Sometimes the writing muse takes over and boom! I get going and can’t stop. I’m supposed to be going over the final edits of Bidding War Break In, but well, the muse always wins. I think I might keep up with this one, too. What do you think?
PS: It’s not edited, so don’t judge!
My German Shepherd barked next to my bed, waking me from a dizzying and deep dark slumber.
My dead German Shepherd.
I must be dreaming, I thought, closed my eyes again and shook my head to clear the fog.
Magnum was still there, his brown and beige muzzle and big dark eyes centimeters from my face. So close, I could smell him. He licked my cheek, and I felt his smooth, wet tongue slide up my right cheek.
I had to be dreaming. Magnum died of bone cancer three years ago. Yes, I missed him terribly, and I’d dreamed about him before, but never like this, never so real.
I shifted my body to him, wanting desperately to touch his wiry, thick hair, and my body screamed in pain. When I moved my left arm, something pulled on it, stopping me it from going any farther. The pain having awaken me completely, though my brain was still foggy, I clearly saw the tube attached to the top of my left hand.
“Where am I?” It even hurt to speak, and I’d barely said that over a whisper. “What’s…how…what’s going on?”
My best friend Carrie Hutchinson stood next to Magnum. “You were in an accident. Well, we were in an accident. You’re in the hospital, but don’t sweat it. You’ll be out in no time.”
My entire body hurt. I wiggled my toes to see if they worked, and breathed a sigh of relief when they did. “I…I don’t understand. What happened?”
Carrie’s long red hair was pulled into a ponytail on the top of her head, her standard go-to ‘do, and her face, free of makeup, sparkled in the light of the room. “Do you remember the drive home from the movies?”
I focused hard on what she was saying, but none of it was familiar. “Movie? I don’t…I don’t remember going to a movie.” I tried to move again, but the pain overwhelmed me. “My body hurts. I…I don’t understand.”
I cried, and Carrie held my hand, squeezing it ever so lightly. Bright a halo of bright light shined around her. “Honey, you need to rest. You’re pretty beat up, but nothing’s broken. You hit your head hard on the dashboard and got yourself a bad concussion, but with rest, you’ll be fine.”
I closed my eyes and a scene played out in my head. Carrie laughing. Me, head down, staring at my phone as she drove, a deafening sound, and then darkness. My eyes popped open. “I…I remember.” I paused, trying to force the images to continue in my head. “Sort of. You were driving, laughing, and then something loud, like a bang, but that’s it.”
She sighed. “That’s about right. That loud something was the semitruck smashing head on into us. You know how you always scrunch down in the seat when I drive?”
I wanted to nod, but it just hurt too much. “Yeah. You drive like a maniac. I don’t want to see what’s coming.” I laughed and my chest hurt from the effort.
“Well, that scrunching saved your life. Had you been upright, you’d be dead.”
I gazed at her, confused and concerned. “You…you’re okay.” I focused my tired and very likely drugged eyes on Carrie. “You look fine.”
“Well, that’s what happens when you die, I guess. You don’t spend an eternity looking like a crunched mass of blood and…and other body parts.”
I didn’t understand. “That’s not funny. My head hurts, don’t mess with me now.”
She leaned toward me and sadness filled her eyes. “Al, I’m not messing with you. I didn’t survive the crash. When the truck hit us, I died instantly. My neck flung backward and then my head hit the steering wheel, and my neck snapped. The good news is I didn’t feel a thing. The bad news is…well, you’re going to have to deal with my mom. She’s on her way to town now.”
I stared at her, my head pounding, and my heart hurting because something inside of me told me she wasn’t joking.
She smiled, and glanced down to her side. She patted Magnum on the head. “I sure missed this guy.”
I thought for sure I was dreaming, or maybe on serious pain meds.
The next thing I remember is a nurse gently nudging me awake. “How’re you feeling this morning, Ms. Albertson? You got pretty banged up, but it looks like you’re going to be just fine.” She straightened the blanket on top of me and checked the tube in my arm. She pointed to a large sign on the wall in front of me. It had several different colored smiley emoji-like faces on it with numbers below them. “Pick one and I can give you some more pain medicine if you need it.”
“That one. Second to the end.” I tried to point to it, but she held down my arm.
“It’ll hurt if you move this one, sweetie. Just try to stay comfy and relax. I can get you some juice and crackers if you’d like. Your right hand is free.”
“I’m sorry, who?”
“Carrie. My friend. She was driving the car.” I struggled to speak coherently, my words coming out like a slurred, jumbled mess. “She was just…just here.”
She raised an eyebrow, but just told me to relax and that the doctor would be in soon to talk with me.
“Is she in the waiting room?” I coughed and the sharp, stabbing pains in my chest made me want to cry.
“Honey, just rest. The doctor will be in soon.”
I don’t know how long it took for the doctor to arrive. Time stood still in that sterile hospital room. They’d turned on the TV to a news channel, but I floated in and out of sleep, and didn’t pay attention. When he finally did show up, he sat on the rolling stool on the side of my bed, and his breathing woke me.
“Miss Albertson, I’m doctor Harley. How’re you feeling?” He’d been looking at a clipboard and I caught a glimpse of his shiny bald head. “Looks like your numbers are good.” His eyes met mine. “How’s your head feeling? That’s quite a bump you got.”
“I’m okay, I guess,” I mumbled.
He flipped the papers on the clipboard and set it aside. Smiling at me, he said, “I think another night here will do the trick. I’ll check on you again in the morning, but I see no reason as of now to keep you longer than that.”
“Is Carrie still here?”
He raised his eyebrow. “I’m sorry?”
“My friend, Carrie Hutchinson. She was in the accident with me.”
He scanned through the pages on the clipboard again. “Miss Albertson, I’m sorry to have to tell you, but the other person in the car with you died at the scene.”
Carrie’s voice whispered in the back of my mind.My neck flung backward and then my head hit the steering wheel, and my neck snapped.
“No. I…I was dreaming. She didn’t…she’s not…”
The doctor made shushing sounds, but they didn’t stop me from crying, from screaming.
“No, I just saw her. She was just here with Magnum. I saw her.” I struggled to sit up, but the pain overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t. “Where is she? I need to see Carrie.”
He called for a nurse and mumbled some garbled mess I didn’t understand, and the next thing I knew, I was asleep again.
* * *
“Hey, Allie. Wake up.”
I opened one eye and smiled when I saw Carrie at the side of my bed. I tilted my body toward her and a lightning bolt of pain shot through the left side of my head. “Oh, wow. That hurts.”
“Don’t move silly, you’ll just make it worse.”
Suddenly, I remembered what she’d told me, and what the doctor said, and I jerked my head her direction in spite of the pain. “The doctor said the other person in the car didn’t live, so how…what?” My mind struggled to understand, but it just didn’t make sense.
“I told you that already, remember?”
A tear slid down my cheek. “My head hurts so much. I can’t think clearly. Everything’s so foggy and jumbled.”
She held my hand in hers, and spoke in soft, sincere voice. “Honey, the doctor wasn’t making anything up. Like I told you, you hit your head, hard, on the dashboard, and I…” She smiled and her eyes sparkled. “I died.”
I don’t know why, but suddenly, I believed her. “How…wha—how are you here? Are you in my imagination? Am I dreaming?”
“That would be a pretty cool trick now, wouldn’t it? Me inside your head? I wonder if I can actually do that?” She released my hand and waved hers in the air. “Abracadabra. Put me inside Allie’s head.” A few seconds later she grunted. “Well, that stinks. I guess I can’t.”
“Honey, you’re a little slow to the game today, probably because of the big ol’ bump on your head, so I guess I have to spell it out for you. I’m dead, and I’m a ghost.”
I blinked again. “What?”
“Met my maker. Kicked the bucket. Gone to the great beyond. You know, dead. Like my Aunt Dollie, the one that up and croaked earlier this year? Her son found her on the bathroom floor? That kind of dead. Only I’m back as a ghost, and you’re the only one that can see me.”
My eyes popped open and it hurt my brain.
She rubbed her hands together. “This is gonna be so much fun.”