5 Stages of Grief

Submitted for Contest #44 in response to: Write a story that starts with a life-changing event.... view prompt

Submitted on 05/31/2020

Categories: General


“They’re inseparable, those two.” My mom would often say. She wasn’t wrong. 


Jess and I have been best friends since nursery school. We knew each other so well. So that’s how I know she’ll wake up. There I was, sitting at her hospital bed, clutching her hand, holding back tears. I rested my head on her stomach. C’mon, I’m better than this. Don’t cry. Don’t. Cry. I don’t remember what happened to Jess. All I know is that I’m here now, sitting at what might be her deathbed. 


“Don’t leave me... Please, I NEED you.” I softly whispered into her ear. 


Holding back tears was about the hardest thing to do. I couldn’t help myself. If I lost her, it’d feel like I lost a part of myself. I took a minute. I wiped off the tears with my shirt, letting out a strong sniff before touching her cheek and leaving the room. 


Denial: 


I walked out of that hospital room with a sense of feeling lost. 


“She can’t be dead.” I thought. 


“Whatever happened to her, I’m sure it can be treated, right?” 


It felt like I was lying to myself. For what? This is stupid. I should just come to grips with it. I was walking down the hall, looking at the floor. I froze up when her parents approached the room. Her Mom stopped to talk to me. 


“What happened to Jess? What happened to my poor baby?” She said in shock. I could see the fear in her eyes. Poor lady, she just found out. She was holding both my arms tight, looking at me right in the eye. I felt like I was put on the spot to answer.


“I-I don’t know, I was already here and--” I cut myself off. How did I get here? I don’t remember driving. I guess I rode in the EMT truck with Jess when it happened. She noticed the pause, so she continued. 


“Listen, Nick. I know this is a lot to take in. I think you need some rest, honey. I can tell this is stressing you out. You should head on home, okay? Say hi to your mom for me.” She said to me. 


“W-will do, Ms. Maheshwaran.” I said to her. I drove home feeling out of sorts. 


What happened to Jess? She’s in a coma, but from what? From who? For some reason, I felt like I knew what happened to her. I think I just needed to clear my head; my mind felt fuzzy. I opened the door to my apartment, threw the keys on the kitchen table and went to my bedroom.


As I took off my coat, I noticed an orange hue in the corner of my eye. I turned around with a quickness. It was sitting on my nightstand. What the hell is that? I wondered, as I curiously walked over to it. A pill bottle. It had Rohypnol written on it. Did someone drug me? Is that why I don’t remember anything from the past 48 hours? I started to piece together a theory. 


Anger: 


“It was her BOYFRIEND.” I said to myself. 


It made sense. I never liked that guy. He didn’t cherish her like I did, but for some reason, Jess felt obligated to stay with this asshole. He probably got her to overdose or something. Enough to knock her into a coma. What the hell is this dude’s problem? I was gonna confront him. I got in my car, and proceeded to drive to Chris’s house. I knew it for sure. He was a little bit of a druggie, so I’m not surprised that it was him. 


I got to his front porch, furious. I did two hard knocks on the door; pattering my foot, arms crossed. I shook my head in disbelief and anger. This guy BETTER have a good reason. At this point, there’s nothing stopping me from straight up killing this guy. He answered the door, looking like he just woke up. Figures. 


“So, that's your ideal Saturday, huh? Just, beat your girlfriend half to death, and go back to sleep. Job well done, you psychopath?!” I shouted at him.  


“What the hell are you talking about?” He said, confused. He was still rubbing his eyes, adjusting to the morning sun.


“Oh wow,” I slow clapped, “Bravo, bravo… Oscar worthy performance. Feel good about yourself, Ted Bundy?” 


“What happened to Jess? Is she in the hospital?” He said, lost. 


“C’mon, man. Cut the shit, I know it was you. Just come clean and I promise I’ll do the same to you that you did to Jess.” I said, stepping towards him as I was rolling up my sleeves. He raised his arms in a backing off motion. 


“Hey, what are you doing? I didn’t even KNOW Jess was in the hospital.” 


“Yeah you--” 


I had that feeling again. I touched my head, stumbling back a bit. I regained balance, and apologized to Chris. 


“S-sorry, man. I’m just out of it, today. It’s just… What happened with Jess. It was… Bad.” 


“You would know. She was with you last.” 


“WHAT? Since when?” 


“Well, you said you guys were gonna go on a hike, remember?” 


“No, not really.” 


A faded memory started to surface in my mind. I WAS with her. She was knocked unconscious, in front of me. Did I let the killer get away?


“Um,” He snapped his fingers at me, “Nick? You good.” 


The image slipped away from my mind; Chris snapped me out of it. 


“Dude, what the hell? I was starting to piece together what happened in my head!” I said, angry. 


“Sorry,” he paused, “I’m gonna check on Jess. What hospital is she at?” 


“Ask her mom, she’ll tell you.” I said. 


He frantically got in his car and drove off. I was still standing on his porch, lost. What happened on that hike? 


Depression: 


I layed in bed, staring at the ceiling. Who would do this to her? She was a light of hope in this horrible world. A whole future ahead of her; she wanted to be a nurse. Help people, take care of them. Nursing them back to recovery, making sure their families can still make memories with loved ones. She was such a sweet girl. I remember the time we were out in the woods once. We were 12. I saw a roly-poly bug, so I was gonna squash it. 


“No, don’t do that!” Jess shouted at me. I froze in my tracks. 


“What? Why not?” I curiously asked. 


“C’mon, get on outta here.” She said, as she shooed the bug away. 


"What's the big deal? It's just a bug."


"It's more than just a bug, Nick. It's a living creature."


"But it's not like," I paused, "Human or anything."


“How would you feel if someone stepped on YOU?” 


“Um, no one’s that big.” 


She laughed.


“Yeah, but imagine if you were that bug. You have a family that loves you. The bestest friend in the whole wide world!” She grinned, then continued, “Imagine you have a nice job, comfortable house, on your way back from work. And then BAM, just like that, some guy steps on you. And that’s it. Gone.” 


“Yeah, I guess I would feel really bad, huh?” 


“You’d be dead, silly.” 


It’s funny how it comes full circle. Not good funny, though. Like, sadistically, unfortunately funny. I wasn’t sad for Jess, Which was weird. I should feel for her, right? Am I grieving correctly? Does that even make sense? There’s no wrong way to grieve. I felt more sad for the person who did this. It’s like, why? Why’d you do this? 


She did nothing to you. You had no reason. She didn’t deserve this. Why does the world work this way? I hadn’t noticed that I started tearing up; I could barely see the ceiling anymore. 


Bargaining: 


I wiped them off my face and began asking for forgiveness. 


“Please, God. Help me. It should’ve been me. I know whoever did this didn’t mean it. Take that person’s life for hers.”  


But for some reason, I didn’t want that. I didn’t want that person to die in place for Jess. I felt like it would be unfair to kill someone else. I could feel for this person, and I don’t know why, but I felt connected to the killer. Maybe I knew the person? I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because Jess is my best friend and it’s easy to imagine who’d want me dead. Er, her dead. Either way, I can’t let her die in vain. Not like this. 


“I’m not asking for you to bring her back. All I’m asking for is closure. Even if it’s just for a second. Please. Just let me talk to her.” 


I knew it wasn’t gonna happen. I had to think, is this really what I wanted? Yes, it was. If it’s the last time I ever talk to her, I want her to know that I was there for her. Since the beginning. She was the only person in the world I felt really understood me. She was made for me. I wanted her. But, then she met Chris. Frickin’ Chris. It’s unfair. How could she not see that she belonged with ME?


I know I can’t change the past, but I can change the present. I should confess my feelings for her. I picked up my phone. 3 Missed calls from Jess’s mom. Crap. I called back, anxious to hear from her. 


“Nick, Jess is,” She began to cry, “S-she’s.... Just… come to the hospital.” 


I left the house, but before I went out the door, I looked at the pill bottle. Was I taking them to forget what happened to Jess? Did I know what happened? I thought about it for a second, then went out the door. 


Acceptance: 


I got to the room, and stood in the doorway, still. Why did this happen to you? I approached her. She was, almost dead. Basically only alive because of the machine. I sat down, firmly grasping her hand.


“Hey, Jess. It’s me, Nick. I know this is a bad time, but I need to tell you something that’s been on my mind.” I stared at her lifeless face; like a vessel with no inhabitant. 


“It’s just, ever since I met you, I knew you were the one for me. And I know, I know, you have a boyfriend. And that’s okay. I accept that. But, I just thought, if you’re still even the slightest bit conscious, I wanted you to know I never took our friendship for granted. I just never had you to myself. We never dated, and although I'm still hung up on it, I’ll always cherish what we did have. And for that reason, I’ll never forget you. EVER.” I said to her. 


I froze. My memory caught up to speed in that moment. What I said made something click in my head. Then it hit me. I think I figured out the reason why I wasn’t able to be sad about Jess. I told her,

"I’ll never forget you."


It’s starting to come back. The pill bottle on my nightstand, Me blaming Chris immediately, the strange feeling I had about the killer, the inability to really feel for Jess’s death; All of it’s connected. It all comes full circle. It's because I did it. 


I killed Jess.

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157 comments

Abby Irwin
14:51 Jun 07, 2020

Great job! It was a great story overall. However I didn't really like the wrap up. The twist just didn't make enough sense to me.

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Daryl Gravesande
19:29 Jun 07, 2020

Oh, sorry you feel that way. I'm glad you still liked it though.

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09:21 Jun 07, 2020

Wow...such an AMAZING story, Daryl! I totally loved reading this story! What an ending!...Unique! Keep writing Daryl and have a great weekend! :))))

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Daryl Gravesande
12:02 Jun 07, 2020

Wow, thank you! I really appreciate it!

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13:53 Jun 07, 2020

:))))

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Daryl Gravesande
14:14 Jun 07, 2020

:))))

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Asianzu Victoria
08:51 Jun 07, 2020

I give it to you, I had wild imaginations of some killer roaming around. It's brilliant.

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Daryl Gravesande
12:02 Jun 07, 2020

Ha, that's good. Or not? lol, thank you for your feedback!

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Asianzu Victoria
18:25 Jun 07, 2020

Your welcome. I loved it, the fact that it I couldn't guess who did it.

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Daryl Gravesande
19:33 Jun 07, 2020

Nice!

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C. jay Loren
06:33 Jun 07, 2020

It was definitely quite a layered story which is interesting and from my experience can be a bit tough to write. You portrayed the confused, unreliable narrator quite well.

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Daryl Gravesande
12:03 Jun 07, 2020

WOW! Thank you! I really appreciate that you liked it!

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Verda H
06:23 Jun 07, 2020

Oh my goodness, what a plot reveal. Loved it

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Tim Law
23:03 Jun 05, 2020

Well done Daryl! Another brilliant story. The twist at the end was well timed. You skillfully took us on that rollercoaster ride. Keep writing, I hope you win!

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Daryl Gravesande
11:42 Jun 06, 2020

Wow, thanks, Tim! That means A LOT. I appreciate that you think I'll win, but I guarantee that there are better ones than mine, lol.

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Tim Law
06:10 Jun 07, 2020

Keep writting the way you are and you will win one for sure!

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Ray Van horn
17:21 Jun 04, 2020

“Oh wow,” I slow clapped, “Bravo, bravo… Oscar worthy performance. Feel good about yourself, Ted Bundy?" Schizophrenic hilarity!

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Daryl Gravesande
01:14 Jun 05, 2020

Ha, thanks!

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Roshna Rusiniya
13:40 Jun 04, 2020

The last line was a shocker. Loved the title too. Well done Daryl!

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Daryl Gravesande
16:04 Jun 04, 2020

Thank you, Roshna!

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Roshna Rusiniya
03:28 Jun 05, 2020

You are welcome. Please have a look at my story too whenever you get time.

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John k Adams
20:33 Jun 03, 2020

You created a belief in the narrator. I don't really like the bait and switch though.

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Thistle Arellano
16:24 Jun 02, 2020

Wow, I really liked your story! I loved the plot twist at the end. Great job!

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Ruth Porritt
01:37 Jun 02, 2020

Randomly, are you a Bundyphile? Just curious. Ruth p.s. Just had a thought...you should definitely read "The Stranger Beside Me" by Ann Rule. It's a beautifully written narrative about Rule's experiences working with Bundy at a crisis hotline center. Anyway, the book definitely shows how Bundy was able to fool so many people (concerning his true nature) and would be great research for writing future stories about unreliable narrators. Have a great one, Ruth

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Daryl Gravesande
02:28 Jun 02, 2020

Yeah, that sounds good! And not a hardcore fan, but I dabble in those type of things. I'll be sure to check it out!

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Daryl Gravesande
02:38 Jun 02, 2020

Also, I always wondered that. Like, how were they able to get away with it? It's so interesting to read stuff like that. You really get into the mind of the killer. lol, I didn't mean to sound creepy.

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Rhondalise Mitza
20:25 Jun 03, 2020

Ah, here we visit the strange habitat of humanity in its most natural state; curiosity.

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Ruth Porritt
01:30 Jun 02, 2020

Hello Daryl, Again, I am seeing that you have a knack for creating a realistic narrative voice. (This is awesome, because this is something that many writers struggle with.) In this tale of an unreliable narrator, you do an excellent job of getting the reader on the side of the MC. (And you do this very quickly, in the beginning of the story. Well done.) I laughed at this bit because it was hilarious: “Oh wow,” I slow clapped, “Bravo, bravo… Oscar worthy performance. Feel good about yourself, Ted Bundy?” (If I had been drinking ...

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Daryl Gravesande
02:29 Jun 02, 2020

Wow, thanks! I should've incorporated a friend, you're right! I'll do that next time I do a story like this!

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Ruth Porritt
02:40 Jun 02, 2020

Hello Daryl, Just wanted to say that I think you're great. You have a definite growth mindset in life, and I can't wait to see what career you decide to choose. (One day.) You'll go far. Have a great one!

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Daryl Gravesande
02:42 Jun 02, 2020

Really? Thank you for saying that! That really hit me in the feels, lol. I appreciate it, you're a fantastic writer; I believe that you should publish a story!

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James Offenha
22:36 Jun 01, 2020

The ending was predictable. I knew about a third in. Eliminate unneeded words like “best” in the first sentence. Eliminate adverbs like “I frantically got in”. Just say I got in. Also, let the reader infer the boyfriend is an asshole instead of telling us. Loved the part with the bug and saying she wanted to be a nurse. Try taking sentences that are superfluous out. Make the reader infer the narrator’s feelings instead of telling us what he’s feeling. Also, why did the boyfriend know she was in the hospital? Good work just make ...

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Daryl Gravesande
02:31 Jun 02, 2020

Ok, I'll take all your suggestions into consideration the next time I write a story like this! This is good stuff, though. I appreciate it!

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James Offenha
22:36 Jun 01, 2020

The ending was predictable. I knew about a third in. Eliminate unneeded words like “best” in the first sentence. Eliminate adverbs like “I frantically got in”. Just say I got in. Also, let the reader infer the boyfriend is an asshole instead of telling us. Loved the part with the bug and saying she wanted to be a nurse. Try taking sentences that are superfluous out. Make the reader infer the narrator’s feelings instead of telling us what he’s feeling. Also, why did the boyfriend know she was in the hospital? Good work just make ...

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Artemisia Pearl
20:32 Jun 01, 2020

I really enjoyed your story! I loved the pauses when each stage of grief was listed! It made the story more dramatic. And the very last sentence was the realization where Nick had realized that he was the one that killed Jess! I love your work! I hope to see more!

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Daryl Gravesande
21:12 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you for the feedback!

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Anoushka Jain
18:32 Jun 01, 2020

Oh no! Why would you leave me hanging like that? Now I really need to know where this story goes. Also, that last line completely threw me. I loved the 5 stages of grief format, but maybe, try describing the stage in a single sentence? I like it the way it is, but it might sound better with, like a more descriptive beginning to each stage? Maybe not, I'm not sure. On the other hand I really liked the main character's flow of thought, and how well you narrated it. Would love to hear more about where this story goes though!

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Daryl Gravesande
21:13 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you! Do you think I should make a sequel?

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Rhondalise Mitza
20:22 Jun 03, 2020

I’d read it!

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Anoushka Jain
17:24 Jun 04, 2020

Sorry I'm so late! It's been a busy week. Yes definitely. Would love to read a sequel, and maybe you can even use next week's prompts or something?

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Daryl Gravesande
01:14 Jun 05, 2020

Sure, Also, it's okay if you're busy, just don't stress out too much!

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Anoushka Jain
18:31 Jun 25, 2020

Hey, it's been really long since you last posted! I was looking forward to reading another great story!

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Daryl Gravesande
15:36 Jun 26, 2020

Wow, thanks! I actually have a NEW STORY IN THE WORKSSSSSS! So, spread the word!

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Blueberry Elf
17:31 Jun 01, 2020

I really liked the different stages of grief speaking through the story. good work!

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Jesper Jee
17:12 Jun 01, 2020

I actually just read a Swedish book with a similar topic. I enjoyed your story more. Well done!

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Daryl Gravesande
17:16 Jun 01, 2020

Wow, thanks!

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16:08 Jun 01, 2020

This story was so suspenseful; you kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was definitely feeling bad for Nick. You described the five stages (that was a really cool idea, btw) in a way that made it feel like I was the one going through them. That last line gave me chills. :) Keep writing and stay safe! -Brooke

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Daryl Gravesande
16:44 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks! I thought it would be cool to incorporate the stages along with his actions; so they'd correlate. I'm glad you liked that bit!

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16:53 Jun 01, 2020

It was definitely cool! You're welcome!

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Daryl Gravesande
16:58 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks!

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18:15 Jun 01, 2020

You're welcome!

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Kathleen March
16:06 Jun 01, 2020

So... first of all, this has a narrative arc that is appealing. Now to make an observation that is meant in a very supportive way: The story could have more impact if shorter, with less telling and with words that hit the reader in the gut more. The drug seems odd, because it's one people don't keep around unless they've got evil designs and the narrator seems to love Jess. Nice effort!

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Daryl Gravesande
16:46 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks! I had to hit the word count, though. So, I tried to keep it brief while still hitting it. Also sorry, I like to tell, not very good at using less when describing. I'll be sure to tone it down though! Thanks for your support and feedback! I look forward to hearing more from you!

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Kathleen March
17:38 Jun 01, 2020

It seemed longer than 3,000, but none of mine is that long. I feel comfortable at around 2400-2500 maximum, but once in a while go longer. What I've learned is that less is often more. Stretching is something my students used to do when writing essays for Spanish class in college, and I said "no paja" which means 'no straw' or 'no stuffing'. Not being critical of you but rather trying to use humor with my response to you. I am currently writing a story that is about 1500 words, but I need to tighten it up. By doing that, I hope to shake loos...

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Daryl Gravesande
21:15 Jun 01, 2020

Oh, very enlightening, thank you! I'll work on making a story work better "shorter" if that makes sense. Thanks for the feedback!

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