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The Real Alison
prose [ ]
Short Story

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
by [diana vlase ]

2012-01-13  |     | 



The silence in the car was thick. Bob was driving fast; his face statue-still. Alison was looking through the window at the darkness coming from the contrast made by the white car headlights. No sounds.

Bob took a glimpse at Alison.

‘So, what now? You’re never going to talk to me again…’ said Bob, his eyes on the road.

‘Don’t you even start…’

‘Well, Alison, you are right. How can I start when you’ve started already? Also you’ve managed to make a fool of yourself, and me, and now you’re not even answering my questions…’

‘Oh, you make me so angry! Bob, I saw that look, you were bloody flirting with that woman.’

‘And nothing that your husband, with whom you’ve been married for fifteen years, can say will prove you wrong.’ continued Bob, his voice self-contained.

‘No.’

‘I see.’

Silence followed.

‘I’d gladly apologize, but I really have no idea what for.’ said Bob, his voice low.

‘Then why don’t you just shut up and get me home faster?’

Bob pushed the pedal to the bottom with a deep sigh.

‘What are you doing? Are you trying to kill me?’ shouted Alison.

Bob found her funny. ‘I’m trying to go faster than time; like in that show on TV.’

‘Watch out!!!’ shouted Alison, putting a hand on the wheel so briskly that the car continued on two wheels before stopping in a tree. A bit of smoke came from the engine but everything seemed to be fine.

‘Are you alright?’ asked Alison, slowly touching her face with her fingertips.

‘I’m ok… You?’

‘Yeah…’

‘What was that?’

Alison tried to remember. ‘There was something… on the road. You would have run it over if it’s not dead already.’

‘Really? I didn’t see anything. Should I go check?’

‘Yeah, I guess you should…’

‘Will you be OK in here?’

‘Now that you’ve asked…’ Alison gave a reassuring smile. ‘I’m alright, don’t worry about me.’

Bob went out of the car. The darkness made it impossible to see two steps ahead. He turned and shouted.

‘Hey! Alison! Hey! Can you try turning the car around and put the headlights on the road? I can’t see where I’m going. ’

‘Wait, let me try!’ shouted Alison back.

Alison switched on the car keys and listened to the roaring of the engine. She did see something on the street, it wasn’t just her imagination.

Everything happened so fast but the car had been thrown away quite far from the road. Approaching the street, he could now see that there was something there. The headlights of the car made a dark shadow appear in front of him. Alison was driving the car closer to the road at the slowest speed possible. Lighting the street, Bob could see a body laying there. A woman, if he was to guess from the blood stained hair. Bob kneeled next to her and put a hand on her shoulder.

‘Are you ok?’ said Bob in a whisper, slowly shaking the body. Bob’s medical knowledge wasn’t so vast but the heat coming from the body made him believe the woman wasn’t dead. He slowly turned her round, her face up now. And there she was!

‘What the hell,’ said Bob bemused.

T he woman lying on the street was his wife. He turned and looked towards the car but couldn’t see anything further than the headlights.

‘Alison?’ shouted Bob, unable to stand up.

‘Yes Bob? Is everything alright? Is something there?’

‘Yeah…’ muttered Bob, looking at the laying woman again.

He lowered his head and put an ear next to the woman’s face, searching for breath.

‘Bob, help me,’ said the woman so softly that for a second Bob thought it must have been a voice in his head, but then she opened her eyes and looked at him. It was Alison. The woman had her look, her eyes, her features, it was Alison! Bob decided to leave thinking aside and to act on impulse.

‘Alison,’ shouted him again. ‘Call an ambulance. It’s a woman. She needs an ambulance.’

But instead Alison drove the car even further, now two meters away.

‘Take her in, Bob,’ said Alison when she was close by. ‘We need to drive her, your phone is off, remember?’

Bob released a curse. ‘You’re right… Alison? You need to come out, you need to see this.’

‘I don’t want to. Don’t make me! You know how these images remain stuck in my mind. I’d rather not…’

‘It’s… Alison, I’d rather you came. Please.’

Alison got out of the car and slammed the door.

‘Fine, now I’m here, what is it so important?’

‘Look at her,’ said Bob visibly disturbed. Alison gave him a look and kneeled next to him.

‘But she…’ mumbled Alison.

‘She is, isn’t she?’

‘So similar…’

The woman slowly opened her eyes again and looked at Bob. ‘Help me,’ she said again.

‘Let’s take her to the hospital,’ decided Alison while standing up. ‘Can you carry her?’

‘I’ll try,’ said Bob. ‘You open the doors.’

***

‘What did the doctor say?’ asked Alison while entering the waiting room.

‘That she is in perfect health and that she just needs to rest.’

‘But all that blood?’

‘Apparently it came from a deer.’

‘A what?’

‘Yeah…’

An old man in a white gown entered the room. Bob stood up.

‘Mister Petercan,’

‘Doctor,’ said Bob, This is my wife, Alison Petercan.’

‘How do you do,’ said Alison, intimidated by the immaculacy of the doctor’s presence.

‘Are you twins?’ asked the doctor, frowning. ‘I thought you didn’t know the patient.’

‘We don’t.’Bob answered hastily. ‘I don’t know…’

‘I see,’ said the doctor confused. ‘Do you wish to see her?’ his gaze shifted from Bob to Alison.

‘I do.’ answered Alison.

The doctor nodded and gestured for them to follow.

***

In white sheets, cleaned and in full light, the woman resembled Alison even more. She was motionless, her eyes open. As Alison came into the room, the woman remained still. Bob followed and her face lit.

‘Where were you?’ asked the woman.

‘Pardon?’ said Bob, glimpsing in confusion at Alison.

The doctor came and approached the bed on the other side.

‘How are you feeling?’ he asked the woman.

‘Never better, now that my husband is here,’

Alison, seated next to the window, widened her eyes, but remained silent.

‘Is he your husband?’ asked the doctor on the softest of voices, pointing towards Bob.

The woman smiled at Bob and answered. ‘You tell him, my love.’

Bob took a glimpse at Alison again, the early morning sun rays making her image blurry.

‘Do you know your name?’ asked the doctor.

The woman giggled. ‘Why shouldn’t I know my own name? Was the accident so bad?’

‘What is your name?’ pushed the doctor.

‘Alison Petercan. How do you do,’ said the woman coyly, just as Alison did earlier.

‘Mrs Petercan,’ said the doctor, rolling his eyes from Bob to Alison, ‘Can you tell me what happened last night?’

‘Well, we were coming from a party Bob’s boss had thrown for his employees. We were having a quarrel about a little nonsense and I saw something that looked like a deer lying on the road. Bob didn’t see it. So I pushed the wheel and, end of story. Oh, there was also this tree, somehow in our way,’ concluded the woman in a bright and breezy tone.

‘I can’t watch this’ said Alison heading for the door.

‘Alison!’ said Bob, grabbing her arm. ‘If you don’t stay, I won’t stay.’

The woman gave the doctor a concerned look. ‘Why is he talking to himself? Bob, are you feeling alright?’

‘I’m not staying!’ said Alison, but Bob wouldn’t release her hand.

‘She can’t see you. I think she can’t see you…’

‘Mr. Petercan,’ said the doctor, ‘Are you alright?’

‘Yes, doctor, I am. Is our presence required anymore?’

‘Well, Mr. Petercan, let me run some more tests to see if all your wife’s functions are well, and by noon you can take her home. Also, I’d strongly advise to let us run some tests on you too, if that’s ok.’

Bob didn’t know what to say, the proportion of this situation was ungraspable for him. ‘Don’t leave me here, with them,’ said to Alison, who had managed to release her hand.

‘Then come with me,’ she said and left the room. He followed.

***

They didn’t talk to each other on the way home. Alison unlocked the front door and they both went inside.

‘I’d fancy a tea. Want one?’ asked Bob.

‘I’ll make it,’ said Alison. The phone started ringing. She gave him a worried look. ‘You take that.’

‘Hello?’ said Bob, picking up the phone.

‘Mr. Petercan? I’m calling from The Municipal Hospital. Doctor Thorn asked me to let you know that you can come pick your wife up; she is ready to come home. Mr. Petercan?’

Bob put the phone down. Alison came in with two cups of tea. ‘Have you seen my bag?’ asked Alison.

‘It was from the hospital. They want me to pick her up.’

‘Where’s my bag?’

‘Alison, did you hear what I’ve just said?’

‘Shut up, Bob. She took my bag. She took my wallet with my ID in it.’

The phone rang again. Alison headed towards it. She tried to pick it up but couldn’t. ‘Bob, I can’t put my hand on… oh God, Bob, look at this!’ Her hand was going through the phone machine like a hologram. The phone kept on ringing. Bob picked it up and put it down again.

‘What is happening with you, Alison?’ shouted Bob, to cover the terror in his voice. The phone rang again, once, and went straight to the answering machine.

‘Mr. Petercan, from The Municipal Hospital again; I just wanted to let you know that you don’t need to pick Mrs Petercan up, an ambulance will bring her home.’

‘What? What is happening? Who is she and what does she want?’ But Bob didn’t seem to hear her. He spoke as for himself. ‘Why am I here and not with her?’ He jumped for the phone and pressed the last call button.

‘Mr. Petercan here… yes… no, don’t send an ambulance; I’m on my way right now. I can’t figure out why I left the hospital in the first place. Please tell my wife I will be there in ten minutes.’

As Bob looked for his keys, he glanced around the room one more time. Two cups of tea were on the table, waiting for his wife to return; two cups of tea and nothing else.

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