Mike is a long-time supporter of procrastination and enjoys doing as often as he can.
The teddy bear fell to the ground. Everywhere there was screaming and panic. The bear was white with blue glass eyes, a bright yellow bow, and blood-spattered across its face. Janet sat on the ground staring at the fallen bear, her body vibrating with the sounds of her own screaming. The noise all around her was fading in and out. The sun was shining on what might have been a beautiful day. Janet looked to the sun, hoping it would blind her, hoping it would take this memory away and end her pain. The sun faded, but the memory remained. Off in the distance, she could hear a buzzing sound.
Janet woke up and turned off the alarm. It was another day, just like every other day in her new life. She got out of bed, made her way to her bathroom, and did her daily necessities. She stepped out of the shower and looked to the fogged mirror. She walked past, leaving the steam and fog. She didn’t want to see herself clean. Janet ignored the gray showing in her sandy-blonde hair and the lines of age on her face. She kept her hair long and easy to manage and no makeup letting vanity be a thing of the past. She was still a beautiful woman and maybe even more so with her age and experience. Her bedroom was all a neutral beige with no pictures or signs that anyone lived in the room. She removed all color from her life, all that would remind her of her life long before that day. She dressed in her beige slacks and white top with matching beige heels. The day was going to be warm, so she left her jacket behind.
The smell of the sea air was as it was on that day, salty and clean. Janet walked past the place where it happened, trying not to stop and stare at the stain. Although the stain was washed away long ago, she could still see it on the boardwalk, and feel it in her heart. She unlocked the door to her shop and left it unlocked. While they didn’t open for about an hour, they would always take in any customer showing up early. Unlike the rest of her life, the flower shop was filled with color and life. The scent of a hundred different flowers formed a familiar perfume that helped Janet get out of her morning funk better than any cup of coffee. She nodded to her employees and put on her apron and false smile, hoping no one knew how she felt.
When the day was over, Janet closed the shop and went home. The restaurant where it happened was now open and filled with the same life and energy as that day. Janet wanted to scream for the noise to stop; she wanted them all to know why it was wrong to be where it happened. She walked the three blocks to her second-story walk-up apartment. Inside, Janet untucked her shirt and slipped out of her shoes. She made a cup of herbal tea, drinking it while eating a simple meal of boiled chicken and rice. When the normal nightly activities of bill paying and dishwashing were done, Janet sat next to a light on her couch and read a book. The book was the same one she read every night since that day. It was George’s favorite book. He wrote it back when they were just newly married, and it made him a literary star. Reading his words made her feel closer to him in a way she thought she would never be again.
Janet changed into her beige pajamas and slipped into bed. She knew the dream was coming and, in a way, looked forward to seeing them again no matter how sad. A young girl slipped into her bed. Janet looked over and saw her daughter Anne. Janet lifted her arm letting Anne get closer. She was in her blue pajamas from the Disney movie Frozen. Anne had her mother’s hair and her father's deep-blue eyes. She kept her hair tied back and with her fair skin looked older than her six years. Janet looked at her daughter hoping this would never end, hoping she could dream this dream just a bit longer. She hoped the last six years were the dream, and her daughter was there next to her.
They were at the restaurant celebrating the opening of her new shop. Anne had her teddy bear she called Mr. Fitz named for a character George made up in one of their many private bedtime stories. They wrote those stories in their heads with a new one every night. Janet was smiling as Anne’s expression went from happy to surprise. George screamed, “stop.” A woman who thought George’s books where messages to her walked up with a gun. A waiter saw the woman and tackled her just as the gun went off. Janet looked over and saw Anne with an expressionless stare. Anne dropped the teddy bear and fell out of her seat. All Janet could hear was screaming. The screaming was her own. The woman with the gun screamed about how George was trying to control her mind.
Her phone rang, waking her out of the nightmare. She heard his familiar cadence in his question, “are you alright?” After the funeral and the media, Janet said she could never see him again. She could only see her in his eyes. Somehow George always knew when to call her. They would spend hours on the phone, not talking, just being there without being in the same room. After a long while, George said he dreamt of the day when they went to Coney Island, and Anne had her first piece of taffy, causing her to lose her first tooth. George kept talking about all the memories of Anne while staying away from that day. Janet lay in bed, crying. Remembering all the days he spoke of, wishing he would stop and, most of all, wishing they were all together as a family again. On her phone was a picture of Anne the way she was six years ago. The avatar of a six-year-old girl that would never age.