First published in Word Catalyst (2010)
I died in a car crash four hours ago. Fortunately, it was my children’s day with their father. The other driver was drunk, and he’s in a coma. Serves him right. Moron.
We’re in his hospital room. I’m sitting in the chair, waiting, my heels bouncing off the floor in no particular pattern. The neurologist looks at the chart and tells Mrs. Richardson—“Karen. Please call me Karen,” she says—her husband’s condition is unchanged. After the doctor leaves, Karen looks at the bed, says with a shake of her head, “I warned you about the drinking, Bradley,” walks to the chair, and sits on me.
She’s calmer than I would be if my husband lay in a bed, in a coma, with a needle in his arm and a tube up his nose; and I’ve yet to see her cry. She must still be numb from hearing about the accident. I felt the same way after Jonathan told me he wanted a divorce.
Karen pulls a set of beads from her purse and recites a rosary while we wait. I can’t remember the last time I said one. Not that it matters now.
She stands and walks to the bed, the beads still in her hand. Her face changes, like rain turned to sleet, and she whispers something in Bradley’s ear.
She moves to the other side of the bed, her back to the door, and takes a syringe out of her purse. It’s like the one my Aunt Lizzy uses for her diabetes. Without hesitation, Karen sticks the needle into Bradley’s IV line and pushes the plunger. “You can’t even die right,” she says, her words dripping with disgust.
I move so I can see the monitor and watch Bradley’s heart rate flatline. A nurse rushes in and pushes Karen aside.
Watching Karen, her face feigning shock, I realize she’s not the nice person I assumed she was. Perhaps I’m wrong about Bradley, too. Maybe the drinking is his way to escape. I used to be a good judge of character, but not anymore apparently. I wonder how else I’ve changed now that I’m a ghost.