Hey Hi, my lovelies! My name is Tanya Hooper and Welcome to TanyaTale. Allow me to introduce you to a new segment of my blog Carpe Diem a serialised story! If you are interested in the background story behind this idea you can check out my last post here. If not, settle back and enjoy Carpe Diem – Our Final Hello.
‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.’ Said the priest.
As Alice sat in the church, saying one final goodbye to her best friend, she couldn’t help but wonder what Saph would have thought of her funeral. She wondered if she would have approved of the flowers or what she would have thought of her coffin. Alice pictured the disbelief that would have been on her face at the audacity of people she hadn’t spoken to in years, mourning her loss. She tried to picture her face, not the one in photos but the one she pulled when she thought no one was looking; the face she pulled when it was just the two of them putting the world to rights.
‘Is that Eve West? I haven’t seen her since she college, like ten years ago.’ Alice could hear Saph saying. ‘And even then, we weren’t that close. You know she’s only here for the attention. Once an attention seeking bitch, always an attention seeking bitch.’ Her voice felt so familiar, so close, so real. ‘I mean, if you think about it, showing up to the funeral of someone who is practically a stranger is kind of sick.’ As the words played out a shiver was sent down Alice’s spine at how clear she was.
It didn’t feel as if Saph was in Alice’s head or her heart, it felt as if she was sat right behind her. In a confused panic she spun around. It was clear that Alice didn’t know what she was expecting to see, or even if she was expecting to see anything. She just knew that for her sanities sake she had to look. Alice exhaled as she saw Saph’s neighbour Mrs Jenkins sat silently behind her, before turning back around in awe at how crazy she was acting.
‘Alice?’ She heard the voice say again. Slowly she turned, and unlike last time, there she was. Sat besides Mrs Jenkins, a wide grin on her face as if the whole thing had been a joke. Alice spun back to the front to see a queue of people waiting silently to say their final goodbyes.
‘Oh My God.’ Alice’s exclamation drew in the unwanted attention of everyone within a two-row radius, yet no one seemed to bat an eyelid at Saph, who was supposed to be dead. Mrs Jenkins face grew sour as she rolled her eyes at Alice’s blasphemy and mindlessly she muttered an apology to the old woman before turning back to Saph. ‘You’re alive?’
‘No, well … not exactly – so you should probably stop staring at an empty seat because your starting to look a little crazy.’ Saph replied. Alice’s mind was boggled and spinning frantically before finally settling on the conclusion that the trauma of Saph’s death had sent her into a mental breakdown.
‘Shit.’ Alice’s words drew yet another judgemental look from the bitter old woman before she shot her head back to the front of the church once more, before trying to pretend that everything was fine. Still, she could feel the eyes of the old crow drilling into the back of her head. Her cheeks burnt red with embarrassment and Alice realised she clearly hadn’t come to terms with the sudden loss of Saph.
‘You really need to stop swearing in church, god bless your soul.’ Saph said. Alice closed her eyes tightly hoping that when she opened them it would have all been a dream. But it wasn’t. ‘
‘Al don’t freak out. I know you want to but don’t – okay? Now I’m going to explain what’s happening and I want you to just listen.’ Despite her being dead, Saph’s voice was somehow reassuring and so, conforming, Alice nodded silently.
‘You’re literally the only one who can see me. And no, I’m not a figment of your imagination … if I were I would have hoped you’d have imagined me fifteen pounds lighter and with a tan.’
Alice’s palms were sweating as her mind and memories continued to taunt her. It couldn’t be Saph. Ghosts aren’t real. Her eyes glazed over and for a brief moment she felt as if I had been dragged out of her body. She felt terrified. Not of Saph, she had been her best friend, she was the least scary person imaginable. Alice was scared because she could feel my mind shutting down.
She watched as a few more people rose to their feet and walked across to the coffin to say goodbye and when Mr Keller – Alice and Saphron’s dick of a boss – got up from the seat next to her, Alice decided to take her leave. In a whirlwind she scurried out of the doors at the back of the church, all eyes on her as she went.
A few minutes later and she found herself sat on a bench outside the church. The wind blew sharp and cold through the holes in her knitted cardigan, leaving her arms covered in goose bumps. It felt as if even the trees were gossiping about her. She felt helpless. She didn’t know what to do. So, she just sat and hoped that, once the funeral had ended and she’d washed today away with a hot bath and bottle of wine, her sanity would return to her, even if just a little.
You see, it was completely uncharacteristic of Alice to run out of the funeral because she is a together person. I mean, she is usually the one who holds people together, not the one who falls apart. Alice usually tell people that it will all blow over, but today she was the one stuck thinking that the buzzing inside her mind would never go away. It was in that moment that she thought of Saph’s mum. To think she had to say goodbye to her daughter today and yet Alice was the one breaking down.
‘Have you calmed down yet?’ Saph voice said. Alice looked up to see her again, clear as day as if she’d never died. Saph sat down beside Alice. Her hand was in touching distance but Alice daren’t reach for it though fear she’d disappear.
‘You aren’t real.’ Alice reminded herself.
‘Trust me Hun, I am as real as Mr Keller and Mrs Jenkins.’ She said. For the first time since hearing her voice Alice took a moment to really look at Saph. It was a strange sensation to properly look at someone’s face. It felt so familiar yet looked so different. As if she’d never really seen her before. Alice took a deep breath before deciding that even if she were going insane, at least she got to have just one more conversation with her best friend.
‘How?’ Alice asked, blinking tears down her cheeks.
‘So, I died …’
‘No shit sherlock.’ She blurted out.
‘Right, listen up munchkin. The way I see it you have two choices. Option number one is that you shut up and let me tell my story, or we can go with option number 2. Now, option number two is that you say one more bitching word and I leave. You then go on to continue convincing yourself that you are, in fact, insane and that you will never be the same again. You will then ward off any people trying to show you love and friendship and instead you will start buying cat after cat to fill a void deep inside your soul. Eventually you will end up, alone in a one bedroom flat at eighty, wishing you’d gone with option number one. So, here is what I suggest. You take option number one and we skip the, quite frankly depressing, drama.’ Saph barked. It was odd, hearing her rant after spending so long trying to convince herself that Alice would never hear her again. Silently Alice nodded signalling for her to go on.
Half an hour later and her story came to an end. Saph has told Alice everything from what it was like to die, to how old-fashioned heavens waiting room was. Alice’s mind was blown as Saph told her that God was real and that after having watched the two of them on earth he had decided to designate Saph to be Alice’s guardian angel. At first Alice’s mind had been swimming in a sea of questions and out of everything she wanted to know she only managed to ask the most ridiculous of things.
‘Is god fit?’
‘No Alice, he’s like 1000. Wow – you haven’t changed a bit.’ She said, though Alice wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a compliment or a criticism.
As her mind began to find some order and the questions listed themselves from highest priority to lowest the church doors swung open and a stream of people began to walk out. Everyone seemed to be muttering about how beautiful a service it had been and how much Saph would have loved it. Alice on the other had wasn’t so sure about that.
‘Hun, quick reminder that none of these people can see me so just don’t speak to me for a minute. I mean, what kind of guardian angel would I be if I let you go around looking like a crazy person.’ Saph said.
As Saph finished speaking a gentle hand made its way onto Alice’s shoulder. On edge, she spun around to see Saph’s mum stood behind her, a pitiful look in her eyes. Alice had always found it odd how compassionate Mrs Wilson was. Even after the death of Mr Wilson she had been the one comforting his sisters and parents and Saph and her brother, meanwhile no one was comforting her. No one stopped to tell her how well she was doing as a single parent. Her smile was genuine, and Alice couldn’t help but let out another stream of tears as Mrs Wilson gathered her in for an embrace.
‘It’s okay dear.’ She whispered again and again.
‘No, it’s not. I should have been there for you but instead I freaked out and bolted. I am so sorry.’ Alice said. But Mrs Wilson simply shook her head.
‘It’s okay dear, really it is. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with things, and I am certainly not your responsibility. I have a son whose been designated that job.’ She said letting out a small laugh. ‘Now how about you come back to our house for some sandwiches. Robert has laid on a beautiful spread and it’d be a shame if it went to waste.’
Alice looked around in search of Saph’s approval but, to her disappointment, she had vanished. She looked back to Mrs Wilson and with a sad smile of relief, Alice allowed her to guide her away.
There you have it, the pilot story! If you enjoyed and want to keep reading be sure to click the subscribe buttons for updates every time a new chapter is released and don’t be shy to let me know down in the comments what you think! Don’t forget its serialised so your thoughts and opinions can help shape the story further down the road. But for now share the love by sharing this post and clicking that like button.
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