Friday Fiction | She Said, I Know What It’s Like To Be Dead
If you love the classic story of A Christmas Carol featuring Ebenezer Scrooge like I do, I hope you’ll be amused by today’s Friday Fiction.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I posted a short piece of fiction. I haven’t written flash fiction is so long. Today, I’ve attempted to write a short fictional story using a prompt from Brian Kiteley’s book, The 3 A.M. Epiphany. If you are a writer, and you don’t have Brian’s book, you should get it along with the sequel, The 4 A.M. Epiphany; they both contain writing prompts to get you thinking—and writing.
I worked hard this summer to finish my third novel, and I hope to have that out to you in January. In the meantime, Kiteley asks us to simply start the beginning of the piece with the following words that he pulled from lyrics written by Lennon and McCartney: She said, I know what it’s like to be dead. Here we go, as I beg Dickens for forgiveness, and allow Ebenezer Scrooge to say it like it is…from his perspective and not that of a narrator.
SHE SAID, I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE DEAD
She said, “I know what it’s like to be dead.”
She scared the Dickens out of me when the clock struck one, and I cowered under the covers. She was a frail looking thing, and I wondered what exactly her last meal had consisted of before she arrived at her current state. I thought about what I had eaten earlier: methinks it was a bowl of broth with a bit of bad beef in it. Marley had screamed at me at the top of his lungs when I questioned the integrity of his ghostliness, as I defiantly blamed his apparition on what I had previously consumed. However, seeing this petite, white-haired woman made me wonder just how long dead she was. She stood there staring at me, motionless, as her white garb gently floated around her body.
“What is it like to be dead?” I asked, hearing the words echo in my bedroom chamber.
“You tell me, Ebenezer,” she said. “It seems that something inside of you has been dead for some time.”
I had no idea what she meant, as the last time I checked, I had been very much alive. I took immediate offense to her statement.
“And how is it that you are abreast of my current disposition, Madame?” I retorted.
“Death does have some benefits, Ebenezer. Your behavior has indicated much to me over the years. And you didn’t always have such a miserly and miserable approach to life.”
I felt this apparition’s presence as an annoyingly bothersome invasion of my privacy, like a wart that wouldn’t go away. The last time I had a woman in my bedroom had been many years ago, before my sciatic nerve became an issue, and I can assure you things didn’t go too well. Prior to that, I had lost my one true love, Isabelle, because I apparently worked too much trying to make the perfect life for the two of us. She was ungrateful for my dedication to the future we had planned together, and mentioned on too many occasions that I was ignoring her and her needs. I struggled to find truth in this statement. Hadn’t she liked the fur muff I had given her? The angel brooch? The plethora of books to fill her shelves? How many more material things does a woman need, and how could I have devoted more time to her when I had to keep the counting house afloat? Truthfully, I hadn’t had too much luck with women, and I was assuming the same was going to be true tonight. I’d forever sworn them off and vowed to live in solitude. Hence, my particular vexation at what I was dealing with presently.
“So—do you have a name?” I asked.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”
“That seems way too formal for this uncomfortable moment of familiarity and intimacy, wouldn’t you agree? You don’t have another name?”
“In life, my friends called me Eunice.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Well, that wouldn’t have been a name I wanted to be called in life,” I said.
“I beg your forgiveness, but Ebenezer isn’t that much better.”
“I like it fine,” I said, “though most people just refer to me as ‘Scrooge.'”
She scratched at her brow. She seemed a bit unnerved by my candor. I wasn’t often one to mince words. I’d always appreciated a direct approach in all of my interpersonal relationships, no matter how brutal it might come across, like when I scolded Bob Cratchit earlier for wanting to leave early on Christmas Eve, or when my nephew Fred begged me to come for Christmas dinner. What’s wrong with wanting to spend my only day off during the month of December alone? I’ve got a stack of books to catch up on and I’d heard from reliable sources that Fred’s wife’s cooking left many leaving her dinner parties either still hungry or sick.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but is there a point to you continuing to float above my bed? Marley said you have something important to show me.”
“Yes, Ebenezer. I was sent here on the matter of your redemption,” she said.
“So, what you’re saying is that I have no choice in this matter. I must go with you, relive my past, and see how I could have improved?”
“That’s correct,” she said.
“That sucks,” I said. “Who really wants to go back and relive every single detail of a life lived? Most of it will be utterly mundane, with good and bad bits thrown in for excitement. It’s going to be so depressing.”
“One could approach it that way, or one could look at it as an opportunity to see that change is possible and that one really has had a wonderful life.”
“Ah, Eunice, I believe you are confusing two classic stories.”
“You are quite right, Ebenezer. Now do shut up and take my hand and let’s get this over with.”
Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.