Life in Death

Submitted into Contest #221 in response to: Write a story from a ghost’s point of view.... view prompt

15 comments

Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

Son, I read your letters every day. Keep them coming. I know there are skeptics out there that don’t believe that we are in contact with the living but trust me, we are. I am always with you and follow you in your daily life. I can see dangers before you do and can travel far and wide. It’s actually freeing to be extracorporeal. The sky’s the limit takes on new meaning when you’re dead. I watched the fires devastate your beautiful town and take away your family. I’m sure you felt my tears and sorrow. Dad and I wanted so much to hug and comfort you. We were with you in the medical tent and were in the back seat of your car when you were searching for Heather and the kids. We walked with you on the riverbank when you found the charred remains of their car. I know you still hoped they were safe, but Dad and I had watched the bright orange flames overtake Heather, little Johnnie and Wendy down the road, the day before. I tried to tell you, but my words turned into your nightmare. You dismissed them completely.

Some of the spirits up here can see the future. I am not one of them, but I can travel far and wide. Remember when you were small, and we would pick a place on that bluish globe that sat on my desk? You would spin it around and put a finger randomly on a country. Then we would research everything about it and fantasize about a trip and a tour. We’d imagine trekking up the Himalayas, Alps or Rockies, climbing Mount Everest, or walking along the Great Wall of China. Book tours of the Louvre and other famous galleries and tasting delicacies from all over the world were part of your education. Now, your Dad and I can travel to many of these places. We sit at cafes all over the world and join people of all ages and nationalities. We don’t need translators because once you’re dead all languages converge into one-the language of the living. It all sounds the same. Did you know that spirits or ghosts hear emotions as clearly as words? I wish I had that skill when I was living. Emotions are usually more eloquent than words. Your emotions are screaming right now. They tell a story of loss and grief. You will survive.

Over the last few years since I left you, I have travelled to places of great beauty and witnessed devastation and loss. Dad and I walked on the battlefields of Ukraine.  With screeching missiles flying overhead, we saw the charred remains of buildings and schools in Mariupol. We followed the tracks in the blood-stained snow to a burnt-out church where we witnessed atrocities.  Khaki dressed soldiers raped several young women who were bound. Dad and I tried to intervene but as extracorporeal beings we were helpless. Even worse, we watched Russian soldiers run after small children and brutalize them. They chased one little blonde girl in a red overcoat and red boots, undressed her and… I can’t even talk about it. Sometimes I’m happy I’m not with the living. Man’s inhumanity to man is a real thing.

I’m sorry. In your grief, you don’t want to hear about other people’s tragedies. It’s hard to watch my little boy age and grieve. I loved watching how tender and loving you were with your family. I sat in the blue bleachers with you during Johnny’s little league games. Dad and I cheered when Johnny hit his first home run. We ran with you to greet him at home plate. His smile and joy made my heart glow. The way his cap sat at an angle on his head reminded me of you as a little boy. We accompanied Wendy to her first prom. She looked so pretty in her pink dress and high heels. The music they played seemed danceable, but Dad couldn’t tolerate it and left immediately. You know how he is. Even in death that hasn’t changed. The good news is that Wendy’s date was a perfect gentleman.

You really married a gem. I loved watching Heather interact with you and the kids. She had just the right amount of tenderness and kindness but set appropriate boundaries. Ach, there I go again. Even in death I run my mouth. You don’t want to hear me bring back painful memories right now. You are grieving. I don’t know if you hear my words anyway. Yet I see them appear in your dreams. That’s mostly how we dead communicate. I’ll change the subject.

I encounter all kinds people and even animals in the spirit world. Interestingly, we all get along. There are no ethnicities, religions, colors, nationalities to create conflict. We are all one. The living should learn from the dead. You can call us ghosts or spirits, but we are ubiquitous. The living may call our visits haunts, but I prefer the former term. Generations of families live together whether the living know it or not. I’m not sure if there is a heaven or hell. I haven’t encountered evil in the spirit world but maybe I’m in the wrong place. We are all travelers and at the same time neighbors. It’s rich hearing the variety of life stories and experiences. It will take eternity to scratch the surface.

Dad still maintains his interest in history and historical figures. He seeks out famous people. He tells me that Napoleon has a wicked sense of humor and Einstein is a great storyteller. They have great insights about current affairs and Einstein is particularly passionate about climate change. Most recently, I met Golda Meir. She is extremely upset about the current situation in the Middle East. I think she lost a great granddaughter in the Hamas massacre. She understands Israel’s need to eradicate Hamas but was surprisingly sympathetic about the Palestinian situation. I was surprised that she wanted Israelis to show restraint and have an alternate plan to a Gaza invasion. She expressed the need for a two-state solution and an independent government in Gaza. Maybe she can infiltrate Netanyahu’s and other Israeli leaders’ dreams.

Your dad and I visited some of the hostages in Gaza. They are alive but in poor condition Of course they are frightened. We visited one brave young girl with Myotonic dystrophy. She was rail thin, had droopy eyelids and a weak smile characteristic of the disease. She wore a red scarf, jeans and a dirty blue sweater. The terrorists fed her and gave her sips of water. She leaned against a wall in a room in one of the tunnels and showed no fear. The terrorists left her unbound since they knew she could not walk or run, I fear she won’t make it. Again, man’s inhumanity to man. It doesn’t exist in our world.

I need to change the subject to more pleasant news. Guess whose spirit I encountered here? Lila and Bob, our old dog and cat. They still hang out together in the spirit world and now follow us around. It’s just like the old days. Of course, I visit aunts Molly and Gloria. They are still big gossips but like all of us are more worldly. They send their regards. Dad’s brothers still hang out together and argue all the time. It’s all good natured. The spirit world has mellowed all of us.

I’ve saved the best for last. I know you wish your family was still with you but know they are beloved and thriving in the spirit world. Heather and Wendy are as beautiful as ever and Johnny as rambunctious. They often travel with us and have met some of history’s most remarkable characters. I know saying that they are in a better place may hurt but I believe it is true.

Keep writing letters to me in your journal and I’ll keep visiting you in your dreams. Your family loves you. Stay strong.

Mom

October 22, 2023 22:54

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15 comments

AnneMarie Miles
13:22 Oct 30, 2023

I love this premise - deceased mother writing to their living son, following his life events. The brutal nature of humanity and the tragedies that occur in life added a real heaviness to this story. I mean, the crimes and horrendous acts this ghastly mother has witnessed across the world made me shiber! She says she hasn't encountered any evil dead spirits, which makes me wonder if there are any in the afterlife. Maybe the only exist in life. In the end when you mentioned the deceased pets, it felt like a nice contrast to all the horrors men...

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Rudy Greene
20:37 Oct 30, 2023

Thanks for the input. It's fun to fantasize about good things in the afterlife. We need some hope and good thoughts during these tumultuous times.

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AnneMarie Miles
20:42 Oct 30, 2023

Absolutely!

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Ferris Shaw
20:26 Nov 02, 2023

I don't think it's appropriate to put your personal views into the mouths of historical people. Golda Meir was a real person, with real opinions about the conflict between Israel and its enemies. Judging from what she said and did in life, she would probably not agree with the ideas you ascribe to her in this story. You're welcome to your opinions, of course. But don't try to smuggle them into someone else's mouth.

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Rudy Greene
21:44 Nov 03, 2023

Wow!! It's fiction! Many writers have had ascribed fictional ideas to historical characters. Smuggle is a harsh word.

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Ferris Shaw
18:07 Nov 04, 2023

Smuggle is a harsh word. It's also the correct word. You have an opinion? Fine, we can discuss it. Ascribing your opinion to the former Prime Minister of Israel, a woman who had very well-known views on this topic which can be easily researched, works as an attempt to steal her authority and employ it in the service of your views. It's an appeal to authority which suffers the additional flaw of being a lie.

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Cher Zimmerer
09:43 Nov 02, 2023

Your story is a great grief-comfort-read. Nice view on how the afterlife could actually be warm (and not just filled with loneliness and regrets like it is so often portrayed). I wished there would have been a deeper connection between mother and son or more focus on how her son´s grief impacts the mother in the afterlife.

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Rudy Greene
20:06 Nov 02, 2023

Thanks for the constructive feedback. I may have sacrificed depth for brevity. Rudy

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Audrey Knox
21:34 Nov 01, 2023

I really like the emotion that you've included in here. I can tell that the narrator feels a lot of real love for her son in his grief. On the other hand, the scope of it was so big (you include tragedy all around the world) that I felt disconnected from what could have been a really powerful relationship at the center of it all. With stories this short, sometimes going deeper rather than wider has more of an impact. Rather than including too many different themes (like the way man treats man, memories growing up, family pettiness), just zoo...

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Rudy Greene
20:09 Nov 02, 2023

Thanks for your thoughtful and constructive criticism. I think you are correct. I sacrificed depth for brevity.

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Tom Skye
13:41 Oct 31, 2023

Great read. Nice how you made the story so topical. It also captured the need for family to gas about current events, but then feel the need to lighten the mood, as if over a thanksgiving dinner. "I need to change the subject.." etc. Really nice touch. Nice work. Thanks for sharing

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Rudy Greene
20:33 Oct 31, 2023

Thanks for the kind words. Rudy

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Shirley Medhurst
23:35 Oct 29, 2023

great idea to include the little touches of true life to ground your story….

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Mary Bendickson
03:06 Oct 26, 2023

Whoosh! What a rush! Maybe it will be just like that.

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Rudy Greene
18:10 Oct 26, 2023

Thanks Mary. Your input is always appreciated

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