A Wandering Soul

It had been three years, a whole three years since her death. On the surface, it had appeared that everyone had finally moved on.

She placed her hand to the window. She could feel the heat from inside of the house. On the wall, her picture was still hanging with all the others, the frame collecting dust. Her mother was still in the kitchen, standing over the stove, turning a pot of something that smelled warm and filling, with a tiny grin on her face, for no reason at all. Everything was exactly the way she had left it.

She moved to the next window, her bedroom window. The window was cracked open and snow had blown in on the sill. The bed was made and the bookshelf dusted. Her desk had been cleaned with her journal sitting in the left corner, her sketchbook in the center and her pens and drawing pencils in a wire holder in the right corner. All her poems and sketches were intact in their binds; they could never be changed. All the loose papers and folders must have been put away, organized, and then closed tightly in the drawers of the desk. She wondered if her letter to "that boy" had been read. That was what her mother called him. He would never know how she felt or even cared anyhow, she thought. On the opposite window, the pink curtains danced with the winter wind. The air smelled faintly of some exotic flower.

The door was closed as if her bedroom had become a forgotten closet in the house. No one went in there anymore.

Stepping inside the house, passing through the walls, she entered the hallway. She could see her brother in his room, and she wished that she could touch him; wrap her arms around him and tell him how much she missed him. He had gotten older. Three years made him almost appear to be a man, but he had always had that aura of a grown man; he was serious as a child. He just now was beginning to look the part. She wished could've been there that night on his sixteenth birthday; just to tell him, "Happy sixteenth birthday, baby brother", or something else corny along those lines.

She heard her mother calling, and her brother left his room for the kitchen, passing her in the hallway, unfeeling of the presence of his sister's ghost. She followed him and stood in the doorway, looking enviously at her family, and her oldest sister holding a young child who she did not recognize. They ate and they laughed, and they talked about everything and some of nothing. All the same things they did together when she was still in the living had been preserved and kept out of her reach, obviously. Her father looked toward the doorway and he stared. She wondered if he could see her, though without any sense of weight or flesh, or being. She smiled and he smiled back. Behind her the front door opened; her sister's boyfriend, her would-be brother-in-law. Her father hadn't seen her after all.

Before she decided to die, she had never realized just how much the smell of the kitchen, or the arrangement of the hanging pictures frames meant to her. That night that she sat in the middle of her bedroom floor and swallowed every pill in that bottle, she wasn't thinking. She was delirious and looking for a quick end. She wasn't realizing that everything she would leave behind was everything she had loved. She only thought of everything bad in her life, everything that hurt, everyone who hurt her and made her want to die. At least she had been shown a great mercy; she was just a wandering soul, and wasn't sent to the lower world.

Standing in the kitchen still, she saw her mother turn to the sink and that same tiny grin crept on her face again, for no reason at all. Her sister and the child and husband left blowing kisses. Her father watched the TV, laughing loudly; a powerful, but steady laugh that matched his voice which she missed and remembered like the calling of her own name.

She passed through the walls of the living room. Her brother was lying on his bed with a magazine covering his face. She sat next to him. Again, she noticed how much had grown and she wanted to cry. She wanted a second chance that couldn't be granted. God would not reverse time. She missed them all too much. She had left to much undone, and it would all remain that way.

She mouthed a good-bye to her brother and walked through the wall.

The curtains of the window swayed as if there were a breeze, though both of the windows were closed.

"Sophie?" Her brother asked. But she was already gone.