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Pamela woke up, tired as always, and looked at the clock. It read 11:11, she laughed dispiritedly. Ever since the accident more than three years ago it was the same. Each time she looked at the clock it always read the same time, whether morning or night. Always 11:11. She stretched lazily in bed, another Sunday, why get up, her life had no meaning, the silence in the apartment was an assassin, cruelly reminding her of the reality of her life. She had lost everything since her husband, Mario, and her twin boys, Lucio and Arturo, had died in the accident where she, too, should have lost her life. At times it all seemed a nightmare which she would wake up from. Other times, like today, she wanted only to stay in bed, sleeping and dreaming, dreaming of a different reality, where everyone would be together as before.

Making an effort, she got up and ate breakfast, already having decided what she was going to do today. Today would be different. She would return to the cabin in the mountains, it had to be put up for sale. Today she would confront that highway again, as if retracing everything could write another destiny. Later she showered and packed a small bag, put snow chains in the trunk of her car, and selecting Classical Music on her iPod, she started driving.

The biggest problem with being alone is that it leaves too much time for thinking and remembering… Mario had made breakfast that Sunday, as always, and the boys were impatient to get underway, so much so that they almost forgot Molly, their precious little dog. Visibility on the highway was horrible, Mario couldn’t avoid the semi-trailer that had crossed over into their lane and they all were pushed into the ravine. When she came to, the scene was full of paramedics, police, and curious bystanders. She was strapped into a stretcher and wasn’t able to move, nor was she able to even speak, to ask about the others. She lost consciousness again and only the following day, in the hospital, did she learn about the tragedy.

Her memories of the following days were a confused jumble. The questioning by the police, her friends trying to console her with empty words… “These things are part of God’s plan” they would repeat, and this would only make her more desperate. Although she was never very religious and not inclined to worry about these things, she, like most people, took comfort in the thought of having a God above, looking out for everyone. After the accident, she saw everything differently. She became interested in knowing whether there was any real possibility of being with our loved ones after death. She didn’t want to rely solely on blind faith without knowledge. She read about testimonials, stories supposedly real, and came to the conclusion that it was all a farce and that even though this universe is marvelous, what little we can understand of it, it is incredibly arrogant to think that as small as we are compared to the scale of the universe that there could be a God that was interested in us. With more free time on her hands, she read a little of everything, about cosmology, physics, biology, history…, and the more she learned, the more she became convinced that there was nothing more out there, and she felt more alone and more sad.

She spent months, and years like this. She withdrew from her friends because they didn’t have much in common. She worked like a robot and was literally just surviving. Today she decided that it would be different, it was time to return to life, to find some sense to it all. She would put the cabin up for sale and everything else she had and move somewhere near the sea. Perhaps she would return to teaching, surrounding herself with children and their laughter without having her heart torn open by the memory of her boys. She had to try. She was so distracted making plans for a different future that she didn’t see the deer in the road. Instinctively swerving to avoid hitting it, she broke through the guardrail on the very same corner of the accident that had ruined her life. As the car plummeted down the mountain, she thought that this was, perhaps, the best finish; to end as they did. And, watching the clock on her dashboard as she tumbled, it always read the same hour. When her eyes closed for the last time, it was 11:11 p.m.

Dr. Luzardo told Mario the same story, “we cannot keep her alive any longer, she has been more than three years in a coma and there is no hope of recovery.” You must make this decision. Mario left for the waiting room and hugged his boys; they went, one by one to say farewell to Pamela. Dr Luzardo asked the nurse before disconnecting the respirator and she answered, “Time of death is… 11:11, doctor.”

To read an alternate ending (following my mother´s request, because she doesn´t like sad endings :-) click [HERE]

Liliana Fernández Bunsen, Perú, EEUU © 2010

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