“Waiting On the Other Side, 5”

by Brianna G. Harte

As I came back to myself, a breeze freshened my soul just a little. The feeling left behind was warm and comforting, though not entirely satisfying. It awakened curiosity. What happened afterwards? How did I sustain bruises evident on my still form upon the simple plastic beds? A smile peeking onto my face for a few seconds disappeared as another question creeped into my heart.

“Jess? Where’s Harrison?”

My sister wouldn’t lift her head.

Out of frustration, I moved to face her. My hands reached out to her shoulders. For a mere fraction of a second, it was as though they made contact. No fingers passed through at that moment and, while perhaps unrelated, Jess gasped. Promptly, my hand disappeared beneath her body. I recoiled in horror, melting into an empty sorrow while I hugged myself.

“Please, Jess! Hear me!” Once I noticed Jess’ indifference, my head bent downward. “Alright then.” I was an adult, one with a sweet little boy. And I wished I could cry. Arms stretched wide, I slowly gave a hug. I stopped short of truly reaching her. It would be far too painful to go through. In that moment, a warm spark ran from my chest to my fingertips. Releasing myself from Jess, I backed away without touching the floor.

“Take care.”

With that, I disappeared through the walls of the emergency room. A parking lot greeted me, and just beyond it, so did a field of grass dotted with color. They came into view as I shifted forward, transforming into fallen leaves. An image of a large pile of them, taller than my boy, came to mind. A rake would be propped against one of the nearly barren trees. A youthful laughter echoed. Despite the emptiness hollowing me out from the inside, I still willed to hear a child. I shook my head at the thought. Still, I could not help myself imagining days when I would clear the yard and Harrison would crash into it, exploding with pure joy. Another laugh, light and cheery, pierced through the silence. This time, I was fairly certain it was real.

“Harrison?”

I began to rush toward the sound.

I flew like the wind, rushing through the forest, nothing to stop me. “Harrison!”

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

“Waiting On the Other Side, 4”

by Brianna G. Harte

A stream of tears crawled down her face, dampening the floor. She seemed so fragile. Gazing at her led my eyes to white poppy beside a picture frame. In it stood the woman bent over in front of me, a little boy, and myself. At that moment, I realized that I started to forget what he looked like and indeed what anyone I knew looked like. But a memory sparked.

“Thanks for stopping by, Jess,” I had said, smiling in relief at the woman with soft blonde hair pulled messily into a bun. “Harrison’s growing up so much, and with the job and with Ralph’s temperament . . .”

She put a hand on my shoulder and nodded. “I know. And it’s good to see you two anyway. You don’t have me over often at all these days. I’ve missed my little nephew and his endless quests to dig to the bottom of the sandpits.”

At the moment, the little boy was running around, throwing around toys across the green yard, however hard it was. Joy seemed to be a part of him.

“I keep trying to bring him to the playgrounds to be with other kids, but it’s just been far too difficult. This, our family, it’s also getting dangerous. His father’s work has been so stressful, with the risk of losing the job for so long. It seems that he’s been resorting to drinking rather than spending time with me or Harrison. And, well, it’s rather scary. The more he drinks, the worse he acts.”

Jess’ eyebrows curled upward. “What does he do? Are you alright?”

“It’s complicated. I don’t blame him as much as I do the alcohol. If only he would sober up. Maybe we could be happy again.”

“Sue, tell me.” Jess said, a series gaze following out from her eyes. “Has he hurt you?”

I turned away, watching Harrison laugh as he fell over. I wished I could laugh again.

Jess bent her head down. “I’m worried about you.”

“Don’t be.” I forced a laugh, which quickly turned into a somber sigh. “But, if you could, maybe…”

“What?”

“Could you possibly take in Harrison?” My lips quivered. “I don’t want to see him get hurt if Ralph accidentally does something he might regret. Maybe I can try to help him get off of his alcoholism. Since withdrawal tends to be bad, well, I’d just rather keep my little boy safe.”

“I’d be happy to take him in, but don’t you want to come too? I have room in my apartment, and I would not want to abandon my sister,” she told me, looking straight at me.

I shook my head. “I want to help Ralph. He was a good man. I want to see that side of him again. I just can’t have Harrison get hurt.”

Jess nodded. “Alright. Just keep me in mind, alright? I love you. Be strong.” She called out to my son, “Harrison! Come gather your toys please! We’re going for a ride.”

Biting my lip, tears began to come down my face. “Do… do you need help with a bed?”

“I have sleeping bags that Harrison can use until I can get a mattress, that is, if you want me to take him now.”

I held my breath. “That should be fine. Today would be great, if you could. I’ll let you know when things get better so that he can finally see his father happy again.”

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

“Waiting On the Other Side, 3”

by Brianna G. Harte

I turned away, wishing to erase his words from my mind. I wished that his words did not strike me. My little boy . . .

“You don’t know me,” I murmured. “Maybe I have gotten a little banged up before I came to the hospital, but I’m still here.”

The man sighed, carefully placing the mirror upon the small, thinly clothed bed encased in plastic. A hand hovered over toward a hard plastic cylinder standing upon a side table of oak and stopped. “You know, I’ve been denying that I’ve had a problem for six years. Kept on telling myself that everything was fine. But you know what? Trying to ignore the fact that I was hearing voices, that when I was in a shipyard, I saw a girl shimmering in the sunset. They were harmless, after all. This wasn’t always the case. I was beginning to get confused on what was real and what wasn’t. Conversations I had with relatives would be curtailed because I was convinced that something else was there. Eventually, family took me to the hospital. Turned out I was schizophrenic. They’ve been watching me constantly so that I wouldn’t do something I would regret. You know, I think we all have to face the reality sometime. What do you say?”

The man extended his veiny, strong hand out to me. A calm, weary face looked at me. The story must have drained him, to recount what had to happen all over again.

I sighed and brought forth my own hand, frail in comparison to his. As soon as I touched it, every bit of me shuddered, starting from my hand which disappeared beneath his own. Only the back of my hand onward could be seen. The man’s own seemed fairly solid. Mine, well it was as though it had become air. As I withdrew, I could not feel his hand at all.

With a hand upon my forehead, I backed up against a wall. Pain could not take residence within my brain. And yet, emptiness could.

“Now you see?” The man’s voice was so calm, and yet, I began to panic.

“If I’m dead, oh no. Oh goodness. What if he went after . . .?” I couldn’t finish.

Shortly after, I fell straight through the wall. Again, a shock ran throughout my frame. I had to ignore it. Eyes wide, fear struck. I began to run through the wall out into the hallway toward where I laid down before. Every ounce of me quivered, from passing through countless people or from what I hoped not to find, I could not tell. The hallways blurred. I only halted when I reached the emergency room. All but two beds were full. A couple children were amongst those looking either rather bored or nervous. Relief washed away worry slowly upon realizing that my little boy did not join them.

Turning toward my own bed forced me backward. A lifeless body in a white blouse doused in crimson originating at the stomach lay there. Bruises collected at the neck and face. Dried and tangled strawberry blonde hair fell across the thin pillow holding up a head to never move again. A living woman in dark jeans, a pink shirt beneath a maroon jacket and bright scarf sat by the bed. Her hair, while held in a neat bun, matched my own. Hands buried her face. I wanted to hug her, to tell her I was fine. But no. As far as I knew, she would never hear me again.

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

“Waiting On The Other Side, 2”

by Brianna G. Harte

“Tell you in a second, but I must close this door first.” He hobbled over, not waiting for me to close it as I entered the small, simple room. A gentle thud followed. “Ah, so you’re asking about family. Wish I knew where mine was. They’re long gone I bet.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I sympathized. “But have you seen my little boy? I don’t know if he’s visiting me since I came to the hospital. I hope he’s alright.”

The man chuckled softly.

“What is so funny, sir?”

“How’s your little one going to see you?”

“Well, I would imagine my sister would bring him at some point. Certainly not my husband, since he’s the reason why I’m here in the first place.”

The man adjusted the bed he lay upon so that he sat up straighter. “Hearing you say that, I would assume that he is alive.”

“Why wouldn’t he be?” A breath stuck in my throat. “He’s not . . . my husband didn’t . . .”

“Calm down, dear. I don’t know your family. Frankly, I hardly know anyone. The fact of the matter is that your sister may not be able to see you. Neither will your son.”

“It’s not like I’m in this wing of the hospital,” I said confidently. “I just wanted to know where my family was.”

The man sighed. “Come here. Take a look in this mirror. My wife gave it to me last time she visited.”

A strange request, but I obliged. “It looks beautiful. Not a scratch on it.”

“Is that all you see?”

“Yes, but . . .” Then, it struck me. It was all I could see. Why wasn’t I in it? “Are you some sort of magician? That is an incredible trick.”

The bed creaked as the old man shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t. I suppose you don’t understand. As much as I would like to not say this, you aren’t alive anymore.”

My eyes grew wide. “What do you mean, I’m not alive? Of course I am! I was in my hospital bed a few minutes ago! A photo of my family that my sister left me was at the bedside! This is a cruel joke, sir.”

“I’m not joking, dear. As hard as it is to hear it, you’re a ghost. I’ve been able to tell the difference between hallucinations and ghosts for a little time now. You are certainly not the former,” he chuckled. “And you are certainly not alive. Otherwise, you would have been able to see yourself in this mirror or be heard by anyone else in this wing.”

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G Harte. All rights reserved.

“Waiting On the Other Side, 1”

by Brianna G. Harte

Gazing at my son for the first time in far too long, I could hardly hold myself back. While delighted that we could finally embrace, sorrow took residence in my face. He looked the same as he did all those years ago, besides the scars on his forehead and arms and the bruises on his neck. Even his clothes had not changed. Standing no higher than my waist, Harrison likely had still been just shy of turning eight. I wished for tears to roll down my face. I yearned for him to tell me he was alright. And yet, I could not deny the truth.

We were both gone to the world of the living, and he, he left far too soon.

I recalled the hospital when lights illuminated every corner and the offices ringing incessantly. Monitors lay to the side of the hallway. Bewildered was I when nurses ignored me, doctors rushing from room to room. Most doors closed off the patients from the halls filled with an inconsistent flow of people. Upon seeing a small child, my mind immediately flew to my own. I began to ask doctors where little Harrison was. None of them listened. I tried to ask nurses. No luck lay there either. Careful to avoid people, I walked briskly to another side of the hospital, hoping to see my husband in recovery. Perhaps he would know where our son was. I slipped through the area with a large sign laying overhead “Mentally Ill”.

The wing was far smaller than the other, with perhaps twenty rooms at most close together with far fewer objects lying about. As a nurse entered a room, a glimpse of a man strapped to his bed caught my eye. I wondered if, when relieved of the horrid feelings that may have plagued his mind, he would be able to walk as I could. A young woman in her thirties or forties paced across the tile floors. Aside from the loose, one-piece smock she had to wear, she seemed normal. Her blonde straight hair draped over her shoulders and back, making her seem rather washed out.

“Excuse me, but have you seen a tall man with a dark scruffy beard, somewhat muscular stature, and deep tan skin?”

She did not respond, continuing on her way.

“Well then, have you seen a little boy about seven? He’s got light brown hair like me, blue eyes, and is about this tall,” I said, raising my hand up with the palm facing downward.

Still no response from her.

“Hey,” a voice came from a nearby room.

Leaving the young woman, I approached the door left ajar. Inside lay an old man also in one of the soft grey smocks that did him no justice. His face was worn and his grey hair nearly matched the clothes.

“What is it?” I asked. “Have you seen my husband or son?”

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G Harte. All rights reserved.

After not writing any stories for a while, I began to miss it. Thus, I began to write! Here’s the beginning to a story from the other side, branching off from another story I began not too long ago.