I call this story “Different Perspectives.”
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The coffeehouse window Larry sat beside reminded him of sitting in his car at the car wash. Except, this wasn’t Get Wet Express. This was another rainy day in Ridgewood, at Mabel’s, on Monday, around eight-thirty in the morning, and he sat across his sister Elaine, her lined face drawn up in a smile for a moment before her naked lips pursed and she blew gently at the steam rising from her white cup. Her blue eyes twinkled despite the fact that she had lost her husband a week ago.
“Damn weather,” Larry said. He clutched his cup next to his mouth. The heat warmed his hands and face. It went no farther. He closed his eyes to the full coffee cup in front of the empty red chair next to Elaine.
“We’re moving,” she said.
Larry blinked his eyes open to her grinning at him.
“Stan and I found a place in Florida … Tampa. I hear the weather’s a lot nicer there.”
Larry sighed, but not too loudly. She needed to see a doctor. “Look, Elaine…” He coughed into his hands. She had always been the healthy one in the family. “I need you to listen to me—”
“Though I hear they get a lot of rain in the winter. But that’s okay—”
“It beats the snow. And I’m getting way too old for these terrible winters here.” She turned to the empty seat next to her, then slid the metal sugar container next to the full cup. “You’re welcome, dear,” she said before returning her attention to Larry. “You were saying?”
Larry sipped at his coffee and waited for the sugar container to lift in the air. Moments later, he sighed and said, “He’s dead.”
Elaine stopped smiling. “Who’s dead?”
“Stan. He died of cancer ten days ago.”
Larry put down his coffee cup. “If you know, then why do you pretend he’s alive? I’m worried. You’ve been pretending since the day he died that you can see him. Hell, you even pretend to talk to him. And now you’re talking about you and him moving to Florida.” Larry leaned forward. “Look around you, Sis. There is no Stan.”
Elaine’s eyes glistened with tears but she did not cry. Instead, she said, “No, you look around. I see things differently than you do, Larry. I see a world where the dead go on living. My Stanley’s not alive like you and I are. He’s a Spirit. Just because you don’t see or hear him doesn’t make his existence untrue.” She leaned forward. “Stop worrying about me.”
“This isn’t normal. Have you talked to Dr. Thompson about this?”
Elaine smiled. “I’m not crazy. You need to accept that.” She finished her coffee in three quick swallows. “Just because you believe something a certain way doesn’t make it so.” She stood and reached for her umbrella propped against the table.
“I wasn’t trying to offend you,” Larry said, standing. He went to her and took her into his arms.
“I love you, little brother,” she said, returning the hug. “And I wasn’t trying to offend you, either. But you need to open your mind.”
“I’ll try.” Larry kissed her forehead and released her. He said, “Sometimes people see things the way they want to see them—”
“I love that you worry about me, but please don’t. I’m fine.”
Larry wanted to believe her. He said no more about it and watched her leave before he sat back down and drank his coffee. His job at the newspaper started at nine. He sensed it was going to be a long day. He reached for the extra cup of coffee, eager for the caffeine.
The cup was empty.
# # #
That’s all for now.
This post “Fantasy Short Story 001-2022-0901” copyright © 2022 Steven Leo Campbell at stevecampbellcreations.com – All rights reserved.