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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Death can be a confusing time for the recently departed...

Submitted: March 10, 2018

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Submitted: March 10, 2018



Death was a confusing time for me.

Well, not the actually death part. That came quite naturally. Not naturally in the sense that I died of natural causes. There is nothing natural about falling down basement stairs while carrying a dehumidifier. My foot slipping on a poorly placed screwdriver was definitely human error. Although, the gravitational force that caused my body to fall forward and down allowing my head to smash into said dehumidifier could be considered natural in a sense.

However, the naturality I am referring to was not the violent combination of human error and fundamental physics. After the damage was done, and my head lay on the cool concrete I watched a stream of blood flow past my eye. Shortly thereafter our black cat nonchalantly strolled past, purring contently as he left paw prints in my fresh warm blood. I felt no pain, and thankfully couldn’t smell what the cat was doing an arm’s length away in his litter box.

My eyelids grew heavy and my body grew cold. It suddenly became very easy, or natural if you will. I simply shut my eyes for what would be the final time in my corporal body.

After I shut my eyes the confusion began.

You see, the thing about being dead, is you don’t know your dead. Someone has to tell you. Would you believe someone if they said you were dead? Of course not, that would be insane. So they have to show you.

I saw myself lying on a cold concrete floor, surrounded by bloody cat prints, a dented dehumidifier and a misplaced screwdriver.

At first I thought, maybe I have a concussion, or am dreaming. Though, before I become too complacent I was ripped out of my hopeful hallucinations by a being that was assumingly my hapless guide.

Next, I found myself to be an unwelcome guest at my own funeral.

Family and friends dressed in black filled the pews. On the altar lay my coffin, half open. My guide stood beside me as I scanned the room. Long forgotten friends sat side by side with grieving family. All heads were bowed in mourning and prayer.

I made my way down the aisle, my guide stayed back and none of the guests paid me any mind. I approached the altar to see the unsettling sight of my body lying in a box. In an odd moment of clarity I realized I, or should I say my corpse was wearing a new suit. She must have picked it out.

She was there of course, kneeling in front of my body. She wore a black dress, also new. She was beautiful. She always was. Her hair was pulled back tight; her mascara ran down her cheeks. She sobbed as her chest heaved. I wanted to hold her still. I wanted her to know I was there. I tried to reach out, but I only grasped air. I looked back at my guide, he simply bowed his head.

My job in life had been to hold her when she was sad, to make her smile when she thought she couldn’t, to take away the pain if only just for a moment. It could be as simple as a stupid joke, a silly dance or a fast drive out of town.

Here I was helpless. No jokes, or dances would do. I knelt beside her. She mumbled prayers in between sobs. I prayed with her, but soon found myself whispering apologies in her ear.

There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see an outstretched hand. It was already time to go. I begged and I pleaded to be able to help her, but my guide stayed stoically still. I sighed and took his hand. As I came to my feet I turned back to her and said:

“I love you…I am sorry I failed you.”

I turned and started to walk down the aisle. I was half way down before I noticed I was alone. I looked back to see my guide standing over her. He stayed with her for a moment before joining me. He offered me his hand again and with the slightest of hesitation I took it.

I closed my eyes and could hear children laughing. I opened my eyes and found myself to be at the beach. Children splashed and ran in the sand and waves while parents lounged sleepily in the shade in a scene of familial bliss.

I turned to ask my guide where we were, but was startled by a teenage boy running past. He leapt in the air to catch an incoming football and came crashing down on a sandcastle. Towers were crushed as sand flew in the air.

The sandcastle had been tended to by a young girl, who abruptly burst into tears. The footballer didn’t even acknowledge her presence. He simply dusted off the sand and ran laughing back to his friends. The resilient girl, in a last ditch effort for retribution threw her pail, which bounced meekly off his leg.

I walked over to the girl. She still cried as she manically pushed the sand around. I passed by her pail, and out of extinct I reached down to pick it up. I grabbed it, and stopped. How did I do that?

I let the thought go and walked up to the girl and crouched down beside her. I held out the pail. I half expected her to run away screaming with the sight of her pail floating in midair. She did not. She sniffled, and wiped away her tears. She took the pail from me and looked me right in the eyes and spoke.

“Thank you mister.” She said as her bottom lip quivered.

“You’re welcome.” I replied and smiled.

“That mean boy destroyed my castle!” She yelled. Then continued in a calmer still annoyed tone. “I worked on it all day to get it just like the one in my favorite princess movie, and he ruined it.”

“I saw your castle before he ruined it. It was very pretty.” I held up a second pail that was lying on the ground. “Can I help you fix it?”

She sniffled again, but the tears were gone. She smiled. “We will have to start aaaallllll over.”

“Well we should get to work then.” I immediately filled my pail with sand and dumped it upside down to make a tower. We worked together pushing sand into piles and I carefully sculpted bricks of sand under my new friend’s direction. She was very serious the whole time, and everything had to be perfect. I followed her instructions to a tee. I got so caught in the simplicity and normalcy of our interaction that I forgot my current circumstances.

Much later when we were both adequately covered in sand the girl yelled out: “Done!” She stood and grabbed my pinky finger, pulling me up. “Over here….” She dragged me a few feet away. “We must look from over here.”

“It’s beautiful.” I said.

“It’s even prettier than the last one.” She giggled and jumped up and down, still holding my pinky. “Thanks mister.”

“Well anytime you need some castle repairs, you can call me.”

“Okay.” She giggled more. “Hey Mister?”


“What’s your name?”

I told her, then ask hers. As soon as she said it I wondered how I didn’t see it earlier.

The eyes, they were the same. The will, the wit, and the fire; it was all there. Yes, it was definitely her.

“What’s wrong?” She asked sweetly.

I could barely speak. “Uh…..nothing….nothing at all sweetie.” I crouched down and looked deep in her eyes.

There she was.

“You just remind of someone.”


“Someone very special to me. Someone I miss very much.” I held back the tears, but a couple slipped out. Without missing a beat she stood up on her tiptoes and wiped away my tears with her little sand covered hand.

“Why are you sad?” she asked and it broke my heart.

“I’m not sad sweetheart. These are happy tears.” I took her hand off my cheek and brushed away the sand. I clasped my other hand around and held her tight. “I am just so happy to have met you.”

I looked over the girls shoulder to see my guide in the distance. “Sweetheart, I think I have to go now. I want you to know that today was the most fun I have ever had, and thank you very much for letting me help you build your sandcastle.”

She started to frown again. “Will you come back and play with me again sometime?”

I smiled. “I promise.”

Her frown turned into a big toothy grin. “Okay, thanks mister!” She gave me a big happy wave, ran back to her castle and started to play. I watched her as tears rolled down my cheeks.

I smiled as his hand fell on my shoulder.



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