She gazed out the back door out into the yard, the grandfather clock in the corner ticked off the seconds sounding so very loud in the darkness of night. TICK, TOCK, TICK, TOCK; endless. She felt weighted down, like she was somehow frozen to the floor, she wanted to open the door to run out into the night, she could imagine the frost on the soles of her feet making her feel alive. She reached out her hand and grasped the handle of the door…..it would not turn. Frozen. Everything around her felt frozen, everything except that incessant ticking, pounding in her ears as she stood longing to leave.
The moon cast eerie long shadows across the grass with tiny blue sparkles erupting in the frost. She placed her hands against the glass, there were no condensation marks and yet, it should be cold relative to the inside of the house. Had she turned the heat down? She tried to remember her movements this evening but all she could see was grayness in her mind. A fog. She had no idea what had just transpired. How long? How many hours have passed? She could not remember despite her efforts, searching her mind, she became frustrated. She leaned her head against the glass, sighing audibly with frustration. Again, no condensation against the glass.
“What time is it?” she asked the darkness. She turned to squint at the grandfather clock across the room but could not see the hands. With some effort, she turned her body and began to move toward it, she felt so heavy, like she was somehow tied to the floor. Her efforts to move baffled her and added to her confusion. She approached the clock and bent slightly forward, squinting against the blackness of the room. 230. She felt a sudden rush of panic that she didn’t quite understand. “He won’t be home for hours….hours!” Her husband was working the midnight shift in town at the local hospital. She sighed again, wondering why this fact bothered her and instilled such panic in her gut. She shook her head, with the same effort, she turned and moved back to her spot at the back door. She leaned against the wall and gazed around the room, the darkness had a certain haze to it, almost as foggy as her memory but……a black haze. She couldn’t see past the livingroom into the kitchen. Everything about this was just so confusing. She leaned her head back against the wall, not understanding what was going on. It was like being in a dream but she knew she was awake.
In the distance a dog barked and a loon cried hauntingly over the nearby lake. She would just wait to see what happened next, she didn’t remember waking or what brought her to this spot exactly but she knew she was somehow waiting for something. She was clothed in her favorite dressing gown, white terry cloth. She smiled fondly as she gazed down and twisted the tie around her hand. She had been given the robe 3 years ago as a birthday present from her mother, just days before she had lost her to a car accident. She had vowed to wear it always in an effort to keep her mom with her. She loved how it enveloped her in a soft warm hug, it was like heaven. Her eyes welled up and a tear slid silently down her cheek. “I miss you.” She whispered to the robe. “I love you….” came a disembodied whisper near her ear. She startled and forced herself backward into the corner, her hand reaching for her mouth, stifling a scream. Her eyes searched wildly in the dark. “Nothing. There is nothing there! It’s just your imagination, get a grip!” her mind screamed at her. Her hands were shaking and she suddenly felt so very, very cold, like the air temperature had just dropped a few more degrees.
On the far side of the room, near the stairwell, the dark haze had gotten just ever so slightly brighter, almost a gray. She stared in horror as the gray began to swirl and transform into a ghostly face…………..”it couldn’t be”……..”this isn’t real”….she squeezed her eyes shut. It wasn’t. It was NOT her mother there, she was having a hallucination of some kind. It was NOT real. She opened her eyes again, her heart was beating so fast it was more like a distant tapping sensation. She felt dizzy, so very dizzy. Her feet felt ever so slightly lighter. “You’re not here!” She screamed at the swirling mist. The face gave an almost pitiful smile. Her hands flew up to cover her eyes. She was so dizzy, so, so very dizzy now. There was a panic growing in her belly. Her body was feeling lighter, like she was a balloon still tied to the floor. Her heart was racing, almost inaudible to even her now. “No!” she cried out, but the darkness just swallowed the sound. “No, no, please, no. He’s not home. He’s not home yet.” she cried and pleaded with the room. She felt like she may begin to float, her core was suddenly so cold. “No! Not yet…” She slid down the wall to the floor, covering her face as she sobbed. “No, please, no………I’m sorry……….” The air around her seemed charged, almost thick. “It’s okay, honey, it’s okay…..” the voice whispered to her sending a shiver down her spine. She covered her head with her arms and tried to curl up away from the sound. The ticking of the grandfather clock was defeaning in her ears and then, it stopped. Her sobs echoed hollowly in the room. There was no ticking. She swiped at tears as she lifted her head and gazed in confusion at the clock. Her eyes were clear, the mist was gone, the room was bathed in the dim glow cast by the moonlight streaming in through the window. The clock’s pendulum sat still. There was light spilling in from the kitchen doorway. She looked quickly to the stairwell. Nothing…..but there was a soft warm yellowy glow at the top of the stairs, almost comforting, peaceful.
She reached back and pushed herself up to a standing position. She took a step forward and she felt light as air. The fear, the sadness, the panic, the regret, all of those emotions were gone, like they hadn’t existed. Her eyes were dry but she knew she’d been afraid. She knew she’d just been crying. Perhaps it was all just a dream. She moved around the couch and made her way toward the stairs, there was something very compelling about the warmth that was coming out of that glow, she just couldn’t put her finger on it. She reached the bannister in what seemed like a split second. It was all so odd, it was suddenly so easy to move. As she placed her foot on the first stair, she absently looked back toward the kitchen, remembering the light that was on. And in an instant it all made sense.
There on the kitchen floor, slumped next to the stove was her body, one hand spilling the contents of a glass of water, the other grasping the empty pill bottle.
>>>As Halloween is coming up I thought I’d do a little take on the viewpoint of the dead. People always write from the perspective of the dead themselves and rarely from the point of view of those who are dying. This is a little dark but it’s something I’ve always wondered about.<<<<<