Daylight savings time brought in the night sky earlier this time of year. At five o’clock, darkness had already fallen when Charlie arrived home. It would have helped to open her mini-blinds once in a while. Instead, they remained closed while she enjoyed the sense of freedom it induced, freedom to do whatever, without being watched.
Her visit to her family’s gravesite seemed to have worsened her mental state. She believed that maybe, just maybe, if she traveled there a second time, she might finally move past her anguish. She wanted to move forward, but at that point, all she wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up.
Her once semi-contented spirit was now replaced with a somber one, and she considered taking a nap in the early evening. After she thawed out from the cold, she poured herself a glass of Chardonnay in her rose-colored champagne glass. She didn’t even bother to remove her coat as she stood at the kitchen counter. She began drinking after the death of her family, probably because her sister used to drink wine with her dinner all the time. Somehow Charlie adopted that habit as her own. Only in Charlie’s case, more times than not, no dinner accompanied this new practice. Though not a permanent solution, it served its purpose for now.
Charlie hung up her coat and after two long sips of Chardonnay, she found herself standing in the center of the living room. Her eyes panned across several eclectic hand-painted pictures of flowing water, which lay on the floor against the sofa.
With the temperature outside reaching almost freezing, winter made its presence to the city early, but she found great comfort from the intense heat that circled her apartment. Her eyes perused the mantle of the framed family portrait. She couldn’t help but focus on her sister. The picture seemed to stare back at her as she remembered how her sister Sandy always cared for her, looked out for her and encouraged her to value herself for her own unique abilities and talents. Now Sandy was gone, all because of the secret life she chose to live, a secret life which led to her demise.
Encouraging, compassionate, adventurous and free-spirited were the words that best described her sister, Sandy, which explained Charlie’s private wish to be like her. Charlie felt her eyes well up with tears; so much that she could barely see the picture in front of her. She then headed into the bathroom and stood in front of the bathroom mirror. She stared at the bun in her hair, which gave her the appearance of an astute and very plain-Jane librarian. When she removed the large hairpin, her dark brown hair splashed against her shoulders. A few grey strands patterned the sides of her head, and it could only be stress because she was only a few days shy of her thirtieth birthday. With a somber expression on her face, Charlie stared at her reflection in the mirror, the tears trailing down her face.
How could she go on without her family?
How could she go on without her sister Sandy? She just wanted the pain to stop, all the suffering and all the heartache. As she contemplated putting an end to her emotional pain, she removed the belt from her corduroy pants, then gently placed the belt around her neck. With a determined gesture, she buckled the belt around her neck. She pulled it snug, tighter and tighter until she could hardly breathe and a wonderful thought came to mind.
This could end it all. Right here. And right now. All the suffering and all the heartache could be a thing of the past, and she would not have to live another day. Charlie continued to stare at the reflection of hopelessness on her face and surprisingly, out of nowhere, she heard a female voice ring out from the other room, calling her name.
It startled her, and she thought she must be hearing things, but as quickly as she dispelled the voice, it rang out again. This time louder and longer.
The voice sounded so familiar, too familiar. It was the voice of her sister, Sandy. Charlie released the belt from her neck and hurried into the front room. But the voice mysteriously stopped. Charlie stood there motionless, wiping the tears from her eyes, wondering if she was losing her mind when she heard the voice again.
This time it came directly from the full-length hall mirror, framed with dark red trimming. Charlie approached the mirror fast, and to her amazement, in her own reflection was an image of her sister Sandy. She was as beautiful as always, long curly red hair, flawless makeup and a smile that could light up any room. She was draped with expensive shiny earrings and necklaces to match. She was the elegant side of Charlie, if Charlie possessed red hair and were not so plain looking. If this was how you look once you die, then Charlie could not wait until it was her turn.
But this didn’t make any sense. How could her sister be in her reflection when her sister was dead? In shock, Charlie turned her eyes away from the mirror for a moment before returning her focus to it, but, still, an image of her smiling sister remained.
“Is that you, Sandy?” Charlie asked.
“How are you, Charlie?”
“It is you,” Charlie uttered in amazement. She was stumped for words. Here she was having a conversation with her dead sister. “I don’t understand. I thought you were─”
“Dead,” Sandy said, finishing Charlie’s sentence. “I’ve been so worried about you, Charlie. I thought you might need someone to talk to.”
“You did?” Charlie asked, as a tear made its way down her face.
Her sister’s words brought back many memories, memories of times when her sister stepped in to comfort her in times of great need. And now was definitely one of those times. Sandy seemed to have a flair for sensing when Charlie was in need of her assistance.
Charlie touched the mirror, hoping to connect with Sandy, but Sandy was just an image.
“I saw what you were about to do in there,” Sandy said. “I’m disappointed that you allowed yourself to become so hopeless.”
Charlie was speechless. Not just because her sister was right, but because she was curious how her sister always seemed to know these things.
“It’s certainly not the answer,” Sandy continued. “And I think you know that.”
“You’re right. I do know better. Of course I wasn’t really going to do it. I just needed to toy with the idea for a moment and exorcise my demons, if only to realize my foolishness.”
“Are you feeling any better now?”
“Only because you’re here with me. I miss you so much, Sandy. I don’t think I can make it without you.”
“Of course you can. You’re stronger than you think.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Do you remember who loves you no matter what?”
Charlie didn’t even think about it before she blurted out, “Sandy loves me.”
“That’s right and don’t you ever forget it. I have to go now, but we’ll talk again soon.”
“Don’t go, Sandy. Please don’t go.”
Charlie didn’t move her eyes from the mirror, hoping that if she didn’t blink, Sandy might not disappear. But it was no use.
Sandy was gone.
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Genre – Romantic Suspense
Rating – PG-13
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