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The Undertaker's Garden

Budding Unforgettable Deadly Romance

By K.H. ObergfollPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 9 min read
The Undertaker's Garden
Photo by NIKITA SHIROKOV on Unsplash

The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own. Well, it wasn’t exactly me; my reflection was different, much different. Seeming, in fact to have a mind of its own, anchored to a body that looked just like me but wasn’t—and before you click back let me explain.

It’s not going to be simple or cut and dry, and by the end of it you might even judge me for what I have done, or failed to do, but give me a chance to tell you my side of the story, and buckle up— it’s going to be a doozy.

They say death steals a part of us but I didn’t think it would be this much, and naturally, if you would have asked me before I would have sworn this day would never, ever come but here we are, wherever this is—and of course you should know—my looks weren’t the sort of thing that would have normally bothered me. Maybe that was my downfall—I’d never cared too much for how I looked but I always had admirers and he was one of them.

In fact, he was the sole reason I was here— as I would soon discover— but first, you should know—I wasn’t particularly shallow, I wasn’t particularly vain. Hell—I didn’t even stand out in a room, but one thing was clear I didn’t recognize what I saw looking back at me and it was frightening to say the least. Sure, I took moderate care of myself in life, but don’t we all?

So why was I being punished for something I didn’t even do? I’d tried to get out; I tried to leave, to push it all out of my mind, to start over. I’d told my husband and a few close friends but I didn’t tell them everything—maybe I should’ve.

He’s here again; this is the second week in a row. They say it was an accident Maddy—they say you and Tom got into an argument and all. I can’t say much, don’t want to upset you but I don’t feel comfortable leaving you here alone. Not with him here…He’s even paid for your stay in full…the nerve. You would be so upset but I can’t turn it down…not with everything you have to go through…

Stella—my best friend, her voice was comforting to hear.

Stella knew my contempt for him—the man who really put me here. I decided to give him anonymity because he doesn’t deserve the paper his checks are signed on. That’s about all he’s good for—flashing his huge wads of cash around. In fact, that was the last thing I remember him telling me—just take the money.

Yes, that was it—bits and pieces were coming back to me now.

I had left his house, I was furious.

He’d threatened me but it was not my worry now, no one could hear my side of the story, besides, who would believe me if I told them? After-all, he looked like the good guy and I must’ve hit my head just a little too hard. Had a bad dream while I was under, recovering.

I'm sure he'd find a comfy place far away to keep me medicated.

By Shyam on Unsplash

It’d been weeks since my husband had passed so why’d I look like the dead one? I’d seen his body; I’d watched him die before my very eyes. I’d buried him. So why was I dead?

Had I not looked at myself in all that time? How could I not know?

I tried to turn back but couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to look away from the reflection in the mirror. Its spirit was different; something about it was dark, inviting, and all the more treacherous the longer I stared. Of course it didn’t help I was curious— that had to count for something; maybe that was why I’d gotten myself into this mess to begin with; curiosity.

Look up,” I whispered to myself, pleading—but nothing happened. My eyes stayed fixated on this thing looking back at me—whatever it was.

I tried forcing my eyes to capture the details of the mirror—how the metal leaves wove into bare branches—it looked just like the trellis where I first saw him that sunny day in April nearly a decade before—in a park near our downtown office. Just like that day I couldn’t break the trance. My eyes didn’t move, they wouldn’t move. The mirror seemed to show me only what it wanted me to see. My mind raced, I tried to think back as far as I could but nothing happened. Even my wristed watch couldn’t be swayed to show the time of day, I was stuck.

The second our eyes locked for the very first time I knew it was over. I just didn’t realize he came with an unspoken set of vows—the kind that only death creates. If only someone could have warned me.

The faint whispers of his familiar voice burned into my ears—“you should have died, you should have died with your husband…but don’t worry, I’m not done with you yet…just wait…just wait…you will end up just like her…

His voice burned icy hot in my stomach, he was there…but where?

I couldn’t see him, my eyes wouldn’t open—instead laser focused holes bore into my frightened reflection as I replayed his words over and over and over again. The reflection sat unmoving, eerily still as my life flashed before my very eyes.

There was nothing I could do. He finally had me right where he wanted me.

By Biel Morro on Unsplash

Gray, mottled skin cracked and crusted at the edges; plastered sunken white eyes and murky pupils looked back at me—so this must’ve been what death looked like. Even my teeth had a film that wasn’t particularly appealing or familiar; I could feel it as my tongue dried to the roof of my mouth.

I watched the strange, foreign hands move; that’s when I saw it. It happened so fast, so instinctively—and yet somehow everything moved in slow motion—swollen, bony fingers pinched the left side of the reflections neglected cheek, the halves of two dusty-red apples withering high on the bone.

I felt the tender crackling of my skin as it pulled tight—I was still convinced this was all a mistake—one big mistake as I watched the strangers hands move along the buttons of a tattered plaid button up; crisp, buttery soft in contrast; I knew better.

I’d worn that shirt last week. I remembered it as though it was yesterday. I’d worn it on that day with my faux-fur lined mules and a pair of leggings. I was supposed to have been going to see him, and yet, my husband had talked me into a last minute trip to the countryside instead, I didn’t even get a chance to change. I wore it for him—it was his favorite outfit, not my poor, innocent, sweet husband.

I was the only one to survive the accident. I’d needed to look my best—at least that is what everyone kept saying as they hovered over me—pinching and prodding and tending to my body. I must’ve looked a wreck. I’m sure I’d lost twenty pounds by this point.

It was by far the most devastating thing to happen to me and yet no one stood waiting to hug me, or hold me, or hear my side of the story. In fact I didn’t recognize a single voice—that was until he spoke above the fray—his tepid, vapid voice breaking into my soul, crushing my bones and grinding me down to nothing.

Make sure she gets the best treatment, the best care.

I lie crushed by his tenacity, his audacity as I longed to wake up.

I stared into the mirror even longer until I realized the reflection was wearing that same exact outfit I’d worn for him—and yet it was different somehow. It was as though the reflection wasn’t there—like it was dreaming in a distant land—maybe it was dead, maybe I was dead, or obscured, or maybe both; there was no way to know.

Yes, that was it; something was in the way, obstructing my full view.

I watched the hands move up near to where my eyes would have been—no glasses, no doe-like lashes, nothing in the way. Yet—there was still this haze, a fog covering my reflection making it hard to see the full picture.

Long, lanky strings of black hair fell in limp cascading waves. I twisted and turned but didn’t sway from the spot. A woven gray cardigan hung from the divots where the hunches of two gaunt shoulders stood skeletal and emaciated.

The reflection, my reflection was a ghost—a mirage, a haunting reminder of what I would never, ever be; not in this life or the next.

By Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Blooming roots of a bulbous flower sprouted from the reflections pocket vining along the crocheted yarn in search of life. Dried petals curled up into a pod of curious velveteen seeds—crimson soaked midnight.

It needed water.

Why was a flower growing in my pocket? I’d never been one for gardening—always had a black thumb and now-so more than ever as I stared at the reflections hands—soot covered and capped in what looked like dried dirt; my nails broken and caked in grime. How’d I not noticed this before? I shuddered.

Who was this person? Not me…I never would have let myself go—not like this.

Skeletal hands of something unfamiliar crept over my reflections shoulders gripping tightly as a second reflection gave me a knowing smile. Finally my eyes broke from its hold and I realized where I was.

I stood silently still as spirits and sacks of bones flitted past crossing from end to end in the attic of my former lover; a house that was nearly two-hundred and fifty years old—each entrenched in furious conversation with the other.

“Why are we here?” I whispered, daring to look up from the mirror. I had to be dreaming.

“Well my dear, you weren’t done with your former life, not yet anyways, I am here to show you the truth. Your mind wandered long and far to the ends of the Earth. Viscious thought provoking curiosities about his wife, a wife whom you had never seen or heard much about—now’s your chance to see what really happened all those years ago. Are you ready? You were so, so close to figuring out what he’d done before this happened…it’s a shame really…”

I hesitated, unsure of what would meet me if I let go of the reflection in the mirror. The voice continued—soothing in many ways.

“You have nothing else to lose, just trust me and let go. It will set you free. Don’t you really want to see what happened to you and your husband? Don’t you want to know the truth?”

“Wait…what? What do you mean? We were in an accident, I was the only one to survive, I remember waking up in the hospital. I remember getting ready.”

“No my dear, you remember what you want to remember, what he wants you to remember. Maybe your mind is trying to spare you the hurt, the pain. You have to let go of that to move on. You have survived up to a point, right now you are on life-support and your family is here waiting on you to either let go or hold on. You should see their faces, their worry, their conversations; it’s crippling. They think you caused the accident…but I, I know better…he knows better…and trust me, he’s waiting…”

By Abbilyn Rurenko on Unsplash

The voice was right, I’d gotten to close, I’d dropped my guard and now he was there in my room waiting for the perfect time to kill me. Maybe I deserved it; maybe I should have left well-enough alone. So who cared if he’d killed his wife? It had been years and no one even knew she wasn’t living in their house, no one but me.

How could no one else know? Did she not have friends or family who cared?

He’d stood behind me in his bedroom his hands resting calmly on my neck as I felt my pulse thicken in my neck. How easy it would have been to kill me right then and there but he didn’t. Instead he smiled, his warm breath trickling out onto my shoulder, I could almost taste his thoughts—his evil, calculating thoughts.

“She’s right there,” he whispered coyly, his eyes falling on a blooming flower bed full of cone-flowers, zinnias and petunias.

By Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Young AdultMysteryHorror

About the Creator

K.H. Obergfoll

Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.

& above all—thank you for your time

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