Hello again readers. I believe this one can stand alone, meaning you don’t have to read the other parts of the Diamond Series to get it.
A Change of Possibilities
Regret crept in, curled up, and made itself at home. Ann was living alone upstairs in the residential portion of the Muller Funeral Home, a business her and her now deceased husband Chet had built. The regret Ann felt was not because she had killed Chet; it was due more to her loneliness.
The inevitable end was near when she found out Chet was cheating on her. Ann took it upon herself to make it ‘Chet’s end’. Of course, it wasn’t all Chet’s fault. They say it takes two to tango. So it was only fair that Cynthia should die as well.
Cynthia had a funeral package set up and paid for with the Muller Funeral Home. No one had contacted Ann for those arrangements which meant that no one had found Cynthia yet. It had been a month since Ann killed her, suffocating her with a pillow. That apartment had to stink to high heaven.
The funeral home had its own incinerator for cremation, so it was easy to get rid of Chet. Ann had sent a portion of the cremains to Gemstars, a company that could “create gemstones from the carbon of loved ones.” Having the resulting stone returned, uncut, was an unprecedented request according to the representative she dealt with at Gemstars. In the end they relented; but not until they got the customer-is-always-right defense.
Ann found a pendant she liked at a local jeweler. It was shaped like a canary cage and had heavy gold plating. She put Chet—the uncut yellow diamond—in it. The caged diamond was symbolic for her.
Till death do we part, she thought as she spun the pendant on its long chain.
All these thoughts, like cards in a deck, shuffled themselves in her head.
She was setting up the five large first floor rooms of the eighteenth century Victorian that was the Muller Funeral Home. Chet’s memorial service would be the next day and a large turnout was expected.
In her peripheral vision she caught a glimpse of something darting low and quick. It moved faster than she could react—faster than she could focus, and was gone. She fidgeted with the pendant as she peered around the front sitting room. Content that the room was set up to her satisfaction; she turned off the lights and moved to the receiving room next.
Ann had turned on the gas log to take the chill off but it hadn’t worked. It was still oddly cold and a shudder ran through her bones. She shut off the gas and was leaving that room when she saw something fleeting again. This time it was over by the alcove under the stairs, a naturally shadowed space.
She walked over to the stairs, cautiously looking around and found nothing. She spun to return and froze in both wonder and fright.
The dark shape slowed to a stop in the center of the receiving room. Rearing up, it stretched and swelled until it was the size of a man. It floated and bobbed, features came into focus, and arms were held out in presentation; or maybe it just didn’t want to run into anything.
Ann’s mouth was working but nothing came out.
“No hello? No ‘I love you?’ Cat got your tongue? Snap out of it Ann. You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Well, but, I am. I have. You are.” Ann shook her head, looked down, back up and then ran a hand over the flat-top crew cut she was sporting. “You can’t be here.”
“Oh, but I am. Miss me?” He smiled, still bobbing slightly, floating without feet.
“Go away Chet. You’re dead. I killed you for messing around with Cynthia.”
“A bit harsh, don’t you think?”
“If I couldn’t have you, well…we took vows.”
“Vows? Wedding vows? Nobody listens to that stuff anymore.”
“I do.” Ann poked a thumb at herself. “I do Chet.” She took a couple of steps closer. “We were going to start a family. Instead I find out I’m not enough.”
Chet sank lower, the wispy tendrils of his legs trailing behind him. “You were enough Ann. It wasn’t about you.”
Ann closed the distance and made to slap Chet across the face. His features swirled in the wake of Ann’s hand, following in its breeze.
His ethereal essence curled, returned and reformed. “That was cold.”
“Get out Chet. You’re no longer a part of my life.”
“Hah, I’ll always be a part of your life Ann.”
Ann shuddered at that and wrapped her arms around herself.
“And because you still think of me, care for me, and even love me, I’ll never get beyond the Shadow Lands.”
The truth of what Chet said weighed heavily on her thoughts. But that last: “Shadow lands?”
“Never mind that, I shouldn’t have mentioned it. You’ll see it all soon enough at the rate your going. The thing I came to tell you is that I can see your possibilities—which change with your actions—and most of yours are out of character for the Ann I know. They’re quite…unsettling.”
“You want to talk about unsettling, Chet? How about Cynthia? You and Cynthia. I did her in, you know. How about Jane at the gym? And loosy Lucy?”
With that train of thought, a sudden flash of inspiration hit. She finished with: “And what about the others?”
Chet took a step back; well, it seemed that way at least. “How do you know about the others?”
“I didn’t until now.”
Ann spun in place and left Chet there in the middle of the room. He looked concerned for a moment, and then horror washed across his face. Ann’s possibilities had changed. He sank into himself, slowly at first; reverting to the shadows.
Chet never considered the idea that a ghost could be frightened for the living.
The possibilities are endless at this point, readers. Several things are certain: Cynthia will have to be discovered, Ann has more work to do, and Gemstars will have a repeat customer. Until next week, bear in mind your own possibilities.