There’s Nothing We Can Do.
I jolt awake. I feel myself shaking, the bile rising in my throat immediately. I reach up to my face, amazed as I feel that my skin is still intact. In fact, there’s no blood at all anywhere. I turn my head awkwardly, the memory of pain and death still fresh on my mind. Lauren and Odin are next to me, sleeping peacefully. I stumble out of bed, stunned. The dream was way too real. I could smell the blood on my face and taste it in my mouth. I could feel Brian’s cold skin as I desperately waited for a pulse. I could feel the incredible panic that had shut down all other thoughts.
I turn around to the window. There’s a filthy looking smudge on it and I frown; the deja vu hitting me.
Slowly, my gaze travels down and I jump back in shock as I find the twitching pigeon lying right in front of it. With a wild gesture, I open the window and pick the fallen bird up. It helplessly looks at me.
“Nick, what are you doing?” Lauren’s sleepy voice drifts through the room and I whirl around with the bird in my hands.
“It’s-” I stammer, the pigeon squirming slightly in my hold. “I think it flew against the window.”
“Oh poor thing,” Lauren says, rising slowly from the bed, careful not to wake the sleeping baby next to her.
Too late, as Odin begins to move beside her.
He lets out a gigantic yawn and promptly shoves a foot in his mouth. His eyes grow large as he catches sight of me and the bird. “Oooooooh,” he coos.
“Daddy’s gonna set it free again,” Lauren tells him, then looks at me expectantly.
“Y-yeah,” I mumble, stiffly turning around and putting the bird back in the place I found it. Its leg twitches pathetically and I feel my throat close up, but shut the window.
“What time is it anyway?” Lauren asks.
“Nine thirty,” I mumble, staring at her in amazement.
She looks at me doubtfully, then grabs her phone and lets out a surprised grunt.
“Do you mean to say he’s been sleeping through the entire morning?”
I nod slowly. Odin natters something unintelligible and I turn my hollow gaze towards my son. He gives me his full eight toothed smile and reaches his arms up.
“Can you take him? I have to see if I can find some clothes for both him and me.”
“Sure,” I say, picking the baby up from the bed and setting him on my arm.
“Da-da!” Odin yells excitedly, swatting my face with his chubby hands.
“Oh yeah, it’s all fun and games with dada, isn’t it?” Lauren mumbles as she skims through the room.
I tighten my hold around my son as I hurry out of the room. Something is fundamentally wrong here and I have no idea what is going on. I’ve been here, done this, got the t-shirt. What is happening? Neither Odin nor Lauren seems to know that they’ve done this whole thing yesterday as well. I open the fridge, deep in thought, with the baby still on my arm. Clumsily, Odin reaches his arm into the fridge, successfully knocking over the baby food. It falls on the tile floor with a resounding crash, glass flying in every direction.
“Oooh,” Odin exclaims, smacking a hand in front of his mouth.
“Fantastic,” I mutter, feeling the foul smelling goo run down my lower leg onto my bare foot. “Well done, buddy.”
I sigh as I put Odin in his high chair, taking a banana out of the bowl instead and slowly chopping it in little pieces. The little ten month old loves bananas and wouldn’t mind it as a substitute for mashed potatoes and carrots. As I predicted, my son lets out a delighted squeal as I place the small plate with fruit in front of him. Without hesitation, he plunges his little hands into the food and I rub my forehead as I look at the mess of orange and yellow on the kitchen floor. The pieces of glass are a harsh reminder of my weirder than weird dream and I quickly turn my eyes back to Odin, who hungrily spreads the banana all over his face, his small legs flailing excitedly in the chair.
Lauren walks into the room in what seems to be an old sweatshirt. “Baby, can you pick up the dry cleaning this afternoon after your rehearsal.”
My heart jumps into my throat and I stare back at her with wide open eyes, “D-do you need it today?”
“Well yeah,” she replies hesitantly, “Have you seen what kind of alternative I’m wearing right now? Oh, and I don’t think the pigeon survived it.”
“I-I mean I-”
“Are you okay?” Lauren frowns as she sits down next to me.
“I dunno,” I mumble, “Had a really, really strange dream.”
She leans forward and kisses my forehead; then notices the mess in the kitchen behind me. “Has there been a massacre going on here?”
“Odin was really enthusiastic about his food,” I smile softly. Odin looks up at his name and grins at his mother, whose face softens immediately.
“You’re a little monster, you,” she says lovingly.
“Ma-ma,” Odin laughs.
I step out of the way before Howie can bump into me. As I had feared, none of my bandmates are aware that they’ve done all this already. I decide to bite my tongue this time, but it is only a matter of time before AJ frustratingly brings it up.
“We only have two more weeks, guys,” he says, exasperated. Brian shoots him a furious glare and Kevin shakes his head.
“Sorry,” Howie’s voice is a little defensive.
“We’re gonna have to bust our asses,” AJ mutters.
“We could have started sooner, if someone wasn’t late,” Howie grumbles and all eyes turn to Brian.
“How’s it my fault that my car broke down?” Brian answers, putting his hands up in defense.
“Again?” I blurt out.
He looks at me strangely, “No...” he drawls.
“You sure you put in enough gas?” AJ offers.
“Whatever, let’s rehearse this shit.”
I can’t believe I have to look to another five hours of this. I try to avoid Howie stumbling next to me, but in a unsuspected moment, he manages to land on my foot after all.
“Ow!” I yell.
“You were supposed to move!” Howie shoots back.
“I know!” I grumble, pulling off my shoe to rub my foot.
“You don’t even have sock on.” Brian comments coolly. I blink at my foot. He’s right.
I shrug, putting my shoe back on, feeling very uneasy all of a sudden.
Can I catch a ride?
“Can I catch a ride with you after rehearsal?” Brian asks, looking at me expectantly.
I nod stiffly, a slow, unexplained feeling settling into my stomach. “Sure.”
This time, I wait for him to finish changing his clothes before I walk out to the car. Clutching the keys in my hand, I purposely step over the large puddle of water and mud on the ground; then stand still.
Brian raises his eyebrows questioningly, when I don’t elaborate, he gestures with his arms, “What?”
I wince, the flashback of Brian’s bloodied, motionless face shooting through my mind. “I can’t take you.”
“It’s-I-I can’t say.”
“What the hell dude?” Brian’s words are angered, but I don’t mind.
“Fine,” Brian bites his lip in exasperation, then turns around. “I guess I walk then.”
I close my eyes for a moment, feeling the sharp end of my keys digging into my hand.
“No, you know what,” I open my eyes again as Brian turns around and points a finger in my direction. “Is this some kind of funny game to you? Couldn’t you have said this sooner?”
“No, no,” he bristles, “I don’t deserve this. How long are you gonna blame me for, huh?”
“It has nothing-”
“Of course it does!” his face reddens and his eyes look hurt, “I know it’s my fault, but I have to live with it, even more than you do!”
“For fuck sake, it doesn’t matter,” I shout, exasperated. “You want a ride? Fine, get in,” I point to the car.
“Too late,” Brian mumbles, stalking off in the opposite direction. Great, he hates me now. But at least we don’t get killed. I shake my head in resignation as I fumble with my keys. My heart stops in my chest when I hear the sound of screeching tires echo through the street. Without another thought, I turn and run towards the end of the road, feeling my leg get soaked with mud and water from where I plunged it into the puddle on my way over. When I turn around the corner, I stop immediately.
The red car has stopped in the middle of the road; the driver is standing next to it, a shocked and horrified expression on her face. My bandmate lies a few feet further, motionless on the asphalt. Other people are talking and running, shouting into their telephone for 911. I feel my body move forward on its own account. A random arm tries to stop me, “Give him some space.”
“Is he- is he alive?” I stammer, trying to make sense of the situation.
The arm disappears and I lunge forward, falling onto my knees beside Brian. His eyes are wide open and his neck is obviously twisted in a strange, wrong way. Blood is running from a large wound on his forehead and I don’t have to reach out a hand to his throat to know that there’s no pulse there. The world blackens strangely and I close my eyes.