Hey guys! This particular piece is a short story I am working on for one of my university classes. It has been previously workshopped by both my tutor and fellow students alike and I would very much like to know your opinions. If you believe there are any editorial issues, grammatical errors or general sentence concerns, et al, please notify me and I will gladly take them all into consideration before I am to submit the finalised piece in three weeks time. Thank you!
People say that a person can eventually move on after losing someone they love. It has been ten years since I lost Katarina and I never have. Today is the anniversary of her death and I cannot help but reminisce on what could have been, for the day I lost my girlfriend, is the day that I too died, for I’d hardly say I’m alive when I feel so dead inside.
The rain was the heaviest I had ever seen. The headlights on our vehicle barely managed to reveal anything that night, the entire highway more like an endless tunnel than a road. The heating in the car could barely keep out the cold; our breath was coming out before us in clouds as the two of us shivered. Even my favourite dark brown leather jacket was unable to contain my warmth.
‘I can’t believe we chose this night to celebrate my birthday,’ sighed Katarina in her natural, high pitched accent. Because English was not her first language, she often spoke slowly to avoid mixing up her words. She wore the jet black jacket I had bought her two Christmases earlier. The collar was beginning to fray as she must have worn this a hundred times or more. Can’t believe she couldn’t wear something else on her special day. Her dark brown hair hung down to her shoulders, her naturally pink lips stood out on her ghostly white complexion, her brown eyes watching the rain droplets move across the windscreen.
God, I realise I must sound like a love struck teenager on her first date, but you must understand something. For us, every date was like our first because we would always discover something new, and every time we made love it was as though we had never explored our bodies before. Every second of our time together was divine, well, most of it.
‘It’s just a little rain, it’ll dry,’ I reassured her, pulling one hand away from the steering wheel and rubbing her freezing cold hands. I saw my reflection out from the corner of my eye in the rear-view mirror. My dark hair was tied back in a green hair tie, which, according to Katarina, perfectly matched my eyes. My lips were stained with dull red lipstick, whilst blue mascara lined my eyes. ‘You’d better button up Kat,’ I noted
She smiled back at me. ‘I’ll be fine. The cold has little effect on me.’
‘I hope you don’t expect me to care for you when you’re all sick and disgusting,’ I retorted.
‘Shut up,’ snorted Katrina. ‘I cared for you when you had pneumonia; took time off work and everything so I’d expect you to do the same for me.’ She folded her arms across her chest and looked out the window once more. ‘I only hope we get there before this storm gets any worse.’ Her eyes no longer sparkled like they so often did.
I could feel Katarina’s emotion as though it were my own. ‘We’ll get there eventually,’ I promised.
‘If anyone else said this I would be unsure,’ stated Katarina, turning to face me. ‘But because it’s you Aryah, I’d believe anything,’ she giggled. We stared into each other’s eyes, neither of us noticing the van veering onto the wrong side of the road until its blinding headlights collided with our own.
It is said that a person always remembers their first kiss, or, more accurately, the person who first kisses them. Funnily enough, I don’t, I only remember Katarina. Our first chance encounter was anything but normal: she stole my car.
At the time she had been working as a journalist and I as a public relations manager. I was hired to facilitate an agreement with two rival companies who wanted to merge into one. Apparently the idea of acquiring more money was enough for them to set their differences aside to work co-operatively towards mutual goals. Katarina had been asked by her boss to write an investigative article on the merger, but had unfortunately been denied access. For the best I would presume. I left the merger almost immediately after it began. I know, I know, how unprofessional of me! But I personally felt as though my talents had been squandered. I guess I was simply unable to listen to a gaggle of grown men strutting around talking shop. On the drive back to my hotel I received a phone call and only took my eyes off the road for a second when I hit something. I slowed down to retrieve my phone so I was glad that when the collision occurred, Katarina, the victim of my bad driving was not terribly injured. Apparently Katarina had never received her driver’s licence despite taking the test a few times and was forced instead to use alternate means of travel – in this case a bike – which unfortunately bore the brunt of my vehicle’s bonnet. I did try to apologise, I swear! However Katarina was in a state of shock and would not hear any of it. This led to frustration and eventually anger, which led to her kicking me in the shin. She just so happened to be wearing metal toe capped boots, so you can imagine the pain I was in; it was probably more than what I had inflicted upon her. After I fell to the ground she looked me up and down, jumped into my car and drove off. She did leave me the twisted carcass that was once her bike, which was awfully kind of her.
Luckily for me, her inability to drive led to her arrest. According to the patrol officer, he found it a touch odd when he recovered my purse and driver’s licence on her person, stating how I had apparently changed in ‘height, weight and appearance.’ Katarina had replied with ‘shit happens,’ and shrugged at his remark. She always was bold and her mouth almost always got her into trouble. I think it was this trait of hers that I first fell in love with. The officer, as strange as it might seem, decided to drop all charges, believing that we had paid each other back in full.
However, this chance meeting progressed into a friendship, which in turn became something else. This might have been because we couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves – probably because we were always fighting, and when we weren’t, well, we’ll get to that.
Katarina’s apartment at the time was in no way the definition of cleanliness; the floor was her wardrobe and the bed was her bathroom cupboard. We had decided to test our wits at a game of poker on this particular stormy night, and neither of us wanted to brave the weather to get a good night’s supper. However, the game seemed to be one sided. I was left in the bedroom to set out the cards across the bed, whilst Katarina was inside the bathroom, the door just open a crack, enough for me to see her shadow skirting the walls as she busily went about her post-shower business.
‘How long does it take to get ready?’ I shouted.
‘Patience Aryah!’ shot back Katarina in return. ‘You shouldn’t be so eager to charge headstrong into the fight. I always win you know.’
‘Do you now?’ I asked with a sly grin.
‘I am known for being quite vicious,’ she replied. ‘I take what I want and I always play for keeps.’
‘You sound as though you do this often,’ I commented.
‘Only when there is something worth fighting for,’ replied Katarina.
‘Is that why you are getting all pampered up in there?’ I asked. ‘Are you gearing up for battle, or do you have a hot date planned after this?’
‘Don’t know’ said Katarina in reply, ‘depends if she’s interested.’
Little did Katarina know I had already left the bed, quietly navigated the room and opened the bathroom door to find her standing before the mirror in her fluffy white towel, drenched with the water continuing to drip from her body. ‘Oh, she’s interested’ I replied as I wrapped my arms around her and planted my lips to hers as she did the same to mine.
A second later I had slipped the bath towel away from her body and let it fall to the tiles. Words could not begin to describe the flawless sight that befell my eyes and it would be an insult to even try.
It was not long after I had pushed Katarina up against the bathroom wall that she had pushed me back as well, forcing me once more into the bedroom where we found ourselves a couple of feet short of the bed, her clothes cushioning the fall as we fell on top of one another onto the floor, giggling as we did so.
Katarina pinned me to the ground before tearing ravenously at my clothes, a number of buttons coming loose in the process as my shirt was thrown to the side. With that, she came down upon me like a tidal wave, ever so slowly nibbling her way down my front, not daring to stop until she reached my clitoris. From where she lay her head, Katarina smiled up at me, before taking me into her mouth, a spasm of ecstasy rushing through my veins. Mind, heart, body; I was entirely hers and she mine, and nothing but the steel of an out of control vehicle would ever separate us from one another.
Pain was the first thing I felt upon waking in the hospital ICU, the flashbacks which had comforted me disappearing into the room. My arm was broken, my face badly bruised and my lips swollen from the airbag (deploying in front of me), a deep gash cut into the left side of my face from where my head connected with the side window. Only three of my ribs were fractured and yet all of them ached unanimously. The ramblings of the doctor meant nothing to me, for all I cared about, all I would ever care about, was lying a few rooms down from me.
I was allowed the privilege of seeing Katarina almost immediately. The walk to her room felt like an eternity and although Katarina looked nothing like I remembered, my feelings for her were unchanged.
She was lying back in bed, a great portion of her body having received terrible injuries during the crash. Her right leg was elevated and in a sling, being fractured in several places. Five of her ribs were broken, her left arm being wrenched from its socket whilst her right wrist, along with several fingers, were broken. Her face had been battered, a significant portion of her cheeks and nose being caved in from the smash. This of course was just the physical damage, the doctors warning me of the severe internal injuries.
At present it seemed that Katarina was in no position for any further surgery and the medicos were planning to wait for a good eighteen hours before they attempted any further procedures. Despite all this, Katarina was conscious, fighting the twilight that was creeping up around her.
‘Hey,’ she managed upon my entry as I grimaced when sitting down beside her. ‘I’m glad to see you were not badly injured.’
‘Tell that to the rest of me,’ I replied, attempting to keep up appearances as I ran my free hand through her hair. ‘The doctors say you are going to make a full recovery,’ I said as Katarina smiled weakly at me.
‘I’m a journalist, remember,’ she stated, her lips barely moving. ‘My job is to search for the truth; don’t start lying to me now.’
‘I’ll try to keep that in mind,’ I noted, maintaining eye contact as I did so, a tear running down my cheek.
‘Please,’ said Katarina. ‘I don’t want you to remember this as anything but a happy moment.’
‘How can that be when the woman that I love lies before me in critical condition?’ I asked. ‘Besides, how do you know that this is not a tear of joy? I was not lying when I told you that you may very well pull through, because there is still every chance. You are a fighter Katarina and I don’t want you to give up in the moment when you need to fight harder than you ever have before.’
‘You know as well as I that’s not true,’ replied Katarina out from the corner of her mouth.
‘Don’t talk like that,’ I sobbed, gripping her hand with mine as she winced from the pain, but continued to hold on regardless.
‘We’ve shared in a lot of adventures,’ she said with a smile as though recalling every one of them with those words. ‘But I won’t be coming with you this time.’
‘What?’ I spluttered as tears continued to well up in my eyes, yet Katarina continued to remain strong, although even she was having trouble trying to keep her emotions in check. ‘No,’ I retorted, ‘we-we stay together. I should have watched where I was driving. I was supposed to take care of you.’
‘No,’ replied Katarina with a sigh. ‘We were supposed to take care of each other. Don’t ever blame yourself and don’t stop living because of me. I’ve been strong enough for both of us, but now you must be strong enough for yourself.’ Katarina swallowed before continuing slowly once more. ‘Who knows, if there’s a bar up there or something I’ll save a seat for you and I’ll look down on you from time to time. You will never be alone and no matter what, I will always lo-’
In that moment, Katarina slipped into unconsciousness. She never spoke again. I remained with her until the monitors around us came to life with the sound of raucous beeping, and just like that she was gone.