I hate waking up.
I really do. I struggle against myself each morning, and it’s amazing to me that I actually get out of bed.
This morning’s no exception.
My eyes instinctively squinted as they tried to adapt to the bright sunlight peeking through the curtains. I reluctantly got up and out of bed, and that was when it first hit me.
Marion. She wasn’t there beside me. Perhaps she was downstairs by the window sipping coffee and staring out into the morning’s traffic. I could smell the fresh roasted coffee, and as usual the TV was turned on to a basketball game.
Yeah. Everything was normal - but what was this uneasiness that gripped me? I shrugged it off and sluggishly headed for the shower.
As the cold water splashed against my face I ran through today’s schedule in my mind. Photo shoot at 11. Right. So I can take my sweet time. Oh - pick up dry cleaning at Wang’s on 35th Street. And buy coffee. Great. A very simple day. I can get home in time to watch the Dolphins against the Bears tonight. Very great.
But that queasy feeling that something was wrong still dominated me. I shrugged it off again and looked up into the bathroom mirror.
Argh! When did I become a caveman? The stubble on my face and throat was dark, thick, and absolutely repulsive. I whipped out my trusty razor, hoping that Marion didn’t use it to shave her legs again. Well, here goes nothing…
Okay, she didn’t use it - thank God. As the grimy stubble disappeared, I couldn’t help but noticing that Feeling coming back. Something was wrong. The thing was, what was it?
I waddled out of the bathroom, toothbrush in hand, and encountered a heap of my clothes that were supposed to be washed and neatly folded - done single-handedly by Marion, of course. She always folded my stuff. So, why is this heap of clothes still here? Something was definitely wrong.
I dug through the pile and yanked out my Levi’s. Pulling them on, I quickly scanned the room in search of my prized green flannel shirt. Where is it? Finally giving up, I grabbed a blue tee shirt and rinsed my mouth clean of toothpaste. Right. On with the day!
As I scurried down the stairs onto the main floor of my apartment, I smelled something burnt in the kitchen. Oh, great. The coffee was left to warm, and the machine went haywire. The last pot in the house completely wasted. Great. On second thought, coffee is coffee. I poured myself some into my mug, which was oddly left out on the table. Usually Marion would put it away in the cupboard after carefully washing out the coffee rings.
By the way, where IS Marion?
My thoughts were rudely interrupted by a startling, sharp knock at the front door. I jumped, spilling hot coffee all over my shirt. Shit! Now I had to go change, but after I answer the door. Whoever came knocking at this hour is going to see what they caused - and regret it.
I went over to the heavy wooden door, tripping over my gym shoes on the way. Geez! What a morning.
I violently swung the door open, all ready to shout my head off at whoever called at 8 AM. However, I came face to face with two uniformed police officers with very, very serious faces. One was carrying a large Ziploc bag with some awfully familiar contents.
This wasn’t enough to stop me from bring crabby. It was still an ungodly hour to come knocking, especially at MY door.
“Mr. David Barker?”
“Yeah, whaddaya want?”
“We’re from NYPD.”
“I can see that. Let me repeat myself: WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
“May we come in? I’m afraid we have some tragic news to relate to you.”
“Oh, really? Look what you guys did to me! I spilled hot coffee all over myself because of you guys! Aah, fine, come on in.” I led them inside, and they stood there, caps off and in hand, still looking very serious. What was going on? And why is that feeling gnawing on me?
“Mr. Barker, do you own a blue Ford pickup, New York license plate PAC0429?”
“Yeah, but my girlfriend Marion took it out last night..”
“Your girlfriend, was her full name Marion Francis Schwimmer?”
“Yeah...Hey, how do you know? Something happened to her, right? Tell me!”
“Miss Schwimmer was brought in to the emergency room of the Memorial Hospital late last night--”
“Oh my God. Is she all right?”
“She was in a rather tragic car accident. The brakes in your car were shot, and she skidded off the road.”
“Is she all right?”
“We’re very sorry, Mr. Barker. The doctors tried all they could to save her, but it was too late. She was pronounced dead at 1:28 A.M.”
“Oh my God.”
“Once again, we’re very sorry for your loss, Mr. Barker.” They promptly put on their caps and headed for the door when they suddenly turned around again.
“Whoops. We forgot to give you the few remaining items that were found on her.”
They gently placed the Ziploc bag into my trembling hands, tipped their caps and went out the door, the heavy wood creaking after them.
I sat down on the couch, bag in hand, staring out into deep space. So THAT was the weird Feeling that was gnawing me all morning. My Marion - my beautiful Marion - was gone. Dead.
Words could not describe how I felt. In fact, I still don’t know what I felt then. My mind was an absolute blank - the shock had gotten the better of me. I felt nothing, and yet it seemed as if someone had knocked me in the face with a big slab of ice. Before I knew it, all the noise around me was shut out. The game on the TV, the sirens of the patrol car driving away, the Bon Jovi blasting from the apartment above mine. All sounds just shut out into a dead silence. Everything is gone, dead, silent without Marion.
My attention slowly shifted from my lack of emotion to the Ziploc bag in my hands. I opened it and found my green flannel shirt, with spots and blotches of blood everywhere. So Marion took my shirt to wear. And it was the last thing she wore. And yet, traces of her light cologne were still there, and they reminded me of the fresh spring. Like that spring when we first met. That was a very long time ago, but it seemed like only yesterday.
The next thing in the bag was a set of dog tags that we had made a year or two ago. It was Marion’s idea that for a couple bucks we’d have each other’s full name, social security number, and blood type. I still don’t know the real purpose of this, but as I turned them around in my hands I remembered all the things that I loved about her. I remembered her brilliant smile, her perfect hook shot that I envied so much, those emerald green eyes that would cheerfully greet me each morning, and the way she would cock her head slightly to the left when she was confused. I laughed at the thought of her after several cans of beer, when she started to go a little “woozy” and a tad out-of-control.
And then I noticed a small silver ring attached to the ball chain along with the dog tags. Trying to fit it onto my little finger, I remembered the delight on her face when I presented it to her on her 27th birthday. The facial expression was just priceless.
Gently placing the necklace onto the coffee table, I pulled a worn tan leather wallet out of the Ziploc baggie. It had very little cash in it, but what really caught my attention was four black and white photos that we took in a photo booth at the mall. In the first two photos Marion is absolutely serious, her long, thick hair dusting her shoulders. I have this foolish grin on my face, which was later said to resemble Seinfeld. The other two photos have both of us in each other’s arms and laughing. A happy sight.
I thought of the little saying: ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.’ Man, is it ever true in this case. I took her for granted. I thought that she’d always be there. I thought that we’d be together forever -- perhaps as husband and wife one day. And now it was too late. It was too late to ask her to marry me, it was too late to tell her once again that she was the love of my life and that I’d always love her no matter what. I figured that there’d be plenty of time later on in life to tell her these things. And now, our time is up. Never again will I see her or hear her cheerful laugh. Never again will I wake up next to her.
All of a sudden I couldn’t stand it anymore. A thin line of tears dripped down my cheek, and my vision blurred. The thought of her gone - forever - was driving me crazy with grief and regret.
I snatched the shirt and held it to my face, letting it absorb my cries and my tears. I didn’t care about anything else. All I could think of was how dreadful the rest of my life would be without Marion beside me.
Soon I was an animal, sprawled in the middle of the floor wailing in pain and sorrow. My cries eventually drowned out the music from the upstairs apartment, and amidst all my wails I could hear the people yelling, threatening to call the cops if I didn’t shut up. I didn’t care. I was too wrapped up in my grief.
A few hours later I calmed down, merely sobbing by the window where Marion used to sit each morning. The thought of her never going to be there ever again made me even more depressed, but everything did, anyway. I cried out just about every tear in me, and I was left curled up next to the window, clutching the shirt, and staring out into the traffic below me.
I thought, They all still have their lives. They will never know what I’m going through, for I am the only one who really knew Marion. In a way, it’s a shame. She was such a great woman, and many people would undoubtedly find that knowing her is nothing short of a blessing.
Something caught my attention. I looked up to see this angelic being sitting right across from me, with bright green eyes and a brilliant smile. I never saw it before, but something about its grace and beauty was awfully familiar.
The Angel just smiled, and whispered.
The voice was truly angelic. Faint as it was, I could still recognize that voice. My Marion!
The Angel smiled again, and for a while we just looked at each other. She had never been so beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. And yet, I could not be with her. Sooner or later she would have to go back. And I would be alone again. The thought made me sad all over again, and I did not know I was crying until she leaned over and ever so gently wiped away my tears. I grasped her hand and held it to my face, and she just smiled.
Her faint whisper and her soft touch were just irresistible, and her eyes were so familiar. How could I go on without her?
Suddenly I had an idea. An idea that seemed hair-brained and irrational, but just might work. My life was nothing without Marion, and I couldn’t stand it.
I ran upstairs into the bedroom and dove under the bed, frantically searching for it. It had to be there! I bought it a while ago, despite Marion’s protests. I just had to have it there in case there was a threat to our safety. I finally found its box, and dragged it out.
The Angel was sitting on the bed, looking at me with that confused look that I knew so well.
The heavy metal box was locked, but in my rush I simply banged my fist on the padlock and it was open.
I picked it up and looked at her. She knew exactly what I was going to do, and the cute little confused look disappeared. I could tell that she was trying to stop me. Her face was a mix of anger and fear. She was definitely trying to stop me. Well, as much as I loved her, it wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t bear the thought of living without her, and this was the only way. I hoped she’d understand.
I smiled at the Angel, raised it to my temple, and pulled the trigger.
I don’t know if the neighbors heard the bang. Gunshots are common in the Bronx, and the Bon Jovi music was playing so loud.
I couldn’t really give a damn.
I’m finally reunited with the love of my life. I now lie in my Marion’s arms, which is where I’ll be.
. . .
Copyright (c) 1998 by Gemma Truman
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This was my very first attempt at writing fiction. I started out with two pages in my sophomore year, and it developped into about 11 or so. However after looking at it for a while it no longer "gets" me and so I abandonned it instead of trying for the Emerson College Writing Contest. I'm just too tired to continue it.