From the Writer’s Digest creative writing prompt “What Did You Do?”
I don’t know where the idea of the couch in a shrink’s office came from, because mine doesn’t have one. Just a comfortable armchair. Maybe he isn’t a traditionalist. He smiles as he greets me at his office door for this morning’s session. Same way he has each week for the past six months.
“You look upset today, Kathrine. What’s going on?” he asks as we both sit down.
“The calls,” I reply. “I know that my friends think I’m paranoid or delusional or whatever, but it’s been going on every day.” I frown as I think about it. “‘I know what you did.’ Never anything more. Just that then he hangs up.”
“And this scares you. Why?”
I lift an eyebrow at the question. “I’m going to ignore the obvious that a recurring call like this implies.” I shift in the chair, uncomfortable with where this always seems to lead. “This person says they know what I did…I don’t even know what I did. Everything in my life is gone before that accident, but I just get little impressions here and there that something isn’t right, that something in my life isn’t as it should be. And this faceless voice is taunting me!”
“Is that why you’re here now?”
Now, as in I changed my normal afternoon appointment to the first available in the morning. “Yes. I wanted you to hear this. I thought maybe you’d have some insight.” I glance at my watch. “Two minutes until he’ll call again.” We sit in tense silence, waiting. When the phone rings, I jump. I put it on speaker.
“I know what you did.”
For the first time, he doesn’t hang up. I look at my therapist, who waves his hand as if to say, keep him talking. “Who are you? What are you talking about?”
“You can’t hide from me, Miranda. You may wear a different face now, but I still know you.”
The phone slips out of my hands at his words. Miranda. It comes flooding back then, from my childhood to the accident. I was driving to work in a horrible storm. I should have told them I couldn’t make it because the roads were wretched. I don’t know how many cars ended up in that accident on the Interstate, but I was caught somewhere in the middle, killed instantly as a semi ran into my little Civic. I could feel the pull of the afterlife on my spirit, but I fought it. I wasn’t ready to die.
My spirit lingered for some time, though I couldn’t tell you how long. In that state, time loses it meaning. It became increasingly hard to stay there as death tried to make me leave. I saw other spirits emerging from the wreckage and moving on. Emergency crews arrived, and with them I saw my chance at staying alive. I saw them giving a young woman CPR, but she already moved on to the ghostly plane. So I stepped into her body.
“You remember now, Miranda.”
My therapist is leaning forward, watching me intently as I pick the phone up. “Yes, I remember,” I answer softly, and meet the curious eyes facing me. “I almost died once. I guess on paper, according to the state, I actually did. Six months ago.” I turn my attention back to the phone. “Who are you?” I demand again.
“You disrupted the natural order of things, Miranda,” the voice continues. “You can call me…Death.”
Death? “Sure, and I’m—”
“Enough! You will come with me. Your time is over.”
“No discussion or debate? That’s not fair.”
“Life isn’t fair,” Death replies.
I just smile. It seems weird to me that it took six months of therapy and a conversation with Death to return my memory, and my life with it. I hang up the phone and toss it in the trash on my way out of the office, but not before giving Death one last jab. “No it’s not. That’s why I cheated.”