I had to apologize to my husband, Kevin before I could go on to my next life. My dead body in Bill’s bed made that pretty clear.
I had no breath with which to speak, and so I would have to write him a note.
But grasping a pen with these wispy fingers was not easy, and it was nearly impossible to drag one across paper, let alone to make it write. Daily I struggled with it, and every evening I watched Kevin drink Maker’s Mark, staring at Simpsons reruns without laughing. I ached to clasp him to my insubstantial bosom, but when I drew near to comfort him, he got up and put on a sweater.
But sometimes he went out. It always surprised me so much that I couldn’t drift to the garage in time to get into the car. Where did he go? Instead of drinking at home, alone, maybe he was going to a bar. I wanted to find out. And if no one there would talk to him, maybe I could keep my poor sweetie company.
One night I was in the garage looking at my garden tools, wondering what he was going to do with them, when Kevin got home from work. He left the car door open, so either he forgot to close it, or he was going out.
I slipped into the car to wait, just in case. After all, I had no pressing need to stay home. I didn’t have to cook dinner. Or eat. Or go to the bathroom. All I had was time.
He drove to our friend, Dot’s house and I flowed up the sidewalk with him. She greeted him at the door with a warm smile and a ladylike handshake. Dot was always charming. Kevin did well to visit her.
I slid in the door alongside him. As soon as she got the door closed, Dot clamped her arms around Kevin’s neck and greeted him with a sloppy kiss. What the hell?
“Move in with me, now that the old bat is dead,” she said.
He stiffened and glanced at the floor. “Not yet. We have to wait a decent period.”
Old bat! Old bat? I flew around the room. I wanted to shred his toupee. I wanted to throw her Precious Moments plates off the mantel. But the only physical thing I had taught myself to do was to hold a pen.
I had been going to write him a note of apology.
I was a birdbrain.
The next day I practiced more useful things than holding a stupid pen, and the next time Kevin went out, I was ready.
But he didn’t drive to Dot’s house. He headed toward my friend, Shirley’s. She was a great person, always full of fun, and never had a bad word to say about anyone. She’d be able to cheer him up. I wondered why he was going to see Shirley instead of his girlfriend, Dot? Maybe Dot’s invitation for him to move in made him antsy. Well, I could get back to her later. I had a bone to pick with her.
I scooted ahead of Kevin into the house and darned if Shirley didn’t greet him with a big old kiss.
I swung my fist into an old family photo and knocked it a whole half inch out of whack.
Kevin and Shirley were smooching and didn’t notice.
I flew up to the ceiling and smacked the light fixture. Some dead fruit flies fell through me.
Shirley took Kevin’s hand and led him to the kitchen. I watched them chat over dinner. They used paper napkins. Twice I pulled them off their laps, and dropped them on the floor.
The second time I did it, Shirley shivered. “Excuse me, Kev, while I turn the heat up.”
“Kev,” she called him! He hated being called Kev. Why did he let her get away with it?
I followed her to the thermostat and tried to flick her hair, but it was fused.
Kevin helped clear and wash the dinner dishes. He used to do that with me, in the early days. “Don’t get used to it, chickie,” I wanted to shout.
Shirley nestled under Kevin’s arm on the couch. He ran a finger under her pearl necklace.
I went to the piano and flipped pages of the music. I glanced back to see the effect I’d elicited.
Nada. They were busy gazing into one another’s eyes.
It made me so mad that new strength flowed into my fingers. I was able to strike a key on the piano, and it sounded, clear and loud.
I looked back at them.
Kevin had his nose tucked into Shirley’s neck. “Did you get a cat?”
Her eyes were wide as she stared at the piano. “No. No one’s here but us.”
Ha. I had to let them know that they were not alone, and to let them know exactly who was here. Was there a song that would tell them?
Oh, yes. Of course. The one they’d played at our wedding, so long ago, the one inspired by the idiotic movie, “Love Story.” I settled into it. So insipid, but I had liked it when we were so young, so long ago. “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry. Love means without a word you’ll understand.” Oh, how true it was for me now.
When I finished the verse and chorus Shirley was shaking, and Kevin was white as a—well, white as a ghost.
He cut his visit short and I went home with him. Whenever he started to fall asleep, I was there, nagging him, flipping pages in the book he left by the bedside table, “How to Talk to a Woman.” I’d always thought it endearing, that he was trying to find better ways of communicating with me. The bastard.
To hell with apologizing and going on to my next life.
I’m going to stay here and haunt his ass.
by Kathleen Gabriel Published with Permission
Image credit: Gregg Morris
Find out more about Kathleen Gabriel, Featured Author
This story as well as some other recent posts can be found in literary journal FALL INTO STORY
You got me.
This short story hooked me from the beginning. I think there is a lot of potential and you could expand the story into a longer piece.