Friday, August 28, 2009

#fridayflash story: Jaime's Home

Earlier this week I heard about a great event each Friday. It's called #fridayflash, and the idea is to post a flash fiction story on your blog each week. I don't know if I'll participate every week, but I will try to as often as I can. So, without further ado, here is my first post for #fridayflash:


I swore I heard her voice yell to me, "I'm home," as I was in the shower. When I got out, she was nowhere to be seen. Then, ten minutes later, the hospital called and informed me she'd been in an accident. The paramedics had done their best, but she was gone before she reached the emergency room. I didn't bother to tell them that it was impossible; I'd heard her come in a few minutes before, and no, I didn't imagine it. Instead, I hung up the phone and folded into a ball. Jaime, my beautiful Jaime, was gone.

Only a few things caught my attention in those hours I lay there. One, our dog, Bickers, sat shaking, his tail between his legs, as he growled at nothing. Two, the kitchen light turned on and off a few times. Later I found the peanut butter jar on the counter, the lid unscrewed. I hadn't put it there, but Jaime loved peanut butter. Three, I heard the toilet flush two different times. Jaime never could go very long without having to use the bathroom.

I finally got up and did all the stuff I had to do regarding her death. I don't know how I made it through the next few weeks. I probably missed a bunch of signs. When my mind stopped spinning a few weeks later, I noticed Jaime all through the apartment. She had continued her life as if nothing had happened. That's the only way I could think to describe it. Her favorite chair always felt warm and used, though neither I nor anyone else sat there. The TV, whenever I wasn't watching, powered on and tuned to the Travel Channel, her favorite station. Plus a hundred other things I couldn't explain except that she was still there, living in death, just out of my reach.

What did she think? Could she think? Did I abandon her? Was I there in her unlife? I couldn't bear to think about it, and though neither of us was very religious, I called a priest. She needed to move on to wherever the dead went.

I don't really remember talking to anyone at the church. Like so many things after Jaime left, I ran on autopilot. When the priest showed up, I gave him a tour--a Jaime ghost tour, you might say. We watched as she made herself a sandwich, which was just the top twisting loose on the peanut butter jar and the knives vibrating in the silverware drawer. We witnessed the television turning itself on and the channels flipping through until it reached The Travel Channel. We noticed the indentation form in her chair.

I witnessed these things, anyway. The priest, for whatever reason, said none of that happened and refused to free Jaime. I got mad. It had all just happened as he stood there by my side. The only way he could calm me down was with an offer of some other kind of help. I tried to explain that the exorcism would do just that, but he said he had a better idea. He was a man of the cloth, so I believed him.

He went outside for a moment to talk on his cell phone, and when he got back, he was all smiles. In a few minutes, all my problems would be solved. I was so happy that I cried out to Jaime and asked if she had heard. She was going to be okay. Her chair creaked, and I knew she understood. She'd been alive the last time I'd felt this good.

Hours later I sat in a padded cell with a strait jacket wrapped tight around me. I had to admit it was rather comfortable. The help the padre had promised came in the form of an ambulance. He told the paramedics that I'd unscrewed a peanut butter cap, rattled the knives in the silverware drawer, turned on the television, flipped through the channels, and sat in a chair, all the while blaming it on her ghost. Ridiculous, of course. I'd been standing next to him the entire time. At least Jaime had come with me, though. Someone had stinky peanut butter breath.