The Unknown

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mr. Shelley and his wife have a generally normal life until he meets the new girl at his office. Mr. Shelley decides to pursue her and his decision changes his life forever.

Submitted: May 06, 2013

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Submitted: May 06, 2013

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Mr. and Mrs. Shelley were known by their friends and family as the “perfect couple.” They had been married just over a year and seemed so in love and happy. However, they had their spats just like any couple. Recently there had been great tension over the discussion of possible children. The couple had been unsuccessful in their attempts, and Mrs. Shelley was taking the news hard; Mr. Shelley, however, seemed not to care. This difference in their attitudes made them grow farther and farther apart and led, ultimately, to a fatal mistake.

Mr. Shelley worked as a physical therapist in his own practice and Mrs. Shelley was an RN at their local hospital. The number of patients Mr. Shelley had was growing rapidly, so he decided to expand his business and hire new people. One of those people was Marilyn. She caught his attention the moment he laid eyes on her.

One routine day after Mr. Shelley had dropped his wife off and arrived at his practice, he walked into Marilyn’s office.

“So, tell me about yourself” he said as he approached her desk. She eyed him cautiously not knowing what to say, and finally spoke.

“What do you want to know?” she asked. The two laughed and started talking about their families and lives. Throughout the next few weeks, the two were inseparable at work, and when Mr. Shelley left work, he became cold to others, especially his wife. She brushed off his behavior as stress from his growing business and went about life normally.

One day, Mr. Shelley, who had grown tired of their restrained relationship, walked up behind Marilyn and whispered in her ear,

“Let’s hang out after work, your place.” Marilyn jumped and turned around to face him. She smiled and nodded.

“What do you have in mind?” she asked with a grin.

“You’ll see,” he replied and gently kissed her cheek.

After work, he followed her home and his wife completely left his mind. As Mrs. Shelley sat and waited for her husband after work, he betrayed his vows with a woman he had only met a few weeks earlier. Eventually, Mrs. Shelley suspected that work was keeping him, so she decided to take a cab home and surprise him with dinner. She greeted the cab driver, who failed to respond and took off hastily. They sped down the road and seemed to be gaining speed. When the cab wasn’t slowing down as it came up to a red light, Mrs. Shelley screamed at the driver.

“Stop!” she screamed “What are you doing?” She peered over into the front seat and discovered the driver had fallen asleep. Before she could climb up front, the cab passed through the intersection and was hit by several other cars, killing both the passengers.

Mr. Shelley’s phone rang while he was in bed with Marilyn. He got up, answered it, and his face fell. He had forgotten about her, and she was gone. He quietly started dressing.

“What happened, what’s wrong?” Marilyn asked, grabbing his hands and pulling him to her. Mr. Shelley remained silent, finished dressing, and left her apartment. He would never go back. He fell into a deep depression, knowing he could have prevented his sweet wife’s death. He turned to drinking and took a long vacation from work.

Mr. Shelley locked himself in his apartment and talked to no one for months. All he did was sit at home and drink until he passed out every day. Each time he sat in his living room, thinking about his fatal mistake, he grew closer and closer to the thought of suicide.

One day, as Mr. Shelley was in his normal drunken stupor, he got up off the couch, tripped on some old bottles, and fell, hitting his head on a table. Luckily, one of his neighbors heard him yell as he was knocked unconscious and called the police. Mr. Shelley was rushed to the hospital and his head wound was treated. As he woke up and took in his surroundings, he realized that he had hit rock bottom. He was wasting his life away, and he knew his wife would want better for him. He then made up his mind to stay sober and go back to work the following week.

Mr. Shelley’s first day back was uneventful; however, he found that he couldn’t take his mind off of his wife for more than an hour. It was affecting his performance with his patients because all he could focus on was her. He came home discouraged and started to drink again. The next few days were the same. He would wake up in the morning with a hangover, arrive at work thirty minutes late, and then go home and drink away his sorrows.

The next week at work brought a change to Mr. Shelley’s life. He walked into a new patient’s room and introduced himself to a young boy, and what appeared to be his grandparents.

“Hello how is everybody today?” Mr. Shelley asked in a monotone voice and he shook the adults’ hands. The little boy smiled big at Mr. Shelley and reached his hand out to him.

“Hello, I’m Nick and my back hurts pretty bad, sir” the little boy said as he pointed to it.

“How did you hurt it, Nick?” Mr. Shelley asked him.

“He was in a car crash,” the little boy’s grandma answered for him with a sympathetic look. She rubbed the little boy’s back and turned towards Mr. Shelley again.

“I’ll have to do an examination on his back and then we’ll discuss treatment options,” Mr. Shelley told the grandparents.

After the examination was done, Mr. Shelley told them when to be back for the boy’s next appointment, and the little boy shook his hand again.

“Thank you” Nick said with a big smile. “See you then” and he walked out hand in hand with his grandma. Mr. Shelley smiled for the first time since his wife’s death and walked back into his office.

The next week when Nick came back, Mr. Shelley started working with him. Nick asked many questions, but did everything he was supposed to do. Throughout each appointment Nick had, Mr. Shelley and Nick would talk about Nick’s schoolwork, his dog, and other random things he would bring up. Their appointments would bring a smile to Mr. Shelley’s face every time. However, Mr. Shelley still went out drinking and often ended up with strange women at night. He figured this would take away the pain of his wife’s absence. Every once in a while it did, but the memories always came back, seemingly stronger than before. He wondered if his wife would ever leave his mind.

One day Nick started asking questions about Mr. Shelley’s life.

“Mr. Shelley?” Nick asked as they were going about their routine.

“Yes?” Mr. Shelley responded, figuring it would be another story about what he did in class today.

“Do you have a family?” Nick asked as he looked at Mr. Shelley. Mr. Shelley was completely caught off guard and froze, staring at the little boy, wondering what to say. He shook his head and took a deep breath.

“Of course” he answered. “Everybody has a family” he said with a fake smile.

“Do you have any kids my age?” Nick asked. With this question, Mr. Shelley broke down. He remembered his wife’s sadness about being unable to conceive and he remembered his unsupportive attitude towards her. If only he could turn back time. Mr. Shelley looked at Nick, who was still expecting an answer, and told him that his appointment was over. Nick saw the sadness in Mr. Shelley’s eyes.

“Well, alright,” Nick replied “Same time next week?” Mr. Shelley nodded and took the boy out to his grandparents in the waiting room. He waved goodbye, walked into his office, shut the door, and began to cry.

As the weeks went on, Mr. Shelley only found joy in his short visits with the little boy. His other patients were faceless to him, but Nick and he shared a connection. Mr. Shelley often thought about when the little boy would no longer need him; he dreaded the day when that would come. He would no longer have the remedy to his sadness. Sure there would be other kids, but this little boy was special. Something about Nick stood out among other kids.

One day during a routine visit, Mr. Shelley noticed that Nick was doing all his exercises with ease and no longer complained about pain or any discomfort. The day had come finally. He would lose his little friend.

“It seems as though your grandson is a fast healer,” Mr. Shelley said with a fake smile.

“So, further visits aren’t needed?” Nick’s Grandma asked hopefully. 

“No, but he will need to continue to do what I’ve shown him on his own. He no longer needs my help though. He’s a smart kid.” Mr. Shelley smiled at Nick who returned a big grin and hugged him. Mr. Shelley was caught off guard, but regained composure and hugged the little boy.

“I sure will miss you Mr. Shelley. Can I come visit you some time?” Nick said with pleading eyes.

“Come along Nick,” his Grandma said taking his hand and pulling him towards the door. “Mr. Shelley is a busy man.” She turned towards Mr. Shelley and apologized.

“That’s okay, he’s welcome any time,” Mr. Shelley said as he walked towards the boy. “It was great getting to know him.” Nick ran up to Mr. Shelley, hugged him, and whispered in his ear.

“You know, you remind me of my dad,” he said with a sad tone in his voice. “I miss him terribly, but our visits helped.” With that, Nick ran back to his grandma and they both left.

Mr. Shelley was left stunned. If only he was lucky enough to have had a child like him. If only he had made the right choice. If only his wife was here today. Mr. Shelley stumbled into his office with tears rolling down his face. His life was ruined; he had no wife or son to live for. Why should he stay if there was no point to life? No one could replace his wife, he knew that now. He had made up his mind, and nothing would stop him.

Mr. Shelley drove home, walked slowly to his bedroom, and retrieved his gun from his dresser drawer. He had nothing; this would be easy he told himself. He pointed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

Mr. Shelley opened his eyes, and saw sunlight coming through his living room blinds. Confused, he slowly started to get up, but tripped on some old beer bottles and fell on the couch. Suddenly, it hit him. He grabbed his head, but found no bullet wound, no blood. He jumped up, noticing for the first time his throbbing headache, and ran into his bedroom. He got the gun out of his drawer and checked its chamber. All the bullets were still in their place. He sat on his bed in disbelief and finally grabbed his phone. He was an hour late for work, and probably wouldn’t make it today. When he told this to his secretary, there was silence over the phone.

“Sir, I thought you were on vacation. Were you supposed to come back today?” she asked confused.

“What do you mean?” he replied back angrily. “I’ve been back for months now!” he screamed at her.

“I think you need to calm down. Are you alright? Have you been drinking?” she asked with pity drowning her words. Mr. Shelley hung up and screamed once again. What was happening? Where have the months gone? Was it all a dream?

Mr. Shelley went and sat down on his couch. The little joy in his life wasn’t real; the little boy had been a dream. He had even less than before now. As he lay down, he heard a voice. He figured he was imagining things now because the voice he knew belonged to his little friend from his dream. He ignored it and tried to sleep.

“Mr. Shelley,” the voice called. Mr. Shelley jumped up and looked around. Standing next to his couch was Nick and Mr. Shelley’s wife. He rubbed his eyes twice before he ran to his wife and pulled her into his arms. She was, however, only a ghost. Both she and Nick were ghosts.

“How did you get here? Why have you come now?” Mr. Shelley asked.

“You had to know,” Mrs. Shelley’s ghost replied as she looked at the little boy. “You had to know what you took away.”

“I still love you, dad,” Nick said as he grabbed Mr. Shelley’s hand. Realization hit Mr. Shelley hard.

“You were pregnant?” he asked, scared of the answer. Mrs. Shelley nodded, tears flowing from her face.

“How come you never told me?” he asked, hurt seeping into his voice. Tears fell as he looked at his unborn son.

“I found out the day I died,” Mrs. Shelley said. Her eyes looked down at the little boy and she continued to cry. “We could have had a good life. Why wasn’t that good enough for you?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I would give anything to have it again,” Mr. Shelley said as he fell to his knees at her feet. His wife took their child’s hand and backed away.

“Too late,” Mrs. Shelley said as both ghosts disappeared forever.

Mr. Shelley was found a month later dead in his apartment, but not with a bullet through his head.


© Copyright 2019 LizzieLou. All rights reserved.

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