Jason Lawrence Bell
Stories
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01-02-20

01-02-20                 AUDIO AVAILABLE SOON

Raymond reached for his glasses, and sat up in bed. Something startled him awake. As he collected his foggy mind and adjusted his glasses, he saw it. In the overstuffed chair sitting near the window, a dark silhouette sat motionlessly with large arms resting on the chair arms. As Raymond’s eyes focused on the figure, he noticed it was a stocky man with a bald head and piercing eyes. ‘Who’s there? Who are you? But there was no response. Raymond was wide awake now. He knew he had a gun in his bedside table, but he was not ready to grab it. Somehow, he sensed that he wasn’t in danger, but the man was large and definitely not an invited guest. So, he tried again. ‘What do you want? Why are you here?’ After a long pause, he heard words from a voice in his mind. ‘the question is, what do you want?’ Raymond answered, ‘you come into my room and ask me what do I want?  ‘Yes, what do you want? A simple question,’ spoke the man. ‘Who do you think you are, Santa Claus? And how are you talking in my head? What I want is answers?’ Raymond was getting irritated. Immediately it came back, ‘then ask a question worth answering. You have a deep need, ask about that?’ With those last words Raymond felt a rush of emotion surrounded him and weigh heavy on his body. Then again, he heard, ‘ask about that?’

Raymond was all too familiar with overwhelming emotions. Most of his life he had periods of depression. It depended on how his life was going at the time. Big disappointments, deaths of significant people, or breakups could send Raymond into month long depressions. Recently, after the death of Raymond’s beloved wife, Diane, Raymond has been lost in sorrow. He has been locked in his bedroom, sleeping 20 hours per day and barely eating enough to stay alive. If it wasn’t for Raymond’s brother, Jonathan, who supplied the food and forced Raymond to clean himself, there was serious concern Raymond would not survive.

Raymond started to slide back under the covers, as the man spoke, ‘what is your question?’ With the covers over his head Raymond mumbled, ‘there is no question. I’m depressed, and I know why? That’s it, all of it?’ ‘Not even close to all of it. Yes, you no longer have an important partner near you, but death is meant as a cathartic experience for the survivors. It releases the bond and prepares you for the future. An emotional, mind/body release that is a healing from loss. You are meant to move forward and create new bonds.’ The man continued.

Raymond pulled back the covers, ‘you expect me to forget and discard the most amazing person on this planet. My wife was an angel and she deserves my unflinching dedication. She will never be forgotten and I will make certain of that.’ The man responds, ‘you are showing your unflinching dedication by staying under the covers forever. And also sacrificing your own life.’ Raymond paused then barked, ‘I’m not going to be in bed forever. . . . But I don’t know what else to do.’ Raymond started sobbing. The man waited for Raymond to cry himself out, then spoke. ‘Heal, that’s what you do. Now you are holding on to the pain of your wife’s loss thinking that is her. And you think if you release the pain you will lose her forever. That’s how to stay in pain and make sorrow her legacy. Instead, hold on to her wonderful memories and the feelings that you two shared, make that forever.

This again started Raymond sobbing deeper. Just as he was wiping away the last tears, he heard, ‘hi, honey, I need to speak with you.’ Raymond immediately recognized the voice; it was his wife’s voice now in his head. Raymond jerked the covers back. There in the overstuffed chair was his wife. He smiled with joy; he had remembered seeing her sit just like that so many times. Raymond started to jump up but she stopped him. ‘We can’t touch, please stay in bed or I have to leave.’ Raymond sat back in bed. She continued ‘romance, we shared a very romantic life. We were so compatible and romance was easy for us. Romantic lies in truth. We vowed to never leave each other, which is impossible to guarantee. We vowed to protect each other from harm, also impossible. We vowed to never hurt each other in anyway, again impossible. Vows destined to fail. Raymond every love relationship ends in pain and sorrow. Even long-lasting loves like ours. One will leave first and the other will mourn. But mourning is temporary if you let it. And that is healthy. Then you take forward into the world the product of our shared love and make it better.

Raymond listened intently with tears streaming down his face. He noticed in his wife’s lap a photo album. It was the album they worked weeks on. They took their favorite photos and created a beautiful display of memories. Raymond’s wife smiled at Raymond and finished, ‘Raymond, I’m in here,’ as she pointed to the photo album, ‘and you are out there. Please heal my love.’ And with her last words her form in the chair became smoke-like and blew into the photo book. There on the chair set the photo album alone. Raymond wiped his face and sat in bed recalling his strange morning. Slowly he noticed he was hungry and put on fresh clothes and walked to the kitchen to search the refrigerator. Peace