watering the plants when I saw the little note discreetly slipped under the door. It was one week after the funeral. I had done my best to keep any thoughts of Cynthia out of my mind. Thinking about her would just be opening up a can of worms, which I could not deal with right now. I had really loved her. I still did. If I wasn’t already an atheist, I would certainly have become one after she died. How could any god have let someone so young and beautiful and plain good die? Any god we would want to worship anyway.
I should’ve thrown it away without looking at it. It would have saved me, not to mention everyone left in my life, so much grief. Of course, we can never tell what something so seemingly insignificant could all lead to. So I picked it up. In that familiar tiny scribble, it said “I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one.” It was signed C. Like a rock hit my heart. I sank down on the couch with my head in my hands, crushing the note in the hand I had picked it up with. What asshole would play a sick joke like this? I forgot all about the withered plants. You had to be absolutely heartless… Or it could really be Cynthia. A part of me was certain it was. But that was impossible. I had seen her in the coffin! I had seen the priest close it and commit it to the ground! I had stayed by her grave for so long after the burial that she would have suffocated inside, were she alive. And if her death had been staged for whatever reason, why would she ruin it by revealing that she was alive to anyone? No, it was just some asshole toying with me. It couldn’t be anything else.
That night I was at Guido’s at 8 PM sharp. I had to know. I wasn’t hungry, but ordered a slice of cheese pizza and a glass of vodka to have a reason to be there. I had the feeling that I was holding my breath the whole time. I anxiously watched the people going in and out. Every time I saw someone with orange hair my heart skipped a beat. It was Friday and very crowded. I didn’t mind. The more crowded it was, the less noticeable was I. Time dragged on and on. I had only been here for 20 minutes, but it seemed more like 20 years. Why was I torturing myself like this? She wasn’t coming. She couldn’t. She was dead. I should just leave. Pretend this never happened.
I was already getting up to leave when I felt a cold, small hand on my arm. I turned around. It was her. It was really her. Orange hair, freckles, nearly black eyes, misleading frailty and all. But there was something wrong. She seemed older somehow. Tears welled up in my eyes. She smiled at me. “Don’t cry,” she said softly, wiping a tear away with her thumb. She was so very cold.
“What happened to you?”
She sat down next to me. She was completely scentless. “That’s a very long story and we don’t have much time. He only gave me half an hour above.”
“What? Who only gave you half an hour above?”
“Hush,” she said, putting a finger to my lips, “I told you it’s a long story. I can explain it all to you later, if you come with me,” she intertwined her fingers with mine, “Please come with me.” She looked me straight in the eyes, in a way that broke my heart. “I can’t stand this shallow, solitary existence. I need you. I love you. I know you love me too. If you come with me we can be together forever. And you’ll never have to worry about people disapproving of us again.”
It was very tempting. So much that I already made the decision. I only needed to know “Where will we go?”
She suggestively looked down.
“Down there? What’s down there?”
“Something you never believed in. Because of the bet, I’ll have to spend the rest of my life there. You have no idea how slowly time passes below. Please come with me?” She had only said that word twice and it was already more than I’d heard her say it alive. She had never been one to plead. I couldn’t abandon her.
“Of course I’ll come with you.” I kissed her. It was like plunging headfirst into a mound of snow. I wondered what it would’ve been like to kiss her before this happened to her. I never had the courage to do it before. And here we were, in such a very public place. I’m sure there were people looking, but I couldn’t bring myself to care.
After we broke apart she wasted no time in dragging me outside. She looked nymph-like darting before me in her pale green dress. Silently, she brought me to her grave. It was open. Inside I saw the flickering of flames. I stopped for a moment. “If I do this, I’ll never be able to get back, will I?”
“No, you won’t,” she said without looking at me.
I thought of my homophobic parents, my awful little sister, the fickle friends I had. There was nothing or no one I wasn’t prepared to give up for a lifetime with Cynthia. I turned my back to the only world I knew and led her back down. With her hand in mine I didn’t even feel the flames licking at my sides.
thank you so much if you read it all the way through! i know most of you that follow my blog aren’t very big on reading.
like the title says, i wrote this for the sake of writing a finished story. i used a writing prompt from writer’s digest. it was: One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, “I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one.” only i substituted postcard with a note. it was also supposed to be less than 750 words, but i went a few hundred over that.
i-person is a girl, in case you didn’t notice.
i’ve been working on two other stories (one about vampires, another about merpeople & pirates), but those are so far from being finished & i don’t like posting things i’ve written until they’re edited & i usually don’t edit until they’re finished, which isn’t often.