By L.M. Stull
Crawling out from my bed, I entered the night. The wind cut through me as I made my way up and down the busy streets of the city. My trench coat billowed behind me. It was the same every day. No one spared me a glance. Even I couldn't see my reflection in the glass windows that lined the busy streets. I was invisible to the world.
It used to bother me, the isolation, the constant confusion and uncertainty. Now, it was just my existence. I took a seat inside The Beautiful Bean, a dingy, shit-hole of a coffee shop near 53rd. For a few moments, I sat and stared at the attractive brunette behind the counter, waiting to see if tonight she would notice me. She didn't.
Her name was Mindy. She reminded me of someone, but hell if I could remember who. I knew she worked every night. So, every night I came here to sit and watch her. Shit, I had nothing better to do. Besides, if I was honest with myself, I wanted her. I knew it was an impossible desire, but it was one I wasn't yet ready to let go of.
The hours passed by too quickly and it was time for Mindy to close the store to make her way home. This is when we would usually part ways, but tonight I didn't leave. I stayed and watched her mop the floors, humming to herself, lifting her shirt to her face, wiping the sweat from her brow, revealing the soft, porcelain skin that hid underneath. Ironically, seeing a glimpse of her bare body didn't fill me with lust as I thought it would. Instead, a throbbing ache shot through me. It was somewhat ironic to feel. I hadn't felt anything in ages -- maybe ever, actually.
Turning off the lights and walking out the front door, she left. I quickly followed her. Several blocks up, I could have sworn she gave a backwards glance, as if she thought someone was behind her. It was probably just a coincidence.
We arrived at her home. It was a small, rundown townhouse. A soft glow illuminated the front room. Feeling a bit awkward, but yet unable to stop myself, I followed her inside. An elderly woman sat in the front room near a fire, asleep. Mindy pulled a blanket over top the woman and headed up the stairs. Again, I couldn't help but feel as though this was all so familiar to me. But how could it be?
At the top of the staircase, to the right, was a small room. Mindy pushed open the door and entered. I stood at the doorway and watched.
“What are you doing up still, honey?” Mindy asked the little girl lying in the bed.
“Can't sleep,” she paused yawning and rubbing her eyes, “it's always the same dream mommy. Will they ever go away?”
Mindy ran her fingers through her daughter's long brown hair. “Yes. One day, when they are meant to stop, they will. But, it really is late. Try to sleep my sweet, sweet girl.”
Mindy kissed her daughter gently on the forehead and exited the room. I turned to follow her, but stopped, turning my attention back to the small girl. She looked very much like her mother. Seeing her tucked in her bed soothed me, warmed my soul even. If I had one, that is.
“Hi there. Why have you taken so long to visit?” The little girl whispered.
“You can see me? Can you hear me too?” I took a seat at the edge of her bed, looking around at her pink room, trying to place where I had seen it before.
“Of course I can see and hear you silly. Wanna read me a story?” She climbed out from the covers, lying on her stomach, propping herself up on her elbows.
“How can I resist a face like that?” Reaching out towards her, I started to run my hand down the side of her small, delicate face, but something tugged at me and made me stop. “What shall I read to you my little princess?”
Suddenly, the girl's brow furrowed and she turned away from me. A small tear slid down her face, glistening in the moonlight.
“I'm sorry, what's wrong? Did I say something I shouldn't have?” The throbbing ache now filling me yet again, this time more intensely than before.
“It's just hard to see you like this. I miss you.” She buried her head into her arms and sobbed uncontrollably.
Aching, throbbing and confused, I stood up, backing myself into the wall next to her bed. I ran my hands through my hair, tugging at it.
“I'm so confused . . . what's happening . . . I know you . . . but how?” Everything inside of me was on fire. It hurt so bad I began to cry out.
In the meantime, Mindy had reappeared at her daughter's door. “Patrick, you have to let go. It's time. It's been almost a year. For her sake, please let go.”
She saw me. All this time, she had known I had been there and hadn't said anything to me. I fell to my knees, doubling over from the pain and fire that grew inside me.
“Daddy!” Yelled the little girl. “Mommy, what is happening to daddy?”
Hearing that word made the pain unbearable. Lifting my head, I looked at the little girl and attempted to speak. Nothing.
“Stay on your bed, Elizabeth. Look the other way.” Mindy crossed the room and grabbed a small mirror from the girl's nightstand.
“Here, I think it's time. Look in the mirror.”
Mindy lowered the mirror to my face and I looked into it, expecting to see nothing. Instead, I saw myself for the first time. “Patrick Keating.” I spoke through a cracked whisper. Seeing my broken, gray flesh, loosely falling from my bones made me want to vomit, but I couldn't.
Another violent burst of flames poured over me, this time causing me to fully collapse onto the floor. For the first time, I remembered. I remembered everything. My daughter. My wife. The night I had been murdered. I cried out, banging my bony fists against the floor. “NO!”
Mindy crawled next to me, wrapping her arms tightly around me, crying. “It's time to say goodbye. I'm sorry I didn't talk to you before, but Father Lawrence said you had to figure it out on your own. We’re going to be okay, but it's time for you to rest.”
I wanted to tell her how much I loved her -- how much I missed her and Lizzy. My skin began to glow brighter and brighter, until my daughter's room became as bright as the sun. My body began to shake violently and I saw my once rotting flesh now become whole.
Mindy stood up, holding our daughter close. A force much stronger than anything I could have ever imagined lifted me above, higher and higher.
Before they were out of my sights, I reached down to my family and opened my mouth, hoping that what I wanted to say would come out, “I‘ll love you forever.”
I saw the two of them nod, tears falling down both of their faces, as the bright light consumed me until I could see no more. I smiled as a blanket of warmth and tranquility engulfed me.
I guess I hadn't been invisible after all.
Author of Memoirs of a Monkey
Available June 2011
Founder, Between the Lines
L.M. Stull - An Author's Bio
Originally a Washington, DC native, L.M. Stull now resides in Southern Virginia. She has always been a creative person and studied classical piano and dance from a young age.
During the day you will find her chained to a desk at a law firm. Yes, she works for lawyers. Now you understand why she writes about creatures . . . Boom! At night she channels her inner creative monster and writes (sorry, she doesn't turn into a werewolf or anything).
Her debut paranormal romance novel, Memoirs of a Monkey, will be published by Black Kettle Publishing in June 2011.
When she's not writing or feverishly taking orders from attorneys, she laces up and runs (and sometimes drinks wine...yeah, okay maybe more than sometimes).
There are several ways you can go about stalking her on the web if your little heart so desires: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads (Hint: she'll totally think you're awesome if you add her upcoming books to your to-read pile) and of course her really cool Website. She also runs the Fellow Writer's group on Facebook.
L.M. is also the founder of Between the Lines, a book club who is proud to feature the writings of independent and small press authors. For information on membership and how to become a contributing author, visit their website. You can also connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.