In My Time of Dying

April 15, 2012 at 9:19 PM | Posted in Fiction | 3 Comments
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This is my real entry, I suppose. No one likes poetry. Whatev. No splatter fiction, no horror, no science fiction or fantasy. Just–I don’t know what you would call it. Did one of you once tell me I could write romance novels? Ugh.
To see more stories about death, hotwire a hearse and drive slowly over here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Death is on the Table

The spacious, well-appointed house seemed bare and quiet.  The midday sun dappled on the plants through the patio window, but the curtains on the front of the house were dark and fully drawn; they formed a barrier to the outside world.
Linda sat at the dining room table.  Calm, still, and red-eyed.  Her cigarette burned down in her hand, and she was lost in thought.
Her thoughts bounced back and forth without meaning:  the last twenty years, the last week–the last year.  Alternately smiling briefly and cursing quietly to herself, she pondered.
And waited.
The children were gone, as were the grandchildren.  For once, it seemed, she was alone.  Finally alone.  Ever since childhood, she had never been alone.  Her first child came along when she herself was still one, at fourteen.  Then another at fifteen.  Between the babies and taking care of her parents, she was never alone.
When her first two children were teens, she got married and got pregnant again.  Then again, some years later.  Her youngest was now a teenager, but in fifty years of life, she had never been alone.  Until now.
She hadn’t felt alone this last year, after her husband had left her.  Abandoned, yes, but not alone.  Her oldest son and his kids moved in to fill the void.  But now…Now her thoughts turned to him.  I can’t believe the son of a bitch is really gone.
Her thoughts turned to the bitter night that he had left, and she begged him not to go.  Later, she would wish that she hadn’t done that, hadn’t begged.  She wasn’t the begging type.  But she did, for him.  Still he left.
Linda wondered if she had done something differently, if she had been different, better–if she could have done something, somehow, and that would have changed the events of the last week–
Was it her fault?
She swallowed hard and choked, and put out the mostly unsmoked cigarette.  Glancing absentmindedly at the clock, she realized the time didn’t register with her, and she had to look again.  Three o’clock.  She should be here soon.
The front door was open a crack; from beyond she heard a car pull up, shut off.  But she didn’t hear a door.  Hmm.  I can imagine this is hard for her.  It’s hard for us all.  I hope she knows that.
After a long time, she finally heard a car door open and close.  She had dreaded this moment for so long, but now she was numb.  She heard the footsteps on the drive and then on the porch, and then a light rapping on the door.  A voice called out.

Kim had dreamt of this meeting, and dreaded it.  Not dreams so much as nightmares.  But she always thought Bryan would be there to protect her, to keep his ex-wife away from her.
Oh, Bryan, why did you leave me?
She had thought–hoped, wished–that they would be together forever, that they would grow old together, spend twenty or more years together.  The one thing that she thought would make her life worth living–she thought she would grow old with Bryan.
Tears streamed down her cheeks, uncontrollably.  His life was over, but it seemed to her…that so was hers.
Before any funeral planning could happen, this meeting had to happen.  She was technically just the girlfriend; legally, a fiancé meant nothing.  The ex-wife held all the power.  She had all the history, she had the children, she had the family connection.  All that Kim had was his heart.
Fiat currency now.
Kim sat in the driveway of her fiancé’s ex-wife’s house.  This had been his house, too.  For many years.  She saw many things that were reminiscent of his touch, his style.  Bryan did that landscaping.  Bryan laid those bricks in that pattern.  What else is left of his legacy?
Oh, Lord…what am I going to do?
She couldn’t bear to ponder the answer.  Well, as Bryan would say, “Let’s get moving.  We’re burning daylight here.”  Kim snorted a laugh and cried at the same time.  Slowly, her head lowered to the steering wheel.
A few minutes later, she felt as though she was watching herself get out of the car—Bryan’s car!—and walk to the front door.
Kim stood before the front door.  There was no screen door.  Curious.  Maybe because this was a newer house?  Screen doors were an option that homeowners would add later.  This house was only five years old.  After they bought it, that’s when things began to fall apart between he and Linda.  Although Bryan would say, “It may not have always been bad, but it was rarely good between us.”
Kim thought of the day Bryan said that.  They had recently met, and his divorce was in the bitter throes of mediation.  She saw something special in him, something that he obviously didn’t see in himself:  he was a good man.  He had a good disposition and a merry shine to his eyes that didn’t hide his pain, but put it all away for another day.
She thought of his beautiful, bright blue eyes, and wished only that she could—
Put it all away for another day.
It was then Kim paid attention to her surroundings.  She had spent the last 48 hours walking in a dreamland.  Had it really been that long ago?  Two days?  Time was vindictive.  The more time that passed, the more distance there seemed to be between the life she had, and this new thing, whatever it was going to be.
Back to the here and now.  Here and now.  Here we are, here and now.  Christ, am I at her door?  Kim looked at it, noticing with curiosity that it seemed to be partially opened.  I can see that.  I can see not caring right now if you closed the door behind you…
Kim knocked on the door quietly and it opened a little more.



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  1. I like it. Interesting clear contrast between these two women in his life, now forced to come together by the circumstance of his death.

  2. This is a very deep thoughtful piece. We always blame ourselves, no matter what goes wrong.
    You wrote both women with depth and understanding.
    I’m the one who said you could write romances. You can also write real life. : )

  3. I don’t like it. Not at all. You put my nightmare in words. Asshole.

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