Barefoot and suicidal
July 21, 3003
She ran out of the cabin, breathless, unmoved by
the transparency of her
linen nightgown and the bareness of her feet. She rushed through
snow-covered porch, down the crackling steps, onto the frozen lawn,
beyond. She needed to hurry. At any moment he could wake up and
missing, and maybe, just maybe, come looking for her. She knew
what she had
to do. She had thought about it for quite some time. Soon she would
free of the suffocating burdens of adulthood, free of the stinging
the dreams that had failed to come true, free of the disappointment
It was morning, but the sun was hours from making
an appearance and the
moon, preoccupied with the fondling of the clouds, didn't
care to share her glow with those restless souls wandering in the
dark and fog.
With the sound of her racing heartbeat echoing in
her ears, Marjan made her
way through the chilling countryside. The bluffs were less than
away. She could almost hear the singing billows in the distance,
her, haunting her. She had often imagined herself standing on the
solitary rock, looking down at the foaming sea, and then falling,
and without regret. This was how she wanted to go, gracefully,
not passed out on the couch after taking a fistful of antidepressants
drowning in a pool of her own blood. This was cleaner, and she
if not neat.
She ached for a chance to rest, but she pressed
on. The tenacious fog
persisted making it more difficult for her to find her way. If
only she had
thought about bringing a flashlight, she would have been there
by now. She
shrugged away her own lack of foresight and decided to cut through
Why had it come to this? Where had she gone so wrong?
She thought back to
her childhood, when the world had been hers to conquer and happiness
been her ever present companion. She missed the innocence of her
joy of running through the forests of Ramsar in search of adventures
then washing away all residues of her exploits in the murky Caspian
But today it was another sea that was calling to
her, beckoning her to
indulge in one final cleansing. She lifted the soiled skirt of
once-white nightgown and continued to dash by the sleeping maple
She was blessed and she knew it. She had a loving
husband who cherished her
like a queen, two adorable children who were healthy and bright,
great shortage of money in the bank. But it wasn't enough.
She had failed.
Not as a wife, or a mother, but as an individual. She had wanted
more than a perfect family for herself. She had wanted a career,
to excel at besides making a home. Her depression always took a
when she remembered her classmates from university. They had all
well for themselves; Samantha had landed that reporting job in
Jessica had started her own PR firm in London, Luis had joined
the UN, but
she had done none of those things. Instead, she had gotten married
children. How incredibly mundane of her! Perhaps her greatest dilemma
her unwillingness to accept her own insignificance. Maybe if she
to terms with her own ordinariness she would be happier. But she
Suddenly overwhelmed by a sharp stinging pain in
her bleeding feet, Marjan
closed her eyes and indulged in a deep breath which she took through
teeth. Her eyes remained shut no longer than a few seconds, but
all it took for her to miss a mischievous tree root that had decided
protrude from the soil. Before she could realize her own folly,
headfirst onto a massive rock and darkness took over.
It was the
distinct smell of burning wood touched with a hint of dark
roasted coffee that brought her back to her senses. With some struggle
forced her eyes to open and found herself lying on a brown leather
the middle of what seemed to be a hunting lodge, distinctly masculine
green walls and a hearth-like fireplace that was busy entertaining
of dancing flames. An antique looking Turkish rug woven with thick
and orange wool threads covered most of the floor and a rustic
with four sturdy chairs sat in the far corner in front of a large
door which Marjan guessed was the main entrance to the lodge. An
door was on the opposite side of the room, but this one was smaller
appeared to lead to other sections of the house.
She tried to lift
herself off the couch, but the greatness of her headache
and the immensity of her nausea pushed her back down. Where was
long had she been passed out? Behrooz was most likely awake by
now. Was he
looking for her? Would he find her? Could she still make it to
She needed to try.
She straightened herself up, this time with greater
success, and was about
to make a run for the door when she suddenly felt like she was
watched. Frightened but curious, she examined her surroundings.
appeared to be alone with the fire, but then, just as she was about
away her suspicions and start for the door, she spotted her tiny
under the rustic table. It was a young girl, probably four or five
old, with an exceptionally pale complexion, long golden curls,
angelic smile. With great agility, the child emerged from her hiding
wearing a bright red tutu and carrying a worn out doll with scarce
hair and flapping eyelids.
"You're not dead!"
With those words, the girl jumped forward and took
Marjan into a forceful
Flabbergasted, Marjan looked down at the young head
resting against her
knees. She didn't know why, but she noticed the delicateness of
pink ribbon holding back some of the golden strands.
"Ah, you're up. That's great." The strange
male voice addressing her from
behind brought Marjan back to her senses. She turned to see a tall slender
man standing in front of the fireplace with two coffee mugs in his hands.
He had strawberry blonde hair, a thick beard, and a pair of round spectacles
which did not hide the calming kindness in his eyes.
"You must be one heck of a sleepwalker," and
in three strides he was standing before her. "Meghan, sweet
cheeks, let go of the nice lady." The
little girl unhooked her arms and released Marjan, but her enchanting
smile persisted. "Here, some coffee to shake the chill out of
your bones," he
Marjan one of the mugs.
With a slight hesitation, she took the mug
from him and brought it close to
her face. He was right. Just smelling the aroma of the coffee warmed
"Good isn't it? It was my wife's favorite brand."
Marjan sipped the hot drink as she whispered her
"Oh, you bet! Here, have a seat. Let's have
a look at your feet. They were bleeding pretty badly earlier."
Gently he guided her towards the couch and sat her
down. He then placed his
coffee mug on the Turkish rug and took one of her feet in his hands.
the first time since she had woken in that strange place, Marjan
that both her feet had been bandaged.
"You had a few deep cuts in your left heel.
You might need some stitches,
unless the bleeding has stopped." He started to loosen the bandage.
"Are you a doctor?"
"I'm a vet, which is a good thing for you 'cause if the Lancaster's
Dalmatian wasn't having her pups today I wouldn't have been cutting
those woods at such an early hour. How's your head by the way?"
"It hurts...a little," she said rubbing her temples.
"You probably have a mild concussion, nothing too serious." He
bandages around her left foot and started to examine her heel. "The
bleeding has stopped. That's wonderful. Some new gauze and a clean
and you're good to go."
"I'll be alright. You really shouldn't bother."
"No bother. Meghan, can you please go to the
kitchen and get my briefcase. It's under the table."
"OK," and with a jolly strut Meghan left the room.
"She's a real cutie, how old is she?"
"Five." he said with a proud smile as he
started to unroll the bandages off
Marjan's right foot.
"Is she your only child?" She had barely
spoken the words before she realized the extent of her intrusion.
Caught off guard, he looked
up at her
with a liquid stare, trying hard to keep his emotions in check.
"Sorry," said Marjan bashfully. "I didn't mean to pry."
He put forth a weak smile and replied "it's alright." Then,
after a few
awkward seconds of complete silence, he said "Meghan is my
only child...now. Her older brother Sammy and her mother passed
away two years
"I'm so sorry."
"They died in a car crash," he lowered
his head and busied himself with
examination of her foot. "They were on their way to a hockey
tournament in the city. Sammy was the goalie," he chuckled. "He was really good."
"You must have been very proud of him."
With great sadness he looked up at her and nodded.
silence took over the room. Desperately Marjan searched for a new
conversation and then she noticed a thick bruise around the doctor's
"That looks pretty nasty, what happened?"
He reached with one hand and covered his neck. "I was just stupid."
Meghan's cumbersome entrance into the room drew
both their attentions away
from the bruise. Dragging the heavy briefcase behind her, she huffed
puffed her way towards them.
"Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry," the good veterinarian
got up and rushed over to
Meghan, relieving her of her hefty load. "I had forgotten
how heavy this thing really is."
With a sigh, Meghan released
the briefcase, took a few deep breaths and ran
over to the couch, sitting herself beside Marjan and looking
up at her with
her enchanting smile.
"Alrighty then. Let's change your bandages and make you as good as new."
He proceeded to do exactly as he had said and when
he was done he reached
over and touched her forehead.
"You know, it's never really quite as bad as we think."
Somehow Marjan knew that he was no longer talking
about her injuries.
"Thank you, you've been very kind. But
uh, I really must be going," she
once again beginning to feel uneasy. "My husband is probably
looking for me."
"I understand. Rest your eyes for a few minutes.
Afterwards, I'll take you to your husband, I promise."
Overwhelmed by an unexpected burst of homesickness,
Marjan closed her eyes
and waited for the minutes to pass.
"Marjan, darling can you hear me? It's me, Behrooz."
She opened her eyes and found herself staring into
her husband's hazel gaze.
"Thank god," he lifted her
into his arms. "You're awake. I was
"Where am I?" She asked the question just
as she was beginning to realize that she was lying on a hospital
"At St. Michael's, the only hospital in this
godforsaken town. I've already
called Dr. Samuel in the city. He's going to run a whole
set of tests to
make sure you're OK."
"Where is that man? And Meghan, where is she?"
"Meghan and her father. Did they bring me here?"
"I don't know who you're talking about. A local
vet found you in the woods
as he was coming back from a house call. You were
really lucky, you know
"Can I see him? Where is he?"
"Yeah, can you find him for me? I need to talk to him."
With concern in his eyes, Behrooz stared at his
wife. Tenderly, he reached
for a loose strand of her hair and pulled it away from her face.
"Honey, how are you feeling? The doctors say
that you're going to be fine, that you've only suffered from a
mild concussion, but I don't trust
"I'm fine. I just need to see the vet. Can you please find him for me?"
Again, Behrooz looked at his wife with confusion
and worry, then whispered "sure," and left the hospital
Minutes later he returned with a short, slightly
overweight dark haired man.
"Honey, this here is Dr. Johnston.
We owe him a great, big thank you. If
he hadn't found you..."
"No. That's not him!" Marjan didn't understand
what she was feeling.
Among other things, it was a compilation of anger,
agitation. This was not the man in the lodge.
She was sure of it. She
looked up at her husband and the stranger beside
him. They were both
staring at her with shock. She took a deep breath
and made one last attempt
to understand what was going on.
"I'm sorry doctor. I don't mean to be rude,
but I distinctly remember another gentleman helping me. He took
me to his hunting lodge,
I met his
daughter, he bandaged my feet and then I woke up and I was here.
know who you are, but you are not him."
Behrooz and the doctor
exchanged a meaningful glare between themselves.
Behrooz then cleared his throat and started to walk towards his
"Darling, you've suffered an injury to your head. Now, the doctors..."
"Screw the doctors! I know what I saw. I'm not
imagining it. Look. Look at my feet, he bandaged them for me."
Marjan pulled the covers aside and revealed her bare, un-bandaged
feet. Dumbfounded, she
knees, slowly reached for her feet and touched them. Then, suddenly
overcome by exhaustion, she fell back onto the pillow with a
blank stare in
"Baby, you should get some rest," said
Behrooz as he sat beside her on the
bed and reached for her hand. "I don't want you to worry yourself
anything. You were probably dreaming."
"But they were so real," Marjan spoke in
a low tone, more to herself than
the other two people in the room. "He was kind and gentle,
and Meghan, she
was so beautiful, with those big brown eyes
and her golden curls."
"What did you say?" This time it was the
veterinarian's turn to look perplexed. "Meghan? Was that the girl's name?"
"Yes," replied Marjan with renewed hope. "Do you know her?"
"That's impossible." A ghostly paleness
took over the doctor's face, and
his round, button-like eyes seemed to bulge
slightly out of their sockets.
"What is impossible doctor?" Behrooz couldn't
control the impatience in his
voice. Nervously Dr. Johnston shifted his
weight from one leg to another,
looked about aimlessly, and ran his fingers
through his hair.
"Doctor, please. If there is something you want
to say, go ahead. My wife needs her rest."
"You're right, I should be going," clearly
anxious to leave the room, the
doctor turned and started to make his way
towards the door.
"Doctor, wait! You said you knew Meghan. If
you know her, then you must also know her father. I have to find
them and thank them. They
kind to me."
Frozen in his spot, the doctor hesitated for a
few seconds before turning to
"What I'm about to tell you may seem foolish
but...you have to remember that I
am a man of science and for me to be saying
these things, well, let's just
say it's unorthodox."
"Doctor, I'm sure I speak both for myself and
my wife when I say that I have
no idea what you're talking about."
"About fifteen years ago I had just graduated
from college and was looking to start my own practice in the city,
but first I needed a break
the studying so I decided to come up here for a few weeks of relaxation.
During the time that I was here, the local vet, a man by the name
Whyte, smothered his five-year-old daughter while she was taking
a nap after
her ballet class, and then hanged himself from the ceiling fan
in his kitchen. The young girl's name was Meghan. Rumor had it
that he killed
himself and his daughter because he couldn't take the loss of his
son who had died in a car crash a few years
back. A couple months later, I
moved here and took over his practice."
Complete silence took
over the room. Baffled at the story she had just
heard, Marjan tried to organize her thoughts.
The doctor cleared his throat
and continued. "The locals believe that
Dr. Whyte and Meghan have never
left this town, that Dr. Whyte still visits
his patients when they need him
and is always present when the animals are
Marjan was still in the
process of digesting the information she
heard when Behrooz, making a quick transition
from shock to humor, was
suddenly overwhelmed by a need to mock the
"So let me see if I understand you correctly
doctor, are you saying that my
wife had herself a visit from two friendly
ghosts today? Honey, are you
sure the name was Meghan and not Casper?"
"I can understand your hesitation, sir. If I
were you I would probably react the same way. But I am just telling
the story as I know it.
all. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to be on my way," and
with a quick
nod towards Marjan, he left the room.
"What utter nonsense," said Behrooz as
he got up from the bed and poured a
glass of water from a jar sitting on the
"Here, sweetie, drink this and then try to get
some rest. Tomorrow we'll be
out of this crazy town and won't have to
come back here ever again. I know
you like this place, but next time we're
going to the Caribbean for our
Marjan took a sip of the water she was offered,
relaxed her head back, and
closed her eyes.
"By the way, I never asked you, what were you doing in the woods anyway?"
"I guess I must have sleepwalked," she answered without opening her
"But you don't sleepwalk."
"I used to," she lied, "when I was a child." Then,
had a chance
to pursue the questioning any further,
she told Behrooz that she was tired
and that she needed to sleep.
"I'll call the kids and tell them we'll be home tomorrow," and
with a soft
kiss on her cheeks he left the room.
She waited for the sound of his
footsteps to disappear into the distance
before she got up from the bed,
walked over to the minuscule window,
and watched as the often cloud-coated
February sun bid an amorous farewell
to the sad amethyst sky and disappeared
into the horizon. The day had ended
a lot more differently than she had
expected. That morning she was certain
and happy that she would never see
another sunset, but now, she was eager
to see her children, to hold them in
her arms and smell the dust on their
playful bodies. She was confused about
her experience with Meghan and her
father for she wasn't a believer in
occult or the paranormal, but she did
believe in second chances, and maybe,
just maybe, this was hers.
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