by, Melissa R. Mendelson
“All the places I've been and things I've seen. A million stories that made up a million shattered dreams. The faces of people I'll never see again. And I can't seem to find my way home…”
The music called me to my knees. I was surprised by the wetness on my face. Fingers trembled as they touched speaker. My lips mouthed the words, and if I had a heart, it would have broke in two. This song, Far From Home, by Five Finger Death Punch emanated through me. And for those moments of song, I felt… Human.
Was this Hell? I never did a wrongful thing in my life, but that wasn’t true. I lied a lot. When I worked in the high school as a custodian, I raided the teachers’ desks. I found cash in some and took it. I wasn’t a road rager, but some days, I did drive like one. I only did that when assholes tried to cut me off especially on roads with big signs that say, “Do Not Pass,” but I’m not evil. I don’t know why I’m still here. I don’t know why I’m a zombie, and nobody has answers. It’s not like that movie, Beetlejuice, where death comes with instructions or living with ghosts, and I’m not a ghost. I don’t know what I am.
Shadows trickled along the wall. Al slept against the couch with a baseball bat pressed into his chest. Barry was passed out cold beside him. Jerome was upstairs in bed. I was alone. Sure, if I was a typical zombie, I would munch on these two right here, but I’m not. Instead, I feel like the Terminator now standing before the window, waiting for day to come, but what would tomorrow bring? Would I disappear into ash, or would I feel my heart beat again like that song made me feel? I wanted to live again. I never lived when I lived, and I was alive more now being dead.
“This is not the end.”
That voice. I heard it once before. It was back at the morgue, but I thought that it was the coroner hunched over his desk and stuffing his face. No, it wasn’t him. It was someone else, something else, something that had brought me back, but why? Was this some sort of game, test? Well, I was losing badly, and as usual, I’m someone’s pawn. “Stop it,” I said. “Let me go home,” but no answer. “Let me die,” I begged. Still, nothing. “Stop it. Please, just stop it.”
I wrapped my arms around myself. Jerome had given me a very large jersey to wear. It was a football jersey. I never liked sports, but it was better than that itchy lab coat. I changed in the bathroom, and now I pad around the living room in his green, fuzzy slippers. He was far from being a thug, but I guess in this neighborhood, he had to appear that way. We are all more than what we appear, I think, but I still don’t know what I am. And I don’t know how long I will remain here, but obviously, someone, something is pulling my strings. And I need to know why. Maybe, if I know, I could return home one last time.
A cold wind whipped through the room. The windows were sealed shut. Newspapers rattled along the floor. Empty cups rolled on by. The two sleeping beauties began to stir, but I got the message. I was not alone, and whatever was doing this to me was not done with me yet. But it knew what I thought, so for now, it has won. I’m not ready to go just yet, so take your time, whatever you are. I want to stay. I want to live. Don’t let me die. Not yet. Maybe, that was it. There was something that I was supposed to do, and I guess once that is done, I will become nothing more but ash.