Edward Owen – Author

Ray Bradbury Challenge #30- No More Tomorrows

No More Tomorrows

No More Tomorrows

 As he pushed the door, it swung in and the house greeted him with a heavy silence. For a brief moment the words “Honey, I’m home” danced on the tip of his tongue. He’d said them five days a week for almost twenty five years. It had been their inside joke that they were living in a sitcom. He stood immobile in the center of the kitchen. A week ago the smell of stew and fresh baked bread had filled the room. She had loved to cook and his expanding belly was a testament to her culinary skills. If he had known that would be their last meal together, their last night together… the tears he had kept at bay through the memorial service forced their way into his eyes and down his cheeks.

“I miss you so much…” The soft words caught in his throat as his grief hit him like a right hook. He staggered into the living room and dropped into his recliner. Reaching behind the chair, his fingers wrapped around the smooth neck of the whiskey bottle and brought it to his lips. Images floated through his mind in a macabre parade filtered through the alcohol induced haze. The police coming to her sister’s door with the news and the obligatory “we’re very sorry for your loss”. The picture of her mangled Accord on the front page of the paper. “Local Woman Dies in Horrific Crash” the headline announced. In their small town, making the front page took very little effort. It had only taken a split second when the other driver had run the red light. “Police estimate that the suspect was traveling in excess of eighty miles an hour with a blood alcohol level of .16%, double the legal limit” the accompanying article stated. The trip to the mortuary with her mother and sister and the news that there would be no need to bring one of her dresses as her body had suffered far too much trauma for an open casket. The outpouring of grief from friends and family. It was overwhelming. He drained the bottle and the haze grew darker until it blacked out the images. His body went numb, his eyes closed and the empty bottle dropped to the floor.

*****

The hair on the back of her neck stood up and she shivered despite the warm spring temperature. That had been happening more often as of late. It had been three months since his heart had called it quits but she still wasn’t used to being in the house alone. They had shared it for more than half her life. Now her only companions were the things with which they had filled the house and the memories they had made together. There had been no children, only the two of them.

Not for lack of trying, she thought as the sadness washed over her again. Alone. Her parents were gone and she had no siblings. It was just her in their queen size bed. As she passed the living room she looked at the recliner. There was something on the floor. She flipped on the light and it sparkled on the clear glass and bright green label that was all too familiar. Briarson’s whiskey. His favorite. She picked up the bottle and less than a swallow of brown liquid swirled inside. The bottle hadn’t been there this morning when she vacuumed.

*****

The sun shone in the window and the volume of his headache doubled. He reached for the bottle but it was nowhere to be found. All of the windows were open and the curtains were flying in the breeze. He couldn’t remember opening them, but then erasing his memories had become second nature. For just a moment the faint scent of gardenias wafted on the air. It reminded him of her perfume. Hunger gnawed at his stomach and he forced himself out of the chair with a groan and shuffled off to the kitchen.

*****

She must be losing her mind. The proof rested in the ham sandwich occupying a plate on the kitchen counter. A sandwich that she had no memory of making. She hadn’t even been in the kitchen since she got home. The hairs on the back of her neck rose to attention.

*****

There it was again, gardenias. It was too strong to be coming in from outside. Besides, there were no gardenia bushes anywhere on the property. As he crossed the kitchen a wave of warmth washed over him as if he had stepped into the shower. Just as suddenly it was replaced with an icy cold blast. His breath fogged in front of his face. The scent of gardenias was overpowering.

*****

There was someone in the house with her, she could feel them. Goose pimples rose on her arms and legs as the temperature dropped without warning. The scent of whiskey hung in the air, even though she had dumped and rinsed the bottle. The presence was palpable, causing her breath to catch in her throat as it closed in on her.

*****

They materialized together in the center of the kitchen, surprise and shock registering on both their faces.

“It can’t be,” he said. “You died.”

“You’ve been dead for three months,” she said. “I’ve missed you terribly.”

“My heart was broken without you.”

As their bodies coalesced, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him.

“I don’t understand,” she whispered.

“Neither do I. And I don’t care. Just kiss me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Post Navigation