This is a short story I wrote in the summer of 2008. It is a thinly veiled piece of fiction that illustrates my thoughts and feelings at the time. Any comments, pro or con, would be appreciated.
I awoke slowly, as if I were arising from the depths of darkness to the sunlight. My eyes opened but that was the only movement. I noted the position of my body, my arms and legs seeming at impossible angles yet I was at peace, calm. For the first time in a long time I didn't feel any pain in my stomach. A rare day indeed. I listened for any sounds in the house but couldn't locate any. Just the normal outside sounds, a dog barking, a car speeding through the neighborhood and always the incessant chirping of birds.
There was no one in bed with me. Hadn't been for weeks. My wife separated from me and was sleeping in a guest room so I had the King size bed to myself. It always seemed far too big yet I utilized it. And this morning it also seemed cold though it was summer and the house was warm. It also seemed a little sticky but that didn't register until later.
I arose and tossed the cover off of me. I felt fantastic for some reason. Not to say I was old and achy, but I never felt this good upon awaking. As if I could run a marathon or something. And I wasn't hungry which was odd. I was usually hungry first thing in the morning. I walked around the bed, preparing to open the door to my bedroom when I noticed that there was someone else in the bed. Odd, that. It appeared he was in the same position I was in a few moments ago. This wasn't possible. I was instantly disoriented. It looked as if I hadn't yet woken up. Because I was looking at myself, still asleep. Wasn't I? I was. That was me. I knew myself from the mirror and this guy was that one.
I pinched myself because this had to be a dream. I willed myself awake but nothing happened. I was still staring at my doppelganger. And he had blood coming out of his nose. And a large puke stain near his mouth. It was dried, white, and looked as if it had been there awhile. Ditto the blood. He wasn't moving. He didn't appear to be breathing either.
I was reluctant to go around the bed and touch him but I was still feeling as if this weren't real so I walked over to him and nudged him. I felt for sure he was going to pop up and surprise me but he didn't. I noticed the smell then. Apparently he had crapped himself. Right there in the bed. I lifted the cover and saw the dark brown stain. I replaced the cover and felt his shoulder. His face was now away from me and I felt the icy coldness of him. He was dead. I was dead. If this were indeed me, and I had no other explanation to go on.
I noticed the usual selection of pill bottles on the bedstand. I suffered from a chronic disease and pills were second nature in my life. But one bottle looked like it had come from a different pharmacy. It was opened and empty save for four or five pills. The label said Diazepam (generic for Valium). Did I need Valium for some reason? I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember anything from the previous night come to think of it. I blinked. I folded my arms. This didn't make sense. This guy who was me obviously took an overdose and killed himself. Here was his body, my body, to prove it.
I wasn't afraid, just puzzled. I would have to alert someone.
I went to the bedroom door and tried to open it but failed. I had success in opening doors from an early age, but this time I had obviously missed the knob, because I only gripped air. I redoubled my efforts and was surprised to find my hand go through the knob. My hand was transparent. I couldn't grasp the knob at all. When I tried to push on the door it was as if there was a force field there. I wasn't able to penetrate it. Another door led outside but after trying it, the same result occurred. I was trapped here in this room with my own dead body until someone came to let me out.
My cellphone rang. I saw that it was my soon to be ex-wife and went to pick it up. My hand passed through it. The phone vibrated itself off of the table and onto the floor yet I still couldn't pick it up. Rather than focus on my situation I wondered why I could feel my dead body and the cover upon it yet not the phone or the door. Perhaps whatever related to the outside world was forbidden to me now. There was just me here in this room. And I was going to have to wait until someone opened the door.
It was going to be a long day. Luckily I wasn't hungry. But I was starting to get the creeps being penned up with my own corpse.
The sonorous echoes of distant church bells were barely perceptable but I could indeed make them out. The sound was beautiful. I wasn't able to turn on the radio, television, or computer so the silence in the room was palpable. Perhaps I could have heard the bells any other day had I just been listening closely enough. Time did not seem to drag. I knew someone would discover my body soon enough and until then I was content with sitting in a chair and waiting.
I heard a car pull up outside and opened the drapes to peer out. It was my stepson in his new truck. He entered the house and made some noise, evidently getting some clothes for football practice. I yelled but he did not respond. Soon, he was gone, peeling out of the driveway. I wasn't panicking though. In fact, I wasn't anything. Hungry, tired, thirsty, bored, scared. Nothing. I just...was. I was existing in the moment, perhaps for the first time in my life. It wasn't unpleasant.
My cell rang again. I didn't bother to even look to see who it was as it was a pointless exercise really. Soon after, my wife's car pulled up into the drive. She got out of the car and I could hear her on her cell, but not well enough to make out the words. She entered the front door and I heard her purse and keys hit the table.
She opened the bedroom door and peeked in. "Glenn?", she said. "Are you okay?" She stepped further into the room and I watched her level of concern rise. I stood in front of her, hoping to block her way but as she slowly rounded the bed she passed right through me, as if I were a wisp of smoke. I walked out the bedroom door to her shouts of "Glenn? Glenn!". She started screaming and I could hear the squeaking of the bed as she, presumably, tried to waken me. Something inside me knew I didn't need to be present for this exhibition. There was nothing I could do anyway and it seemed too upsetting to stay around. So I walked through the front door, without thinking about how I did it, and sat on the porch. Later an ambulance and police car arrived. Neighbors came out of their houses. Some of my wife's relatives also came over. I walked over to see them comfort her and watched the ambulance girl roll the cart with my sheet-covered body into the ambulance. She shut the door and the ambulance drove off.
I wondered if I would be drawn with my body but I wasn't. I stayed where I was, in the yard, by myself. Everyone left, including my wife. I was alone again. It was quiet. Only the church bells rang, this time a little louder but no less beautiful.
I no longer noticed time passing by. I imagine a few days passed but it could have just as easily been a few weeks. I noticed a man my wife knew casually making himself at home in what I still considered to be my house. I found myself hanging out on the roof mostly. It seemed more peaceful up there. Since he began spending the night, I didn't enter the house anymore. It was during one of these beautiful Spring evenings tht I heard a whining coming from my backyard. It was my dog, Brock.
How had I missed him? Did I assume that he, like everyone else, would not see me and therefore not even seek him out? I felt bad for my lack of attention to this animal who was my best friend. Assuming he was looking into a kitchen window, crying for a treat, I glanced down at him. He was looking directly at me and wagging his tail.
Brock was a Golden Retriever and received compliments from strangers and friends alike on his doggy good looks since I rescued him from the pound. And now apparently he could see me. I waved at him and his whining increased. I jumped down and went to pet him and slather him with love but we were unable to touch. I was as ghostly and transparent to him as I was to the rest of the world's inhabitants. However, it was quite comical to watch his confusion at trying to lick and play with something that had no substance. We ended up frustrated with one another and I alit back onto the roof, out of his sight, for he was pathetic in his desire to be with me and the confusion this inability entailed.
One night my wife and what I now called her bff began hauling boxes from a shed to a large firepit dug into the backyard. I recognized the boxes as those containing many of my belongings, such as books, college papers, and other items I thought had worth. The bff poured what I believed to be a liberal amount of gasoline onto the pile and my wife lit and tossed a match onto it. A whoof sound, then intense flames. When everything I had owned was burning she cuddled up next to him and they watched the fire. The sun was setting and the scene probably seemed beautiful to them. I was unmoved.
Cars whizzed by on the busy road in front of the house and from my perch on the roof I noticed Brock watching me intently. I glanced from the happy couple to my dog. He seemed preternaturally stoic. He sensed my mood perhaps for he barked, once. Then, like a shot, he bolted towards the gate and with one leap cleared it. I had never seen him do this before, nor had he had the desire, to my knowledge. After landing on the other side he looked at me once again with that odd intensity and ran with haste toward the busy street in front of our house.
My wife noticed him and called out his name, "What are you doing Brock?! Where are you going?!" she yelled. He never looked at her, nor anyone, he simply ran. He ran for the street and seemed to be timing it so that he could inch ahead of a black SUV that was speeding down the road.
I jumped off the roof, screaming, knowing how close this would be and as I ran side by side with my wife, I saw Brock leap into traffic. My wife and I stopped near the curb and heard the screaming tires of the SUV as it attempted to stop. Brock disappeared under the grill of the vehicle and to my amazement was unhurt. Another car coming the other way had stopped along with the SUV and people started exiting their vehicles and milling around. From behind the SUV Brock came trotting towards me, apparently none the worse for wear. He reached me and I petted him, feeling for broken bones but I could feel nothing wong with him. He licked my face with his cool tongue and I hugged him tight. He clearly liked the attention. Then I noticed the crowd of people part slightly so that I had a view of the body of a dog, a dog that had been run over by the SUV. It was Brock.
My wife was crying and the bff was comforting her. The SUV owner was apologizing and the body of Brock was not moving and not pretty to look at. I looked down at my dog, panting and appearing to smile at me. I understood what he had done. The sounds of the traffic began to fade and the church bells pealed, stronger. I turned to face the sound and started walking. Brock easily fell in by my side and we paced gently through fences, trees, and any other earthly obstacles that had been placed in our way. We walked without hurry towards the sound of the bells and did not look back.