It creeped up on me all day. The niggling thought at the bottom of my mind that would pop up then settle down. I read and listened to podcasts to make sure it would stay where I could live with it. Sometimes I did some gardening but it was November and the weather starts becoming cold in California around then. The days were definately shorter, more dense. But the ghost kept tap tap tapping me. I could push it away in the daytime but at night, it had no place to hide.
At night I started falling asleep on the couch with the television on, a news channel, CNN or MSNBC. Then the same stories started repeating themselves. If I did fall asleep I would incorporate one of the anchors into my dreams until they turned into Nick. Then Nick would be behind the anchor desk moving his mouth but no words coming out. Then the camera would cut away and back to Nick who know had the steerlng wheel in his hand. The the same words this time I could hear them, “This is how you’re supposed drive.”
I woke up cold, sweaty. I couldn’t even cry. My mouth was dry. Even the cats, standing sentry over my sleeping self ran away. I was alone with a lightly defined imaged of my dead boyfriend.
I went from having that dream every night to not sleeping at all. To not being able to close my eyes. In the second month, my mother drove me to the emergency room. “She’s not sleeping, not eating,” she told the doctor, “She had a great,” she lowered her voice to a whisper, “Shock this summer.” Then slowly or it seemed to be slow, she told the doctor with way too many details, about the accident. “She was driving, you see.” My mother took a great breath, “She was ok but her boyfriend, I guess he was that,” again to the almost imperceptible whisper, “He died”.
The kind doctor suggested therapy (no) and prescribed Xanax (no) and an antidepressant (hell no). My mother picked up all the meds, dutifully. Then handed me a Xanax, which I stowed in my cheek and spit out when she was not looking.
To tell the truth, I was beginning to like my nightly visits from ghost Nick. He stopped being an anchor and started asking me questions I could answer. I worried that if I slept, Nick would go back to heaven or whereever he was supposed to be. Everyone worried about me. I looked terrible, I was too thin, drawn. My color was bad. My breath smelled like stale coffee and decomposing roadkill. My lips grew dry and would break open and bleed. The pain made me feel something.
My temporary disablity was running out, I was going to have to return to work. For once, another worry replaced Nick, at least during the day. Christmas had come and gone. New Years had come and gone, Martin Luther King Day, Valentines Day, My Birthday. St Patricks Day. The once new year was speeding by at full speed.
On the Saturday before Easter, eight days until I had to go back to work, ghost Nick appeared as usual except this time, he had a dress over one arm and a pair of Navy pumps in another. “It’s time to get dressed.” he thrust the clothing toward me. “I’m going to need to leave soon.”
“Just soon. I think you should wear these to your first day at work. Get your hair cut and for heaven’s sake but on some lipstick. You look as dead as me.” With that, he was gone. I fell into a deep sleep for the first time in six months.