I drove up to my house and I see Sam waiting for me on the porch. I kind of want to back out and go anywhere else but sooner or later I will have to face him. Might as well be sooner. I step out of the car and walk up the house; Sam walks toward me and says hi so I greet him with a similar greeting.
"Well, that was a pretty big bombshell you dropped on me back there." Sam says. So we start immediately ok.
"I know. I'm sorry." I say apologizing. "I really wish that there'd been another way."
"Look, I understand this. I do." He says catching me off guard.
"Really?" I ask hopefully.
"Yeah. I think I finally do. I mean, it didn't make any sense to me before, but then..." What? I think. "I remembered some stuff."
"Well, like what?" Please be that you remember you love me.
"Well, first there was the hospital." When you died? "You know, every time I woke up, you were there." Oh as Sam. I think a little deflated
"Yeah. I-I was worried about you." I love you, please come back to me Jim.
"Yeah. I mean, you were there every minute, whether I was asleep or I was awake."
"I kept asking myself, 'Why would she do that?' You know, unless it was about not me, but your husband." Wait, What? "Which you said, you know, but then I remembered some other stuff was that you kept talkin' about that ghost doctor and how he made people do things by whispering in their ear." N, you got it wrong I say to myself.
"No. Wait." I say trying to stop him right there but he keeps going.
"I- that's what you did. You whispered in my ear. All those hours you sat by my bed, I mean-you decided you couldn't accept that your husband is dead, so you made up your mind that his spirit is in me, and so you filled my head with his memories. You wanted to make it real for yourself. The gunshots..." I hold up my hand stopping him.
"Please don't do this." I say to him completely broken, but he doesn't listen.
"The paramedic stuff, wanting to have kids. The longer that you don't accept it- no, no." I try to interrupt but it doesn't work. "You have to stop, ok? It's all a fantasy." I have to stop him.
"You need help. I wanna be there for you, all right, but you need professional help. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll get the best doctors. I'll wait for you." I almost want to laugh, instead I get angry.
"No, I think you've got it backwards. I think you're the one that needs help." You don't remember anything I think getting more upset by the minute.
"No, Melinda. You're angry right now." Damn right I am.
"I can't do this anymore. I can't. You have a—a lifetime of memories buried somewhere, but the obstacle that you need to move is you." I really believe this; I think to myself, I can't keep setting myself up for heartache.
"No." He says trying to stop me but this time I won't listen.
"I tried. I really, really tried. I think you should just get your things and leave." It breaks my heart but it's for the best I need to heal.
"Melinda- good-bye" He stars but I won't let him say anything else. He sighs but walks away.
I jerk awake, tears are running down my face and I lie back down, roll over and breathe what is left of Jim in. I cry myself back to sleep.
I wake up that morning with tear stains on my cheeks. I go through the motions of the morning, Brushing my teeth and hair, getting dressed, drinking coffee and eating a very lite breakfast. I grab the keys to the shop along with my car keys and head out the door.
My breath hitches when I notice Sam's truck is gone and I fight back the tears threatening to spill over, but I don't let them and I make my way to the store. I pull up and Delia is already there opening so I just walk on in.
"So what happened?" Delia asks sounding excited. I slowly turn towards her and let the tears - that have been waiting to pour – go. Her face drops and she come running to me and wraps me in a hug.
"He won't ever accept it." I say through the tears wracking my body. "I know that now." Delia consoles me and closes the store so no one will come in on us.
After an hour I feel a bit better and we open the store again. At lunch I check my phone and I see a missed call and voicemail from Sam. I listen to the message he left and ask Delia to get Ned to the store in ten minutes she agrees and I head to the store.
Something feels off when I step through the doors. I walk to the back to retrieve my keys and see someone in the dark on the other side of the room. "Who are you?" I ask. He steps out and knocks a glass of the table. I run to the front, "I'm calling the cops!" I yell bluffing cause when I look at my phone it has no service. The guy runs down the stairs and I follow him. I see him enter the tunnels and I stop. When I turn around Dr. Byrd is standing on the steps. "What do you want?" I ask him.
"There's more where he came from." He says in a sinister way.
"Who was he?" I ask him.
"Do you feel safe now?" He asks as he disappears.
"Melinda?" I hear Ned yell out as he enters the store.
I run up the stairs and enter the main store. "Hey Ned, I got a call from Sam he left something at my place can you take it to him I can't stand to look at him right now." I say as I mask my pain and sadness as I hand him my keys.
"Yeah, sure, my mom told me what happened. I'm sorry that happened." He says. "Maybe I can get through to him on something." I shake my head. Ned would try that for me.
"If you want to try you can just don't be hurt when he won't accept the truth, okay." I say to him hoping his hopes won't get too high.
"Ok what did he leave?"
"I believe it was a notebook." I say, Ned nods and walks out. When the door shuts I call Eli and tell him to get over here quick.
Eli arrives fifteen minutes later and I explain what happened and show him who the guy is. "I'll talk to my cop friend and get some information." I nod and he leaves the store.
The next day I wake up with no memory of any dreams of any sort. I am thankful and start my morning ritual and head to the store. Eli is waiting for me with news that Ben was arrested last night for trespassing. He tells me who it was and I go talk to her.
After our talk I get back to the store and see Ben outside. I walk up to him and ask to talk.
"That actually explains a lot." He tells me. "So I am really Mark Pellegrino?" He asks and I nod. We talk a bit more and he gets angry and walks off. I try to stop him but he's gone before I can do anything.
I decide to get some coffee and head back to the store. I see Dr. Byrd and I race down to the basement to see Ben going into the tunnels. I turn to Byrd and he explains he wants to get it right first and disappears.
Thirty minutes later Byrd reappears and a told me Ben is in trouble. I race down the stairs and into the tunnels. Byrd directs me to him and says he realizes his mistake.
"Check on him!" I yell he leaves and comes back almost instantly.
"He's safe. But you should leave." He says.
"How do I know you aren't lying?" I scream at him.
"You don't but you should leave!" He says again. I start to argue but I hear the stress on the door and see water start to come out. I race down the hall and enter another room. Byrd appears at the top of the ladder and tries to apologize.
"Just go get Eli!" I say. He is gone soon after. I am left alone to watch the water rise. I pull on the grate that is preventing my escape but it doesn't budge.
I wait about five minutes before I see a person come out of the water. It's Sam. What is he doing here? Sam takes a breath before swimming over to me and I help pull him up. "Sam, why are you here? Where's Eli?" I ask him.
"He told me you were down here and you needed help, but he can't swim well so I came with everything instead." He tells me. He takes a few minutes to catch his breath before helping me get the grate off.
We manage to pull it off and crawl through the tunnel to get to a different room without water. I led us through the tunnels to get back to my store and got him a blanket.
"Can we talk?" He asked. I don't answer so he pushes forward. "Look, I believe you about the ghosts especially because of what just happened. Eli said a ghost told him you were down there and it was true so I do believe that."
"But… what you don't believe is that you are Jim and your spirit went into that body, right?" I ask.
"It's just too unbelievable, Melinda." Of course it is.
"Well like I said I can't do this anymore. So you can go." I tell him no matter how much it breaks my heart to say it. He opens his mouth to say something but decides against it and leaves the store.
A few minutes later, Eli, Delia, and Ned walk in. "Melinda are you okay?" Eli asks me pulling me into a hug, Delia and Ned follow suit.
"I'm fine Sam got there and helped me," I trail off. "He says he believes ghost now but not that he's Jim and that's the part he needs to believe. If not he can't then he doesn't have faith in me and we can never work out." I say. They all give their condolences and after a while we disperse and everyone heads home.
After I lock up I get in the car and drive to the cemetery. I find my way to Jim's head stone and sit down. "I know that this is silly because I know where you are and it's not here. But this is where I feel close to you because that man isn't you." I take a breath and wipe a tear away. "I miss you so much and even though you are still on this earth, you aren't you and it's not going to work for us. I hope you keep fighting to get out but I can't wait for that. Who knows long it will take, if ever, for you to remember. So I have to grieve and continue living my life without you. Bye. I love you, Jim." I finish with tears rolling down my cheeks. I kiss my hand and place it on the head stone as I walk back to my car. I sit there for ten minutes gathering myself before starting my engine and heading home.
I pull into the drive and see an unfamiliar car sitting outside, but I don't see anyone on the porch or in the yard. I turn off the engine and walk up the steps to my front door, it's slightly ajar. I slowly and quietly make my way into the house, closing the door behind me. The kitchen light is on and I stealthily move towards it. When I enter the kitchen I see someone rummaging in my fridge. "Tell me who you are before I call the cops!" I yell.
He jumps at my presence but laugh as laughs as he turns around. "This is just payback for breaking into my office the day we met. Don't get wound up."
I gasp but drop my purse, keys and phone as I run to him. I tackle him but we stay upright thanks to the counter. "Rick your back!" I say.
He hugs me back. "Yeah, just don't try to break me on my first day back or else you husband might be taking me to the hospital." I let go and tears rise to the surface when he says that.
"It wouldn't be him tonight," I tell him as I turn away from him.
"Why? Is he off tonight?" He asks.
"Yeah, tonight and every other night." I say.
"Why?" Ricks questions again, completely confused.
"Because he died."
Rick stares at me for a few seconds before reacting. He pulls me into another hug and whispers into my ear, "I'm sorry Melinda." I nod into his shoulder as more tears spring from my tear ducts. I blink try to blink them away but they manage to spill over anyway. Rick just continues to hold me until I relax my arms from around him. He lets go and I head into the living room with Rick following close behind.
We sit on the couch and I start explain what happened after Rick left. "I met a man who can hear ghosts due to a near death experience and he has been helping me solve all the mysteries these days."
"Yes, I know that Melinda I was there that day remember?" Rick says.
"Yeah, I know I was just starting off slow." I say with a small smile. "Well about a month after you left Jim and I were invited to attend a friend of mines wedding and a ghost child was trying to warn the bride to be that the man she was fixing to marry was not who she thought he was. It ended with Jim getting shot. He later died in the hospital." I say with tears threatening to roll over. Rick gently takes my hand in his and tries to console me. I get it back together and finish. "No ghosts came to me following his death, not even Jim, and Delia helped me realize it was probably due to my grief. It was blocking it somehow."
I take a shaky breath in and get up to get some water. I bring back a glass for Rick also and continue. "Finally Jim did appear to me and I tried to get him to crossover but he wouldn't. I was heading to work when and Jim was beside me but I couldn't get through due to a car crash. I saw the man's spirit leave his body and go into I guess go into the light. Then I saw Jim's spirit beside the lifeless body. I knew what he was thinking. I yelled 'No' but he did. At the hospital I stayed with him and let him live with me. He knew himself as Sam along with everyone else because that was who he was told he was. He lost both Sam's and Jim's memories. And when I told him who he truly was he didn't believe me." I said wiping away tears. "Now he believes that I can communicate with spirits but not that he is really Jim and I don't love Sam. I can't keep trying to convince him so I let him go. Everyone else knows it's him, including Delia." I say finally finishing the story. Rick leans forward and wipes away a tear from my cheek with his thumb and I close my eyes and let the tears go.
I wake up the next morning in my bed, confused. Then I realize I must have fallen asleep on the couch and Rick carried me up to my room. I get out of bed and change into a new outfit for the day. I make my way downstairs and hear Rick in the kitchen. "Sorry about that." I say when I see Rick.
Rick jumps and turns around holding his chest. "God damn it, Melinda!" Rick says breathing heavily. "You gave me a heart attack!"
I start laughing and I can't stop. "Sor… Sorry." I say but I continue laughing. Rick stares at me like I lost my head. I finally am able to control myself. "Sorry," I say again with a smile on my face. "I just realized that is the first time I truly genuinely laughed." I tell him.
Rick shakes his head and turns back to the stove at whatever he was cooking. "I see you learned to cook while you were in the Himalayas." I say truly impressed as I take a seat at the island.
"I had too. It was just me and three other guys in the middle of nowhere, so we couldn't order delivery." He states very seriously. I shake my head, same old Rick, I think to myself.
"So how was the sabbatical?" I ask him.
"Well I definitely learned a lot." He starts, "Like how much I hate the cold, winter is a stupid season, and the mountain air everyone talks about is not real." He says as his voice gets louder with each statement.
"So not well, huh." I sum up his thought.
"No not well at all. It snowed almost the whole time so we weren't able to do anything while we were there. So we ended it early and came home." He tells me as he pours scrambled eggs into a bowl.
I get up and grab some plates from the cabinet, along with some forks from a drawer. I quickly set the countertop of the island and move to fix Rick a cup of coffee and myself a glass of orange juice. Rick brings the bacon eggs and toast to the island and I grab some jelly from the refrigerator. I sit down beside Rick and we fall into a comfortable silence as we eat breakfast. "This is really good." I compliment Rick.
As we finish up I put the dirty dishes in the sink and start washing them. Rick gets up and dries and puts up with a little help from me. After the dishes we sit back down at the island. "Thank you." I say quietly.
"What for?" Rick questions me.
"For last night. For listening to me and not trying to tell me it will be okay. And for taking me to my bed when I fell asleep on you." I say to clear up his confusion.
"Well it wasn't a problem taking you to your bed, and I didn't say 'It's okay' because it's not." Rick says. "I went through this too when I lost Kate, and while I didn't experience the whole new body thing, I still know what it's like to lose a spouse to death." Rick says gently. I nod and feel some tears escape.
I shake my head sick of crying as I wipe the tears from my cheeks. "Where did you sleep last night?" I ask Rick to change the subject.
"Oh, I slept on the couch in the living room." He says nodding in that direction.
"We have a guest room you know, you could have slept in it." I tell him.
"Well I didn't want to over step my bounds and look around your house while you were asleep like a thief in the night." Rick says with a laugh.
"Fine have it your way." I say. "What did you want to do today?" I ask him.
"Well I was planning on heading home to unpack and then heading to the school to sign up for my class again." He tells me. "And you?" He asks me.
"Well after yesterday Delia told me she would open up the store today while I had the day to 'feel better" I say with air quotes around the last two words.
"Ha," Rick says with a smile on his face, "Well since you don't have any plans want to help me unpack?" He offers.
I think about it for a second but soon agree. "Yeah let's go." I say as I grab my purse and head for the front door.
"Awesome," Rick says as he gets up to follow me out the door and into his car.