Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Beating Heart By Tiffany Griffiths

She was so beautiful, laughing, with long hair shining in the street lights…

And then it all came crashing down – beams, ceiling and all. Like thunder, the sound of metal on ground resounded, and then pain hit me, in waves, and it pulled me down, into the ocean of warm darkness.

When I woke up again, a month later, I would be a different person.

The nurse looked at me with caution, and he refused to meet my eyes. My mother, sick with worry and overwork, wrapped her thin arms around me and shook like a leaf, sobbing. Something turned in the bottom of my stomach when she did that. My friends, or at least those of them who proved themselves worthy of being my friends, visited and made awkward conversation about how I was going to catch up in university.

I dreamed, high on painkillers and clouds, of her again. When I woke up I felt sick.

By the time I was up, walking again and free to live alone, the university told me I could no longer pass the year, but I could retake it next year. So I was left to wallow in misery and boredom. My contact with my last few friends trailed off and mother got back to work and off the phone to me.

I should have felt lonelier than ever before, but strangely, I was comfortable. Instead, I found myself baking, and shopping for fashionable clothes, even dresses that I could never wear. I begged money off my mother and she blindly gave it to me. ‘Poor baby’, she’d say. ‘It must be so hard for you…’ and then she’d cry again.

And at night, I’d dream of the girl with the tinkling laugh. By March, the dreams oozed into daytime and she’d brush my now shoulder-length hair.

When I got coffee with Nick from school, he asked me “Since when did you like sweet things?” He left early that day.

When I went back to the hospital for physical therapy, the nurse who couldn’t meet my eyes gave me his number. I was strangely flattered, but I’ll never call him.

Instead, I’ll drop out of university, and distance myself from my mother to the point that I longer recognise her voice. And I’ll get a job in the bakery and make sure I look charming every day. I won’t go clubbing and talk to pretty girls again, and I’ll never find someone as perfect as her.

When I fall asleep, I feel her in my arms – her soft hair on my cheek, and her organs in my body. She saved my life that night, and now she lives on, inside me.

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