By Len Hazell
Amy woke up with the scream sticking in the back of her throat.
Instead, she whimpered almost tacitly and bit down hard on her lip.
She had been dreaming that she was in bed with David and that she could hear him snoring beside her, in that same soft, persistent irritating manner that he always did, before…
Then she had woken and heard it, in reality, beside her, soft, persistent irritating and for a moment she knew, she simply knew David had come back.
“You’re dead.” The words clambered weakly out of the back of her arid throat and floated like dust in to the morbid night air.
Andrew moved in his sleep, grunted and stopped snoring. He opened his bleary red eyes half way and gave her a lopsided, drool-ridden smile.
“Can’t sleep?” he croaked.
“Why were you doing that?” she demanded.
“Snoring like that?”
“I don’t snore.” He chuckled and turned his back on her, in moments he was silently asleep again.
Amy smoked a cigarette, her trembling fingers barely managing to manipulate the lighter and her gibbering lips tossing ash all over the bed.
“David is dead.” She assured herself, “I’m with Andrew now and David is dead. I know he is.”
She stubbed out the butt in the lead, crystal, bedroom ashtray and sank back in to the cool pillows.
Andrew snored again, David’s snore.
She threw herself out of bed without even thinking what it was she was doing, and collapsed, panting hard with her back against the plush wallpaper.
Small mewling noises escaped her glottis as she listened hard and her mind raced.
The first morning when she had caught Andrew parting his hair on the left and plastering it down with hair oil. She had demanded to know why and he had shrugged saying it suited him better, now he was a respectable married man.
Last week when he had arrived to breakfast sporting the beginnings of a Rhett Butler moustache and she had screamed at him to shave it off until he did.
The way he had started to use those aggravating little phrases like “that’s m’ girl” and “fine and dandy.”
And now this.
She began pushing herself backward across the carpet with her heels, heading for the bedroom door.
She had to face it, she knew she did, it was not possible but it was happening. David had come back; he was spiritually possessing Andrew, retaking his rightful place, and carrying on just as if nothing had happened.
Nevertheless, of course, something had happened, and eventually he was going to remember it and then what would he do?
David had never been violent, he had never raised a finger to her, he had not even had a bad temper; It was one of the things, the many things that had driven her mad about him. But now? Being dead for a year and a half could change people, she was certain of that and if he recalled the circumstances of his death.
Amy opened her eyes and found she was out on the landing. She got to her feet and ran in to the bathroom.
She poured ice-cold water in to the basin and splashed it in to her face until the sting told her she was fully awake.
Still that soft purring snore reached her from the bed and she slammed the bathroom door on it.
She faced her wild-eyed reflection in the bathroom cabinet mirror and stared hard in to her own eyes.
“He is dead.” She reiterated, but there he was snoring in her bed again.
The decision was quick and certain, just like the last time.
She fetched the garden hose from the shed and ran it from the boiler’s vent into the bedroom. Then she stuffed up the flu pipe of the boiler with a wet towel.
After assuring herself the bedroom windows were all firmly closed, she blocked up the gaps round the bedroom door with more towels.
Finally, she turned on the boiler and waited for the snoring to stop.
In the morning she would drag him in to the bath, run the water and then discover him an hour or so later.
Everyone said after David died that she should get a new boiler, dangerous stuff carbon monoxide. If only she had listened.
If only David had listened, “You can’t keep coming back like this darling,” she muttered. “You have got to get the message; it is over between us.”
Len Hazell is a writer, actor, performer and composer working in the UK.
He is 46 years old, a slave to his family and dogs and hopes one day to get a life.