Hell on Earth--A Short Story on Overcoming Tragedy
Hell on Earth
I walk into Lizzie’s room and close my eyes, inhaling the sweet, fresh scent I remember so well. Tears burn at my eyes and I don’t even try to hold them back this time. My sweet baby girl is gone. I’ll never get feel her wriggling in my arms, smell her freshly shampooed hair, hear her impish giggle, or rub my face against the baby soft chubbiness of her cheek.
I wonder why it is that it’s suddenly become too much for me now, when I have no one to lean on. For more than a year, I numbed myself to the pain of her loss. I felt only rage. Rage against the man who took her from me. The man who probably couldn’t even remember what she looked like, who didn’t know anything about what made her special, but still he took it upon himself to steal her life away. To him, she was just one of many who gave him a temporary thrill. To him, she was only a moment’s pleasure.
During all this time of fighting against anyone who stood in my way, pushing for the maximum sentence and testifying in front of that jury, I’ve felt I had a purpose: avenging my precious daughter. I told whoever would listen about what I’ve lost and will never get back. But I had to keep most of my pain locked away, only drawing on it to give my words the truth and emotional pull required to win the battle. Those times took more control than I ever knew I possessed. It all sounds so calculated when I think about it. But it’s what I’ve had to do to make it through.
I pushed away anyone who wouldn’t see it my way, including my husband. He asked me to take a step back and let the justice system do its job. He tried to convince me to let go of that control over my emotions and lean on him. He thought I needed to have a good crying jag and that would help me to move forward with our lives. He couldn’t cope with the lengths I was going to, and wanted to work on “us.” How could he even think of moving on in a world without Lizzie? I didn’t have time for his weak dribble. I had a killer to see punished.
I lie down on Lizzie’s bed, and cradle her pillow to my face. I take in a deep breath and let her scent wash over me. My heart contracts in my chest and I breathe it in again. But it’s not enough. I squeeze the pillow tighter, trying to pull it closer to me, but it’s impossible. I can’t take it inside of me, to fill that empty place—and even if I could, it wouldn’t help. It isn’t her.
I remember how it felt to see her for the very first time; holding her tiny, soft body close to mine and feeling so full of love, I thought I would burst from it. I’ll never forget the wonder and peace that washed over me when she suckled at my breast and I realized that she came from me. With that feeling came the knowledge that motherhood was truly a gift from God.
But where is God now? Had He deserted me along with my husband? Did He too, lose His love and His patience for me as He watched me become consumed with my need for revenge? Or did God think me unfeeling too?
That’s what my husband accused me of the day he walked out; “You’re nothing but a shadow of what you used to be! You’re a cold and unfeeling shell of a wife!”
I wanted to punch him when he said that; to throw something at him and make him shut up. How could he say I didn’t feel? Just because I didn’t break down and cry with him? Didn’t he understand that if I’d done that, I would never have stopped? Both of us would’ve drowned in my tears.
But even admitting that much out loud would’ve made me weaker. So instead, I screamed at him to get out. “You’re the one who doesn’t feel! How can you move on with your life until that thing is dead? You disgust me, you coward! Leave! Get out of here! I hate you!” I never realized he’d take me at my word. I’d thought it was just another fight, much like the ones we’d been having since Lizzie’s murder, though deep down I knew this one was worse. He walked out the door that night without another word, never looking back.
Oh God! I can’t breathe! Please, God! I know I prayed for another man’s death. I know I said it would be enough, that I’d give anything for it—but it’s not! I’m alone! I need her! I need Lizzie! I can’t hold back my sobs any longer. My shoulders heave from the force of the dam breaking. I curl my body around her pillow and hug it to me, trying to use it to stave off the emotions that have taken control over me.
The monster would die by lethal injection. But it wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t bring her back. She was what I wanted most in this world. Now I have nothing. And I wish to God it were me who was being released from this life instead. I can’t bear that he’s the one who gets to escape, and I’m the one who helped make it possible. I can only pray that there is another, worse Hell than the one I’ve found on Earth, and that he finds it immediately.
A slight pressure on my shoulder becomes stronger, and I feel myself being turned and lifted into a strong pair of arms. I open blurry eyes to see who’s found me. I grab onto him with all the strength left in me and embrace him with all my might. I thought he’d left me; unable to stand the horrible demon that had possessed me upon learning of Lizzie’s murder. But here he is, my husband, the father of the baby I lost. Here, when I need him the most.
For the first time in too long I can say, Thank you, God.
I was part of a very good writing group for a few years where we often challenged each other to come up with a flash fiction piece of about 1000 words. The hardest part was that we were given the prompt (subject) only moments before we had to write and it had to be completed in an hour or less. We would then submit our stories to the group to be voted on.
I can't really remember the prompt that was responsible for this story, but I was beyond surprised at what came out. Even reading it now brings out very strong emotions.
*This piece is entirely fictional, but the events that occur in it are all too real for too many people.
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