Just Hold Me
I shut off my car engine and pulled the key out of the ignition. Then I grabbed my purse from the seat beside me and got out of the car, shutting the door behind me with the tip of my high heeled shoe.
I climbed the two steps that led to the back door of my house and hit the button on the wall that closed the garage door.
“I’m home!” I called, as I entered the kitchen through the back door and tossed my keys down on the counter. I kicked the heels off my tired feet and left them by the door, as I walked through the kitchen.
Suddenly, I stopped and looked around. “Tyke?” I called, wondering where my chihuahua was. Tyke was always there to greet my husband Brian and I whenever we came home, yapping frantically. But that afternoon, he was nowhere in sight.
“Litty?” I asked, calling the name of my other chihuahua, Tyke’s little sister. Litty was more reserved than Tyke, but she was usually right there beside him to meet me at the door.
I wandered into the foyer and saw that the front door was slightly open. Sighing in annoying, I closed it. “Brian?” I called, wondering where that husband of mine was, irritated at him for leaving the front door open. Didn’t he realize that Tyke or Litty could get outside and get lost, or even get kidnapped again, like they did last year? Obviously not. He could be so irresponsible at times.
Upon entering the living room, I gasped. The wooden planter beside the doorway was tipped over, the beautiful antique vase that had rested on top of it shattered on the hardwood floor, dirt and leaves scattered all across the floor.
One of the dogs must have knocked it over, I thought, but that didn’t seem quite right to me. Tyke and Litty were very small, and the planter was heavy and sturdy. I didn’t think they would have enough strength to knock it over. Maybe Brian had bumped into it by accident. Just as I was about to call for him again, I saw that the phone on the table beside the couch was off the hook, dangling off the table by its cord.
I started to feel uneasy. It wasn’t like Brian to be this scatter-brained and irresponsible. Leaving the door open was one thing, but knocking a plant over and not even bothering to clean it up and leaving the phone hanging like that were different. Something didn’t feel right.
I headed towards the staircase that led to the second story of the house, figuring Brian must be up there. Halfway up the stairs, I stopped in my tracks, my eyes widening. There was a spot of something on the stair in front of me. But it wasn’t just a little spot. It was bigger, more like a puddle. It was dark in color… almost like blood. Squinting down at it, I bent over and touched it, pulling my hand back in shock when I realized it was still wet. I examined my fingers, finding a dark crimson substance streaked across them. I sniffed them and became aware of the bitter, slightly metallic smell that could only be one thing. Blood. It was blood.
I gasped and hurried up the stairs, my eyes growing wider as I realized there was a trail of little blood spots. By the time I had reached the top of the stairs, I had grown dizzy and slightly nauseous. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stand blood; it was the fact that I was suddenly terrified.
“Brian!” I called, following the red trail down the hall. It was leading to our bedroom. Oh my God, please, no, I silently begged, scared to death of what I was going to find at the end of the trail.
Taking a shuddering breath, I flung open the door to our bedroom. At first, I saw nothing, just a few more small blood spots dotting the light colored carpeting. I looked all around on the floor, afraid I was going to find Brian there. But he was nowhere to be found.
Then I eyed the door to the bathroom. It was open partway, and the light was on. “Brian?” I asked, surprised at how trembly my voice sounded.
I took a deep breath and headed to the bathroom. I walked inside and felt slightly relieved, seeing that everything looked to be in order. But there were a few more little blood spots dotting the tiled floor. They led to the shower. Bravely, I strode up to the shower and jerked back the curtain. And then I let out a scream of sheer horror.
There, hanging from the curtain rod above the shower, was Tyke, a shredded piece of a towel wrapped around his neck like a noose.
“Oh my God,” I gasped, one hand going to my mouth. The other reached out gently to touch Tyke. His body was limp and lifeless, his neck titled at an odd angle. My poor little dog was dead.
“Oh my God,” I cried again, panic rising within me. “Who did this?!” I demanded out loud. I turned away, unable to look at the horrible sight before me any longer.
I ran out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom. Suddenly, another thought came to me. Where was Brian? I still hadn’t found him.
“Brian!” I screamed shrilly. “Bri, where are you!?”
I jumped, as something rustled in the walk-in closet behind me. I whirled around to find that the door was slightly open. I began to breathe rapidly, terrified. There was someone in the house. Whoever had murdered Tyke was still there, lurking in the closet.
I wanted to run, I wanted to scream, but I felt frozen in place. My feet refused to move, staying planted to the floor instead.
Suddenly, the door inched open even more. I opened my mouth to scream… and then I began to laugh, as I saw the little head that poked out.
“Litty!” I cried in relief, bending over to scoop up the little dog. Litty looked up at me with wide, scared looking brown eyes. Her whole tiny body was trembling, and I knew it wasn’t just because she was a chihuahua.
“Litty, who was here?” I asked softly, cradling her to my chest. “Who did this?”
Of course, she couldn’t answer me, but I knew she knew that something had happened. I could only imagine what had gone on. Being the shyer one, Litty had managed to run and hide in the closet when whoever had killed Tyke had come into the house. Poor Tyke, always the curious one, had probably gone to investigate. I realized that it had probably been a burglar, and Tyke had caught him in action. I smiled tearfully. Just as curiosity always killed the cat, it had killed the dog, in this case.
I felt a little better having Litty there with me. Besides being scared and nervous, she was unharmed. But there was still one unanswered question. Where was Brian?
“Come on, Litty,” I whispered. “Let’s go find your Daddy.” My heart pounding, I carried Litty out of the room and down the stairs.
“Maybe he went outside,” I said, talking aloud, even though Litty of course didn’t understand what I was saying. It was more of a way to comfort myself.
I saw that the French doors that lead to the screened-in back porch were open, but that was not a surprise. We usually left them open on warm days to let some fresh air into the house. I walked out onto the porch, looking around for Brian. He wasn’t there.
I carried Litty out the door and down the steps to the backyard. I looked around, wondering where Brian might be. I didn’t hear the lawnmower running, so I knew he wasn’t off mowing the lawn somewhere. So where was he?
The answer came to me when my eyes rested upon a blue lump lying on the grass towards the edge of the yard, behind a large tree. “Oh my God,” I cried, breaking into a run. I dropped Litty and let her run along behind me, as I raced towards the lump.
That lump turned out to be my husband.
“Brian!” I screamed, dropping to my knees beside him. He was lying in the grass, on his side, his back to me, curled up in a fetal position. “Brian?” I asked, touching his shoulder.
“Leigh,” I heard him say weakly.
My eyes scanned his body. I didn’t see any wounds on him, luckily. “Are you okay, baby?” I asked, gently gripping his shoulder and rolling him towards me.
He winced in pain, and I gasped in horror as I caught site of him from the front. His blue Kentucky Wildcats T-shirt was soaked with blood all down the front. “Oh my God,” I gasped. Trying to keep the panic out of my voice so as not to scare Brian, I softly said, “Honey, there’s an awful lot of blood. I need to lift your shirt up so I can see where it’s coming from, okay?”
Brian nodded weakly, looking up at me with scared blue eyes, which were glazed over with pain. I grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. “It’ll be okay, honey,” I whispered reassuringly. “Everything’s gonna be fine.”
Very gently, I eased up his T-shirt, trying not to hurt him. He winced and clenched his teeth in pain. “I’m sorry,” I said softly, getting it up over his stomach. That was enough for me to see where all the blood was coming from. There was a large gaping slash wound running all the way from his right side, just below his rib cage, to the middle of his stomach.
“Oh, my God, Brian. Who did this to you?” I cried, desperately trying to hold back tears.
“It was a man,” Brian replied softly. “I-I was on the phone in the living room, and he came in through the front door. Tyke started barking at him, and I ran. He-he chased me, all the way out here, and then… then he stabbed me.”
I began to feel light-headed, like I could pass out at any second, but I fought it. Brian’s breath was coming in short gasps now, and I knew he was in trouble. “Brian, I’ll be right back,” I choked out. “I need to go call for some help, okay? Just hold on.”
Before he could even respond, I leaped to my feet and raced back towards the house. I grabbed the phone in the kitchen and started to dial, when I realized there was no dial tone.
“Damnit!” I cried, realizing the phone in the living room was still off the hook. I hurried to that phone and used it to dial 911. I spoke quickly to the operator that answered, rattling off my name and address and briefly telling her what had happened. Before she could even tell me to stay on the line, I hung up and ran outside. I had to get back to Brian.
When I got there, he looked worse than before, even though I had only been away for a couple of minutes. His skin looked pale and ashy, and his lips had a bluish gray tint to them. His whole body trembled, and a cold sweat had broken out on his forehead.
“It’s gonna be okay, sweetheart,” I whispered, smoothing his hair off his clammy forehead. “An ambulance is coming. It’ll be here any minute.”
“I… I love you… Leighanne,” Brian wheezed.
I bit my bottom lip, unable to blink back the tears that had begun to flow from my eyes. “Don’t say that, Brian,” I said fiercely. “Don’t tell me that like you’re going to die or something, cause you’re not!”
He smiled sadly at up at me, and then his eyes began to slowly close.
“No!” I cried, gripping his shoulder. “Don’t close your eyes, Bri. Stay with me!”
His eyes fluttered open again. “I’m sorry, honey,” he said, his speech slurred. “I’m just so tired…”
“I know. But you can’t go to sleep. Not yet. Fight it,” I urged stubbornly, my sharp tone causing him to become more alert.
I noticed that he had begun to shiver. “Are you cold, honey? Can I get you anything? A blanket, anything?” I started to get up, remembering something about how you should keep injured people warm until the paramedics got there.
“No,” Brian cried sharply, startling me. “Don’t go,” he said, his tone softening. “Just hold me.”
“Alright,” I replied, my voice barely a whisper. I carefully leaned down and took him in my arms, trying to move him as little as possible. I gently pulled him into my arms so that his head rested against the crook of my right arm, and his upper body was in my lap. I held him tightly, cradling him as if he were a baby.
His trembling stopped, as his body began to relax, except for the gasping painful breaths he struggled to take.
“Just a few more minutes,” I said softly, stroking his hair. “Just hang on a few more minutes.”
But Brian could not do this. Seconds later, he took his last shuddering breath, and his blue eyes slowly closed for the last time. My Brian died in my arms a moment later.
I began to sob, hovering over him, my tears falling onto his face. “Brian,” I whispered, softly chanting his name, as if it would bring him back. But of course, it did not.
I heard a mournful little bark behind me and saw that Litty had come up. She came around and sniffed at her master, still lying lifelessly on my lap. She began to lick his hand and looked up at him with hopeful eyes, expecting for him to pet her.
I turned away, unable to even look at the tragic sight, and cried even harder.
I woke up with tears streaming down my face. As I became oriented, everything came flooding back to me.
“Oh God,” I murmured aloud, wiping the tears from my eyes.
“Leigh? You okay?” a sleepy voice asked.
I rolled over in bed to face the man lying next to me. “I’m fine,” I replied. “I just had a horrible nightmare, that’s all.”
Brian nodded sympathetically. “You wanna tell me about it?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No,” I replied. “Just hold me.”
And he did.
AN: This story was inspired by the video for Fuel’s “Hemorrhage”. I hope you liked it!
Just Hold Me Ó 2001 by Julie