It had been another short, fitful sleep and, yet again, Tom woke with a start, his body drenched in sweat. Then, the sickening reality sunk in: Tanya was still missing. The cops were still pointing their fingers at him instead of aggressively searching for her. Why? He thought. Why didn't they understand that he had nothing to do with her disappearance? Worse, even, than that, the officials didn't seem to care, and the more noise Tom made about finding Tanya, the more the police insisted that she had the right to leave—to go wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted. He had no say in any of it.
Was she gone forever? Had she left of her own accord, as the cops insisted? The questions twisted in his mind as he tried to ready himself for yet another day of more and more unanswered questions. Forced by the situation, Tom had no choice but to let the days drag into one long, sleepless miserable void, where unwelcomed and unstoppable thoughts tormented him.
Hours and days overlapped, merging into each other. Tom's mind was a blur, his life a painful swirl of time that held no hope. Each moment of uncertainty was a waking nightmare, a slow-motion eternity. And Tom, without Tanya, felt he had no reason to get through another day.
The police needed to act. And Tom needed to make them. He distributed flyers and did everything he could, but he knew he needed to keep the case in the news. After dealing with the police, he knew that, as soon as they could, they would shelve the investigation. So, to keep the pressure on and to force the police to search for Tanya, Tom offered a $25,000 reward.
My breathing is rapid, each breath shallow. I am exercising. I am on my elliptical trainer, getting a workout. It feels good. Run, run, run. I like to feel my endorphins hit my bloodstream and then everything feels so good. I feel a drip of sweat on my face, just above my lip, and I open my eyes. I raise my hand to wipe it away. I look at my hand and see that it is fresh blood. I am not on my elliptical. I am in my grave. I raise my hand to my lip and feel for the wetness. I find it, below my nose. I look at my hand again and see that it is blood. I sniffle and taste it. I have a bloody nose? What the heck? I don't get bloody noses! I try to lean my head up and pinch my nose to make it stop, but I don't care. I'm tired. I want to rest. I need sleep.
I am at peace. I see the bramble of bushes surrounding me and I smell the ugly smell, but I hear birds and other sweet sounds. I am happy as I talk to God. He is with me, in my forest meadow. God knows who I am, and I tell Him whatever is on my mind. It is beautiful.
I think I was scared and hungry and thirsty but that was before. Now, I am not afraid, or hungry or thirsty. Now, everything is okay. I feel good. Life is good. Everything is so good!
Nothing hurts. I know I have had pain in my past, but not anymore. I have all I need in life. I have Tom. Where is Tom? Tom, where are you? Are you coming? Yes, I know you are coming! You'll be here. I know you will. I drift off to a beautiful meadow, where the sun is shining. It's warm. Yes, it's warm! I see Lady, running over the grass. She runs toward me. The grass is dotted with wildflowers of every color imaginable. But it smells bad here. Why does it smell bad here?
I want to open my eyes, but they flutter. Can I open them? I see the place. Things are broken and dirty, disgusting. I want to get out, but I don't want to move.