First Day Back

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Dave, the protagonist from "What Happens Now", returns in "First Day Back". A week after burying his lovely wife Linda, Dave returns to work for the first time. He tries to get established back in work, but finds it harder than he thought.

Submitted: September 18, 2016

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Submitted: September 18, 2016

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As dumb as this whole thing is, I will write down some more about my moving on. 

Moving on. What a horrible phrase. What the hell am I moving on from? Moving on is usually associated with advancing and some sort of accomplishment. Like I said, what a horrible thing to say. 

"How are you moving on?" "How are you holding up?" "How can we poke at you some more?"

I really want to either start punching people or yelling. I have had the grieving process thrown at my face so many times, I could quote it with the equivilance of someone telling a random fact. You don't believe me, I can prove it for sure.

1. Denial

2. Anger 

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

I have gone through them all. I believe I have, anyway. People say that you can't go through them right away. "It takes time to go through them," people have said. What a bunch of bull. It's another example of people pretending to know more than you do about your situation. I can remember the last day I had with Linda. She was laying in the bed, she was wearing her favorite bathrobe. We had "Just The Way You Are," playing in the room. Her parents were there, sitting and working on crossword puzzles. My father was right next me, looking at a Fishing magazine planning our annual trip to Alaska. Linda was tired, her body appeared to be heading in the homestretch. She motioned for me to come over to her. I knelt over her, leaning in to her. She whispered to me, "It's time for me to go." My eyes widened and I stood up right. Everyone in the room hurried over to where I was standing. Linda looked at peace, she was ready. We watched her last smile, it was as beautiful as the first time I had ever seen her smile.

As we watched the monitor stop beating, Linda's parents started to cry. My dad walked over and put his arm around me. I had the blank look on my face. One that was best described as "Disbelief". I walked into the lobby to get a Pepsi. I put in the dollar and the soda got stuck. So I punched the machine as hard as I could. The glass covering the case shattered all over the lobby area. I truly think the force of the punch set off some monitors. My dad came over and took me home. I was trying to come to grips with the idea she was gone. 

Afterwards, I had to plan her funeral. Linda's parents planned afterwards the dinner celebration of life. I have wrote about that enough for right now. 

II

I have wrote enough about the funeral. Dr. Hartman said I am supposed to write about my first day back to work. Of all the most boring, mundane, pain in the ass things to talk about. It is about as entertaining as watching paint dry. But, for Linda, I will give it a try. 

I work for Lowman Consulting. It's an advertising agency. The biggest one in the State of Idaho. We are based out of Boise. I'm a project manager. What that entails is I lead a team of people who come up with Ads for all kinds of companies in the State. Before I took a leave from the job to take care of Linda, I had one account on the books. It was for the local art museum. I had my team run with the ad. I hadn't focused on work or even thought about. The day after Linda's funeral, my boss from agency, Donald King called and asked if I felt like coming back to work next week. 

I told him I would. Thinking about it, I sounded a little to eager for work. I was ready to get back in the game, or so I had thought. 

King had told me over the phone that he had arranged for me to meet with a new client. The city was looking to bring in new business and tourism. So the Mayor's office sent someone down to meet with Lowman and come up with a campaign. King said that he had just the right guy for the job. It turned out that it was me.

He mentioned that it might be a little soon for me to get back into work, especially after a long absence. He said that I could be more of a consultant and have one of my team members take the lead. I told him that it was unecessary for one of my team to take lead. I knew that my crew could make it a great campaign, but this was something needed. I needed it really bad. 

The night before I went into work, I sat in my recliner and looked around the house. Linda and I never had kids, but it always had the feeling of being a busy household. I'd have people over from work for dinner or meetings . Linda would have neighbors over and game nights. That woman sure loved Pictionary. Every thursday for 12 years solid, we would play the Jenkins next door. It would be me and Eric against Linda and Vivian. The women would always win, the men would be made fun of for our lack of drawing ability. We would then sit on the porch with a cold beer and tell stories. Linda would always captivate everyone, especially me. The way she would tell a story, even an embarassing one, could capture me right there. Nothing else in the world would matter when Linda was talking .

I walked around the living room, feeling like a complete stranger in my own house. I looked at all of the pictures Linda had hung in the living room. Wedding photos, photos from vacations to places like Miami, Salt Lake City, and her favorite place in the whole wide world, Cheyenne Wyoming. Any chance she had, she would drive to Wyoming. She would take charge and plan trips down to when and where we could take a rest break. I knew she would go over board sometimes, but I didn't care. I was too busy being in love.

Not getting any sleep that night, I walked around with my favorite photo of Linda in my arms. It was of the time we were at the Rodeo Days in Cheyenne. She had always wanted to go, but we never could get tickets. It had happened that I got tickets from a client in McCall for a job well done. It was on our anniversary too which was the best part. I remember taking her to a Denny's for breakfast. I slid the envelope over to her. Her head tilted as she reached for the envelope. When she opened it, her expression was one that was similar to a child getting their favorite gift. She jumped up and down and screamed with joy. I caught a picture of the exact moment when she read the tickets. Her smile said it all. That was the best anniversary present I could have asked for.

That was last year, before Linda got sick.

III

I made it to Lowman's offices. It was right on Overland, a large brown building that used to be an apartment complex. Converted into an office, it housed close to 200 employees. Donald King was the guy who over saw everything. I parked my old pickup truck in my old spot. In the very back, in the west end of the parking lot. I turned my pickup off and sat in the truck. I couldn't get out right away. I felt my breathing get heavy and my hands were sweaty. I moved around my truck looking for a bandanna. I found it in the backseat. As I grabbed it, I found an envelope with my name on it. I put the bandanna down and opened the envelope. 

It was a letter from Linda. It was dated with today's date. In her familar handwriting too. I couldn't believe it. I read the letter. It went like this:

Dave,

If you are reading this, I have passed away. Knowing that you are a man who prefers simplicity, you will have to indulge me, just one more time.

The first time we met, in 1987 we were just kids wanting to get out of school. You were the captain of the baseball team. Lean body, brown wavy hair and the sexiest grin I had ever seen. I can always remember how you wore the white T shirt with the black vest and jeans. I shook my head at that look all the time, but knew that I was gonna be yours. I could go on for how I knew we were gonna be together. 

I love you Dave. You are the bravest man I know. Your confidence has helped me throughout the treatments. When the chemo wasn't working, your strength was the best medicine. Please believe me when I say this. Everything is gonna be fine. It will take some time, but please do not rush into anything. It isn't healthy for you. You know I'm always gonna be looking for ways to keep you healthy.

Just remember this, What you saw in the hospital wasn't me necessarily dying. I simply went to find our new vacation spot. We are not getting any younger, Dave Salmon. If I can't live in Wyoming, then I will find a spot where we can enjoy the next phase of our lives. 

Please Dave, don't hurry on account of me. I will always be there. Take your time, I wanna decorate our new place. I want it to be a surprise. Just like when I decorated our new house. I promise everything will be fine.

I love you Dave, 

Linda

P.S. Make sure to take the lawn mower in for servicing. It is about that time.

I held the letter close to my chest and sobbed. Typical Linda. Showing me how to do the right thing. I shouldn't have come in to work today. I wasn't ready. It just wasn't time.

I saw out of the corner of my eye Donald King walking over towards me. He was a heavyset man in his 60's. Built like a barrel and with the face of a bulldog. King was a good man, I worked for him my whole adult life. He was good to me when Linda first got sick and continued to pay me after I took a leave. King and Linda always had a flirtatious relationship. When ever he would come to the house, he would always wait for Linda to offer seconds. He would take all the seconds home and put them in a dish. She would pat him on the head like a dog. He would pretend to pant. In fact, I am sure he was actually panting the whole time. 

King opened my door and patted my hand. He told me to go home. He would email a project that I could work on from home. He closed the door and walked back to the office. 

I sat there with Linda's letter against my chest. The thought crossed my mind, perhaps I hadn't accepted Linda's death. I knew that I would never get over losing her. How can you get over losing the love of your life? Some people say that you need a distaction to help you. Perhaps King had offered me a distraction by coming into the office for a little bit. Maybe work was what I needed? 

Perhaps what I needed right now, was time with Linda. I knew she was right there beside me. I turned to the passenger seat and smiled. I pulled out of the parking lot and headed home.

IV

You know, writing down my feelings in this weird essay format isn't that bad. I thought it was silly at first. Why do I need to read what I feel on the inside? Perhaps Dr Howard was right. I needed to work out the problems for myself. I will keep doing this for a while anyway. Besides, I know that Linda would like it.

 


© Copyright 2017 Robert Logan. All rights reserved.

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