Postcards from a Dead Girl

BOOK: Postcards from a Dead Girl
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Postcards from a Dead Girl

A Novel

Kirk Farber

for
Kelly

Contents

Chapter 1

The postcard is everything, but looks like nothing. An inconsequential…

Chapter 2

I call my sister, Natalie, and tell her about my…

Chapter 3

Gerald the Post Office Guy is an affable man. He's…

Chapter 4

Zoe was needy. She needed to be entertained and she…

Chapter 5

“How would you like to be making double what you're…

Chapter 6

The next day is like the day before. Phones ring.

Chapter 7

My dog, Zero, and I are in the living room,…

Chapter 8

I decide to give Gerald the Post Office Guy another…

Chapter 9

At the time of my father's death, my family lived…

Chapter 10

I'm doing it again, the car-wash thing. It's raining hard…

Chapter 11

There was a time after Mom died and before Natalie…

Chapter 12

The postcard I receive next has a photo of a…

Chapter 13

When I finally find Sunny Smiles, I'm not smiling and…

Chapter 14

Back home, Zero is not impressed with my travels. I…

Chapter 15

They keep telling me it's almost over.

Chapter 16

“You forgot all about me,” a voice cries.

Chapter 17

I cup my hand over the phone and hope Nat…

Chapter 18

First, it's the yelling. The man behind the double-thick glass…

Chapter 19

Inside the phone booth it smells like soup. I'm afraid…

Chapter 20

My feet are tired and my body achy from all…

Chapter 21

I'm not loud and I'm not rude, so I don't…

Chapter 22

In my hotel room, I turn on the television and…

Chapter 23

Barcelona is brighter than I imagined. So much sun, it's…

Chapter 24

My vision and hearing are officially gone. All I can…

Chapter 25

Rotating the channels on my hotel television allows me to…

Chapter 26

Screaming in the middle of the night can draw attention.

Chapter 27

I've read that in Haiti, magic is a part of…

Chapter 28

This image is stuck in my mind: a glorious bloom…

Chapter 29

The basement feels exceptionally musty tonight. Maybe it's just my…

Chapter 30

“Exhaustion,” Dr. Singh says, avoiding eye contact. He dots i's on…

Chapter 31

The thing with Candyce wasn't entirely my fault. The whole…

Chapter 32

Candyce is actually quite attractive. Aside from the blue streak…

Chapter 33

Wanderlust Incorporated is busy today. The office noises blend together…

Chapter 34

I know I shouldn't, but the credit card companies keep…

Chapter 35

My cell phone vibrates just as Gazelle has completely encased…

Chapter 36

The voice isn't familiar, but the number is. It's the…

Chapter 37

The next morning, I am restless. I stand before the…

Chapter 38

“Do you know where you are?” the voice asked. I…

Chapter 39

The four bars on my phone are holding steady, finally,…

Chapter 40

The lilac bushes were in the back, a long line…

Chapter 41

The orchestra music stops abruptly, followed by a few seconds…

Chapter 42

I watch the tanks to keep my mind off the…

Chapter 43

The Vicodin I've been prescribed has left me feeling soft…

Chapter 44

Sit and breathe. This is what we do on top…

Chapter 45

Back home, I sit on my front porch and stare…

Chapter 46

Dream interpretation has never made sense to me, but Candyce…

Chapter 47

I sit straight up in bed, shocked into reality, awakened…

Chapter 48

Since it's the weekend, I sleep until noon. I throw…

Chapter 49

Maybe it's our mutual appreciation of peace and quiet, or…

Chapter 50

I drag myself through Monday's standard promotion at Wanderlust, and…

Chapter 51

So, another postcard. Illegible for the most part, leaving me…

Chapter 52

The first three hit right on target. Three small stones,…

Chapter 53

The monotony of everything about this place is driving me…

Chapter 54

When the soil slides between your toes, when you feel…

Chapter 55

I am in a celebratory mood. My clean CAT-scan results…

Chapter 56

I know there will be bruises on my waist the…

Chapter 57

The Randomizer picks a number and I wait for someone…

Chapter 58

“What's the big deal?” Natalie asks. “It's a phone call.

Chapter 59

Today I wouldn't mind if a postcard arrived from Tokyo.

Chapter 60

A pair of female bronze legs walk toward me, their…

Chapter 61

The boy doctor who recently gave me stitches now has…

Chapter 62

It was summer when Zoe and I moved in together.

Chapter 63

Melanie and I agree to meet at The Basement; it's…

Chapter 64

In my dreams, Melanie and I ride a Jet Ski…

Chapter 65

We're here again, together, sitting in a restaurant across from…

Chapter 66

Driving clears my head—the movement, the white noise, the tangible…

Chapter 67

I get out of my car and take a few…

Chapter 68

As I pull in my driveway, I am exhausted. Opening…

Chapter 69

The smell of earth is all around me. Slowly, I…

Chapter 70

There is a Zen-like state achieved through having a clean…

Chapter 71

That night I dream of beaches. Tropical landscapes with coconuts…

Chapter 72

The airline business should call red-eye flights dark-purple. My eyes…

 

The postcard is everything, but looks like nothing. An inconsequential sheet of pressed pulp decorated with a few drops of ink, it barely exists in the physical realm. But this one has got hold of something inside me that feels like forever. I follow the looping lines that make up Zoe's penmanship, the soaring arcs and inky swirls. I try to understand the true implications of her words, the hidden message behind the surface one. What a ridiculous phrase: wish you were here.

My throat starts to burn because I'm getting upset. My head feels hollow. Tiny white spots float in my field of vision. I know this means that the lilac thing is about to happen again, and sure enough, it follows like always—a sweet scent floating through the room, a palpable sense of time blurring. My vision and movement go syrupy in a moment of wooziness, as if the universe has slowed everything down so I'll pay attention. But my hearing remains crystal-clear.

I'm sitting on my living room couch, so what I hear is the TV—
Messages from the Other Side
, I think is the show. John the TV psychic says someone is coming through, an old woman named Wilkins, and she needs to talk to a J name. He follows with specific
facts: Grandma Wilkins liked to make pasta in the kitchen and spread it out all over the house to dry; she was a closet smoker; on her left breast she had a rose tattoo that her high school boyfriend had convinced her to get.

Nobody else could have possibly known these things.

The family member in the audience, her heart clenched, nods and cries, then can't hold it back anymore and yells out, “Yes! That's Grandma Rose!” in such a genuine outpouring of grief and hope and joy and hurt that it's all too clear she is not an actress, and this is not a feigned reality TV show. Somehow, inexplicably, this is the real deal.

So sincere is her reaction that I realize I'm crying too, and it's caught me off guard. I mean, I don't even know Grandma Rose. And the damn lilac scent keeps tickling my nose and I can't stop the tears even if I want to, and I don't.

Then it stops. Time returns to its normal pace and the smell is gone. A commercial for macaroni and cheese flickers on TV. I feel dizzy and anxious, like I've just missed something. I wait for more, but the weird moment is gone.

My fingertips vice-grip Zoe's latest postcard. This one's supposedly from Barcelona. “Dear Sid, I'm having a wonderful time!” it says in frilly writing. And underneath those words, that awful cliché: “Wish you were here!”

“Wish I was where?” I ask the postcard. “Where the hell are you?” I whip the card across the room, Frisbee-style, but it tips up, does a loop, and floats unharmed to the ground.

John the TV psychic returns to relay communications of forgiveness and healing to the family member in the audience, who has now recovered from her crying spell. I'm not crying anymore either, but I'm not feeling consoled. I'm wishing that just once the psychic would make contact with a malevolent spirit who
is still pissed at the living, who has only messages of doom and foreboding.

That's what I feel like lately, a spirit. I find myself staring at the walls a lot, like a zombie. I know I'm doing it, but there doesn't seem to be a proper alternative. When I'm not staring, I'm throwing things. I'm a thrower. Coffee cups. Chairs. Inanimate objects that may have wronged me. Things that get in my way.

My mother was a kicker. If the cat got in her way, she would kick it out of the way. I caught her once, doing this kicking, and stared at her, horror-stricken. “I didn't kick it,” she pointed out. “I moved it.” I guess that made Mom a mover. I'm a thrower.

I call my sister, Natalie, and tell her about my experience. She's a physician. I don't tell her everything. I tell her I think I'm catching a cold and that my head slowed down, got kind of gummy.

“Sounds like fever symptoms. I wouldn't worry about it, Sid,” she says.

“You're sure.”

“Get more sleep, drink more fluids, ride it out.”

There's something else, I tell her.

“Besides the fever?”

“Yeah. I sort of smelled something.”

“What do you mean?”

“It was sort of flowery.” I deliberately choose not to mention that it was lilac. “It was really strong, then gone.”

This makes her pause.

“What?” I ask. She should know by now not to be quiet for too long when I'm waiting for a diagnosis.

“Has this happened often?”

“Once or twice.”

She makes a clicking noise with her tongue. “It might be good to
get you in for a CAT scan, Sid. Sudden, strong smells can be associated with brain problems. Not to scare you, but just to be safe.”

“You mean like tumors?”

“Not necessarily.”

“You think I have a tumor.”

“I didn't say that.”

“I'm the walking dead is what you're saying.”

“Forget the CAT scan. Just call me if it happens again.”

“A zombie,” I say under my breath.

“You're fine, Sid. Probably just a fever.”

We say our good-byes. Natalie jokes that I'm a hypochondriac, but she's been less patient with me lately as she's expecting a baby and the first trimester kicked her in the ass. I guess she can comfort only so many needy souls. Ever since Mom and Dad died, she's played an unspoken parent role, but with her own little parasite slowly sucking the life force out of her, she doesn't need me calling so often.

If I ever told her that Zoe was sending me a steady stream of postcards from the other side, I'm sure she would have me committed.

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