My Husband Had Me Murdered
Shocking but true. Or maybe not so shocking. Happens all the time doesn’t it? Open the paper, read the news, check Twitter or whatever. It’d be more noticeable if he disemboweled me and fried the intestines for breakfast. Then they could whip up another psycho killer thriller for one of the streaming services. But I was just disappeared with a plausible back up story. PR companies have plenty on file: The coke head who couldn’t pay her debts. The con girl who scammed the wrong crew. The honey pot who resold her secrets one too many times. The mother who locked her kids in the cellar. And they disappeared me in the best way: right out in the open, the mangled corpse, the wrecked car. I wasn’t disappeared, I was there for all to see. Which they did. In droves. Okay local droves. My first funeral really.
Okay, that’s a bit over the top, I admit, but what he actually did was, what was that phrase of his, less than salubrious. Officious prick that he was. Sanctimonious officious prick. I could go on. Russian with an Oxford accent.
Some say I deserved it. That I was such a whiny bitch, a high maintenance shopaholic with few redeeming qualities, a pointy nose and a big butt, a royal pain in the ass, that I was better off removed from the scene of the action. Better for me, better for him. Maybe not better for the kids, but they were almost grown. College: one starting, one finishing, both proudly independent, bless them. And I wish I could take credit for it. Instead of becoming trust fund brats they studied what they loved and look set to experiment and teach. Okay, travel, experiment and teach.
I’d guessed the outcome months before. Not really psychic, too high strung for that kind of vision, but maybe I was that time, just the once. I’d outlived my usefulness, bit long in the tooth and my replacement was waiting in the wings faking it as someone else’s mistress. I’d see her at parties, we’d dance, smoke joints in the bathroom, do all the giggly girly stuff. Trying to be young again? Maybe.
I knew it’d be the car. The brakes, the steering, something. I love my country drives, can’t do without them. Tearing along hedgerows either side, little pubs along the way. Little pubs where wigs and dark glasses hide the famous me. That and my suddenly deep voice, so far from my squeaky girly public one. I copped it from that actress, the sultry seductress, what’s her name, offed the husbands one by one.
So I’m standing looking at me, all crumpled and bloody, praying that no-one would get a photo. Several locals had the phones and didn’t hesitate. Ambulances arrived before the paparazzi, but those locals knew where the money was. With someone like me it was inevitable. Comes with the territory.
Something got my attention other than myself and my ruined reputation. I looked around. There was a woman smiling. Friendly in a way I felt I could trust. Friendly like she had nothing to gain. And she was not one of the villagers waiting for the ambulance. Did she glow a bit? I thought, maybe she’s dead like me. She walked over and asked me how I was. I was too stunned to give some standard answer. I said I didn’t really know. I asked who she was. She continued to smile. I looked carefully, waiting. I couldn’t figure out why she was so calm. She said, as if answering my unspoken query, You were ready for this, you knew didn’t you?
I nodded, baffled at her, what would you call it, insight? I came to see you last night and you knew then.
So you didn’t tell me?
Was about to, but you’d guessed already.
Yeah, You can tell when there’s plotting against you, people smile too much.
She nodded like she knew exactly what I meant. She asked if I ‘d like to get going. I said, Where. She said, Away from here. I said, Sure.
In a second or two, we were on a bench by a fountain and some rose bushes. I was accustomed to beautiful gardens but the blooms radiated in a way I hadn’t seen before. There was some refined architecture just behind us. Not a mansion, but you know, that understated elegance thing. I asked what it was. She said, A place for people like you, people who are used to the better things in life.
Not some long term care facility for the age and infirm?
Hardly anyone needs that kind of care here. More of a vacation residence.
Holidays for the dead?
You got that figured out I see.
Nothing like looking at your corpse is there?
She chuckled. I can see we’re going to have a fine time together.
Are we indeed? People who say that to me usually have something up their sleeve. You?
Oh I’ve got several things up my sleeve for you, none of them deceitful.
Pleasant surprises then?
Bit of fun, bit of challenge, but there’s no rush. Let’s get you settled first.
Inside I saw something like a smart boutique hotel. Was shown a room on the third floor, a large comfortable space with the usual lay out for a few days stay. A closet with a small selection of outfits and bathroom with all the necessities for a lady of my standing. Even some time waster magazines on the bedside table. Now that was innovation. After showing me around and reminding me of the cafe on the ground floor where snacks, drinks and more than acceptable wines were usually available, Sally wished me well and promised to return the next day. I said whimsically, Oh there’s days here are there. And she replied Oh yeah, plenty of them until you get so used to them that they can slowly melt away before you really notice. I suggested that sounded ominous. She said, No, more magical really.
She bid Au revoir and just as she was closing the door behind her, popped her head back in and added, No set meal times, just show up when you’re peckish. Which is just what I did, after a shower and a nap. I awakened, and looking around, felt like I’d escaped. Escaped what, I wondered, dressing. My fate, my funeral, or just my life? The pant suit was less than glamorous but for off the rack, more than acceptable. And it seemed to fit better as the moments went by, as did the shoes.
Sure I was self-conscious, convinced folk would stare. But no, I was just another checked-in guest. As I moved to the restaurant area, easily visible from the lobby, I passed two men so animated in conversation they barely noticed me. I was a gal accustomed to being noticed. The place was humming but not exactly busy and I took a seat at an empty table. A waitperson appeared and asked for my preference. Was there a special? No, but he rhymed off several options. A smoked salmon omelette with fruit salad and a Beaujoulais seemed about right. He left, returned in seconds with the order, setting it down with that understated flourish summer students never really master. Eating alone can be unnerving but I did my best, hoping I wasn’t attracting stares of the unwelcome kind. About half way through I started to noticed how marvellous everything tasted. Perfect blend of flavours. My waitperson appeared and asked how everything was.
Just wonderful thanks Hugh, I replied, noticing his name tag.
As a new arrival he was hoping I was setting in.
I assured him that I was doing just fine.
Sometimes these journeys can be a little troubling and I want you to know that here we really understand that. We take pride in providing the necessary reassuring harmony after what might have been a harrowing transition. I thanked him for his concern. He smiled and moments later returned with exactly the kind of coffee I’d been thinking of.
You’re a sweetheart Hugh, how did you guess?
Oh, after awhile you get to anticipate these little things. He smiled and was gone.
Sipping and feeling charmed, I noticed a cheery redhead fluttering her fingers from a nearby table. As I wondered how to react she stood and approached.
Mind if I sit with you? I’m so new here. I gestured for her to make herself comfortable.
I’m Alanna, and you are?
Chloe. And what brings you here?
Heart attack. I think. But, you know, not a exactly sure. Was at the health club, pushing the envelope as usual.
Why bother, you look great.
You’re too kind. The usual, If only I was thinner my partner would pay more attention.
Ah men, they make our lives miserable. Mine had me murdered.
No! What on earth for?
Replace me with a newer model. Keep me silent. Oh, don’t be so shocked, In my world it’s almost acceptable.
Wow, what kind of world is that?
Shark infested waters. High finance, dodgy deals, fraud and blackmail. All under wraps of course. You are used to calmer waters I suspect.
Sure, calmer, predictably dull. Contract negotiations, mediation and all that.
Doesn’t sound so bad.
Oh, that’s Bill. I’m on the board of a couple of townhouse corporations. Still part-time after a decade.
So, if you don’t mind me asking. You sure you’re dead and not in some coma?
Oh, if only. But yeah, think so. Followed the body to the hospital. Watched the hopeless revival efforts. Saw Bill crying over me. Couldn’t handle it, was brought here.
Who did the bringing?
Haven’t a clue, woke up in one of the beds. Yesterday…I think. Time is so weird here, have you noticed?
Not sure, don’t think I’ve been here long enough.
That seemed like the right time to laugh. Hugh appeared and suggested that if we might like to move to the patio he’d bring us drinks. We complied with pleasure.
Our conviviality and chat continued. I had though Alanna would try to weasel out my whole story but she only went so far, reaching the edge of her comfort zone and switching topics to children. How she had longed for them! For years they tried this and that, coming up empty handed time and time again. By the end of the saga I was beginning to feel blessed. Mine came so easily. The daughter he wasn’t thrilled with, the son was the prince he craved. His culture worshipped masculinity, mine femininity, and never the twain shall meet.
I trained her in survival tactics, him in humility. Alanna admired my dedication and persistence. Then she said she felt what she called ‘a weird tug’ and thought maybe she should go lie down. I thought it sounded like a plan and said we’d meet up later. It wasn’t like I had a list of things to do. When we parted at the stairs she looked distracted. I felt more and more like a nap. Laying down, I nodded off quickly, or at least I thought I did. Was I dreaming?
I could see quite plainly, my husband, a couple of his, ahem, associates and the mistress, leaving a funeral home looking all solemn. My children were absent but somehow I knew they were flying in. As they piled into an SUV I hopped in with them, squeezing right up to the mistress and digging in my nails to her thighs. The conversation was stilted, fake even. One way or another they were all glad to get rid of me. The mistress was especially unctuous in her grief. I took pleasure in biting her neck. My teeth, unfortunately, did not draw blood. But she did put a hand to her neck and absent mindedly rubbed.
When they got to the house, my house, I exited as she did and tried to trip her up. She stumbled but did not fall. My husband held out his hand but she righted herself. I watched as they opened the front door and went in. I felt enraged and charged in. It was then I discovered I could pass through doors with ease. You can read all you want about ghosts, see them in movies and so on, but until you’re one yourself you just don’t get it. The mistress and the associates parked themselves in the lounge, waiting for Maria to bring coffee. My husband left the room to make calls. I tried whipping the phone out of his hand. My hand passed through his without connecting. That made me madder. I yanked at his hair: no luck.
Okay, I was letting my emotions get the better of me. I sat back and tried to, I don’t know, focus. Fat chance, I was boiling over. Suddenly I thought of my son Philip and wham, I was next to him in a plane, earbuds on and watching a film. Waving my hand in front of his face was useless. Then I thought of Anastasia, my daughter. In a second I was watching her standing at a luggage carousel, waiting for her bags. Her eyes were puffy as if she had been crying. She had emailed about boyfriend trouble so that might have been it. Mother dying was the last thing she needed. Was that her thought or my worry? I hugged her to no avail. No, wait a moment she was weeping again, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. I thought maybe I should be crying too, but the tears wouldn’t come. Some mother me! Sympathy had never been my strong suit. Not ever really. Oh I tried but I always wound up just faking it.
Staring at my husband again, no idea how I got there. He was so involved in some deal going down I wanted to just kill him. So I tried with a furious lunge that saw me go flying down onto the carpet. That’s where I found that cracking your forehead on a coffee table does nothing other than shock you. Probably never made contact. He shouted at someone and left the room to give whispered instructions to one of his associates, who finished his coffee and got up to leave. Then he sat with the mistress, apologising for his absence and suggesting dinner soon.
She seemed to like that idea. I moved to wherever Maria was and sat next to her as she waited for his next order. When he came in and said they were going out for dinner she thanked him for letting her know. I could feel her pleasure at the prospect of a quiet evening. Later she accompanied them to the door and wished them a fine dinner. The she tidied up a bit and went to her room and sat down with some embroidery. I sat nearby and bathed in her serenity, hoping I might be able to plug in and shave off some extra. If the dead can nap like the living, I did exactly that then. The only thing that was missing was Maria rocking my cradle and cooing me to sleep.
I woke up in my room at the boutique hotel. I went over the details of the dream, the ones I could remember at least. But then I noticed that as I looked at the scenes in my mind they became more and more vivid. Then it felt like the memories were rubbing themselves in my face, embarrassing me with their nakedness. My delight in the possibility of vengeance was tainted with some kind of remorse or guilt. Well, screw that. I got up and ran myself a bath. Was the hot water here different? I lay there trying to feel it and decide. There was something about it.
When I dressed and got myself downstairs to the restaurant who do I see but Alanna sipping at a latte. She smiled and I joined her. Where had I been she asked. Apparently I’d be gone for ages while she’d napped and came back to find me gone. She’d been puzzled but had been advised to wait, that I must have gotten tangled up in something down there. Well I had but wasn’t too keen to go into it.
She, on the other hand, was keen to tell me about her funeral preparations. Bill had been busy, bless him, setting it all up and making sure my parents had a decent place to stay. But all that sadness and weeping! It had been too much and she’d hurried back here. Well, maybe hurry wasn’t quite it, she’d just found herself in the garden by the patio, with Emily, some friend of Hugh’s, leaning over and asking if she’d care for a refreshment. She peered at me and asked if I was okay. Her time away had been trying enough but my vibe was a bit of a downer.
I admitted to a stressful visit to my old haunts and seeing my son and daughter on planes, which, despite all the crazy stuff in this world, still kinda surprised me. I mean, you could get inside a plane without actually getting on it? She didn’t know but was willing to bet Hugh or Emily could clue us in. And did I care to have a swim with her? She’d heard there was great pool out back. I begged off, citing my recent bath but promised to indulge later. I wasn’t so hot in a swimsuit anyway. We compromised on a stroll about the grounds. For the first time in I don’t know how long I enjoyed the twitter and tweet of the birds. I indulged myself in the fantasy that they were serenading us.
Later, snacking on barbequed chicken and potato salad, which Alanna just insisted on, overruling my disdain for such common food, she announced that some kind of jazz group would be playing soon. Would I be interested, she would be so pleased if I did, as jazz always made her happy and want to dance. I wasn’t so sure but I tagged along anyway, relieved to be momentarily free from my obsessions.
At one point I seemed to disappear from my seat. I didn’t know till I returned and Alanna, startled, asked where I’d been. I didn’t mind telling her I’d been with my son and daughter, reuniting, hugging and crying. But my presence had not be noted and feeling insulted I left in a snit. However, it had pleased me to feel some compassion for my sad children and that in turn helped smooth out the murderous rage I felt for the husband and mistress.
Some couples were dancing and Alanna got me up to join them. There was a sense of trying maybe a little too hard to enjoy ourselves. Maybe we were still mourning our deaths. Maybe it all took a bit of getting used to. You can’t go back and be alive again but you can be a part of any situation, even though no-one was paying you any attention. And for someone who was used to raising heads when she entered that was tough. How to be a nobody: well I can show you how.
It was not long before I found myself back with the family. Maybe I fell asleep, not sure really. My family and me to be exact. Me in the coffin, looking much better than that scrunched up bloody mess at the accident. Lots of flowers and fake grief, even my son and daughter acted a little too convincingly. But then, something about Anastasia. Don’t ask me how, but I sussed that she was pregnant and the boyfriend had fled. She hadn’t told her father nor was she likely to. She planned to terminate and keep her secret.
My attention was drawn to Maria. Somehow I knew that she knew. Maybe even how and why I was offed. She must have heard the standoff between me and the hubby and I thought it was her day off visiting her sister. I’d seen her leave that morning but she must have returned earlier than usual. So she knew about the arms deal. I’d been horrified, knowing where they’d end up. Boris had a history of shady deals, smuggled goods, but human trafficking and armaments, that was beyond the pale. I wasn’t going to stand for it. He laughed at me, called me a naïve bitch. I lunged at him and he threw me to the carpet with barely a twitch. Sure there’d been some roughhousing before but I was always able to charm him out of it. Maybe I lost my touch or maybe the money was too good. Threatening to expose him was a stupid move. Signed my death warrant with that.
I tried to get close to Anastasia that night as she fell asleep, thinking myself into her thoughts, or something. Then something totally weird happened: she came out of her body. Another Anastasia. I stared amazed as she floated about her old bedroom and then settled on a couch. It took a moment to get her attention. It was like she couldn’t focus, like a baby almost, and then, slowly I came into focus. She didn’t seem surprised. Like we‘d been doing this for years. I didn’t now what to think but hugging seemed like a temporary solution.
Dad had you whacked, right?
Yeah, but the afterlife is something else, so maybe I’ll get adjusted.
But you miss me right? Or you will miss me….sometime?
Of course I will dear. But I was getting used to you being away at college. I’d started to let go.
You know about the…
Yes I guessed. A mother knows these things.
And you approve?
I do, I do. It’s not the right time for you.
Oh I hate him for what he did. I want to go to the police.
Don’t. Save yourself the bother. The car was tinkered with, they’ll find out.
I hate it that he’s paying all my tuition and I’m so dependent.
Just wait till you get your masters, then free yourself.
That’s about all I can remember, but her focus seemed to fade and the next thing I knew she was just…not there. And then I wasn’t there.
Back in my hotel bed I wondered, was I here or was I there? And maybe, was I somewhere else too? Who knew? Maybe that lady who brought me here. But did I really want to know?
So who walks in just then? You got it, saying Hey how are things going? Chloe is it?
That’ll do for now. Where have you been anyway? Aren’t you supposed to check in on me?
Case workers get to choose their own schedule.
Based on what exactly?
The client’s state of mind. Their ability to cope with the shock of transition. Their degree of attachment to their life path. And in your case their desire for vengeance.
You know all this, how?
I can read you like an open book. I can see telltale colours in your aura, sickly yellows. Bloody reds. Stuff like that.
Let me guess, you’re going to fix me, make me more acceptable for heaven?
No that you’ll do for yourself. I can give tips and suggestions but you’ll have to do all the legwork. Anger and bitter resentment won’t do you a bit of good.
Why, they feel pretty good to me. You know, empowering and all that.
Yeah, there’s a buzz, a big one, but they create their own comeuppance.
You mean karma right? I’ve heard about that. Very trendy these days.
No, karma’s what you’re working off in this life just past.
You seem very sure of yourself. By the way I’m still under the covers at this point, wishing it was time for coffee.
Spirit guides are good at that. We watch carefully, and not just from when you were born, but before.
You’ve known me, like, forever?
Well, not exactly, but a good long while. I chimed in around Renaissance Florence. Now I was getting interested, I’d always had a soft spot for that time and place.
So there was a before time, when someone else held the reins. Did they get tired of me?
No they applied for graduation and were accepted. In a manner of speaking.
Graduate to where exactly?
Sirius as it turns out. But that’s a bit above your pay grade for now.
Don’t be so petty, one day you’ll get it.
Why we came, why we’re here and how we move on. It’s all very simple really but we screw it up with all our vanity and ambition.
Okay, can I get washed, dressed and come down for breakfast?
Sure I’ll see you there.
As she got to the door I said, You know Sally just doesn’t seem right. You don’t look the least bit like a Sally.
You’re one to talk Ms. Chloe.
Time is such an enigma here. At least down there it gets dark every day and you can sort things out that way. Here it’s some kind of ongoing endlessness. I hadn’t a clue how long I’d been here and I had just about given up trying. Sally wasn’t much help either. When I asked she told me not to worry about it, that it didn’t really matter anyway. She didn’t, thank god, tell me to live in the moment, and was good enough not to act like some schoolmarm when Alanna joined us, making it into some genial girly coffee klatch. When Alanna asked she described herself as a cross between a tour guide and a cheerleader. She enquired as to how she was settling into her new life Alanna tried but couldn’t really describe her complexity of feelings and thoughts. It was all too much really.
After a while ‘Sally’ excused herself, saying she had other commitments. Well not exactly pressing, she added, but you know. Alanna was charmed and commented on how she was quite the character and where on earth did I find her? Well she found me, right at the scene of the crime and had been tracking me for centuries, or so she claimed. Sounded suspicious to her, maybe it was some kind of con job? Identity theft maybe? Maybe there’s crews of fraudsters tracking newbies like us? Well yeah, I answered, but what have we got to steal? Possessions, property, money, status? That’s all gone.
Alanna kind of got it, she’s been trying to pay for stuff every since she got here, not that she had anything to pay with, but the habit was there. Of course nobody wanted any. And if everything was free what was there to thieve? Okay, identities maybe. But Emily had let her know that she could change her appearance if she really wanted. And not just a makeover. And one time on a break, when I was missing in action, she had taken time to show her, Emily had morphed from a slim tall, straight haired blonde into a petite roly-poly brunette with the kind of sexy Hispanic swagger her Anglo-Saxon roots forbade. She had tried the technique herself but only managed some outsized shoulders and a nose so small she looked like one of those aliens. But the point was made: you can be anyone you want in this world and the trials of cosmetic surgery was just out the window. While on that high she mentioned a craft village she’d heard about nearby, where every kind of craft person imaginable had a store front. And some antiques too. But I begged off, saying I really needed to think things over.
And once back in my room and relaxed I tried, I really tried. But I fell asleep, or something like it, it’s so hard to tell here, you shut your eyes and you’re somewhere else. This time I was back in my home, floating about. Yeah, just like some ghost. I found Maria in her room, reading before bed. She looked up from the page and I swear she saw me and smiled. So I sat down in the only other chair. Her calm presence filled the room. I felt at peace with her. When she folded the book and moved under the covers, I watched, wondering if I should leave. She looked over in my direction and I felt the word ‘No’ coming from her. But there was an agitation growing within me, something I couldn’t quite figure. I let myself float away, feeling drawn to my bedroom. Sure enough they were in there making out. I was amused to see her on top. Who would have guessed? I’d always figured her for pitifully submissive. Something about her intrigued me. Always had really. Dinner parties years before when she was someone else’s date, charming all the men by being attentive to their bullshit. I could see then she was working her way up the ladder to my husband, just as I had years before. I’d provided the babies, healthy ones, and now I was expendable. Amazing it took him years to get around to it.
As I watched them go at it, I felt, you know, magnetised. I moved closer. I could feel her excitement. Then I was inside her, enjoying the ride. The man who had me murdered and the mistress waiting in the wings. He’d always been a long distance runner and she wasn’t about to sap his manhood anytime soon. Did I hang on? No problem, I was just as frenzied and flushed as she was. What’s that about girls just wanna have fun? When she finally fell off him I kind of rolled out and would have fallen from the bed to the floor but for this new lightweight me that seemed to defy gravity. That’s another thing: ghosts are weightless.
And it wasn’t just another tedious orgasm before sleep. More of an,…I don’t know what. Then I wanted to kill my rival. Even though she’d waited in line to assume the throne, she still didn’t deserve it. But how could I do the foul deed? Maybe I could convince Maria to poison her? Nah, she was way too pious, way too…good basically. No perverting her. What about one of his henchmen? Even if the one I had in mind might be persuaded, how would I do it? I wondered who might give me advice. Not Sally or Alanna.
As I entertained myself with possibilities, I closed my eyes to fantasize. Pretty soon I was somewhere else. A scrappy, scruffy neighbourhood that had seen better days and then forgotten them. A red light district with a lousy paint job. But why was I there? I walked into some place to find out. It was a tavern of sorts. Not quite up to my usual standard. I sashayed up to the bar and ordered a cocktail. The bartender seemed to have forgotten how to mix it so I had to tell him. He seemed pleased with the outcome, apologising that his memory wasn’t just quite what it was in his heyday. He thought he really should retire but the management had no replacement. I sipped at my drink, suspecting a slightly flirty pose would help in my enquiries.
I felt like I was in a movie, acting the babe in the sleazy bar. I noted the stylish heels on my feet and wondered where they appeared from. Was it this trick Alanna had tried to apprise me of?
A gentleman appeared at my shoulder, introducing himself. He’d noticed me entering and wondered what a lady like me was doing in a dive like this. Maybe I’d gotten lost? Instead of laughing at his clichéd come on, I calmly asked if he was the type who could show me how I might off a rival.
Bitch got you pissed?
Yeah, I snarled. She’s got it comin’.
This world or the one before?
The one before.
How we’s gonna get there?
Just return to where I just came from. But what’s the deal? What’s in it for you?
I looked him over: frayed cuffs, old shoes, bad teeth, a grin not a smile. But a grin that held a snaky promise. I told him how my hands kept just going through things.
Contact, he said, you need to make contact.
Could he show me? He asked the bartender for two more of whatever she’s having. This time he remembered. We clinked glasses in sudden camaraderie and moved off to his place. Sure it was a shaky trade off and one that I might regret, but I knew that having already been offed myself the trick could hardly be repeated here. At least I didn’t think so. Should have asked Sally I guess. His place was pretty close by and not the type of salon I would have chosen for an assignation. He had a high staked poker game to attend later on but he could give me some of his time. He gave me some right there. Athletic but hardly affectionate. Not that I was hoping.
Okay, your deal. Let’s check it out.
He looked at me, expectant. I knew how I’d get back, but him too? I told him to close his eyes and hold my hand. I was gonna shift and he was comin’ with me. God his breath was rank. I closed my eyes and really wanted to be back I my house and I was. But by myself. Shit. I imagined myself back at his place. He asked where I’d been. Somewhere without you I answered. We tried again and this time he made it. Don’t ask me how, I didn’t ask myself.
We went to my old bedroom. It was empty and looked like midday. I got him to explain. It was all about focusing your desire, not just getting all worked up. It would be cool and calculating, not frenzied and vengeful. Tipping the bitch at the top of the stairs was easier than I might think, once I got the hang of it. Bottle that anger and make it work for you. He showed me how to build up a head of steam and hang on to it. I practiced. Some how I knew that when the time had come I could pull it off. We heard activity in the house. I recognised voices, Philip and Anastasia were home. Weariness tugged at their voices and they drifted off to their rooms awaiting Maria’s dinner offering. I knew the drill. I set it up.
Husband and mistress entered the bedroom. We observed as they settled in: she to a rest, he to more calls. He liked barking at people more than anything. It was a role he relished and one I’d gotten sick of years before. I’d tried to tell him being the nice guy got you farther and than being the bully, but he laughed in my face. I was sure the mistress would be the same once she got settled in. Not that she’d get the chance, not if I had my way. My partner in crime seemed to have faded. He said he felt a bit wobbly, but kind of always did in this world. Couldn’t get anchored somehow. Was better at quick visits.
When the dinner bell went, I knew the time was at hand and jabbed him out of his wooziness. Can’t do this much longer he muttered. The mistress was changing and primping, he was pacing up and down, barking in what he thought of as moderation. We stood at the landing at the top of the stairs, waiting. My son and daughter were on the floor below and would be saved witnessing. They appeared side by side but hardly together. I prepared as I’d be coached. As she stepped off the top stair I pushed mightily with one finger and she toppled.
But the bear had pushed ahead and she slapped into him, his big frame barely registering. But her scream got his attention, and as he turned to help her, lost his balance and they both tumbled the ten steps to the landing, crunching against the wall. His three hundred odd pounds dwarfed her meagre one thirty five, their legs twisted into jagged contortions. A shouting chaos ensued, which I gleefully witnessed for the first thirty seconds before grabbing my compatriot and imagining us back in the ghetto like neighbourhood I discovered him in.
The tavern was smokey and noisy and some customers were jigging about to thumpy music.
Gerald ordered us some special drinks. We were celebrating he told the bartender. The drink was not quite to my liking but the heels were magically back so I knew I had to act the part. My dress was just slutty enough that being convincing was no work at all. When Gerald slouched after a few drinks, Man am I beat he said, other guys asked me to dance. I obliged as a snake might when offered a mouse. Eventually I excused myself to the ladies room and once in a stall, sat quietly and imaged myself back the hotel.
I woke up in the bed, far from rested, more achy and irritable than anything. I lay there, letting all the images flow. I knew resistance to their power was pointless. This was no patchy dream full of things that don’t make sense, this was a movie I recalled every moment of. And one that would condemn me if I didn’t rise and shine pronto. And so I bathed and prepped myself, praying that it was breakfast time.
Even when I got downstairs into the restaurant and was enjoying not only my latte and bagel with cream cheese and Hugh’s welcoming smile, I lacked the brio to just say It’s breakfast time right? When Hugh returned with some mango peach juice he leant over and said Stop worrying about the time, it’s of no consequence here. I nodded, trying to look grateful but not embarrassed.
Alanna showed up as I settled into my lounger on the patio. She seemed very pleased to see me after my unexpected absence. But she quickly added, But that’s none of my business Chloe.
I asked how things were going for her. She’d attended her funeral.
Couldn’t avoid it really. Mixture of curiosity and vanity. Lots of lovely flowers and genuine grieving. I stood close to people that were weeping, wanting to share. In a weird way, wanting to show support. My parents, my husband, good friends, all wanting me back with them, none of them knowing I was actually there. Except two friends who were whispering things like I’m sure she’s here, I can feel her. And my father talking to Bill about some afterlife movie that I’d loved and would mention from time to time. I heard him say, Makes you wonder doesn’t it? And my mother chatting with her sister, both of them regulars at church, the same one I grew up in and left. My aunt Edna saying Well Doris, she lost her faith but not her intelligence.
I congratulated Alanna for surviving a trial like that, adding that my own disposal had yet to be dealt with. I could tell she wanted an explanation of my blunt language but held my ground until she started on about how it all kind of passed through her and left her feeling loved and appreciated. Bill’s eulogy so touching and yet so funny. There was no denying it, she’d always been a bit of a klutz, but more goofy than wanton destruction thank god.
Now that you mention it, have you figured out this god thing? I mean now that we’re in some kind of heaven.
She threw up her hands like some teenager about to squeal with delight. Nope, not even close. Frankly I’m having too much fun. You should see that craft village, so many beautiful things!
Fun, even after the funeral?
She grimaced briefly. Yeah, bit of a downer there. Hard to keep your butterfly dance going in all those heavy vibes. I thought my gig was more like a waltz with a pig, but I thought it better to keep that under wraps for now. Maybe forever. We relaxed in our recliners, aware of the excited chatter of recent arrivals around us, forgetting for the moment, as you do here, that they were all dead.
She made another attempt to charm me into swimming with her but I managed to compromise by promising to sit poolside while she indulged. As she splashed and played I felt a bit like her mother. Later, napping in my room, or at least trying to, I drifted into thinking about
Anastasia. You know, the worried mom, not her evil twin, the vindictive witch. I found her in an hospital room watching her sleeping father. I sensed that Philip had just left. Her head drooping I could feel she was close to sleep and thought to a wait for another chance to talk. But she never came out of her body like she did before. Maybe she needed to be stretched out not curled up. Back in my own room I saw Sally had been waiting for me. She looked stern and ready to lecture me, which she did.
You think you can get away with that? That’s really the path you wanna take?
She got what she deserved.
Maybe but it will rebound onto you.
How so, I’m here out of harm’s way.
That kind of energy always boomerangs back. You can run but you can’t hide. Karma has a way of cornering you no matter where you are. It can slip through time, turn corners, take liberties.
Karma, table talk for losers.
You think? Watch this.
She whipped out a screen, bigger than a cell but no keypad. She stared at it for a moment then turned it to me. A woman in ancient dress serving a meal, with elaborate courtesy, to another woman seated, then pouring them both wine. Smiles and chatter. As much business as pleasure. Shared jokes, laughter, more wine. The lying on some well cushioned couch together, the beginnings of intimacy. The one nods off, the other stands carefully and watches.
I looked over to Sally: I poisoned my rival?
She looked at the screen again, tight momentary focus. Then showed it to me. Peasant cottage, god knows when. Children a napping in corner, the mother busy with chores. She takes a pail of water outside to empty. Another woman jumps from the shadows with a machete and I’m a goner. Yup it’s me, the haggered version. Exhausted and not that upset about being set free suddenly. I hang around the area, unsure and anxious. Husband returns from somewhere and finds me without any clues other than blood. Goes in to care for children then tries to bury me. That takes all night. Next morning my executioner returns with a gift of her honey and sudden horror. A childless spinster with a heart of gold just for my husband who’s no saint himself.
Sally: You want more?
Oh, there’s always more. But I think you get the picture.
We’re always after each other? Always competing for status?
Not always but often, a little too often.
Cooperation rather than competition. Love rather than envy. Mercy rather than murderous rage. And before you ask I have intervened on several occasions.
All to no effect.
And this time you want me to…
Well your notion of being born to your daughter is a good start. But be aware than your rival is seriously injured and will likely spend much of her life in a wheelchair. Your husband will recover from his fractures and breaks and continue on much as before, of course dropping the mistress as quickly as possible after setting up her care regimen. Mothering will bring out Anastasia’s compassionate side and she will find a way to be her caregiver and keep up her studies as you find enough love in your baby’s heart for all.
Really, doesn’t sound like me.
That’s just the me you think you know. There’s more.
More of me?
There’s always more of me, there’s always more of everyone.
Where do we find it.
I’ll show you.
When you’re ready. Setting up a birth properly takes some co-ordination. In the meanwhile, go back a few times to Anastasia and talk with her as you did before. She won’t recall much when she awakens but will be convinced to keep the child and figure there’s some mysterious reason why she’s doing it. Also hang with Alanna and suck up some of her positive loving energy. You could use it.
Now you look like you could use a shower and a snack. I’ll be off and see you soon.
Again she got to the door, opened it and peeked back: and don’t return to that lower astral ghetto, that’s not the energy you’ll need from here on in.
I met up with Alanna later and soon spilled my story. Well, the nice parts. She thought it sounded so cool. She hadn’t made any decisions like that, didn’t even see how she might want to. Paradise was way too much fun.
I did as I was advised, visiting with Anastasia almost every night when she was asleep. I could see that her initial shock and then pleasure was not carried over from night to night. I wished I was a message on her cell that could be repeated at will. I also began going on adventures with Alanna, seeing many of the natural beauties of this world and basically just having some plain old fun.
With some casual exchange of silver dubloons my death went down as misadventure and the articles stopped appearing. Sally began showing up more often and getting me to practice going in and out of the fetus. Didn’t like it much and was told I didn’t have to. Just kinda get familiarised with the territory and scootch in just before delivery. Which is pretty much what happened and now part of me is a baby and part of me is Chloe. We’ll see how it goes.