A man wearing a black suit and tie stood at the pew of a church. He had an anxious look on his face. Where is she? He thought. It was his wedding day, yet the room was strangely empty. Not a single person had showed up so far. Not even the priest. There were no flowers, no music, nothing. All there was were empty chairs and an occasional cockroach scuttling across the floor. Maybe I got the date wrong...No, I doubt that. We talked about it all night. Just then the large mahogany doors creaked open and he saw her. Her dress…god it was gorgeous. Pure white, not a speck of dirt on it. It flowed around her shoeless feet. She appeared to be walking on air. He was utterly stunned, not able to say a word, not able to think. She was so beautiful…Her eyes, a deep shade of blue stared back at him and they became all he could see. But as he stared, something in them died. The light just left. The glimmer she always had disappeared. They looked more and more like glass eyes on a doll than the ones that belonged to his lover. Dark circles surrounded them as a thin film covered them and took away every bit of life that was left. And then they shut. The next thing he knew, he was standing over her dead body, crying. The soft velvet lining in the coffin turning the tears into little beads that rolled down the creases.
My eyes opened and I took in my surroundings, wondering where I was until I realized it was just my own room. My pillow was wet with tears and my hands shaky. Then I remembered, she died. But that couldn’t be. It just wasn’t right. I rolled over in my bed too see if she was there. Much to my relief she was, her brown hair resting on the pillow. I reached out to touch it and took in the soft scent of lavender. It felt like silk slipping through my fingers. A soft moan escaped from her throat as she rolled over and faced me.
“Hi,” she whispered in a voice that was scratchy and barely audible but **** at the same time. I just stared back at her deep blue eyes and felt the tears build up behind my eyes. “What’s wrong?” she asked a pitiful look on her face.
“Nothing, just another bad dream.” I replied nonchalantly.
She sat up in the bed, stroking her hair. “You didn’t take your sleeping pill last night did you? You were tossing all night long.”
I just stared at her back. We both knew the answer. I hadn’t. I’d been skimping on my meds recently. I was getting married in a week and needed to give the meds time to completely wear off. I didn’t want the pills taking away my feelings. I wanted the full experience. Besides I thought I was getting better. There were no more voices whispering my name and I no longer talked to my dead sister, who apparently was just a hallucination my mind created to help deal with the pain of losing her. They said that it in no way meant I was insane. They called it a defense mechanism. They said it was my body’s way of protecting me. But I saw their thoughts in their eyes. I saw how frightened they were at my insanity, how they kept their distance from me, avoiding me like I was infected with the plague.
I remembered how healthy, how happy she had been. She’d had her whole life ahead of her but when she was nineteen I had taken her down to the Gulf of Mexico with Kasey, my fiancée. I couldn’t have one without the other. It was through Sarah that I met Kasey and through Kasey that I saved Sarah. I had figured that I would take the two most important people in my life to the beach for spring break but now I regret it.
I just remember Sarah’s smiling face, mocking me and Kasey as we held each other on the shore, our toes tickled by the gentle water. Without warning a scream escaped her mouth as she was pulled under against her will. She didn’t leave the water until the following morning when her body washed up on shore. A shark had bitten one of her legs clean off. Her face was pale, her eyes open, not seeing through the milky film surrounding them and her lips stained a dark blue color. For so long I had been convinced that she had escaped. I saw her on the streets, in my apartment, in my car everywhere. Sometimes we just waved or said hi and we went on with our days but sometimes I had long drawn out conversations with her. I remember the day I proposed to Kasey that she had been waiting for me outside the apartment and we had talked for hours about how happy I was going to be with her and how I am so lucky to be able to have someone like her. Even seeing her body in that black coffin surrounded by white lilies didn’t bring the truth to me. It just felt like an insane dream when I stood up and recounted our good times during the eulogy and when I held Kasey tight in the cemetery where she now rests. I was absolutely convinced that she had lived. She couldn’t be dead I saw her, I talked to her, I hugged her. But all those psychologists said she was. They all said the hallucination was just how my brain was choosing to deal with it. Instead of becoming clinically depressed, I just chose to deny it.
Other than the hallucinations, I haven’t really dealt with her death. It still doesn’t feel real; even if I don’t see her anymore. Although she’s six feet under next to our parents, I can’t believe it. I’m just waiting for the day it hits me. The day I’ll want to do nothing but look at pictures of her as I’m locked in my room crying. But surely it won’t be soon. I’m marrying Kasey in a week and then everything will be perfect for a while.
The weeks before our wedding was spent running about the streets of St. Augustine. Kasey boasted to me for days about how gorgeous she would be in her dress and how I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off her. We were having a small wedding, neither of us really had a family left and we didn’t have too many friends being as I could never keep one job for too long, let alone live in one place for a while. I usually ended up working as a waiter somewhere or in a small store. I really relied on Kasey for most of my money though.
Kasey had modeled at one point in her life and still had some money left over from it. I kept telling her to get back into it but she always said no, claiming the people in the business were shallow and ignorant. A little over a year after we’d met, she was getting pretty well known. Her agent was a scumbag who would milk absolutely everything he could from her, even if it meant turning to pornographic modeling. He was going to get as much money as he possibly could from her so he paid, literally paid, a new male model to date her. His name was Jacob Fischer. Apparently the guy was stupid enough to tell Kasey that he hadn’t been paid enough to take her anywhere really expensive. I remember when Kasey showed up at my house drenched in rain, crying. I tried to make her as comfortable as possible in my dinghy apartment. Apparently all she needed was my love. That was the first time that we admitted how much we loved each other. The only other time we admitted it was when I proposed to her. Our wedding day drew nearer and nearer until the night of our rehearsal dinner.
It took place at the Sun Dial, where I worked. We were all wearing our dress suits and the ladies wore dresses that glittered and shone in the dim lighting. We sat and drank champagne as we watched the city of Atlanta revolve around us. You could see the street lights and malls and other buildings. From our view the Golden Dome looked beautiful. I sat down sipping my wine and letting the constant chatter of the place engulf me. I was completely lost in my thoughts as Kasey sat down next to me and everyone began clapping. “Go on,” She whispered, “it’s time for the toast.” I stood up and the volume of the clapping increased.
I cleared my throat. “I can’t tell you all how flattered I am to be able to have Kasey’s hand in marriage. It’s very rare that a guy like me ends up with someone as beautiful as her,” I paused, listening to the dead silence and continued, “No really though, I am honored to be able to have her become part of my family.” I looked at the very last table and saw Sarah sitting there smiling at me. “And I’m sure that Sarah is excited to have her as her sister-in-law. Isn’t that right Sarah?” There was no reply, only stunned faces staring back at me.
Sarah was gone. I could feel all those eyes boring holes in me as my face grew hot. Kasey stood up and took my arm, “Will you excuse us please?” she pulled me of the rotating floor and towards the door of the restaurant. “What is wrong with you?” she was practically yelling. I could see the tears welling up behind her eyes. “She really was there. Sarah was sitting in the back of the room smiling at me.” I tried to tell her the truth. “No. No Parker. You’re the only one who saw her. She’s been dead for over two years now.” She looked me straight in the eyes, begging me to believe her. “You can’t just quit taking your meds like that! Normal people don’t see their dead sisters at the rehearsal dinner and most of them don’t talk to her during the toast!” I couldn’t say anything; I just looked at her. “I love you Parker, I really do. You’re the only person in this world that I feel truly understands me but you’re insane! Nothing will bring her back. I know you don’t understand that she really is gone but you have to move on. It hurts me as much as it does you. I loved her too and if you would just pull your head out of your *** you would see that there are so many other people that did too but we’ve all dealt with it and moved on.” I could tell she was trying really hard to hold back the tears but they just kept rolling down her face, painting it with bleeding mascara.
I reached out and hugged her. “I’m so sorry Kasey. I just don’t know what happened back there…” she pushed me back and stared at me in disbelief.
“You know what? **** it. You’ve completely lost your mind. How do you expect me to be able to marry someone who talks to dead people?!” her chest was heaving with effort. She was yelling at me louder than she ever had before. “Just…Just come find me whenever you find your ******* mind.” She shoved me away from her slipped in the elevator just as its doors closed.
“Kasey! Wait!” I called desperately after her. I stood by the window completely dumbfounded. My breath fogged up the glass that my hand rested on.
I lay in my bed that night, staring at the water stained ceiling. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Thinking about how I had hurt her, of how she had run away and how I had been too stunned to go and face all those people that had just witnessed me talking to a hallucination. I hadn’t done that in so long…What happened? Why did she blow up like that at me? It’s not like I meant to, I mean just because it’s the first time I’ve done it in a couple months doesn’t give her a right to get so mad does it? I’m not insane…at least I don’t think I am. But maybe she’s right. Maybe I am. Insane and depressed. I thought as I rolled over in my bed and brought my legs up to my chest. My eyes landed where her head would usually be. I felt a wave of extreme hopelessness rush over me as I thought of her. I really did love her. But maybe she just can’t make herself love me. Maybe the insane aren’t meant to be loved. We’re all destined to a life of loneliness and tears. All those who try to help us don’t really care. They all just come and go like birds in the change of seasons. The world never stops changing, never stops moving. Neither do we, but we never go up, we only fall deeper and deeper until we’ve lost it completely. That’s when we start sitting in a rocking chair all day mumbling nonsense to ourselves. By then no one cares anymore; we all just become lost causes. There is no hope anymore. Not for us.
It felt like someone had ripped my heart right out of my chest. That was how bad it felt to know she didn’t want to be with me. I would rather her have died knowing that she loved me than have her living knowing she doesn’t give a ****. This way she was dead to me, but only me; just like my sister was dead to everyone but me. She told me to come find her when I found my mind, but how do I find it if I’ve never lost it? I just can not believe I’m insane. Surely she would come back to me if I could just talk to her. She had always loved me no matter how crazy I got. What made now different? I had to make it up to her. I would find her in the morning and hold her tight for the rest of the day. We didn’t have to get married if she didn’t want to. If she was just looking for an excuse not to marry me, why didn’t she just tell me that she wasn’t ready yet? That would’ve been easier for me to take than this. Anything would be.
The beast that had my heart in their hands rolled it around, feeling the warmth and stickiness of blood on their hands. They held still for a moment and then squeezed it until it burst, gushing blood between their fingers. I screamed into my pillow and then succumbed to the unavoidable sobs.
Sleep never came to me that night. I just lay there; thinking about her, imagining her, missing her. She was all I thought about. She was the only thing I thought about as I slipped some clean clothes on and headed out of the apartment that smelled like mildew.
The streets were too crowded for me to take my car and after ten minutes of waiting for a cab, I decided to walk. Besides, I didn’t even really know where I was going yet. I tried to think of where she would go if she felt like she needed to get away. Then it hit me, Oakland Cemetery. She would probably be visiting Sarah’s grave. I flagged down a taxi and went to find her.
Upon stepping inside the cemetery I became aware of the ancient graves. In a way it was a beautiful sight. The headstones jutting out of the ground; it just brought me a feeling of peace. A thousand souls rested here, many centuries old. Most people find it somewhat creepy, but it’s fascinating to me. There’s so much history buried beneath this earth, it just astounded me to think of all these people coming to rest all in one place. I could just imagine all the things these people did, all their accomplishments. I walked up hill towards Sarah’s grave. There it was. The graves were more modern here, no headstones stuck out of the ground, they all lay parallel to the bodies beneath them. And just as I suspected a human figure was kneeling on the ground. It had to be Kasey, I mean how many people go the cemetery this early on a day when the sun shines bright and a light breeze tussles your hair? No one. No one would want to come here this morning.
I quietly crept towards the figure, whispering Kasey’s name. There was no response from the figure so I drew nearer and nearer. With every step I took I noticed that something wasn’t right. Their backside was bare, and so far as I could tell, so was their front. They sat there, no movement at all, trapped in one moment of time. From the back, they looked like Kasey, they had the same hair and lying next to her was the dress that she’d worn last night. “Kasey?” I called out, waiting for an answer. Nothing stirred except for a couple of squirrels off in the distance. I reached out and touched her on the shoulder. I drew my hand back immediately as the awful stench of death filled my nostrils. I stood there stunned as the body fell back into the grass with a thud. It was definitely Kasey. She lay there, on top of Sarah’s grave staring up at me. There were long, deep gashes up her wrists. A knife clutched in her right hand, she had died, staining the earth with her blood. Her bloodshot eyes stared up at me with an eerie emptiness. Her face looked pained; you could almost see her last thoughts on it. Life isn’t worth living anymore, I’ve been betrayed one too many times so I’m just going to end it all right now and stop waiting for someone else to do it for me. My mind and body went completely numb. This wasn’t happening, No, I would wake up and it would all just be a dream. She couldn’t have killed herself, no, not her. She had always loved life. Always loved to go somewhere new, to get out there, try everything, and live life to the fullest. So why would she **** herself? It couldn’t possibly be my fault. I had never done anything to hurt her. I never could have. I had loved her way to much. I couldn’t be the re
Copyright Shannon Ulmer 2008