Dead Awake

“I wake up and I’m dead. Not sure how, really, but I know that I am.”

I wake up and I’m dead. Not sure how, really, but I know that I am. I walk out my room and peer into my sister’s bedroom beside it. She’s gone. It’s probably a school day. She has to finish senior year — I’ll never see her graduate.

Millie rests on the floor of our formal dining room. I reach down to pet her, but she growls and barks at me. I start at this—she never barked at me when I was alive. The pictures of me on the display case in the room have been turned down, so I guess I’ve been dead for a while. I wonder if they’ve had the funeral yet. I hope it was good. All that money Mom was raising for my wedding had to go towards something, I guess.

I enter the kitchen. Instinctively, I head for the cabinets to see what cereals we’ve got. Peering in, I laugh because I’m fairly sure I can’t eat or even feel hunger (dying kills the need for that sort of thing).

I notice our stock of fiber-rich cardboard-esque cereal is exactly the same as when I last checked. The fact that no one in your family will eat the cereal your mom picks out — that’s one thing you can count on, besides taxes of course, and, well, you know. It’s a middle-aged woman sort of thing.

I give up looking for food and decide to check the computer, see what people are writing on my Facebook Wall. I’m hoping to see posts from people I’d only spoken to once while living, but the computer won’t turn on, and the keys don’t press when I try and type. Shrugging, I give up and resign this to a caveat of death. I didn’t sign up for this, but I guess no one really does.

I wonder if my parents are home. I always worried about waking them up when I came into the kitchen at night because their room is right next to it, so I gently push their door open.

They’re sleeping. I’ve never seen their room in such disarray — with drawers open, clothes hanging out of them, pooled on the floor. The mail sits in a pile on the floor, at the foot of their bed. I see my bills on the top. I frown—my mom always pays bills the day we get them.

I tiptoe up to her side of the bed and nudge her. “Mom? Mama?” I whisper as she stirs and mutters something.

“Mama, wake up,” I say. I find it hard to stop myself from crying as I see how dirty her nightgown is. It looks like she hasn’t washed it in weeks.

“What is it, Grace,” she murmurs, calling me by my sister’s name. I shake my head.
“No, Mama, it’s Beth,” I say. My voice quivers.

She sits up, frowns, and squints at me. “No—no, you’re not, Beth is—”

“Mommy, it’s me! It’s Beth!” I try to keep from yelling, but my Dad still wakes up with a start. “I need to tell you—”

“What is it, Paula?” he whispers, and then he sees me. “What—who are you?”

“I’m Beth, Daddy, I’m your daughter!” The tears are falling fast now, there’s no stopping them.

He stares at me and shakes his head slowly. “Beth is dead—she died, you’re not our daughter, we’re imagining you—”

“No, I’m real! I’m really here, just listen—“

“You’re lying to us!”

“Daddy, would you just listen to me, I’m telling you it’s okay, that you can move on!” I sob, fall to my knees. I just want them to understand.

“Get out of here, you’re not Beth—”

My dad screams. My mom is cries. I just want them to be okay. I just want them to understand.

  • Haley Erin Seale

    This was wonderful. The concept was creative and it was beautifully written.