Gosh it’s been a while since flash fiction Friday happened, huh? This piece is based on a prompt (the first line) from ServiceScape.com, but I feel like I took it in a bit of a unique direction. Hope you enjoy it!
There had been many theories about how she had been murdered.
The cops that were first on the scene found the empty watch case that she kept in her desk drawer ever since that night in Las Vegas and assumed it was a robbery gone wrong. Then they found the laptop, the cell phone, the cash in the bottom drawer, the jewelry on top of the dresser and a myriad other things that left them scratching their heads, back at square one.
Next were the three crime scene techs. They were a morbid bunch, making a game of pitching wilder and wilder ideas to each other as they combed through the study and the rest of the apartment with a fine-toothed comb. A scorned lover. A sleep-walking neighbor wielding a knife. An unusual mode of suicide. A death faked for insurance. A CIA cover-up. At first she was offended at their levity, but once they got to a genetically enhanced monkey climbing in through the window, that first afterlife laughter soothed the pangs of her death.
Then came the senior investigators, older and less prone to come up with wild, innovative theories but more prone to default to the classic tropes. Maybe it was organized crime. More likely still, a jealous lover. They crossed all their Ts and dotted all their Is. They chased down every lead, but eventually gave up when they found only dead ends. All the evidence, and the heaps of reports and other documents their investigation produced, was packed up and carefully placed it into boxes. Boxes that, she supposed, would be opened by some cold case investigator years down the line. She wondered what theories they would have, if any of them would come close…
Her children argued. Their theories were loose thoughts, thing thrown out in drunken speculation or mumbled through tears and then quickly forgotten. They blamed each other, but not for her death. For trivial things; not coming over for dinner that night, not convincing her to install an alarm, not calling often enough.
Her oldest grandson, Liam, didn’t have any theories at all. Just open, wide-eyes curiosity. The rest of the family thought he was strange for wanting to move into her grandmother’s old apartment, but it was just two blocks from campus so they couldn’t say no. He turned the guestroom into his bedroom and left the master suite untouched, and on occasion he talked to his grandmother as if she was still there.
It was nice. Even if Liam couldn’t see her, couldn’t hear her when she spoke, she enjoyed his company. She enjoyed getting to know him, watching the way he dug his feet in between the couch cushions when watching TV, hearing the way he laughed when he smoked pot with his friends. Things she may never have known, even if she had lived to see Liam grow up.
But everything ends, even the afterlife. One day, she hears Liam on the phone, making an appointment with a psychic to come over and talk to her. To find out, finally, how she died and by whose hand. She doesn’t know, exactly, how psychics work. Whether they can be lied to. Whether they’ll just know. But she can’t risk. It’s time to move on.
Some secrets were worth taking beyond the grave.