The View From Behing the Dead Girl's Eyes

November 19, 2008
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Elaine watched the scene unfold, a wetness gathered in her eyes, a wetness that she couldn’t really feel. Her father was in the garage, tinkering with a collection of antique car parts. His face was poised in concentration, like a craftsman building a miniature ship in a bottle. Once, when she was just a young girl, Elaine had gone with her father to a small museum beside a lake. A man there built those ships in bottles and there was a whole collection of them, each one built with care and so much time. The memory caused Elaine to wince, time was something she had very little of now.

Elaine’s mother was in the kitchen washing dishes by hand and listening to a country-music station. Elaine’s father had wanted to get them a dishwasher when they could finally afford it a few years ago, but her mother insisted that washing by hand comforted her. And it was what her own mother, Elaine’s grandmother, had had to do. It was tradition. Elaine smiled to herself, her mother was dancing with a soapy plate in one hand, and a soapy rag in the other. She looked so happy. Elaine used to love listening to country music with her when she was younger, but recently she had outgrown the car-ride sing-a-longs. How she longed for those moments now, for a chance to turn back the clock, to relive what she hadn’t held close enough to her heart while her heart still beat.

Elaine held her non-existence breath, a police car with it’s lights turned off had just parked in the next-door neighbors spot. Two men got out of the car, they were in uniform. From the looks of it though, they were in no hurry. Their faces were somber, closed off with the news that no parents ever wanted to receive. Elaine didn’t want to watch anymore, she had seen enough. And yet she was compelled to keep watching, like the mother of a convict watching her son’s own execution. The men approached the front door, the taller one whispered something in the other’s ear and then leaned down a bit to push the doorbell. At first, Elaine wasn’t sure if her mother had heard the noise over her radio, but then she paused and set down her wet rag, the music blared on.

Elaine had been sleeping over at her best friend Shelley’s house. She had told her parents that much, and it hadn’t been a lie. After a few slices of pizza and half an hour of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Shelley had gotten an idea. Her cousin was having a party an hour away, they could be there by ten. Shelley’s parents were out, they were never home actually, another secret that Elaine had kept from her own parents. But the party was supposed to be awesome, lots of people were coming from out of town. High school students, college boys, and a keg had been promised. Elaine and Shelley were only in ninth grade, old enough. Elaine wanted to believe that it had be a good idea at the time, but she knew, that even then it hadn’t been. The idea of driving ninety miles with Shelley at the wheel, who had only recently gotten her permit, to hang out with strangers drowning in booze, had not sounded like a good idea. Ever. But Elaine had decided not to pay any attention to logic, and so the scene continued.

The policemen had removed their hats, their hands were clasped neatly in front of them. Whoever opened the door would realized immediately that something was wrong, the policemen were no great shakes at acting. Elaine watched in frozen horror as her mother approached the front door, her hand rested firmly on the knob, she undid the key lock with her other, and pulled.

Elaine, mortified and even a little embarrassed, watched as the police told her mother, the one who had raised her from birth and nurtured her, showered her in kindness, that she, Elaine, was dead. Never coming home. If Elaine tried hard enough she could make out what they said, Mrs. Thomas, your daughter Elaine was in a car accident. We recovered her body, she passed away. We’re sorry. Sorry. Elaine almost laughed, but the situation did not call for a laugh. But really, how could the police feel sorry, they did not know Elaine or her mother or father. They probably didn’t even have kids of their own based upon how young they looked. Elaine watched as her mother collapsed against the doorframe. The policemen grabbed her mother by the shoulders and hoisted her up. Elaine watched as they disappeared into her house, gone from view, forever.





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