“You have a choice.”
I stared blankly at the woman in front of me, as if she was speaking an alien language. I was still in shock, I guess.
We were heading home from our weekly date night and I was laughing too hard at his jokes again. I didn’t even see the truck coming. Oh John, I thought. I’m so sorry.
“Is-is he…?” I reflected that she might not have known what I was talking about but she just smiled grimly at me.
“Physically, he will be,” she said, flatly. “Emotionally, mentally? That I’m not so sure about.” She paused, like she wasn’t sure if she should go on. “He loved – loves you. Too much, I daresay.”
I smiled sadly at her. “I always knew he did.” I shook my head as if to clear it. “Can I see him?”
She smiled that grim smile again. “That, my dear, is where your choice comes in.”
“What do you mean? What choice?” I asked, confused.
“You love him, yes?”
I nodded fiercely. “With all my heart.”
She laughed, shaking her head. “And there’s the lie,” she said, as if she expected me to say that. “That’s what you always told him – and yourself – but you know, deep down, that it’s a lie.”
I stared blankly at her. “No, that’s not–“
“Let’s not lie to each other, dear,” she said, cutting me off. “You loved him, oh yes, very much – but you always saved just a little part – maybe the tiniest bit – for someone else.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, annoyed. “I love him. And only him.”
“Really, now?” she said, clearly disbelieving me. “Then who is this?” She waved her hand in the air and an image slowly formed beside her.
I took a step back, shocked and speechless.
He was handsome, just as I knew him. Black hair, that sarcastic yet somehow charming smile, skin just a little bit lighter than mine. He looked at me and our eyes met.
Damn this woman. And damn him too.
I stared at the man, still not speaking. I took a step toward him, my mouth opening though I still didn’t know what I would say.
The woman put up her hand and I stopped moving. “He’s not real, dear,” she said softly as she waved her hand over him and he disappeared.
My eyes flitted from the woman’s face to the place where he just disappeared. I cleared my throat. “You’re right.”
The woman laughed again. “Of course I am, dear,” she said, lightly.
“You were saying something about a choice?” I said, annoyed.
She nodded and smiled knowingly at me. “Ah yes, the choice,” she said, her voice becoming somewhat business-like. “I’m very interested in how you will decide, my dear.”
I waved my hand at her, urging her to go on.
“You see, all of us, no matter how happy we are in our relationships, no matter how long you’ve been together – we all have a what if,” she stated plainly. “What if I did this? What if I went there? What if I chose him?”
I nodded silently, resenting her for proving me wrong. I knew I loved John. I didn’t appreciate being reminded of him and how I always felt that if he had given me a chance, I would have taken it.
She smiled at me again as if she knew what I was thinking. “Well my dear, yours, as I’ve proven, is him,” she said, amused. “The question is who will you come back to?”
I scrunched my eyebrows, confused. “Come back to? Aren’t I dead?”
“Oh my dear, did I forget to tell you?” she asked, laughing. “No, you’re not. You’re – hmm, how do I put this? – let’s just say you’re…almost there, but not quite.”
I opened my mouth and closed it again, waiting for her to continue.
“Here’s the deal. You have a month to decide who you’re coming home to,” she repeated. “I’m giving you what he never gave you. A chance to be with him – you know, see what it’s like, find out if it’s everything you ever dreamed of, if it’s just like you imagined it would be, blah blah blah. After thirty days, you have to decide where you’re gonna be for the rest of what remains of your life.”
“A month?” I asked, my voice shaking. “How is thirty days enough to decide who I would spend my life with?”
She shook her head, smiling. “Well, it took you that long to decide on John. Why should he be any different?”
I looked away, gritting my teeth. “So what happens after thirty days?” I asked quietly. “Do I just call you and tell you who I pick?”
The woman snorted as she waved her hand. She caught the cellphone that appeared out of thin air. “Agreed. After thirty days, call me with your choice.”