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This is a work of pure fiction. In tribute to Halloween, I have very loosely based the premise of this story on the cancelled Showtime TV show, DEAD LIKE ME, whose premise I always found witty and a quirky look at life after death. The characters in this story as well as the writing are all my own creation, however the basic ideas were adapted from the show and I wanted to give credit where credit is due.
I hope you enjoy it. Those who know my writing know its not wham bam sex so if you’re looking for that kind of story, please kindly pass this one by. Those who choose to read it, please take a moment to comment and vote. Sorry it took so long to post but schools been crazy. Good luck to everyone in the contest. Thanks all.
* * * * *
All around me, empty soda cans and crumpled potato chip wrappers littered the floor. The blinds were down, engulfing the room in a stale darkness that smelled faintly like a cross between Cheese-Whiz and the next door neighbor’s weekly pot party. I was sitting in the middle of the couch, wrapped in a fleece blanket like a queen surveying her lands. Considering the fact that I didn’t smell much better than the room, it was a sad kingdom. Miranda had barely spoken to me since the night she had walked in on Garrett and me, preferring to spend time with her new flavor of the month and leaving me alone to stew. I couldn’t blame her. I was a miserable bitch.
It had been four days since I had seen Garrett. I didn’t know where he was, or if he had crossed over. I had asked Miranda but she’d said she hadn’t seen him. She’d seemed satisfied to put it all behind her, but I couldn’t stop wondering if he was all right.
I’d called the diner I worked at and told them I had come down with the flu till further notice. I was probably fired, but it wasn’t like there weren’t another hundred dead-end jobs in NYC and I had the rest of my life, excuse me, my afterlife, to figure out one that would keep at least one bag of Doritos on my table.
I reached over for the box of Mallomars on the coffee table, taking out one of the slightly melted cookies and biting into it. The chocolate smeared over my fingers, a comfort food secret passed down among women through the ages. I popped it into my mouth, trying to concentrate on the cavities I was probably developing instead of worrying about Garrett. He had been in every one of my thoughts for the last 96 hours and I was sick of it.
I sighed as I munched another cookie and then held my fingers out to my cat, Chole, so she could lick off the chocolate. She purred and I was glad someone was happy.
My gaze moved to the coffee table and the shoebox sitting on it. I had dragged it out of my closet last night and left it there. I didn’t have to look inside to know what was in there, but I got up anyway, settling on the floor with the box between my legs. I tucked a stray strand of hair back behind my ear before I pulled off the lid and set it to the side. The scent of old rose petals wafted up to me in a ghostly whisper as I sifted through the contents.
I inhaled slowly as I pulled out my wedding bouquet. I had stolen it from my mother’s house a few weeks after I had become a reaper. There had been hell to pay for that one, but I’d needed it to reassure myself of everything that had happened. Some people needed to see their headstone. I had needed to see the bouquet because it represented so much more of my life and the mistakes that had gotten me to this point, making me who I was.
I set it down gently and then pulled out the picture frame from the bottom of the box. It was plain black wood with the black and white picture in it. The quality was grainy, but the two people in it were laughing, their smiles happy, without a care in the world.
I barely recognized that girl anymore. She didn’t fit into this world of mine where death was an everyday reality and taking souls had become a quota game, each one bringing me one step closer to the unknown number that would free me from this afterlife and send me into the next unknown. It was a hard way to live life and I wondered if any of it really mattered in the end.
I frowned, tossing the photograph back into the box, ignoring the photo-strip of Garrett and I, the day he had proposed, smiling and goofing for the camera as if in a year, our life together wouldn’t be over.
I flipped the photos the bird and then reached for my wineglass, taking a sip of the cheap vodka which was the only alcohol I had had on hand.
Life wasn’t supposed to end like this. There had to be more to it, but hell if I knew what it was.
I groaned when the doorbell rang. “Go away.”
It rang again and again, insistent in its trill. If it was someone handing out campaign posters, they were going to find their names spelled out in plastic on my refrigerator. I shivered as my bare feet touched the cold floorboards, shuffling down the hallway to the door with my wineglass in hand. “Can’t the dead rest in peace?”
“You’re the undead Escort Bayan darling. Now open the door.”
I sighed as I heard Sebastian’s voice through the door. I hesitated, pressing my forehead against the cool wood before I opened it and offered a deadpan look to him and Adam. Sebastian’s nose wrinkled, one hand going to his throat as he tsked his tongue. “You look terrible. Are those Sponge Bob pajama pants? Good God you so need our help.”
“I am fine. Now go away.”
“Not on your life. Miranda said that you haven’t left this apartment in days. It’s time for you to get into the shower so we can burn those pajamas and try to get a food into you that won’t block every one of your arteries..”
I leaned up and snapped my teeth together by his nose, then looked at Adam who offered me a sympathetic smile. “I can’t believe you put up with this everyday.”
“He makes me laugh.”
I hid a smile, grumbling as Sebastian ushered me into the shower while Adam went to clean up the apartment. Twenty minutes later I was showered and smelling like freesia and peaches. As reluctant as I was to admit it, I felt better and pinched Sebastian’s ass in thank you before I padded down to the kitchen.
I barely recognized it. Adam had thrown away all of the empty wrappers and cans and the pile of dirty dishes in the sink were neatly drying in the dish rack. It smelled warm and homey, like pasta sauce and basil. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until my stomach rumbled in greeting. I’d always been a sucker for Adam’s cooking. Adam smiled as I came into the kitchen and gestured for me to sit down. I sank into the chair, pulling my hair back into a damp ponytail as he set an apple martini down in front of me.
“God bless you.”
He winked and dropped a kiss onto the top of my head. “You look more like yourself again.”
“Well looking is better than nothing I guess.”
“That bad huh?”
“Missing out on a one-day sale is bad, Adam. This is more along the lines of wanting to fall into a black hole somewhere.”
“You’ll feel better after dinner. I am making lasagna so you and Miranda can have leftovers for tomorrow.”
“Have I told you lately that I love you?”
His dimpled flickered as he grinned, patting my arm. “Not today but it’s always nice to know I am a wanted man.”
“If I could clone you, I could make millions.”
He chuckled and I took a sip of my fruity drink, loving him even more as the cool, sweet liquid went down my throat. This was the life; cared for by two beautiful, successful and sensitive men. Of course there would never be marriage and there would probably never be sex. But by god there would be lasagna and fruity drinks and in today’s world, what else could a girl really want? A ghostly ex- fiancé who was gorgeous and confident but possessed the emotional maturity of a five year old? I’d take my chances with the martini.
“All right, Allison. We have washed you and plan to feed you, so it’s time to spill the beans. Who was that gorgeous man and why did we find you in those horrible pajamas instead of wrapped in a passionate embrace?”
“Most people would tell you that’s none of your business, Sebastian.”
“Oh please. The only ones that never want to share the details are the ones who aren’t having sex or virgins who’ve never had sex.”
I felt my cheeks burn as I took another sip of my martini. It was a long sip. I saw Sebastian and Adam exchange looks before Sebastian put one hand over his mouth. “You’re not serious.”
“Stuff it, Bastian.”
“But this is just so…unheard of. You’re a virgin?”
“Can we please not have this conversation.”
“Oh no, darling, we must have this conversation. How could you have been engaged to that man and no have torn off his clothes the moment you were alone? I can’t be around Adam for more than five minutes when we’re alone before I want to slide my tongue all over his…”
“HELLO!” I interrupted. “So not appropriate, Bastian. As much as I enjoy the fantasies of myself with two beautiful men, we are not going to go into the details of your sex life. Capice?”
“Pooh. You’re no fun.” He sighed dramatically before he took a sip of my martini. “All right. So tell us why you haven’t slept with him.”
“Do I have to?”
“If you want us to go home you do.”
“Is it possible to negotiate your release and keep Adam in captivity?” I heard Adam snicker, but Sebastian looked less than willing. I sighed, stealing my martini glass back. “It’s a complicated situation.”
“I’m an undead gay man, Allison. Complicated is a permanent part of my vocabulary.”
“We’re just trying to help, Ally,” Adam said quietly, removing his oven mitts as he settled into a chair beside Sebastian. He offered a gentle smile then settled comfortably into his chair with his own drink.
“I know. I just…” I paused, sighing. “Before Garrett, I was engaged once while I was in college. His name was Eric and he was handsome, popular and came Çankaya Escort from old money and a good family name. He was the first guy that I was ever really serious about. We were together for about 8 months and he started pressuring me for sex. I didn’t want to rush into but I finally decided one night that it was the right moment. So I went over to his place. When I walked in, he was in bed with my roommate.” I paused, shrugging, avoiding the looks of sympathy on both male faces. “I was hurt for a long time. When I met Garrett, it was almost the same situation; gorgeous, intelligent, funny…I didn’t think I was good enough so I guess I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.” I shrugged, my finger playing around the edge of my glass. “I was planning for our wedding night to be something special, but you see how that turned out.”
“Well you know how the saying goes, Allison. If at first you don’t succeed…”
I held up both hands for time out. “There will be no trying again, Bastian. He lied to me.”
“He was working undercover for the DEA when we met and he never told me until the other night when we were…well he should have told me while I still had an actual pulse. I thought he sold fucking insurance for Christs’s sake! He freaked out on the day of the wedding and left. Its all his fault. If he had just talked to me, I wouldn’t have been killed by a fucking cork, he wouldn’t have transferred departments and been killed by a junkie and we’d be fine. Instead he’s dead, I’m undead and the whole situation is screwed six ways from Sunday!”
Adam and Sebastian exchanged looks again.
“No, I want to know what that look was about. You think I’m crazy don’t you.”
“Not crazy. Just a bit high-strung. I think you need another martini.”
My eyes narrowed and Adam’s hand gently covered mine before I could lunge a Sebastian. “Have you considered that maybe he was trying to protect you?”
“Oh don’t tell me that you’re taking his side, Adam. I’m beginning to rethink that whole clone idea.”
“Allison, I think you’re making this more complicated than it has to be.”
“He lied to me, Adam! He took away my choice by not telling me what was going on.”
“And that was wrong. I’m not denying that he was a moron, but he’s a man. Frankly, we make mistakes all the time because we don’t always think the same way that women do. Battle of the sexes and all that nonsense. But what I do know, is that men are basically simple creatures with one base need before anything else.”
“Wild and kinky sex?”
He ignored me. “Love. We want to love the person we decide is worth it and we want to protect them at love at all costs by protecting them the best way we know how. He screwed up. No one is denying that, but he did it because he loved you. Considering that he has been hanging out at Starbucks with Cassandra every morning for the last 4 days, I’d say he still loves you.”
My head shot up and Adam had to make a dive for my martini glass as I jumped, almost knocking it off the table. “He’s still here?”
“Didn’t you know? He’s been hanging out with us every day, trying to find out how you are and how he can make things right.”
“Oh my god. Cassandra must be pissed.”
Sebastian snickered and let my head drip into my hands. Adam patted my back. “Actually he has her pretty much eating out of his hand. She likes him.”
“Cassandra doesn’t like anyone.”
“I know. It’s disturbing on so many levels.”
I chuckled then sighed. Sebastian reached for my hand with one of his, taking Adam’s with the other. “Look darling, it’s very simple. All couples argue. Adam and I regularly send one another to hell but if he ever walked out of that door for good I would die a second time. Love is like that; a pain in the ass because you have to work at it and sometimes you have to swallow your pride to make it work.”
“He’s dead, Bastian.”
He snorted as if that was just a small detail. “Darling we’re all dead. It’s quite in vogue now.”
I felt my lips quirk, trying to fight the laughter that threatened to escape because I knew once I let go, there was nothing to stop it from turning into a sob. I exhaled, looking down. I could feel my jaw tensing. I was uncomfortable with this whole conversation because I knew it would eventually lead to this point. There was one underlying issue that prevented the happily ever after for me.
“If I sleep with him,” I said softly, “his business here is finished. He crosses over and I lose him all over again.”
I could feel their sympathy and I wanted to tell them to stop it, but instead I closed my eyes when Adam pulled me out of my chair and wrapped his arms around me. His shirt was scratchy against my cheek as he settled my head against his chest, stroking his hand over my hair. I held onto him tightly. My pulse was in my throat, threatening to choke me. My chest was so tight I could barely breathe.
I didn’t say Ankara Escort anything as Sebastian came up behind me, wrapping his arms around me from behind so he was holding onto both me and Adam at the same time. That tight feeling climbed up my throat and spilled out of my eyes. I started to cry and I couldn’t stop it. I hated it; hated that the whole death will set you free thing was just a crock. It didn’t stop the pain, didn’t make losing everything any easier the second time around. It just got you soggy.
When the crying slowed and I could breathe without hiccupping, Sebastian leaned over my shoulder, handing me a tissue. I blew into it loudly, wiping at my face.
“I hate this.”
“We know, but do you really want to sentence him to being an earthbound spirit for the rest of time?”
I sighed. I knew they were right. I hated that they were right. Love was about sacrifice. Garrett had sacrificed the light to stay close to me. The least I could do was to give him that chance back. It didn’t mean I had to like it. I didn’t have to like it at all.
* * * * *
Sunlight danced in a kaleidoscope of color along the stained glass windows lining the church, giving it an ethereal quality as if it was caught somewhere between this world and the next. Soft organ music played, the pews lined with flowers and filled with people here to wish life and happiness on this new journey.
I inhaled and held it for a long hard moment. My heart was pounding, drowning out the organist. All I could focus on was the clamminess of my palms as I wiped them discreetly against my dress before Sebastian could catch me and scream about how sweat was the death of silk. I was less concerned about the dress than I was in making it down that aisle. I had never walked it on my wedding day and today it seemed even longer than it had the day I had peeked through those wide, ornate doors and seen everyone but the man who was supposed to pledge his undying love for me.
At least you got the undying part.
I sighed, letting my breath out in a whoosh. I could do this. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and I would be all right. This was a big day. I had to just jump in because I couldn’t spend the rest of my life – however odd a word for it that might be – sitting out on the sidelines. I’d been given a second chance and it was time that I finally took it.
I saw people turn as I stepped into the aisle. I smiled and took another step down and then another and another and then slid into the empty pew.
You were expecting something else? Hey I had my chance. A champagne cork blew it for me.
“See that wasn’t so hard.”
“I feel like I’m going to throw up. I haven’t been inside a church since…well you know.”
Sebastian patted my hand sympathetically, Miranda leaning over him on the other side so she could hand me a peppermint. I slid the candy under my tongue, sucking on it hard, reminded of the days my mother had taken me to church as a little girl. Back then I still associated church with God and Heaven. Now all I could think was that Cassandra was a sadist.
I glared at her and she smiled from the pew directly across from ours. As the wedding party started to drift down the aisle, I thought about how nice it would be if it were her name on that Post-it. It made me smile, which made her expression waver. I grinned and then turned my attention to the door as the wedding march began and the bride appeared in the doorway.
She was a vision in white, floating down the aisle on her father’s arm. Her veil obscured her features, but I knew she was smiling as she looked at the man waiting for her at the end of that long walk, because I would have smiled. If things had been different, it would have been me taking those steps, committing myself with every one to love and cherish the man I loved for as long as I lived, till death made us part.
Of course I hadn’t expected death to part us so soon and I doubted she did either. But those were the breaks. I didn’t understand why death worked the way it did. I was just a messenger.
My hand brushed over her arm as she walked down the aisle. Miranda had already taken care of the groom earlier, so we just sat back and enjoyed the wedding, my mind playing tricks on me as I floated back and forth between reality and my memories.
I blinked when Sebastian touched my arm. I glanced down at my wristwatch. It was ten minutes to 11:00 am. I nodded to him and then looked over at the altar as M. Houston and A. Kendall finished their vows. They were smiling and happy and it was so unfair.
” If there is anyone here who has any reason why these two shouldn’t wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
“Yeah, I object.”
Everyone turned to look at the man standing in the middle of the aisle, wearing blue jeans and a leather jacket. His hair was long and unkempt, his face scruffy with days worth of stubble, all in all, he screamed trouble.. A sign around his neck that said ‘wedding crasher’ might have been more discreet. “
You broke my heart, Amy. You were supposed to marry me.”
“It’s been over for years, Josh! Get over it. I’m a married woman now.”
“It’s not over for me. It never was. It never will be! You belong with me!”
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