I’m always there. Nobody can see me, but I’m always watching. I watch over her, scanning all of her movements. Feeling every breath, since I cannot take any of my own. I feel every movement she makes as if it were my own. I promised I would always be with her. It was not a complete lie. Although she cannot see me, I am with her. I am the phantom.
When she wakes up in the morning, she rises in her pink pajamas I remember so well. She slips on her blue slippers and heads for the kitchen to prepare her morning cup of coffee. She turns on the television and drowns herself in mindless entertainment and coffee, letting her thoughts wash away before she heads to the office for another day of bland paperwork. After finishing her coffee, she heads back to her bedroom to get dressed into her work clothes. She opens the closet and stares at the clothes inside for a moment.
Half of the closet used to be mine, and my clothes were hung up neatly, untouched for years. I remembered picking out outfits each morning. She always helped me. I always wore dresses and skirts and scarves, all because of her. She thought I was beautiful, and I deserved the world. I did not think the same thing.
She took the train to work, as always. I watched her stare out the window, gazing at the red-pink sky as the sun peaked its way up from the Colorado mountains. There were bags underneath her eyes; she hadn’t bothered with makeup ever since the funeral. My funeral, years ago.
She arrived at work, punching in her number and going to her cubical. She did paperwork at a law firm in the city. She sat alone, never talking to anyone. However, today, a girl approached her. She talked to her. She was pretty, I will admit. Her blonde hair flowed down her back in a curly spiral. Her gray work outfit complimented her pale blue eyes. My wife, however, was the opposite. She had short brown hair and beautiful almond-colored eyes. The new girl was blonde and elegant, while my girl was dark and mysterious. Just the way I loved her.
“Hi,” the blonde girl said with a cheery, chirpy, voice. “my name is Jisela. What’s yours?”
My wife, not looking up from her papers, replied, “My name is Katherine. What do you want.”
The girl, not losing her cheerful spirit, said, “I just wanted to talk to you. You seem nice, and I’ve only been here a few days and noticed you never really talk to anyone. I just wanted to make some friends, you know?”
Katherine looked at the girl finally, examining her up and down. I thought nothing of this until I saw something. She, for the first time in years, smiled at the sight of this girl. Jealousy coursed through my veins as Jisela continued to talk. They had a small conversation at Katherine’s desk. An introduction that went a little too well.
“Well, I should get back to work,” Jisela said, turning to walk away.
“Wait,” Katherine said, making Jisela turn around to face her again. “Here’s my number. We should meet up for dinner tonight or something."
Jisela smiled and took the small scrap of paper Katherine had written her number on out of her hand. They smiled at each other before returning to her work. Jisela walked away after a while.
I had mixed feeling about the entire situation. It had been years since I died. I looked at the date atop one of the papers Katherine was working on. I had died three years ago, on this exact date. On this date, my wife Katherine had a date. Three years after I died, she was now moving on, and I wasn’t sure how to feel. I was happy she was moving on, but regret filled me as I thought about my death.
I was on my way to a small diner. Katherine and I always loved that place. We met up there some nights after work so we could eat and chat. That was the place we had our first date. The place I proposed to her. The place I was destined to die on my way to. It was a drunk driver that crashed into me. He swerved and hit me, head-on. I had my seatbelt on, but the glass from the windshield shattered and hit me. I died on impact.
I remember watching from then on. Watching Katherine through everything she did. Wishing I could hold her, and be with her once more. I wish I could go back and prevent what happened, but you only get one shot at life. A shot that was ripped away from me in an instant.
After work, Katherine returned home. She had been texting during her train ride. Texting Jisela about their upcoming date, probably. Every time she looked at her phone, she smiled. I was jealous, but I was also proven right. She didn’t love me anymore.
She arrived home. She got out of her work clothes and looked in her closet. On a normal day after work, she’d change back into pajamas and lounge around the house. However, this was no normal day for her. She had a date for the first time in years.
She looked in the closet. She peered at my side of the closet and then started going through it. She was looking at my clothing for an outfit for a date with her new girl. Her rebound. She’d forgotten about me in an instant.
She finally picked my second-favorite purple dress; I had been buried in my first-favorite one. She also picked out my pair of blue heels that I wore almost every day.
How could she suddenly make a comeback after years of sorrow? I thought, thinking about Jisela. Then, I realized something. I realized the real reason why she liked her so much. She looks like me.
I had a flashback to me looking in the mirror when I was alive. I remember combing through my soft, blonde hair that reached to the middle of my back. I remembered looking at my pale blue eyes in the mirror, looking for the specs of gold in them. I remembered how short I was in comparison to Katherine. It all added up, except for the personality.
In comparison to Jisela, I was more reserved. I would never approach anyone for a conversation. I would not trust anyone I wasn’t friends with. I defiantly would never go on a date with a stranger. Katherine and I were friends for a year before we started dating. It was worth the wait.
As Katherine left for her date, I got scared. I thought she’d forget all about me. Katherine took our car to a familiar location. To the very diner I died on my way to. My heart, although it no longer beats, sank in my chest. She really has forgotten about me.
I watched them. I watched them together, talking, laughing. They sat on opposite sides of the booth, but they held hands underneath the table. Although I couldn’t cry, I wanted to. Katherine doesn’t love me. Then I realized why I was jealous. Katherine has the chance to move on. I don’t. On the third anniversary of my death, she moved on. There’s nothing I can do about it. I am a phantom, forced to watch the love of my life fall for another. Forced to rest in my misery for an eternity.