Michelle grabbed a pillow from behind her and buried her face in it, hoping to make the images go away. It seemed normal to want to suppress traumatic memories. Of course so many years had passed, she knew she should be able to sort through everything and deal with it on some level. Had all those years really passed though? Here she was, recalling bits and pieces of an event that had not even happened yet. A conundrum resulting from being transported seven years into the past by a bottle of perfume.
The perfume! How could she be so stupid? She threw the pillow aside and looked for the perfume bottle on the dresser. There it was, innocently nestled among her collection of various bottles of lotion and body sprays. She jumped up from the bed, grabbed the bottle and ran to the bathroom clutching it to her chest. Before Michelle could even think about the consequences, she sprayed the perfume and inhaled. As the scent entered her nostrils, she began to feel dizzy. Soon she was colliding with the floor.
When Michelle woke up, she felt the back of her head for the goose egg she knew must be there. It was tender to the touch but not terribly swollen. She looked around and realized that she was in her bathroom at home; the home she bought after Billy died. She stood up and looked in the mirror. As expected, her reflection was that of a woman older and heavier with short dark hair. She smiled, actually happy to see that woman looking back at her.
"Okay," Michelle laughed. "Obviously I just hit my head and dreamed I traveled back in time." The sound of her nervous laugh was disturbing. She wondered if anything would seem normal again.
She turned the doorknob, expecting to see Billy on the other side of the door but he wasn't there. It was her house and she was alone. Billy had been dead for seven years. He had never stepped foot in this house. So why did she feel him standing there?
Chill bumps formed on her arms and she rubbed them to make them go away. She was spooked but she knew she was being irrational. Billy wasn't a ghost. The only logical explanation is that it had all been a dream. "What if it wasn't?" Michelle whispered.
"Stop that!" She admonished herself. But she couldn't stop. It had been so detailed. Besides, now she was obsessed with knowing what all those images meant. The crazy collage of images she had seen when she looked at Jamie's photograph. Whether or not it was a dream, it raised questions. When was the last time she saw Jamie? Billy's funeral? Her head began to hurt so she made her way to the living room and sat on the couch.
The house was quiet except for that same peeping sound she heard before, only now it sounded farther away. Funny how sounds incorporate themselves into dreams. But why was it was louder in her dream and fainter here in reality? Michelle shook her head as if to clear the fog created by all the questions. She felt like she needed to focus on those images and what they meant. Why did memories of Jamie cause severe anxiety? And why would it make her want to run away from Billy?
Michelle got chills again that went all the way to her bones. She decided a hot bath would remedy the problem. So she drew a bath, threw in a bath bomb and poured herself a half glass of wine. She looked at the glass, then back the bottle and finished filling the glass. "Go big or go home." she chuckled as she raised the glass to her lips.
She powered up the stereo and put on her favorite "relaxation" playlist, grabbed a towel from the linen closet and placed it on the vanity before slipping into the warm, fragrant water. "Yellow" by Coldplay came on. She closed her eyes for a few minutes and sang along. The song ended and a new one began, prompting her to reach for the wine glass. That was when she noticed the towel was in a different place on the vanity. Michelle sat straight up in the bath and stared at the towel.
"I just want one good towel." She whispered. But it was Billy's voice, not hers, that she heard. That towel was one of a few things from their life together that she kept and used on a weekly basis.
Early in their marriage they were quite poor. They didn't have much in the way of belongings and what they did have was second hand, thrift store, bargain barrel junk. Michelle remembered the day Billy put his foot down. He had reached the end of his patience with the threadbare towels that did not absorb any water when he tried to towel off after a shower.
Billy and Michelle got in the car that day and drove to K-Mart where he bought one large Martha Stewart bath towel. It was light brown with dark brown trim in a delicate checkerboard pattern.
"This." Billy declared, then laid it lovingly in the shopping cart and gave it a pat. "This is a good towel." Michelle saw the price tag and gave him a questioning look.
"I'd say it's a great towel." Michelle frowned. "Did you see the price? For a towel?"
"I just want one good towel." Billy said and smiled that crooked smile. Whenever he did that, she was helpless. He could have anything he wanted. They would find a way to make it work, somehow.
For Billy, anything that was worth having was described as "a good ___" then you could fill in the blank. Billy didn't need much but he loved to cook and he was always looking for "a good knife" or "a good pan". These items were never over the top or extravagant. They just had to be "good."
Like a "good woman."
The thought repeated like an echo in her mind and Michelle felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to her head. The pain was blinding. Her ears began to ring. Then the ringing became that blasted beeping sound again only faster and louder, followed by the sound of people yelling outside the house. Whoever was making all that noise on the street was going to get a piece of her mind. She stood up, reached for the towel and began to scream. The towel was no longer neatly folded on the vanity. It was in a heap on the floor, in the center of a pool of blood.