOU,” he smirked, poking her shoulder playfully. “You are kinda special, ya know.” His tone was joking, but he really wanted her to believe him. She continued to smile. Suddenly she stepped forward very quickly, her hands folded behind her back, and kissed his cheek, turning a hundred shades of red as she did. Connor’s hand flew to his face, his mouth open in shock, his cheeks flaming. Once he caught his breath, he smiled again and reached out to take her hand. The two of them stood there, gazing at each other in wonder, their little hands squeezed together lovingly. Before he tickled her and chased her off around the yard, Connor smiled and Lex spoke.

     “I love, um, being your friend, Connor,” she smiled awkwardly and hoped he would understand.

     “Me too,” he whispered, understanding completely. He squeezed her hand again…


 *          *          *          *          *          *          *


     Lex awoke the second time with Connor’s name on her lips and his picture in her mind. The dream she had after she had passed out was such a clear memory; she had almost thought they had been sent back in time rather than being separated. The pain in her heart came searing to life as she groggily remembered the evening’s last events. She choked back a hard sob and opened her eyes slowly, hoping the images would now be more comforting.

     The fluorescent lights in the hospital room were almost too bright after submersion in so much darkness. She let her eyes creep over the room. The walls were painted a shade of green so pale it was nearly white, and one lone picture hung on an empty wall beside the bed. On the other was a small dry erase board and a tiny window; the blinds were closed to block out the night, and Lex was thankful for that, too. Directly in front of her bed was a child-sized television, black and silent against the bleak wall. She peered beside her at a miniscule bedside table that she thought would hold a remote for the blank box, but it only held a pale blue box of tissues and a white telephone. Her eyes moved to the other side of the bed, where they located cheap and stiff-looking recliner, dark green and stuffed into the corner between the bed and the window-wall. Having scanned the room, Lex finally turned her gaze forward to take in the rest of her own appearance. The top of her body was clothed in a scratchy, over-starched hospital gown; from her waist down was draped a sheet and then a soft, white blanket. Her left hand served as a connection point for several IVs, most of which appeared to be fluids to Lex. She flexed her fingers and grimaced a bit; there was no pain, but there was a discomfort just below the small piece of tape and square of gauze attached to the back of her hand. Wiggling her toes, she watched the end of the blanket dance around a bit. This act was not painful either, so Lex moved from place to place on her body, testing each part with slight movement. There was no physical pain anywhere, and she was beginning to wonder why she was still in the hospital when a doctor walked into her room.

     “Miss James?” The man with salt-and-pepper-colored hair had a friendly face, but he appeared nervous as he approached the side of her bed, his face still buried in a clipboard she assumed held her charts. His identification card read, “Dr. Nelson.” She stiffly rolled her eyes and forced a civil smile.

     “Alexa, please,” she responded, attempting to use her nicest tone though she did not feel like speaking at all. Alexa was, in fact, her formal name, and she did not want to be spoken to as though she were much older. The Doctor Nelson’s brown eyes met her own, and he smiled warmly as he addressed her once more.

     “Alexa James.” When she smiled again and nodded, he continued. “It’s good to see you awake,” he began positively, “you were out for the day.” Lex hesitated for a moment. Her mind was still somewhat blurred, but she could swear she heard him say she had been unconscious for more than the evening. Brow furrowed, she became inquisitive.

     “A day?” She questioned him earnestly; the night’s events were out-of-focus, but their immediacy seemed undeniable. How could so much time have passed since – she interrupted her own thoughts so Dr. Nelson could answer her before her false calm began to crash down around her. He had a puzzled look on his face having noticed the apparent confusion and hurt that shown in Lex’s eyes; and when he spoke again it was very soft, as if directed to a child.

     “Yes, Alexa, you were unconscious for about 30 hours. You don’t appear to have any serious injuries, and we are waiting on the return of your x-rays so that we can confirm your internal health as well.” He paused to gauge her reaction and when his eyes met a blank stare, Dr. Nelson assumed she could not remember the previous evening. He cleared his throat, and attempted to quickly form the words he would use to explain her luck and her loss. Lex stopped him before he was able to begin.

     “Dr. Nelson, with all my sincere respect, I knew I had been unconscious, I just wasn’t aware of the reason.” She tried to sound as formal and mature as she could, but she knew the next part of her speech would be the hardest as she continued. “I remember why I was unconscious,” she began, eyeing him warily as she noticed the heavy sympathy in his eyes. She was determined to allow her dry tone to erase that sympathy. “I remember only bits and pieces of the crash itself, but I remember clearly waking up inside the car.” Dr. Nelson looked a bit surprised and opened his mouth to comment, but Lex interrupted once more. She drew in a ragged breath and proceeded with every ounce of strength inside her. “I already know that Connor is dead.” She stared at her hands as the nice doctor tried to form an appropriate response to her statements. She closed her eyes. Like playing pretend, she thought to herself. Just pretend to be OK, and then break down once he lets you go. She poised herself as calmly as was possible and waited for him to speak. He stared at her in awe.

     “M-Miss, I mean, A-Alexa,” he stumbled over her name and she knew she had distracted him a bit with her strength. She was patient as he cleared his throat, an apparent nervous tic, and addressed her again. “You are a very brave young woman.” She did not answer, and Dr. Nelson softened his voice. “There are a couple of men from the police department here; they’d like to ask you a few questions. If you’re feeling up to it, I’ll let them in, we’ll check the rest of your x-rays in the meantime, and if everything is normal, when they are finished, you may go. If you don’t feel up to it,” he paused, as if urging her to state the need to rest or anything that might delay her leaving too soon.

     “No,” she answered abruptly and flatly, “I don’t think any waiting period will be needed. I’m fine to speak with them, and as you said, that will give you the chance to check my x-rays and maybe I can go home soon.” Dr. Nelson raised an eyebrow.

     “Awfully eager to get out of here, aren’t we?” he speculated.

     “Ready for it to be over, wouldn’t you imagine?” she retorted. He stared at his feet for a moment and then made firm eye contact.

     “That’s fine, Alexa. I will let them in, and while they are with you, I’ll go and check your x-rays myself.” Lex sighed quietly with relief. Dr. Nelson turned as if to leave, but turned on his heel, remembering a final question. “One more thing?”

     “Yes sir?” she answered, impatient and anxious.

     “You have some pretty bad contusions on your limbs and torso – a few cuts and scratches as well. While I’m sure there are some emotional effects from this accident that you aren’t discussing with me, I can’t seem to find any major mental effects. I am also a little surprised at the brevity of your unconscious period, and I all these things lead me to believe that there won’t be anything on your x-rays either. You know, the marks do not seem fresh…” he trailed off. The kind doctor had been rambling a little bit; his words running into one another toward the end of his sentence as he tried to get a point across. Lex shuddered. She knew what point he was trying to make, but she would not stand for this delay. She formed her most perturbed facial expression.

     “What are you getting at?” she questioned him sharply.

     “Well, Alexa, in the best interest of you, the patient, I have to ask,” he paused and cleared his nervous throat, “are these marks from the accident?” He studied her face. She smirked.

     “Wouldn’t you think so, sir?”

     “Well I have to that physical trauma into account, but I also must wonder…where are your parents? We haven’t been able to contact anyone, and given the severity of your situation, I would think we would have spoken to someone...” he trailed off again and Lex found herself enraged, her emotion showing clearly in the growing flush of her cheeks. The truth in his insinuations had her reeling; he was more forward than she was prepared for, and she would set him straight like everyone else.

     “I would think,” she began tartly, “that unless you had reason to believe anything other than what you see or have proof of, that a nice doctor like yourself would stop making implications and do what you must to see that your patient leaves your care in good condition, but also as promptly as possible.” Each word was an argument; a plea for Dr. Nelson to leave well enough alone and just let her leave. Lex watched him carefully as his face changed from shock, to knowing, to agreement. He would let things be. When he spoke again, she could not help feeling relieved.

     “Fine, Alexa, I understand your desire to go home, and I apologize if I have inferred anything with my words besides concern and care.” His answer was genuine, his voice sheepish, and she blushed with guilt.

     “I apologize, as well, Dr. Nelson, if I have been rude in any way. I’m sure you can understand…” her words faded as her face fell and she hung her head. Lex refused to cry in front of anyone, especially not a doctor she had just met. The only person she could ever cry in front of was Connor – she swallowed a large lump forming in her throat and shook her head. Not right now, Lex, she told herself, not until you’re out of here. Before she could lose her composure, the kind doctor smiled and replied to her statement.

     “I’m sure I cannot understand what you must be going through, Alexa. I must reiterate, you are a very strong person.” Their eyes met again, and after a subtle moment of understanding, Dr. Nelson broke their gaze first. “I’ll be back to discuss your x-rays with you shortly. I’ll give you a moment before I send in those policeman.” He smiled supportively at her, and Lex smiled back at him appreciatively. He turned to leave the room, shutting the heavy door behind him and leaving her alone with her thoughts. It would only be a few minutes before the police began to knock at that same heavy door. She knew her options: stay and hash out her emotions, lose her composure in front of everyone here, and be forced to stay longer than she wished; or find a way out of this room, past their questions, and past any family they may finally contact – whether it be his or, she gulped, hers. It only took Lex a few seconds to make the decision to run.

SapphireCat   SapphireCat wrote
on 1/27/2009 10:53:13 AM
Wow, this is FANTASTIC! Please, please post more. You left me hanging!

Moonrose   Moonrose wrote
on 1/24/2009 8:38:44 PM
Ooooooooohh!!! I LOVE IT!! You certainly did revise it, and I must say that it is spectacular! Except, I can barely see through the tears right now. I hope - no, I demand - that you finish this book no matter what it takes (even if the brilliantly presented emotion cripples my insides).

Voice_of_a_Dreamer   Voice_of_a_Dreamer wrote
on 1/23/2009 7:02:57 PM
I genuinely liked this excerpt. I really like where you are going with it, I can see an endless amount of plot opportunities. I like how you faded to a childhood memory to give a little bit of history. My only critic, if you are taking them, are: Add a little bit more heart to Alexa. I can respect the fact that she is a hard person shaped after years of hardships and heartaches. However, get into her head, let us know what she is thinking and feeling.

Moonrose   Moonrose wrote
on 1/21/2009 12:50:40 PM
Ooooohh, you are just too good at this sad stuff. I love how you started this; it's catching! You should definitely use it as the beginning, it's impossible to put down once you've started! Try breaking the second paragraph down more, though... you have to write how she's thinking, seperated and slow, like you described it. Kind of broken up. Umm... I'm not so good with the titles... what about 'Broken', or something like that? Hmm... 'Shattered Rain'? Ugh, I tried. Anyhow, you've done wonderful yet again! I'm definitely hoping for more, but while I'm waiting I'll go cry for poor Lexa...

Novel / Novella
writing Delilah_Dunn
I'm submersing myself in my current project. Feel free to message me or stop by just to say hello. There will be a few poems posted here and there I'm sure, as there are always a few of those bouncing back and forth between my ears. Mostly, however, I'll be working on my "project" and will only be by every now and then. Take care and see you all soon!

"To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make."
-Truman Capote

"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all." -Emily Dickinson

"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

"I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree." -Joyce Kilmer

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." -Anne Frank

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Rating: 9.2/10

This occurs prior to "The Dream" for those of you who read it, and I'm thinking of making it the opening chapter of the book. Any ideas/suggestions/comments regarding this and the title of the chapter or ANYTHING that I can use, please, please share them! Thanks! PS-This draft was heavily revised and extended thanks to comments from moonrose! Thanks and hope to hear from you on this soon!!!