This is a teaser chapter for my new fic Save Me. I swore I was going to finish Love Eternal before starting this, but my muse decided otherwise. So I’m gonna let ya’ll have a vote, I can post as these chapters come to me, take turns between this and LE, or bank chapters for this and finish LE before posting anymore Save Me chapters. Maybe if I let ya’ll choose it will give me a push to write more often. You may want to have some Kleenex ready for this chapter, it was a tear jerker to write. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
I don’t want to be here. I really don’t want to be anywhere to be honest.
Here isn’t home, that’s in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Here is Savannah, Georgia, in the doorway of the beautiful old vacation home of my late husband Trey’s family. My family too really. My parents and brother died when their car was swept away in a flash flood, I was seven at the time. My Gran took me in after that. I lived with her until she died from a stroke when I was eighteen. It was just after I started dating Trey. His family took me under their wings and loved me like I was theirs right from the start. Within a few years we were married and expecting a baby.
But, I’m alone now, because all of them are gone. Every single one of them. Most of them have been gone for many years, some not so long ago at all.
This house, that’s mine now, belonged to Trey’s grandparents that died when he was just a little thing. His parents had him late in life and he was their only child, just as they had both been. The house passed to them and then on to Trey when they died. No brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles to fight over the family inheritance with I guess.
Mr. Ezra, Trey’s father, had a heart attack while driving one of his tractors on the day I went into labor with my son. He insisted on finishing up that one field before heading to the hospital to see his first grandbaby come into the world. He died just 12 hours after my Lucas was born. He had been taken to another hospital and never regained consciousness. I wanted desperately to take Lucas and go tell him goodbye, but my doctors refused to let us leave.
My heart is still broken that he never got to meet his grandson. He had been so excited to have another Dawson boy on the way. It was incredibly hard on all of us. We had just welcomed one and then had to turn around and say goodbye to another. What was suppose to be the happiest time of our lives was covered in a dark cloud of sadness. Bittersweet does not begin to cover it.
Mr. Ezra was a pistol as they say here in the south. He was loaded too, money wise I mean, but you would’ve never known it by looking at him. He was what they call “salt of the earth” right down to his overalls and bare feet. The only time the man wore shoes was when he went to church. He had bought up all the land he could in his younger days and built a huge farm from the small one his own Father had worked. As Trey got older and decided he wanted to make his own way, building custom motorcycles instead of farming, Mr. Ezra sold the vast majority of his farm and only kept a few fields so that he could stay busy. The land had increased in value ten fold over the years, so the Dawson’s became rich over night. But it wasn’t until they were both gone that we found out just how rich they were. They never flaunted it and choose to keep living their simple life. They didn’t even tell Trey how much they had. “We have enough, don’t you worry bout us,” they would say.
Miss Connie, Trey’s Mama, sweet soul that she was, died just six months after Mr. Ezra. We thought it was just a bad infection, turns out she was eat up with cancer. She got to love on her grandbaby for those months though. Lucas was a light for us in that dark time. Miss Connie told us just before she died that she knew we’d be okay because we had that precious baby to love. She couldn’t wait be with her Ezra again and tell him all about their grandson. She had slipped me a letter the week before she died and made me promise not to open it until she was gone. I forgot about it until several days after her funeral.
It was her will, leaving everything to Trey and I, along with a letter telling us both how much her and Ezra had loved us and how proud they were of the three of us. We cried of course but none of it was a surprise though. That came when we went to the bank and asked them to put their accounts in our name as the will requested. We expected several hundred thousand to be in the accounts, but we were wrong.
There was a little over 7 million in Miss Connie’s account. She also had a life insurance policy for $500,000 and it was to go to Lucas one day. To say we were shocked was an understatement. Trey just couldn’t figure out how to feel about it. He was completely numb one minute and then the anger would kick in, followed by guilt. He was a total mess. And I understood that, they had been worth more to us than all the money we could ever ask for. We would have given back every dime to have them both with us again and it certainly didn’t make us miss them any less. But the simple fact was, the money was now ours and we had to figure out what to do with it. Going from paycheck to paycheck, then suddenly never having to worry about money again was surreal. We wanted to be relieved and happy, but we just couldn’t be.
Of course all of this sudden loss and gain was harder on Trey than me. I had known loss all of my life and knew with time the ache would ease, if only just a little. I barely remembered my parents or brother and I knew Gran, Ezra and Connie had all lived long happy lives. They left a huge hole in our hearts and would all be greatly missed, but they had wanted us to be happy and carry on the family. So I did, for all of us. I had my boys to take care of, they needed me now more than ever. I became the same steel magnolia Gran and Miss Connie had taught me to be.
It took Trey a good year to get mostly back to normal though. We we’re just beginning to be a happy family again. He was starting to enjoy taking care of and running what was left of the farm. He wanted to feel closer to his Dad he said. Lucas was growing so fast and was starting to talk a little. Mama, Dada, mo peez, and of course NO! I was blissfully happy to be a wife and mother. We were even talking about trying for another baby that next year. We had been through the bad times, it was only going to be good from then on out.
How naive I was. Life kicked me in the gut for my naivety too.
Trey and Lucas died eight months later when another man fell asleep at the wheel of his pickup. The officers said he ran into the back fender of Trey’s truck causing it to spin uncontrollably, then flip six times. Trey was thrown from the truck, dying instantly. Lucas was dead by the time they cut him free from the wreckage. They tried to tell me he didn’t suffer, but I knew they were lying to me. The funeral home strongly suggested that his casket be closed. I will never be able to get the picture out of my head of my precious little boy so broken, cold, and pale on that metal table.
Once again the memories of that horrific day trigger the panic and darkness to start closing in on me. I can feel my heart rate and breathing getting out of control, but I’m powerless to stop it. I crumple into a ball on the foyer floor of this stately Savannah home as the anxiety and pain wash over me. Praying that this attack is shorter than the last one as the vicious thoughts begin their assault.
Why did they have to leave me behind? It should have been me. I was suppose to run those errands. I should be the one whose dead! I lost them all because of a stupid fucking headache! If I had went instead of asking him to take the baby and go for me they would still be here! It’s my fault they’re dead!
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!
STOP! Stop it right now, Sookie! They’re gone and you’re not. It was their time to go, not yours. Life keeps moving forward, so you have to keeping moving forward too. They wouldn’t want to see you like this.
They’re not here to see me, are they?!? They left me behind because I don’t deserve happiness. Every time you love someone they wind up dead! Your parents, your brother, your Gran, Ezra and Connie, your husband and even your son. They are all dead because of you! You are poison Sookie Stackhouse Dawson!
NNNOOOOOOOO! Don’t listen to them. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault! Don’t listen, don’t listen.
Breathe Sookie! Take a deep breath and let it out. BREATHE!
Again. In and out.
Again. In. Out.
Five more and then once more for good measure.
I splay out onto my back and continue my breathing. Claudine’s trick seems to help me sometimes. After awhile I finally get my breathing and heart under control again, but I’m a sweating, exhausted mess as well.
I have had countless attacks like this for the past 15 months now. For the first seven months after I lost them I was in a deep depression, once I began to surface from that, the panic attacks started. It’s been almost two years now and I don’t think I will ever be over it or feel like a normal person again. How do you get past something like that? I’ve tried and tried, but I just can’t seem to do it.
Claudine, my therapist, says my episodes are guilt induced panic attacks. I have them nearly every day, sometimes even several times a day. I always torture myself with the same questions. What if? Why? Is it my fault? My punishment? If only I had done this or that. I don’t think I will ever get any answers. I know I won’t. Who in the world could fathom a reason for a beautiful, blue-eyed, baby boy to die along with his Dad? For a young wife and mother to lose her whole world in the seconds it took for two trucks to crash into each other?
I only made it through their funeral thanks to the drugs Lala gave me. Once I made it home to my bed, I didn’t leave it for nearly seven months. Tara and Lala, my childhood friends, kept me alive by taking turns making sure I ate at least once a day. They also took turns holding me while I cried a million tears, sat with me as I stared into nothingness, or did their best to calm me when the nightmares hit. They changed me into fresh clothes that didn’t stink like week old body odor and put clean sheets on my bed, that weren’t soaked with sweat, while I took a bath and thought about drowning myself.
Those months are the cavernous black pit that I try to keep from falling into everyday. Some days I have no idea why I don’t just let go and fall away. The steel magnolia is gone. I’m more of a weeping willow now.
My friends had finally had enough of watching me disappear in front of them, so they forced my hand. Up until that point no amount of begging or pleading from either of them had coaxed me from my self made tomb. I would scream and yell any time they asked me to try and get out of the house. When I refused Lala’s suggestion once more to get up and go out to the porch and enjoy a spring day, he lost it. Scooping me up and marching us down the hall he’d started his tirade.
“I can’t take this fuckin shit no more. I ain’t gonna stand arounds here and watch yo zombie self keep dyin! You gots two choices, hookah, youz either get yo skinny white ass ups outta this house, or youz take these motherfucking pills and end it right here, right now!” he yelled at me till he got me outside. He sat me down, not so gently, on the porch swing and threw a bottle of pills at me when he finished his speech.
I looked down in my lap, where they landed, and then back up at Lala. He was staring down at me, hands on hips, obviously very fed up with me. He was his usual flamboyant self, dressed in pink camo cargo pants and a black mesh tank top. His long fake lashes accenting his sparkly purple eye shadow. Lala leaves no doubt in your mind that he’s gay and he’s proud of it too.
Tara had made her way out to stand behind him, her arms crossed tightly over her chest, concern and anger fighting for dominance on her face. Looking between them, I saw the angry tears threatening to spill from their tired eyes and it finally broke through my numbness and had my own tears flowing again.
“I’m sorry,” I sobbed into my hands. “I’m so sorry. I’ve been a horrible friend to both of you.”
They hurried over and sat on either side of me making us into a Sookie sandwich, cooing at me all the while.
“Sook, Lawd knows youz been through mo than any one person should evers haff ta endure. You is not a bad friend. You jus been in hell these last few months and hasn’t found yo way back jus yet. We luvs you hookah, or we wouldn’t still be here. But sugar, dis shit gots ta stop. You dyin girl. Me and Tara here, we’ve tried everthing we’s can think of ta bring you outta dis and nothin is workin. You’s needs ta gets some help. You’s need a Dr, sum therapy, and better drugs then I gots fo sho,” Lala told me.
“I don’t know if even all of that can fix me, Lala,” I whispered.
“Sook, you has got to try, OK? I’ve been lookin for places for you to go and get you some help. There’s a good one in Jackson that has agreed to take you if you’re willin. They specialize in grief and depression. The lady I spoke to sounded real nice and smart too. I can have em here to pick you up in a few hours with just a phone call. You need this Sook, you know you do,” Tara said.
“Please say yes Sook, please,” Lala begged me.
They had done so much for me these past months. Put up with more than any friend should ever have too, so I couldn’t tell them no, even though I had no hope of getting better.
“Okay, I’ll go. Just so you two don’t have to take care of me anymore,” I said with a tiny grin, the first one in months.
“Praise Jesus! I was so sick of takin care of yo skinny ass anyways. You was cuttin into my lovin time somthin fierce woman!” he teased me.
“They’ll help you Sook, I know they will,” Tara said, hugging me to her side.
I hugged her back as tightly as my weak arms would let me, “Thank you, Tara. I love you and I’m so sorry I put ya’ll through this,” I whisper.
“I love you too, girl, and it’s okay. Just go get better. I need to see you smile again,” she said in a shaky voice.
Tara never cried, she was as strong and tough as they come. Hearing her like that made my dead heart clinch. I pulled out of her arms before I lost it again and went right into Lala’s. His big strong arms wrapped me up tight and gently at the same time. I realized then just how small and frail I had become. I felt like a twig being hugged by a bear. Seven months ago I was a curvy size 10 or 12.
“I love you, Lala. Thank you. Thank you for everything. I’m sorry I made ya’ll deal with this. I couldn’t ask for better friends than ya’ll,” I choked out and succumb to my tears again.
“I loves you too hookah and you didn’t makes us do nothin. You woulda done the same for us,” he whispered into my hair.
Tara slapped my thigh lightly, “Let’s get you cleaned up and some food in you. You gonna blow away soon if we don’t get some meat on those bones. Lala can call Jackson while we do that.”
I was in Jackson by dark that night. The place Tara found for me was called Serenity and even though it took ten months, they got me back to the land of the living. I owe most of that to Claudine. She too had loss her husband and children in an accident, so she knew exactly what I was going through. It helped so much to talk to someone that truly understood. We worked for months to get my attacks under control, and they are better, but no amount of medicine, therapy, or time has completely gotten rid of them. So we decided we had gotten things as controlled as we could for now and that it was time for me to try things on my own.
For the first three months I rented an apartment in Jackson so that I could be close to the center if I needed help. I did alright, not great, but alright. After that I finally went back home to Bon Temps.
That first week was horrible. I had an attack within minutes of walking into the house the first time. Tara had met me there and I really freaked her out. She thought I was having a heart attack. She even called the EMTs out. It was not the homecoming she had imagined for me. I had a few dozen more before the week was over. Every time I tried to go in Lucas’ room I would crumple to the floor gasping for air. I didn’t make it into mine and Trey’s room for two weeks and I finally got inside my baby’s after a month.
By the beginning of the second month I thought I might be able to handle having company over. And by company I meant Sid Matt, my lawyer. He was the only other person from home I had had contact with besides Lala and Tara. They had been buying my groceries and such so that I wouldn’t have to talk with all the gossips in town. There is no way I could have dealt with all the pity on their faces and in their words. I was glad that Tara and Lala had told everyone I was still gone.
I needed to get with Sid Matt to make sure everything was taken care of with finalizing things. We had talked on the phone a few times while I was gone, but I knew he needed me to sign some papers. I had sold everything but our house while I was away. The farm land, Mr. Ezra and Miss Connie’s place, and even Trey’s shop. It may sound bad to some, but for my mental and emotional health I needed them gone. There were just too many memories to fight with everyday. I didn’t need the money I got from selling them, obviously, so I donated it all to Serenity. I had given Tara and Lala each a $100,000 for taking care of me for so long too. I wanted to give them a lot more but they both protested something terrible, but I was takin no for an answer and we finally agreed on an amount. I would be dead if it wasn’t for them, it was the least I could do. They had both always wanted to go to college anyway and now they could.
Part of me wanted to sell the house too, but for some reason I hadn’t yet. I was thinkin of moving though, the house could wait on me, it wasn’t going anywhere. When I invited Sid over to talk he reminded me I now owned the vacation home in Savannah. He had figured out that I didn’t want to stay here, but didn’t really want to sell it either, so he suggested I go stay in Savannah for awhile and give myself time to figure things out. I had only been there one time, but I remember it was a beautiful place and quite secluded too. He handed me the keys and told me he would put the deed with all my other papers he kept up with. After signing a few things for him, he wished me well and slipped out.
Another month went by of me just sitting in that house and staring at the walls. I would perk up when Tara and Lala called or came by, but it was a farce. I was slipping. I did manage to get some of Trey’s things packed up and let Tara take them to the church, but as soon as I thought about doing the same with my baby’s, the panic would always set in. Other than the one time, I never made it back inside his room. I finally just quit going upstairs at all. I stayed on the sofa and would wander into the kitchen every now and then so I didn’t have to deal with Tara fussing at me for not eating. I had gained back some weight but not much.
But I couldn’t keep living like this anymore, it wasn’t a life at all. I have no desire whatsoever to do anything but disappear. I have tried for two years to get past the pain, but it’s still a raw gaping wound inside me. It’s never going away so I just don’t see the point in staying. I wouldn’t end it at home though, I couldn’t do that to Lala and Tara. So I packed a small bag for appearances sake and booked a plane ticket to Savannah. And now here I am, laid out on the floor wondering if tomorrow is even worth getting up for.