In the Next Life

Contributor: Kristina England

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Dotty leaned over and scribbled a word in her journal. Then she exhaled her last breath of life into the moonlit bedroom.

Her son, Andrew, found her the next morning. He wept for some time before calling in her death. After her body was taken away, he sat in the room watching the day pass into night. When it became dark, he leaned over and flipped on the lamp on her night table. He looked at the open journal and pulled it into his lap. He stared at the word and shook his head.

His mother had carried around the journal for the last three months as the cancer ate at her.

"Are you keeping a diary?"

"Oh goodness… No. I've decided to be reincarnated, but I don't know what I want to be yet. The journal is for brainstorming."

Chemo brain, Andrew thought. The treatments were making her wacky. Then again, she was also more open than she had ever been.

"Your father was a cheat."

"Yes, I know."

"I should have left him. I deserved more respect than that."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't ever apologize for someone else's faults, dear. You picked that up from me. Move past it. Let the fools be the fools. Appreciate yourself, you know?"

"Yes, yes, I know."

"No you don't. But you will someday."

Then the dizzy spells, the lack of appetite, the dwindling into the tiniest he had ever seen her. And, yet, she kept that journal by her side, even after her voice had become extinct.

Andrew ran his fingers along the pen’s imprints, then put the journal down.

The word "Me" sat there in the glow of the lamp as he rested his head on her pillow and slept.

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Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing is forthcoming or published in Gargoyle, Haggard and Halloo, The Story Shack, Weirdyear, and other magazines.
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