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Overcoming the Voice

Deja Bremmer

“What are you searching for?” The Voice asked, a hint of laughter fringing its words.

Gina looked in the mirror wearily; a face that she no longer recognized stared at her. Her brown hair looked freakishly disheveled, and a pair of wild eyes encompassed by dark rings reflected that she was no longer at peace with herself. Her frail body trembled and shook with violent tears. 

Her reflection however, did not shake with tears, but fits of violent laughter. The laughter seemed to ascend to the heavens and descend to the deepest, most dangerous parts of hell.

 "Matter of fact, who are you looking for?” The Voice rang out once more. “Regina Vasquez?” it asked incredulously. “Do you think you can find her?” The Voice howled again and Regina’s body contorted in pain. Her right arm curved over her head, her neck bent at an unusual angle, her right leg twisted uncomfortably to her stomach and her left leg lifting itself, as if trying to undo this grotesque knot her body created. Tears raged along her tortured face and she unleashed a harrowing scream as she felt the jagged bones of each rib mercilessly dig into her organs. The Voice cackled once more and released Regina, who collapsed unto her bed, her body arching with relief. Without hesitation, Gina flung her hand towards the night stand, her fingers grasping at the curvature of a bottle, desperate for its contents. 

She threw her head back feeling the sensation of small pills making its descent into her stomach. With each gulp she felt The Voice muting, a trail of bitterness drowning the malicious laughter that tortured her endlessly. In one fluid motion Regina had swallowed approximately twelve yellow Sertraline pills. A craved relief flooded over her and she curled into a ball, hugging herself as she dozed off, tears still dripping from her swollen eyes. 

Her dependence on these began about one week after The Voice’s first visit. “Visit” implies a “quick stop-over” or a “brief drop-in,” The Voice, however, seemed to be a permanent guest in her hotel of a nightmare life. 

Exactly five months ago her life shattered in the blink of an eye, or in self-explanatory terms, as quick as a car crash. Although the crash was quick, the time he spent writhing in pain seemed to stretch on. Gina had been flung from the car upon impact, a consequence of not wearing her seatbelt that night, something Mark had been chastising her for. 

“What are you searching for?” she had said, laughing at the comical expression on her husband’s face. With his fuzzy eyebrows furrowed and wisps of his brown hair hanging in his eyes, he gripped the steering wheel, a pondering expression sat on his face. 

“What I’m searching for, my dear Gina, is the reason why you are currently eight months into carrying our child- which I worked so hard for, might I add- and you aren’t wearing a seatbelt,” Mark retorted, an amusing yet puzzled look in his eyes. 

She giggled. “With someone as tentative and cautious as you driving, my dear Mark, the safety of our baby could never be questioned.”

At these words he had swept one hand over to caress her growing belly. His eyes met hers and Gina’s giggles became infectious. Soon it had spread to Mark and the couple’s happiness filled the car; they were going to be parents. 

Gina clung to this memory, often revisiting when the haunting of The Voice came over her. 

The Voice did not come just as a sound, but a feeling that pierced and slashed at her, both mentally and physically. It brought with it the memory of the blinding lights, the silhouette of a massive 18-wheeler truck and the blaring horn that signaled their last trumpet. The machine of destruction had blared towards them as Mark attempted to steer the car out of harm’s way. Unluckily for them, the rain had been pouring for over two hours and the asphalt seemed to be fully saturated with water. As Mark desperately turned the steering wheel, the tires skid and sharply turned the car, angling the driver’s door to the behemoth that menacingly approached. There was nothing they could do as the car skated to their demise, both their gazes fixated on the beams of light and hearts heavy with resignation at their grim fate. 

As a last ditch attempt to save himself, the drunken driver of the 18- wheeler swerved the truck. Its tail spun around and connected with the left corner of the couple’s vehicle, causing the car to spin, careening wildly and tires screaming. Mark and Regina shook violently, colliding with the interior walls of the vehicle, her hand instinctively holding her belly; shielding her baby. Time slowed as the driver’s side of the car made direct impact with the highway barrier in a deafening crash. Glass shattered, the car moaned, powerful shockwaves emitted from the sudden halt in movement, the asphalt burned as its rough, wet surface made contact with her skin….. Wait…. Asphalt? Why was she touching the asphalt?

Regina braced against the cold, wet road and hefted herself into a sitting position, her head pounded and ears rang. Wildly glancing around in confusion with rain and blood flooding her vision, she struggled to locate the car which was almost engraved into the highway partition. Its sudden impact had ejected her from the passenger’s side.

“Mark!” she screamed as she dragged her bloodied body across the highway. “Mark! Mark!” 

As she approached the car, she saw her husband bloodied and partially embedded into the wall. Shards of glass had pierced his face and a long gash ran across his forehead. His left arm was bent unnaturally and a bone protruded from his elbow. 

“Gina,” he struggled.

With tears streaming down her face she forced open her door and sat back into the passenger seat. She held his hand weakly and gazed at him. 

Unable to hold back his tears, he whispered, “I’m so sorry. I should have seen the truck. I shouldn’t have let this happen.”

“It’s not your fault,” she managed, reaching over and wiping the blood from his eyes.

“I…..I..I shouldn’t have let this ha...happen,” he stuttered with labored breaths; tears, blood and snot creating a viscous mixture that flowed down his face. “I should have-”

A sharp pain rippled through his arm causing him to scream mid-sentence while blood pooled onto the car seat. He screamed again as a burning sensation persisted all over his body, writhing as he felt the jagged bones of his ribcage inch towards his lungs, pressing against them.

The two sat for a long while, the sounds of periodical moans, wailing sirens in the distance and the low hum of drizzling rain were the only things to be heard.

“Take….Take care…of Josephine…for me. Let her know how much her father loves her,” he managed.

Josephine?

Only then did Regina realize the sharp pain in her stomach and stopped. Not only that, but the feeling she bore from carrying life was weakening. She glanced down and noticed her blood stained pants, a particular area evenly saturated. Her eyes focused on a large, foreign object protruding from her stomach.

“Tell her how much she means to me...”

Her ears screamed at her as she realized what was happening.

 “..and..the plans… I had.. for..her”

She turned her neck towards her husband in an agonizingly slow and jerking motion. If only his eyes had been able to meet hers he would have seen the bone-chilling expression of pure terror etched on her face. 

Her scream tore through the silence, rivalling ten times over the sound of the down pouring rain. The agonizing wail of terror was the only response Gina could muster, which depicted the visceral feelings bubbling within her. 

 

Five months later, a day had not gone by where she did not replay these events, hoping the ending would change. She had lost everything in one night. 

The depression had presented itself as a tidal wave, drowning her as it swallowed her whole. Her happiness now only existed in 100mg increments and prescriptions with different doctors’ signatures.

Regina rolled unto her back spreading her arms wide, mirroring her thoughts to the faint ticking sound of the wall mounted clock. 

She turned her head to peer through the crack in her window curtain and noticed the soft glow of the evening sun, the warm light casting rays of serenity and hope over the lush landscape. The long shadows did not look quite so scary in the embrace of the sunset. It had been a while since she had gone outdoors let alone enjoy the evening sun.

Her last time had been with Mark.

Tick

She turned her head back towards the wall clock.

Tick

15 minutes to 7. 

Tick

It’s coming for me. 

Tick

Her heart thumped as she prepared mentally for what was about to happen and looked forward to drowning it out with Sertraline. She had found comfort in the bitterness.

Tick

5 minutes to 7.

Gina curled into herself, wrapping her arms around her legs. She rocked gently to the tick of the clock, finding comfort in the rhythm. As the clock ticked she braced for impact.

Tick……Tick…..Tick…..

She squeezed her already shut eyes tighter.

Tick…Tick….Tick…

Nothing

Nothing? She questioned. 

Opening her eyes, she searched for the clock. Ten minutes past seven was displayed and she saw the bony minute hand racing around the circle. She waited anxiously, sitting upright and pressing her back to the wooden frame. 

Is it over?

Her eyes darted around the room scanning for any clues.

Tick…Tick…

“How sweet,” The Voice cackled, “But I’m not the one you should be searching for”

Gina grabbed her head in agony and screamed as loudly as she could.

“What’s wrong Gina?” it asked with faux sympathy. 

“Get out!” Gina screamed, her first time replying to her torturer.

“It’s your fault! It’s your fault he died!” The Voice screamed at her.

She banged her head against the wall and screamed. Tears pricked and burnt at her eyes which had become bloodshot. The walls of her throat constricted and Gina gasped for air, a metallic taste rising in her mouth. Her body convulsed violently, she kicked her legs and flailed her arms, fighting against invisible demons.

“Why can’t you face it Gina?” The Voice questioned. For the first time it did not sound malicious but instead was filled with pure concern.

“You have to face it Gina…Look.”

Regina’s body froze when a realization dawned on her with striking clarity; not only was there an absence of malevolence, but the very essence of the voice was different. 

“Look Gina,” the new voice whispered gently. “Look at me”

Gina’s body jolted with hopeful electricity as the familiar harmonious blend of syllables washed over her. She gradually lifted her eyelids, her vision blurred by tears. 

Regina didn’t see anyone but understood what the voice meant. Inhaling deeply, she looked inward and opened her heart to welcome the familiar aura. There she saw Mark’s beautiful face, in all its splendor, outlined by glorious beams of sunlight. He smiled at her and Gina accepted his warmth which she dearly missed.

“I’ve been watching you Gina,” he spoke, “You can’t go on like this, you have to fight. You have to face it.”

Her cheeks were tinged with red, embarrassed at the thought of her husband seeing the rabbit hole in which her sanity had plummeted. 

“It wasn’t your fault. It could never be your fault. No one could’ve predicted or prevented what happened that night, you have to understand. You have to accept this in order to defeat it. That is the only way to overcome the voice.”

“Mark… I don’t know how,” she managed to whisper. 

“I’m here for you. We are here for you”

“We?”

At these words, she caught sight of another person whom she had never met, but sensed their familiarity. The aura felt similar to the one she almost carried to full term.

“Do it for us,” the new voice said melodically with a hopeful smile.

As the vision faded, Gina felt the warmth retreat from her but she did not panic. She took in the sight of her family, engraving their smiles and adoring eyes into her memory.

“Fight,” their mouth formed, inaudible but she felt the power fused into that single word. 

The scene faded and Regina stared at herself in the mirror. Her ears hummed and pain ran along her arms but that did not faze her. She felt the sheer terror of The Voice screaming at her, but she wasn’t scared anymore. 

“I take full control of my life,” she spoke, her voice hoarse but powerful. “No more will I allow you authority over me.”

Rising from her bed she stepped towards the mirror with trembling legs and weak knees, but her posture confident.

“You have no power. It wasn’t my fault.”

The Voice hissed at her as she spoke, her voice rising with confidence and power.

“They don’t blame me and I’ll no longer blame myself.” At these words she grabbed the half full Sertraline bottle and flung it at the mirror, smashing the reflection of her current self; an empty shell of the woman she was. Glass shards exploded around the room, but Regina did not flinch. The Voice echoed its last deafening cry of defeat but Regina overpowered it with her shout of triumph. The two voices clashed in a cacophonous dance to the death. 

As the voices died down Regina’s eyes rolled into her head and she crumpled to the floor.

 

Five Years Later…..

 

“I am Josephine Wynter and it is my pleasure to introduce to you a woman who is the epitome of resilience, strength and extraordinary courage. A woman who has transformed her pain into purpose, who accepted her tragedy and forged the path for a new legacy. I invite to you Miss Regina Vasquez.”

Regina climbed the steps to the raised platform adjacent to the large elm trees which loomed overhead, a trail of orchids outlining the path. She had marveled at the idea of doing her presentation in the middle of the community park, encompassed by nature, where she could feel her family’s presence. As she walked the platform she felt the warmth of the sun’s rays on her face and knew they were near.

“Today, I stand before you as a victor; a survivor. For too long I allowed depression to control my life, suffocating my joy; but no more! A manifestation of my guilt took control over me; it screamed at me and held me hostage nightly but I have reclaimed my life.”

She spoke with clarity, her voice piercing the hearts of the audience. 

“This day marks the fifth anniversary of the Sunbeam Foundation. A foundation created in honor of my family and my journey. A foundation which has helped many families to free themselves of their burdens and accept the light of living, something that took me too long to do. I have made it my purpose to help others overcome, in the same way I overcame the voice of despair and became a voice of hope.”

As Regina proclaimed these words she lifted her face to the sky, basking in the sensation of sun beams kissing her face. 

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