Lina: Written By Stephen Fahey – Part 10

It was many weeks before McIntosh woke again. He was outside. Something hard was at his back and his waist and chest were crushed tight against whatever that hard thing was. He shook his head and looked around. There were trees all around him and he could taste their sap on the air. It was peaceful, silent. But then McIntosh looked down and realised that he was tired to a tree with two large ropes. And worse still, his left hand had been amputated below the wrist, as had his remaining foot, below the ankle. The thought that he now had no hands or feet struck him first. He had adapted to living without out hand and one leg, but to have no hands, in particular, made him feel less than human. No face, no hands, no penis – no function, no value.

Then something rustled in bushes behind him and McIntosh’s heart stopped with fear. He was helpless, exposed. He had never felt so vulnerable. Then the whisper came.

“This is how you made her feel, Eli. She was only four years old, Eli. And you crushed the life out of her. I’m going to leave you here, Eli. Goodbye, Eli.”

Then footsteps led away from behind McIntosh as Joseph walked back to the house and poured himself a glass of whiskey and lounged with a book. Panic set in as McIntosh felt more alone than he ever had in prison. He was at the mercy of nature. If any wild predator came upon he would be eaten alive. He could get hypothermia. And if Fay never returned, then he would dehydrate or starve, if he lived that long. The fear helped him to remember though, and that flooded his mind. He had been drinking, and he was drunk too often back then, but what happened was an accident. He didn’t even see her, and she should have been at home in bed. But what was done was done and there was no changing it. He killed that child. He took away the one thing that Joseph Fay had left after his wife had died during childbirth. McIntosh didn’t have children of his own, but he tried to understand. He searched his heart and his soul and found himself unable, even in the state he found himself then, to comprehend Joseph Fay’s sorrow.

That night he didn’t sleep, he stayed awake and tortured himself with the sorrow that wasn’t his to know. He didn’t notice dawn breaking through the trees, nor did feel himself slipping from the ropes. Nor did he notice the sound of Joseph Fay walking up to him from behind the tree. He was in a trance shame, searching still to know the pain he had caused. But then, just as he felt as if was nearing an answer Joseph stepped around the tree to face him.

“Hello, Eli. Did you have a good night?”

“Hello, Joe.”

“Did you have a good night?”

“Joe… I’m sorry, Joe.”

“No.”

“I know you’re going to kill me in the end, I just want to… ”

“Oh I’m not going to ever kill you, Eli.”

“I just want to say sorry, for everything. I know it means nothing coming from me but I’m sorry for you lose and for all the pain I’ve caused you.”

Without a word or any reaction, Joseph Fay walked around the tree and back to the house. McIntosh didn’t see him that day and the pain in his body became so great that he couldn’t breathe or turn his head without being filled with a raging suffering. And then the third day came. Delirious and rambling to himself, McIntosh felt the ground against his face all of a sudden. Leaves and soil in his mouth and the sun on his back. He didn’t know where he was or how he got there, but he fell asleep on the ground and woke at night with a chill down his spine. For the first time he inspected his new stumps. He felt clumsy crawling on one elbow and one knee, raking the earth towards himself with his forearm. He crawled through the undergrowth. Then he crawled into the clearing that Park Castle was built in. Then he crawled up the front door and passed out from exhaustion.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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