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I could remember clearly the day it happened. It was an early Tuesday morning the blue skies twinkled and there was not a cloud to be seen. The icy winter air blew through the slight opening in the window of my car, instantly sending a chill down my spine. Although the weather was cold, there had been no drop of snow that winter. The trees were bare and seemed as though hey too were shivering. The grass was brown and withered and covered the earth like a dull, scraggly blanket protecting it from the cold.
I screeched to a stop at a red light and took a sip of my morning cappuccino, still steaming hot. Not paying much attention, I slowly drove under the light just as it turned red. I suddenly heard an immensely loud honking growing bigger by the second. I turned to my right to see a truck coming straight at me, the headlights blinding me. And that was it. I lay motionless in my shattered car listening to the slight voices around me screaming in horror. But strangely I felt no pain, my body was stunned, I sensed no chaos. Everything around me was a blur. The last thing I ever felt was my coffee scolding my bruised skin. Then I was gone.
The hardest part of being a ghost is being invisible. No one hears, no one sees, no one cares. For the first few weeks of my death, I spent my time alone. I wandered the streets of my familiar town, denying the fact that I was dead. Quite a few times I would talk to the librarian at the public library or I would try to be friendly to the many people that passed me, but they just ignored me. It wasn’t until Mrs. Larson from down the street walked right through me that I realized I really was a ghost. From that moment on, I’d lost hope, not only in myself, but in ever feeling happiness or joy ever again. There was no reason to stay around here anymore, except one.
I came up to my old, peeling white house that looked as if it could fall down any minute. The roof was black and caving in, the dark green shutters surrounded every window as if they were guarding our little house with protection. Our house looked so familiar, but somehow different. Although I was 26 when the accident happened, I had lived with my parents and my younger brother, Paul, my whole life. I was scared to see my parents and my brother after all they’d been through. I knew that they wouldn’t be able to see me, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what their reactions would be if they could. I thought I would try something new so I slowly approached the tall, wooden door in the front of our house. You could tell just how old the wood was by all the scratches and dents in the not-nearly-perfect paint job. I stepped my right foot out with caution and urged the rest of my body forward, afraid and partly hopeful that I would smack right into the door and fall back. But I crossed through to the other side with ease. I expected the sweet aroma of cinnamon and pipe tobacco to overwhelm me like it always had, but I smelled nothing and I felt nothing.
Although I should have been happy to be in my old house, it felt strange as if it should bring back so many great memories, but it didn’t. I felt empty and alone, I was used to my house being busy, we always had something to do. I walked through the kitchen to the steep staircase that winded upstairs. The steps no longer creaked one by one when I walked up them. I felt like a completely different person walking through this house. As I reached the top, I spotted Paul walking down the hallway to his room. I froze instantly, but he just shuffled by almost as if he too had no life in him. When he walked by me, I had noticed his hair was uncombed, his eyes dreary as if he’d just woken up even though it was two in the afternoon. It felt so weird to be in my own house spying on my family, and really, not being there at all. Without thinking, I went over to my parents’ room. It was dark even though the lights were on, the shades were closed all the way making the walls look deep orange. My mother was sitting on the edge of the bed, gazing at the tiny TV that sat upon the old dresser in her room. I could hear the faucet running in the bathroom, my father was probably in there. He always did wash his hands when he had something to think about.
Standing there, watching my mother stare at the TV, I could see the pain bundled up inside her. She was a very strong woman and didn’t like to show her fear, or pain. Just then I noticed a tear trickle down her cheek. She tried to wipe it away, but she couldn’t hold it in any longer. The tears began to fall one after another, making her face glisten with the moisture. She began gasping for air and her whole body was shaking as if she were a little kid that just broke their favorite toy. I couldn’t stand seeing her like this, all the memories of her protection and her strength faded away. All I could hear was her shaky cry, all I could see was her weak, hunched over body, and all I could think about was how much suffering she was put through because of me.
“Mom,” I whimpered. “Can you hear me, Mom?”
She said nothing, she heard nothing. She continued crying and threw her hands over her face. I walked to her side to try and comfort her. I reached my hand out to her back trying to feel the cashmere sweater that she wore. I tried to rub my hand across her shoulder blades as she had done to me many times when I was sad or sick. I couldn’t feel the warmth of her body, I couldn’t smell her familiar scent of perfume. But I could see her back straighten up a little, and she wiped the tears that dripped off her chin. She looked around the room out of the corner of her eye as if she was searching for something.
Then, my father came out of the bathroom and slowly dragged himself to my mother’s side. I noticed now, more than ever, his limp in his left leg from when he was wounded in the war. My father’s hair was gray, and he had a thick moustache that hung over his top lip and curled around the corners of his mouth. His face had always had a warm glow to it, but now it seemed hard and mean. But I knew that underneath his tough shell, he was hurting too. When he got to my mother, he stood over her and rubbed her back just as I had tried to do before. Then he wrapped both of his arms tightly around her fragile body and cradled her in his arms. I saw that he was also weeping with my mother. I couldn’t stand watching my parents act this way all because of me, and just like that, I left. I was out of there room standing in the hallway, shocked by how fast I’d flown out of there. The hallway was empty; the only thing I heard was the faint gasps and cries coming from my parents’ room.
I saw that my brother’s door was closed, and knowing him, he usually never closed his door. He thought that by keeping his door open, his mind would be free to explore new situations. But now, his mind was closed. I walked past my old room, but didn’t even bother going in there. I went straight into Paul’s room; I saw that nothing had changed except that it was a lot messier. Paul was lying on his bed not moving at all. I could tell he was thinking about something important. My brother dealt with his pain differently than my mother and father, instead of breaking down and crying, he would skulk and forget about everything else. Just then, Paul got up and walked directly toward me and seemed as if he were looking right at my face. In hid eyes I saw agony and suffering, but I also saw hope. Hope for a better future, hope for an escape from the pain. He walked right through me to his old white dresser. I heard him opening drawers and rustling through some things in his dresser and turned around to see what he was doing. In his hand was a loaded, black pistol that he had pulled out from his top drawer. His hand was shaking as he looked at the gun and slowly pulled it closer to his face. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what I could do.
“Paul, don’t do it!” I screamed. “You can’t!”
But he still held the pistol up to his head. A single tear dripped down his cheek, and his eyes were filled with fear. There must be something could do. But then a surge of determination overcame him, he looked around his room and then he pulled the trigger, his arm still shaking.
“Paul, no!” I shrieked. But it was too late, his body collapsed to the ground with a thud. I ran to his side and knelt over his body. The tear still dripped down his face. I knew it wouldn’t be long until my parents rushed in and I just couldn’t take it any longer. I wiped the tear from his face and left the house.
I sat outside on the front steps of my house, knowing that because of me, my brother will never talk to our parents again, he will never feel the warmth of their hugs, or smell my mother’s homemade cooking. I couldn’t imagine how hard this will be on my parents, what are they going to do? I can’t believe that all of this happened because of me, because I died. I looked around at the familiar neighborhood, and what looked like a calm little town. Just then I saw a little, yellow flower under our mailbox. I noticed the grass was much greener and the trees already had little leaves on them. I got up and started walking down the street, the past is behind me now. It is time for me to start a new chapter, a new life.