Fifteen

Colleen learns it's difficult to deal with the aftermath of death, least of all grief.

Image from Unsplash


By Sasha Li

Content Creator (Fiction), The Continuist


Colleen went to sleep knowing that her husband of fifteen years had passed away.

Fifteen years of his smiles and laughter, burning up into the wisps of smoke from the car crash earlier that day. Fifteen years of memories, wedged into the crevices of their apartment, smeared into the cracks of the phone she hadn’t upgraded in years, following her all this way.

Fifteen years of arguments, of petty fights smoothed over with conversations and flowers and sex, leaving them passed out well past sun up, until it was too late for either of them to go to work, or class, or whatever else they had planned individually that day. There, they would languish and forget, smothering each other in their love until they became the only things that mattered in the world.

In fifteen hours, she will be on the phone with his family. In their pain, they’ll blame her for taking their baby away — They’d never liked her anyways — using dozens of words that describe her worth to them, and the hatred that’ll live in their hearts till the end of their days. They’d tell her that line that everyone tells grieving parents; “No parent should live to see their son die”, before cutting the line and leaving her emptier than she had been only a minute before.

That call would be followed by a dozen more calls to contradict their words, assurances that no fault was hers, that there was nothing that she could have done, that his last moments would have been used to think of her, his love for her, and his relief to have her safe, none the wiser.

She will throw her phone at the wall fifteen minutes after that, creating a dent in the screen that will cover the flaws that were once there. She will cry, feel pain, regret, and wish for a release that will never come until everyone around her has gone, leaving her as the only one left.

Fifteen seconds it would take before she takes more calls; these to plan the burial, to discuss his will, to talk to a lawyer, to discuss legal action against the monster who had left her with nothing but a fading memory of who he was and what he meant to her.

Fifteen days will pass in which she attends the funeral, endures the wrath of her in-laws, gets interviewed by the police, files a lawsuit against the driver, and secludes herself from the rest of the world as much as she possibly can. By then, he becomes only a memory to her, preserved in photographs and videos, snapshots of a life that once was.

By then Colleen will pass by an electronics store, and — after considering it for a moment — enters, only leaving around an hour later with a new phone, one with no dents, no pain, and no history.

But for now, she sleeps, mourning while the pain is sharp and persistent, seemingly never-ending for centuries. For now, she dreams of what could have been while his face is still fresh in her memory, no worry of it fading, and no thought of the future yet to come.