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Sleep Peacefully

 

NC Marshall




Sleep Peacefully


By NC Marshall


Copyright 2015 NC Marshall


Smashwords Edition


Smashwords Edition, Licence Notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. The ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


 



 

My last intention is to scare you. I wish you no more pain than you have already suffered, but this is the only way I know how.

Remember when we were kids? You would take my hand and lead me to wherever we were going. I would follow you without question, mirroring your every move, trusting your judgement and knowing that you would get me to our destination safely.

Well, now it’s my turn to lead you.

You should see it here, it’s just like everyone imagines, but better. Only, I can’t explore this place in the way I should without your help. I am trapped, and feel as though I have metal shackles tying me to a world I should no longer be a part of.

Please trust me, and let me show you. Because if you open your eyes and take a good look, you will see what is there in front of you, and always has been. You will see the truth...


Prologue


It’s the night that I will always remember as if it were yesterday. I can still recite every moment, running it through my mind like scenes extracted from a well-written play. I can recall every last detail with remarkable clarity. Unfortunately, though, this wasn’t a play; there was no set, no cast or props, and I had no understudy to step in and seamlessly take my place if required. This was reality. It was my reality, it was my life, and in less than ten minutes time it was going to change forever.

It was approaching the middle of January, the tenth to be exact. It was the early hours of the morning following the coldest day we had experienced in a while, and had just turned twenty-three minutes past two. I knew this because I hadn’t slept a wink. I’d been awake all night, with an awful dose of a winter flu bug that had struck everyone I knew. I’d had it for several days, but it wasn’t easing in its ferocity and I couldn’t seem to shake it. Even though the temperature in the room had dropped drastically since I’d gone to bed a few hours earlier, I lay with the covers thrown back, hot and bothered, growing increasingly more aggravated.

The illuminated digital numbers on the clock next to me gradually increased. I lay watching them slowly roll by, the seconds crawling forward one by one. I counted them silently as they passed, wishing them to move faster so that the daylight would break and the long night would be over.

I wriggled my body, trying to loosen my aching muscles, then shifted from the cramped-up position that I had adopted, moving my legs and spreading them out across the other side of the double bed, which was cold and empty. I was alone that night; my husband had been working away that week, like he often did. It didn’t bother me, not anymore, I was now used to sleeping alone. My arm had gone dead from staying in the same position for too long. I removed it from underneath my pillow and wiggled it, resulting in a rush of pins and needles running from my elbow to my fingertips.

I’d pretty much given up on the idea of getting any rest at all that night, and had been contemplating going downstairs to get myself a hot toddy. It was a cold and flu remedy that my dad had always sworn by. The welcome haze of alcohol induced slumber seemed appealing, and I was just about to make a move when my mobile phone rang from somewhere beside me.

I glanced once again at the clock. It was two-thirty a.m. on the dot, and even though I was wide awake, the shrill tone of the phone ringing out into the silence still made me jumpy. I searched around, blind in the darkness, moving my hands in the direction of the sound, and eventually found the phone buried under the bedclothes.

I remember squinting my eyes at the caller display, its brightness making my vision go momentarily blurry. However, my eyesight quickly returned to normal, enabling me to make out the caller's identity; it was Matt, my brother-in-law. Before I even held the phone to my ear, a terrible and gut-wrenching feeling of dread hit me. It was almost as if I’d half-guessed his reason for calling. Of course, there was no way I could have possibly known. I hesitated a few seconds and tried to clear my throat before I finally answered.

“Hello,” I whispered, my voice croaky. My throat felt like I’d swallowed a pint of broken glass as I spoke. The line was silent. I was just about to hang up, assuming that Matt had called my mobile by mistake, when I heard the faint sound of breathing coming from the other side of the line.

“Matt, is that you? What’s wrong?” I felt myself physically tense up, my whole body freezing from head to toe as I waited for his reply.

“Natalie, something’s happened, it’s Jess, she...” Matt stopped mid-sentence and paused for a while before he continued. It was obvious something was terribly wrong. His voice barely resembled the one I knew, his words coming out rushed and muddled. I could tell he was in shock. I waited. He was trying to speak while choking back quiet sobs. He wasn’t making a lot of sense at first. Then he managed to compose himself a little and said three words that hit me like a forceful blow, three simple words that I won’t ever forget.

“Jess is dead.”

I remember thinking I’d misheard him at first, surely I had? But then the harshness of reality kicked in, and I knew I hadn’t. My left hand shot up to cover my mouth, desperately trying to hold back a scream that threatened to escape from my lips. My right hand lost its grip on the phone and it dropped to the floor. It landed silently on the carpet face down. I could still hear the sound of Matt’s muffled, distraught voice coming up from it.

I pinched at my bare arms, digging my nails deep into my skin, desperate to wake myself from the nightmare I had entered. In the dim light, I could see the marks I had created, but I didn’t wake up, I couldn’t wake up. Putting my hands over my ears, I shook my head, trying to block out the sound of Matt's voice. This can’t be happening. I’m dreaming, I must be dreaming. Wake up Nat, for God's sake wake up!

Reluctantly, I removed my hands from my ears, my already foggy head grew heavier, and the bedroom started to swim around me. Everything felt strangely dreamlike and progressed in slow motion. My lungs were burning and my heart hammered at lightning quick speed. I clenched my chest, trying to inhale more air, I felt as though I couldn’t get enough, as though my airways had closed up. I'm going to stop breathing. Do something!

After a few moments of frantically trying to catch my breath, I reached down to retrieve the phone. But as I did I knocked over a full jug of water from the bedside cabinet, which was still there from my bedridden day before. It fell to the floor, some spilled out over my bare feet and the remainder settled in a large pool near them. I steadied myself against the bed, blood pounding in my ears and stood up shakily, feeling lightheaded. I tried to move my legs, but my knees buckled and I wobbled backwards. Eventually, I found my balance, rooted my feet to the spot, and bent down to scoop up the phone. Pressing it back to my ear, I prepared myself for what Matt had called to tell me.

Jess had fallen from a cliff top earlier that night. The police had shown up at Matt’s apartment shortly after discovering her body on the rocks below. Her handbag and ID hadn’t been far from where she had landed, so it had been easy to contact her next of kin.

I think he told me more, he’d gone into detail about what the police believed had happened, but at that point I couldn’t take in any further information. My brain had stopped working, it simply couldn’t absorb anything else. My little sister was dead.

I can’t recall much after that brief conversation with Matt. After I hung up I remember feeling totally numb. I’d slid to the floor, sitting cross-legged on the wet patch of carpet near the bed. Water soaked up through the thin material of my pyjama bottoms, but I remained in the same position, staring at a blank space on the wall of the room, unable to move. My skin felt cold and damp, and my body shook profusely.

The almost full moon outside shone brightly through a gap in the curtains, creating a perfectly straight line of white light, which settled on a chair at the far side of the room. For a brief moment, I even thought I saw her. Jess. She was sitting on the chair, her posture relaxed, with one foot up on the seat tucked under her leg and her head cocked to the side, as if carefully studying my state of despair. A look of concern clouded her delicately featured face. I shook my head and she disappeared.

I sat there in the dark for quite a while before realising that I was going to have to call my mum. Matt had found it hard enough to tell me; he wasn’t going to be making any other calls. My hands trembled violently as I tried to find her number on my phone. I was still conscious enough to know that it was my responsibility to alert the rest of my family about Jess’s death.

After two botched attempts at making the call I was successful. Mum answered on the third ring, and I took a deep breath to steady my voice before I slowly started to tell her that her youngest daughter was dead. To this day, it’s the most difficult thing I've ever had to do.


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