"Listen to that tiny voice inside your head. Sometimes, the dead speak."
This tale must be heard in whispers, with the sounds of willow wands stirred by shiftless winds. I am its author, and I am a whisper, myself. I am a cool breeze along a midnight road. I am a hint of shadow at the curb. I am a furtive scurry into the brambles. I am a desperate chance wagered against innocent life.
Once, before I lived as a whisper, I lived thirty-three years as a heartbeat and endless breaths. I answered to the name, 'Sarah Finegolt'. I gave birth to a beautiful child. Eighteen months before the end, I held him in my arms for the first time and I named him Eran Evan.
He is, in fact, the subject of this hushed breath. His were the first ears to hear my whispered voice, and I soothed him with it for hours after the accident, waiting for salvation to come.
It would be, I hoped during those first hours I spent as a whisper in this world, salvation announced with a wail of sirens, with a gaudy display of flashing lights, delivered by tender hands borne of mercy and aid. I felt we deserved such salvation, as every victim of fiery disaster must, since we could not help ourselves.
After all, whispers muster little power among those that breathe, and a yearling child is truly powerless to save himself when faced with the rigors of fate. So, in the beginning, I huddled near my child, soothing his early morning nightmares with soft lullabies sung on a breathless sigh, passively waiting for someone to save us… to save him.
I sought to keep him warm with my slight presence. I struggled to keep him safe with wispy arms. I yearned to make him calm through soft whispers.
Eerily, I lay alongside myself, stiffening and cooling through the damp chill of the day's wee hours. When I ran off the shoulder of the highway just after midnight, I found the hillside steep and treacherous, thickly grown with oaks and maples. As it rolled nose down to follow the grade, the wreck woke me from deep highway hypnosis.
Too late, I spun the wheel left to stay on the shoulder. Too late, I smashed the brake pedal flat to stop the car. Too late, I realized how a brutal punishment must inevitably follow slumberous oversight.
Thick, gnarled tree trunks whipped past either side. After a bone-jarring leap, I felt the vehicle leave the earth. The trunk kicked up and over the front end, and I feared we must flip. Then the front bumper gouged the earth, and my body snapped forward against the seatbelt with enough force to break several ribs and my left clavicle. The airbag exploded in my face. I bit off the tip of my tongue, and the impact shattered most of my teeth. Now the car plowed an earthen furrow several hundred feet long down the slope of the valley, as its rear-end slowly settled back to the ground.
Another steep dip in the grade sent it flying again. This time, the front windshield clipped a heavy oak branch on its way down, which sheered the cabin shell away from the body, along with all the safety glass and a sizeable chunk of my skull.
Instantly transformed by the accident, I found myself outside my corpse, a whisper borne up on a curiously soothing night breeze. From above, I watched the heap bounce, grate and gouge down the hillside, its half-decapitated driver sitting alongside a child safety seat, which held a rudely awakened toddler, who instantly wailed for his mother.
Hidden from above by countless treetops thick with bare winter branches, the bottom of this steep ravine concealed the smoking, steaming heap, once it finally came to rest, half-submerged in an icy winter creek. Eran cried for most of an hour, despite my whispered comfort, before he finally fell into a restless sleep, once more. He shivered in the chill.
Though void in that world, I felt the temperature plunge with each passing hour, foreboding the snowy storm forecast for the weekend, which I had raced home to my ultimate demise. I feared it would win this contest, if help delayed beyond sunrise.
Yet the sun rose, and salvation remained absent. I heard scarce traffic on the road above, companion whispers to my mournful renditions of sweet lullabies, where rubber tires played steadily against greasy tarmac. Dimmer then louder then dimmer again, they swept around the curve, one after the other, but none could see my son dying down below.
When he awakened to the morning's wintry half-light, he blinked swollen, teary eyes and rubbed them with tiny, furious fists. He yawned. He glanced about for his mother, shivering. Then he wailed for hours.
A stir of madly articulate shadows, I fussed about him impotently, my hushed voice screaming for help. After a time, Eran fell silent. His eyes strained in every direction. They followed me.
I stopped before him. His eyes stared through me. I called his name, and he smiled gently. Gratefully, I understood that he could hear me, and the knowledge comforted us both. I sang to him, hushed nearly to silence, and he listened. His eyes fluttered shut. He slept again.
Though it had ascended to noon by then, the Sun's scant warmth could not touch us through the tangled branches of that slumberous wood. I gazed up through the limbs, searching for God, though I saw only fat, lazy snowflakes sifting down from the heavens.
The wind stirred them into a rhythmic descent, as Eran's cheeks waxed icy blue. I dressed him warmly, whenever we traveled during the winter, so he remained snug wherever his footy pajamas and flannel under things covered his flesh. He could tuck his little hands into his body, behind the front support of his child seat, but he could do nothing for his round head, which bristled with thin, downy hair. His shivering increased in intensity and rapidity, and I knew the weather could easily kill him.
I am, as I said, a whisper now. I am a scant breeze. I am a timorous shadow. I am an illusion of movement. New to that state of being, I felt powerless.