Life After Death – Short Story
By: S.H. Pratt
With a huge yawn and a leisurely stretch, he opened his green eyes and a wide smile lit his rugged face, pulling his stubble and making it itchy. The first thing he saw as he scratched his chin was the large poster he’d hung across from his bed the night before. It was a breathtaking sunrise over some random stretch of craggy beach, which made him happy because he loved the sea, but he’d bought it for the words emblazoned along the bottom.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Yes, today truly was the first day of his new life and it was such a long, long way from his old life. With a small shudder, Gabe closed his eyes, remembering the way it had been. Rachel had been so lovely and nice when they’d married eight years earlier, but wow, had she really hidden her true colors. Shrew and harpy were the nicest things he could think to say about her. She’d made his life miserable simply because she could, because she knew he would not leave her. Gabe had been raised to be a good Catholic, therefore, divorce was simply not an option. Hell on earth was one thing, but he was not messing with his afterlife!
A small chuckle escaped Gabe as he continued to lie in his bed, his arms folded under his head. Rachel certainly hadn’t expected him to leave her the way he had… frankly, he hadn’t either. Who knew that a heart attack at the age of thirty eight would give him the freedom he craved? Gabe’s chuckle grew to a laugh as the memory of that horrendous dinner party and how it had ended.
Rachel had invited her trailer trash best friend, Marnie, and Marnie’s abusive husband, Dirk, over for dinner and they’d been playing charades. Now, charades was bad enough, but they had all been drunk while he, Gabe, had been sober. What a nightmare! He’d felt a twist in his chest and a strange tingle in his arm as he’d been trying to convey some stupid phrase. As he’d gone down clutching his chest with his right hand, he’d heard Dirk’s drunken guess of ‘Pledge of Allegiance’! Honestly!
When Gabe had come to, he’d been surrounded by grim faced doctors and nurses who seemed to be looking at him with surprise and disbelief, followed by concern and relief.
“Mr. Walker, can you hear me?” one of the doctors had asked.
Gabe had taken a shaky breath before croaking out a ‘yes’. Then the doctor had proceeded to tell him how he’d had a heart attack and been dead for five full minutes before they’d managed to bring him back around. As Gabe had listened to this, his heart had begun to pound in his chest as though to confirm that he was truly alive and very excited. Then he’d leveled a serious stare at the doctor.
“I died? Truly died? Bury me in a box, died?” Gabe asked for clarification.
“Yes,” the doctor confirmed. Gabe had almost been dizzy with joy.
“Thank you!” Gabe had said with a broad grin, thoroughly confusing the doctors.
He’d been in his little room afterward and had called his lawyer and the priest at St. Joe’s. When Father Martin had arrived, Gabe explained what had happened and once again leveled that serious stare before asking for clarification.
“My vows were til death do us part… correct?” Gabe had asked.
“Yes Gabriel, they did. Why?” Father Martin had asked, his aged brow wrinkling.
“Because that means I’m not married to that woman anymore… I died… Vows fulfilled.” Gabe had grinned, feeling freer than he’d known he could feel.
Father Martin had stared at him for the longest time before Gabe had asked.
“Gabriel, I cannot argue your logic. But really, I…”
“That’s all I needed to know. Thanks. I’ll see you at church as soon as they let me out of here.” Gabe had said.
Now Gabe was free. With the help of his lawyer, he’d left Rachel everything per the will that he’d once had and had never returned to that house or her. While he’d been in the hospital, he and his lawyer had separated the bank accounts so that his money was once again his. Then his lawyer had been able to secure this apartment and for the first time in over eight long years, he, Gabe Walker, was free. He’d left the hospital yesterday and had hung the poster after making his bed.
Gabe lay in his bed laughing happily. Yes, today truly was the first day of the rest of his life!