Last week I posted part 1 of my episodic flash fiction series The Journal. The story continues here in part 2.
The Journal, Part 2
Sara started backing up slowly, the vision of her father's throat getting sliced playing clearly through her head.
Yet here he was.
"What's wrong, honey?" she heard the man on the couch say. The man who was pretending to be her dead father.
"Who are you?" She could hear her voice trembling.
The man who looked like her dad looked confused. "What are you talking about, Sara?"
He got up and started toward her, prompting her to back up even more and start contemplating how she would get out of this if it came to it.
"Stay away from me," she said. "You're not him. I saw him die."
He stopped. She couldn't ignore the look of concern in his eyes. "Honey, I think you're confused," he said. "Maybe you should sit down."
His eyes glanced down at the journal in her hand.
"What's do you have there?" he said.
She pulled the journal tight to her to chest.
The man held his hand out to her. "Honey, I'm not sure what's going on here," he said, "but I'm not going to hurt you. I would never hurt you. You know that."
She wanted to trust him. To believe that her father really was standing before her, alive.
But she knew what she saw. She was as sure that she had watched him die as she was that she had watched the world go up in flames.
Yet here she was. And here he was.
Her heart felt like it would burst out of her chest at any moment.
"My father died," she said. "Right in my arms as I screamed for God to save him."
Tears began to blur her eyes. "He didn't save you," she said. "He didn't save any of us."
The man who shouldn't be her father slowly put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her in. She should fight it, she knows. But nothing makes sense anymore.
Couldn't this actually be her father? Maybe she really had woken up from a terrible nightmare on that hill.
But it seemed so real. It had been real.
The man who shouldn't be her father walked her to the couch. "I think I know what's going on," he said.
He heart leapt at that. Could he really have answers?
"Your mom and I never told you this," he said, "but when you were younger, you had a terrible accident that left you in a coma for several days. You had a significant brain injury that the doctor said would cause you to periodically have hallucinations."
She pulled away. She knew what she saw.
"Honey, we never told you because any of the hallucinations you've ever had have been light ones," he said. "If you saw a dog walking down the street when there really wasn't one, we let you believe it was true. It didn't hurt you, and we didn't want you to be concerned about questioning everything your mind sees."
Her head was spinning. His story made sense, but it also seemed conveniently conceived. A way to make her believe that she didn't really see what she actually saw.
In the journal a man named Jack had said that not everything was what it seemed, however.
Maybe she was crazy. But Jack had said she wasn't.
"You've never had one this bad before," the man said. He tried to pull her into a hug, but she pushed him away.
"I'm so sorry you had to see something as terrible as you're describing, Honey. But you're okay now."
She felt light-headed. She wanted to run. She wanted to scream.
"I know what I saw," she said.
But now she wasn't so sure.
Suddenly, a thought came to her mind.
She looked the man in the eye. "Who is Jack?" she said.
The man's face said nothing, and then it did. A terrible sadness.
"Honey, why would you ask that?" he said. "Jack was your twin brother. He died when you were little."