Specter - Part 3

September 8, 2018

 

Michelle gave her reflection a sour look. “I guess I shouldn’t complain.” She muttered. “Yesterday I was twenty pounds heavier.” Inappropriate humor or not, there was no good way to cope with her mysterious circumstances.  No, to be honest, she had a lot to be thankful for.  In spite of the how or why, she had a second chance at life with Billy.

 

She pulled her hair into a messy bun and smiled wanly. How many times had she begged for a second chance? Somehow, here she was living it. She brushed her teeth and washed her face, then went back to the bedroom to get dressed. Her closet was full of items she had long since forgotten. She pulled out an old faded tee shirt that had been her favorite and grabbed a pair of jeans. She looked at the tag and laughed out loud at the size. She had to be dreaming. They pulled up easily with some room to spare.

 

Billy walked in with a bowl of ice cream and held it out for her. “M’lady.” He said and bowed reverently. Michelle laughed. Had she really forgotten how adorable he could be? 

 

She curtsied. “M’lord.” She replied and accepted the bowl. She took it over to the bed and sat down. “Babe?”  She asked.

 

“Yeeeeesssss?” Billy climbed onto the bed with her and started rubbing her feet.

 

“You’re going to think I’m crazy but do we have a newspaper?” She asked.

 

“Okay, not crazy, Meesh but maybe amnesia.” He chuckled. “The paper is delivered every morning like clockwork.  It’s on the coffee table.“

 

“Do you think I might have a look at it?” She smiled sweetly.

 

Billy left to retrieve the paper then tossed it onto the bed. “If you see me in the obits, don’t even tell me. I don’t want to know.” He joked.  Michelle’s face went pale in an instant. That wasn’t even remotely funny.  “What?” All humor was gone from his voice now. “What’s wrong? It’s a joke.”

 

“Not today it’s not.” She mumbled, hoping he wouldn’t see the tears forming in her eyes.  She took the paper and looked at the date.  It was March 12, 2011. She blinked a couple of times then did the calculations. Billy died on May 27, 2011. That meant she had roughly two and a half months with him. Then a crazy thought occurred to her. What if she wasn’t just reliving their last two and a half months together? What if she could change the outcome somehow?

 

“You look like you’re doing quantum physics in your head, Meesh.” Billy laughed. “What’s up?”

 

“Brain freeze. From the ice cream.” She said glibly. Good save, she thought to herself.

 

“Hmmm. Well, it’s Saturday. So what will it be today?” He batted his eyes at her playfully. “Laundry or grocery shopping?”

 

“All fun choices.” She rolled her eyes. “ Hard to decide.”  

 

Billy died in 2011. Michelle moved away immediately following his death and rented a house in her hometown. That is where she lived present day, which was 2018. Laundry was not a big deal anymore because she had her own washer and dryer.  It would seem she had easily forgotten a lot about life seven years in the past.  She and Billy had moved in their tiny apartment in 2008. For three years they had to lug two large bundles of dirty clothes, towels and sheets to the laundry mat every single weekend.  It was a huge ordeal but it was something they always did together. Somehow, Billy made it fun.

 

She recalled how she always got so aggravated with him when she opened the washing machine to find pieces of lint and shredded paper towel all over everything. Billy had a habit of stuffing paper towels in the pockets of his pants when he cooked. Even though she always insisted he empty his pockets before putting his clothes in the hamper, he often forgot. Almost every week, she would call him over to the machine and then she would point and scold him, “And what is this exactly, do you think?” His response was always the same; that boyish giggle, so loud everyone in the laundry mat would look at them. Then he would turn and walk away, still giggling. How could she stay mad at him? Well, she couldn’t. Oh, the endearing things she had forgotten about him since he had passed.  She put her face in her hands and began to weep.

 

“Meesh!” He rushed to her side. “It’s not that bad. Hey, we can do all that tomorrow if you want.” He said, rubbing her shoulder.

 

She wasn’t going to be able to do this, she knew that now. If she couldn’t get through the first hour, how could she endure two and a half months, much less try to figure out how to keep Billy from dying? It wasn’t like she could go to anyone to talk to them about it either. First of all, everyone would think she was crazy and second of all… maybe she was.

 

She heard that beeping sound coming from outside their bedroom window again. What were the neighbors doing out there? She lowered her hands from her face and scanned the room. So much here was familiar but only from distant memory. Yet it was all perfect down to the smallest detail. Her eyes scanned the room and stopped on a framed photograph of her and her best friend, Jamie.  The feelings that surfaced were unexpected and disturbing.  She felt like someone punched her in the gut. What a strange reaction to have, she thought. Her mind was bombarded with fragmented visions of an argument, police cars, crime scene tape and finally Billy’s funeral. Then came the feelings of betrayal that nearly knocked all the breath out of her lungs. Michelle looked at Billy. She felt sick and had to look away.  Suddenly she wasn’t so sure she wanted to change the events of that fateful day, even if she could.

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