((Yeah, still in the process of being written, but I figured I’ll post it here as I go. These things always look longer on paper. I suppose I’ll just take the end of chapter one and put a break, before continuing it.))
It was nighttime when the accident happened. The Driver was drunk, and he had left his glasses at the bar that he had been drinking at only minutes before. Eric Martin and his fiancé, Linda, had just exited the liquor store themselves. The irony of it had always left a bad taste in Eric’s mouth.
Eric remembered every detail of that night, every detail of the trial that let the murderer off with a charge of manslaughter. The man, George Peterson, would be released from prison in four months, twenty seven days. Barely four years of his life wasted for murder. Eric knew the man deserved to rot much longer. After the trial Eric had promised himself to pay the man a visit after he was walking free. Eric had not forgotten.
Eric remembered every minute of the funeral. How Linda’s parents consoled him even as they wept themselves. His own parents had been absent from the event. Eric had never been on good terms with them. On the day of the funeral though, he had wanted to see them. He and his parents have not spoken to each other since.
Eric shook away the memories that flooded his mind every time he exited the liquor store, which was quite often after the death of Linda. Sighing, he looked down to the bag in his hand. It held his salvation, his nightly companion, whiskey. It was his key to forgetting Linda, for the night at least. It would last him six nights, six nights free of grief.
Eric took a tentative step forward. The very street in which Linda was killed lay in front of him, inviting him to walk across. Mustering his will Eric took another step forward, and then another. He was on the road. He took one more step, then stopped. The headlights of a car had fallen on him.
Eric was mesmerized by the speed in which the car was moving. Surely it was fast enough to kill him, but in those moments it seemed to barely move at all. He was rooted to the spot. Though every inch of his body was screaming at him to move, his body wouldn’t respond. It was the night of the accident all over again, except this time he was seeing it from Linda’s point of view.
It was only once impact was made that Eric snapped back into reality. Three things occurred to him then, as he was lifted upwards off the ground. One was how little pain there actually was as he felt his bones crack, and shatter. Another was how familiar the driver of the car looked, whose face was twisted into a look of shock. Her cellphone dropping from her hand. Finally though, what occurred to him last was the irony of his situation. As consciousness slipped away from him Eric realized he was laying in the exact spot Linda had, four years ago. Eric blacked out, with the bitter taste of irony in his mouth.
Eric awoke in a cold sweat. The image of Linda being killed had haunted his dreams, lately though, the dreams had subsided. Instead of relief greeting him though, confusion did. A steady beeping noise met his ears and as he sat up, pain exploded in his side. Eric became aware that he was not in his own room. His left arm was immobile, and tubes were hooked into his skin in various places. He was in a hospital.
The memories from the previous night flooded his mind, and he let out a groan. Struck by a car, Linda’s accident had apparently taught him nothing. Eric took a moment to take in his surroundings. He had been in hospital rooms before so what he saw didn’t surprise him. Across from him sat a single, large window, with the blinds shut. Beneath it sat four chairs. He suspected someone must have been in the bunk, that lay to his right, recently. There was purse laying next to one of the chairs, probably forgotten. It certainly wouldn’t be a visitor for him, he didn’t know anyone in town. He had lived secluded since Linda’s death. They had moved to Cheril right after Eric proposed, Linda liked that it sounded French. That, and there was a cheap apartment for rent.
Eric had managed to find a job he could do at home, editing for various local newspapers. After Linda’s death a few of the papers’ owners agreed to send him articles to his house, by email, out of sympathy. The pay wasn’t great, but Eric’s rent was cheap, and he only needed to support himself.
Eric turned to the machine next to him. The continual, steady, beep told him one thing, he was alive. He had been given a second chance at life. One he intended to use once he was out of here. His plans for celebrating were cut short however, as he took his eyes off the machine. His heart nearly stopped as his eyes fell upon the person sitting across from him.
Her clothing was the same, every feature of her face was as lovely as the day she had died. Though, her skin was pale, not the tanned color he was used to seeing. Her lips were drained of all color, and her eyes had lost their twinkle that he had always admired. It was still her though, unmistakably, Linda.
Seeing her again had almost killed him, Eric swore that the machine beside him skipped a beep. The woman he had loved since high school, proposed to, lost, and buried was sitting, calmly, not ten feet from him. She was not staring at him however, but gazing at the floor with a look of sadness on her face.
Instead of dying where he lay, panicking, trying to rush towards and kiss her, or simply sit there dazed in confusion, Eric Martin began to laugh. It was the mirthless laugh of hysteria. A hallucination, I’m finally hallucinating about her after four years! He thought, and when her head rose he laughed even harder. Finally, after many minutes the laughter stopped, and Eric had to keep himself from shedding tears.
He had kept pictures of Linda around his apartment, but none came close to achieving the effect of seeing her in person. Or at least, this is as close to in person she’ll ever be again. Eric realized, bitterly. As he looked over once more, he realized the look of sadness in her eyes had changed to one of pity, then, what looked to be an edge of amusement. She always was one to find humor in humorless situations. She shook her head.
“He’s finally gone nuts.”
Could hallucinations speak in voices so close to the original? Eric wondered as the words left her pale lips. It was after this that her words sunk in. Maybe he had gone nuts, considering recent events it didn’t seem like such a far-off suggestion. Sighing, he decided if he was already hallucinating, there was no harm in conversing with it.
“Not nuts, I just feel a bit tipsy, that’s all”
Her reaction though, unsettled him. Her eyes grew wide, and her mouth gaped open. The sight was almost comical, but Eric could not see the humor in it at that time.
“Y-you can see me? Hear me? Oh my god… You can finally see me!”
Eric was shocked as she burst into tears. Even when she was alive it was a rare occurrence. Eric didn’t know how to respond. He didn’t believe hallucinations could act so real. He instinctively wanted to comfort her, but he didn’t want to look any more foolish than he probably already did.
“Um… Hey, Linda, stop crying, please. I don’t want my only hallucination of you to end in tears.”
The effect on her was immediate. She stopped crying, almost in mid-sob, and looked him in the eye once more. The corners of her mouth twitched, she was fighting back a grin. Eric had never seen such a mood change from her before. He was bewildered, but not half as much as he would be after her next words.
“I’m not a hallucination Eric,” She said, that twinkle in her eye returning for a brief moment.
“I’m a ghost.”