I was surprised when Jeff had handed me the letter. You could tell that Mary handwrote it with a fountain pen, in neat cursive letters. Jeff was impressed. He loved old school stuff, like his prized LP collection. The letter was quite short. Mary wrote how sorry she was for my loss, how much she looked forward to seeing me, and that she was planning a big party in my honor. Olive made a bet that she’d serve herbal tea and quinoa. This made me laugh, but suddenly I felt dizzy.
“Are you okay?” asked Olive. Her voice seemed to come from far away. Everything was blurry. I blinked and suddenly found myself somewhere else. I wasn’t physically in this other place, just seeing it in a disembodied way, like in a virtual reality game. I was inside a school bus full of Mexican children, who were jumping between the seats as kids do. One little girl wore a white ribbon in her hair. She turned to look at me, with big brown eyes. She opened her mouth as if to say something.
“Harper?” I blinked again, and Olive was in front of me, looking at me quizzically. I didn’t want to freak her out about what I had just seen, even though I was shaking inside. I chalked it up to a hallucination. After all, I was a nervous, depressed wreck. My mind was undoubtedly on a slippery psychological slope. But it sure was a strange and vivid one. I made a mental note to ask Janet about it.
The strangeness persisted as we wandered through the empty house. It felt bigger without our stuff, and our bodies zigzagging through it with the business of each day. A thin layer of dust had built up on the wooden floors, which squeaked underfoot. I looked out the front window, to where the accident had happened. All the flowers and candles were finally gone, a painful reminder that life goes on. Jeff had taken me to the spot a few days after the accident, so I could appreciate the kindness of our neighbors and strangers, many of whom had left personalized notes.