She threw out the last of the flowers today. Silently, I followed her out to the side of the house and watched her dump them in the trash, it felt a little like she was dumping me in the trash. Her tears were emotionless now, like a repetitive habit just streaming down her face. She walked back inside and started washing the vase. Just going through the motions. I stood in my normal spot in the kitchen: the corner between the oven and the fridge. I just watched her knowing she wouldn’t listen or hear anything I had to say. I sighed deeply wishing I could just explain.
I didn’t even bother to turn around when I felt a hand on my shoulder, an icy hand that was becoming familiar to me now. I sighed again.
“James, I can’t wait for you much longer. I have a job to do. You need to make a decision.” The reaper kept his hand gently on my shoulder, squeezing just a little bit. I turned to see him out of the corner of my eye.
“I know, and I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I just… I don’t want to leave her. Please, just one more day?” I could feel him pondering behind me, his desire for productivity arguing with his compassionate nature. I held my breath for his answer.
“I will give you until sunset but then you truly must decide and I must leave.” With that he released his grip on me and wandered back off into the shadows to watch and wait.
I turned my attention back fully to my mother. The vase was washed, dried and standing on the counter next to her. My mother just stood there leaning over the sink as if the swirling water flooding down the drain might offer some secret release. Her tears grew a bit more vigorous now. I felt conflicted: it hurt my heart to see her so sad but at least I knew she truly loved me and missed me. Sometimes, when I was alive, it just felt like something she said because as a mother she had to say it.
She started to move onto cleaning the house. She had never cleaned the house so much in my entire life but now that I was dead I had watched her clean it seven times. I guess grief hits people in different ways.
She walked up the steps with the vacuum as if each of her legs weighed one hundred pounds, I followed feeling the same weight in my legs.
“I wish you could hear me. I wish I could explain, I’m still here and I - I don’t want to leave you behind. Please speak to me,” I whispered quietly as she plugged in the vacuum. Her answer was only stronger tears as if they could feel my words. “I’m here, Mom.”
She stopped - as she had many times before - in front of my bedroom door. Right when I came back I thought she’d spend all her time there, longing after me, looking for me. But she didn’t. She wouldn’t even look at the door.
“Aww baby,” she cried quietly to herself and it felt like a stab to my chest. She fell to her knees and sat there for a moment lingering in her pain. Out of frustration and sadness I hit the wall with a solid punch. I did that once when I was alive creating a gaping hole in the wall and earning a month long grounding. But this time no hole appeared but the picture of me from last year fell to the ground. Both my Mom and I jumped in surprise as the glass shattered on the ground.
“James, baby?” She crawled carefully over to the picture and picked it up in her hands. “Are you still here with me, James?”
If ghosts were able to cry I would have for the relief of her finally recognizing me. I tried to open the door to my bedroom to confirm her questions since words obviously weren’t working but my hand went straight through. I tried over and over again but nothing happened. I screamed violently but I was the only one that heard a sound.
She turned back to the photo and placed it back on the ground, as if giving up on making contact with me. She stood up and finally brought herself to my bedroom door. Her hand hovered over the knob for a moment before she finally twisted it open and released the pressure of memories that had been building behind the door.
“Please James, if you’re here, give me a sign,” she asked, keeping her voice low as if we were sharing a secret.
I walked into the room behind her and looked for something to move, anything to alert her to my presence here.
“Think this through, James.” I turned behind me to see him leaning against the door frame staring at the pocket watch he kept on him. “Even if you are able to move something, let her know you are here, do you think that would bring you back or make her happy? Happy to know her son is a ghost lingering around for her benefit? One day your Mom will be gone and you’ll still be here, ever stuck here with nothing and no one.”
“I can’t leave her alone, I’m all she has. I don’t care what it costs,” I answered, turning back to look at my Mom. She was turning around in the room waiting for me to make a sign.
“No, you WERE all she has. Now, what she has is a broken heart and suffering of knowing her child is not at rest, not at peace. She lingers in sadness because she can still feel you here. This is a lonely road, that in my experience, no spirit has ever found to be ‘worth it.’ So as I said: think this through, James.”
The reaper turned behind the door to wait in the hall, giving me a moment to think. I wanted so badly just to be with my Mom again but I knew he was right: it would never be like it was and knowing I was just a ghost here for her would probably keep her more unhappy.
I walked over to her and, as if she could feel me moving, she froze in place. I kissed her cheek and she shuddered as if she could feel my cold, dead lips against her face. The tears made more of a show now about their descent from her eyes.
“I love you Mom. I’m so sorry,” I uttered, defeated. Without a moment to second guess my choice I walked back out of my bedroom and looked for him.
“I’m ready now, I’ve made my decision.”
“Are you sure? I promised you could have until sunset, you still have a few more hours,” he answered, glancing still at his pocket watch.
“I know that if I don’t go with you now, then I never will and staying wouldn’t be right.” He sighed and smiled sympathetically at me.
“I’m sorry, James but you are making the right choice,” he replied. I nodded as he held out his arms to me. I walked in to embrace him and embraced the afterlife.
About the Creator
Hello. Welcome to my page. I have been writing for over ten years & have been published in several different formats including magazine articles, poems & full length novels. I have a BA in English Literature & a Masters in Psychology.