The funeral was over and Annie hesitated at the front door of her home. The ominous presence of sadness, despair, and loneliness draped over her like a heavy coat. Her trembling hand reached the knob and opened it. This was the part she dreaded; the part no preacher or sermon ever prepared her for. No more hearing Jason’s voice calling in the living room, “Annie, is that you?” No more watching how graceful he was when he poured her a cup of coffee in the morning.
Jason wouldn’t be there to roll over in his sleep and drape an arm across her. He wouldn’t be there to hold her when life’s burden’s came crashing down. He wouldn’t be there to lower her on the bed and make love to her. All that was left when someone lies six feet deep were the haunting memories of past ghosts.
“It’s all on the video.”
That’s what the note said. The one she found stuffed in her coffee mug the day Jason died. His phone was left on the counter, unlocked, and with a paused video. It beckoned her to watch it.
She still remembered the curiosity and confusion swirling in her mind when she hit “play.”
Jason sat at his study in the upstairs loft. An emotionless, numb look covered his face. His eyes seemed lifeless and hollow and his voice was absent of any emotion. Jason stared at the camera and said,
“At first, I liked being sober. I thought I had my life back. I liked everything I learned in rehab, and when I got out, I was ready for this great life of sobriety that they told us lies ahead.”
Jason paused, glanced down for a moment, then back at the camera.
“Things were supposed to get better,” he said. He interlocked his hands and leaned on the desk. “Jobs, relationships, opportunities. Being sober was supposed to open up a whole new world of possibilities.”
Jason looked down again for several seconds. He cleared his throat, wiped a tear, then interlocked his fingers again. “But they were wrong, Annie. They were all wrong.
Being sober hasn’t changed anything. Life hasn’t gotten better and…” he swallowed hard then raked his fingers down his face. “The only thing that has happened? I can feel again. My emotions aren’t crippled by the alcohol.”
Jason stared off to his left. “And that’s the worse part. The feelings. The guilt and shame over what I’ve done in my addiction. The depression. The sorrow. Where is the joy they promised, Annie? ” He stared back at the camera. “They said, ‘Oh, Jason, life will be wonderful again. You will feel everything!’ Well, fuck them. I can feel everything and I fucking hate it. I fucking hate it, Annie! I can’t live with the emotions anymore, Annie. Nor can I go back to my addiction.” Jason looked back at the camera with a blank stare. “I liked being numb. And you know what I discovered? It’s me. I don’t like feeling me. I’m being swallowed alive by my soul. It is a black hole and I can’t escape. Tell them bye for me, Annie. Tell them all goodbye and happy Halloween. “
Jason reached his hand down, opened the desk drawer, and pulled out a .45. He stuck the barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The gun blast crackled through the phone. Jason’s skull and brains decorated the window behind him.
Annie remembered these things before she stepped foot back into their home, and hoped the .45 was still in the desk drawer.