A Short Story Written By Christian Tanner
Amy walked out of the movie theater when she first saw Fredrick. He was with another woman named Karen and Amy was on a date with another man named Aaron. The day’s forecast didn’t look good. It was pouring rain when Aaron and Amy walked out of the theater and Amy didn’t have a jacket. Fredrick, the apple of Amy’s eye, he was hovering over his then-girlfriend with his jacket to keep her dry while they both rushed into the theater to see a movie.
Amy could hear her cry, “Oh my god. Can you keep it over my hair? I mean, seriously, it took me almost an hour.” The door closed behind them and Amy watched Fredrick shake off his jacket and apologize to Karen.
At that time, it didn’t bother Amy much because she didn’t know him. However, she thought Karen sounded somewhat bitchy. Anyway, Aaron wore a light windbreaker, but all he did was zip it up, throw on his hood, and then he told Amy, “Let’s get a move on.” They had to run from the theater to the car in the downpour. It was cold.
Three days later, Amy was getting some gas outside of the town she lived in called New Woodlawn. While she was inside the gas station, she searched through candy bars, roaming for the perfect snack, but her eyes landed on Fredrick when he walked through the door to tell the only employee on duty, “Can you fix pump 8? It’s not working.”
Amy’s heart sunk into her stomach and her cheeks burned hot with anxiety while she watched him wait for the attendant to hurry his situation. Amy brushed her brown hair behind her ear and glasses, and then she told him, “That’s a nice jacket.”
She rather hid behind the isle so it took Fredrick a moment to realize the direction of which Amy’s compliment was coming from, but his brown eyes inevitably landed on her.
Fredrick thanked Amy and informed her, “It was a gift from my girlfriend.”
A loud click came from the bathroom and the door swung open. His girlfriend, Karen, she came storming out and she stomped her way to Fredrick’s side, demanding answers to their situation.
“So, what’s going on?” She asked while slamming her purse on the counter. The charms hanging from her shoulder strap clinked against the counter, sending a cringe down Amy’s spine. Amy paid no more attention and she grabbed a Snicker’s. While she walked to the counter, Fredrick and Karen were leaving.
On his way out, Fredrick turned toward Amy and said, “Have a good day.”
“Who the hell is she?” Karen asked Fredrick before the door closed, leaving only Amy and the gas station attendant with a smirk.
Amy didn’t see Fredrick around for two weeks and she had practically forgotten about him until she saw him inside of Starbucks while he sipped coffee and read the local newspaper. So what, Amy thought. He was seeing Karen and Amy had fought far too many losing battles to have hope in another. No matter how level headed Amy tried to be, her anxiety ate her whole. She decided to take the short route that day because it wasn’t worth the fight. She walked out to her car and snorted three bumps of coke and ate two Xanax bars. She scratched the back of her head and then leaned on the head rest. She bit her lip.
She grinded her teeth. She walked into Starbucks. She ordered coffee. She sat at a table. She made sure to stay in Fredrick’s view. She saw everything through a filter.
Fredrick stood up and Amy’s heart began racing. She looked outside to see if Karen was around, just to be safe, but there wasn’t any sight of her. However, a car was pulling into the parking lot and the driver looked a lot like her, so Amy rendered the situation useless.
The woman hopped out of her car and she saw that it wasn’t Karen. When Amy looked towards Fredrick, he was walking up to her.
“Do you want to see something?”
That led to Amy’s sobriety. That led to love. That led to her pregnancy, although he or she didn’t make it. That led to Amy’s life. A life. Any life. It led to her being alive. Fredrick became Amy’s life.
There she was. Amy, 32 years old. She was standing over her boyfriend’s dead body. Fredrick’s dead body.
Fredrick was only 34 years old, but he died from a heart attack.
Amy had just relapsed for the first time since she quit just shortly after getting together with Fredrick. High on cocaine, she hovered over Fredrick, grabbing and clawing at his clothing while he laid on the kitchen floor. Amy’s feet were kicking and scraping against the kitchen floor, searching for any sort of traction, but she only kept pushing. Her eyes were tearing out of her skull, blistering red and puffy. She cried for help as if someone else was in the house, but Amy was alone. She had no choice but to call the police.
Amy’s bed heard more cries for help than a hospital.
Amy didn’t realize how many lives Fredrick had touched until she witnessed how many people were pouring through the door for Fredrcik’s funeral. One of them was her worst nightmare – Karen. Amy’s head fell down in disgust as she blew her runny nose into her handkerchief.
It was raining the same rain from the night Amy first saw Fredrick at the movie theater. The raindrops were too familiar with Amy. Everyone watched Fredrick’s body being lowered into the ground while the rain enhanced everyone’s tears. Thunder shook everyone to their core just as much as the loss of Fredrick. Lightning struck close, causing deafening claps. It was too much bad weather and the funeral staff called off the ceremony. Fredrick’s casket wasn’t buried until the next day.
Later on that night, Amy stayed at her mom’s house, avoiding any opportunity to be alone. She sat at the kitchen table while her mom rubbed her back and told her coping skills that may help her handle the loss of Fredrick.
“Remember, my love, Fredrick is gone, but he lives inside of us.” Amy’s mom said with great empathy. “He loved you like nobody’s business, Darling.”
Amy held one hand over her eyes, hiding her tears. She took a deep breath and then told her mom, “I have to go back out to the funeral. I have to be there with him. He’s not even fucking covered up.”
Amy and her mom fought for a minute, but her mom quickly realized she couldn’t stop her. Amy grabbed her keys from the bar and quickly hurried out the door.
Amy’s car broke down about a quarter mile from the cemetery, which left her about a half of a mile from the nearest gas station.
The temperature didn’t matter, the rain was cold that night. Amy stumbled through muddy brown puddles and she trailed her feet along the wet cement road. Amy leaned her ponytail down her neck and she ringed the water out like a soaked towel. While still walking, she wiped what was left of her mascara with her fingertips. Breathing was suffering stutter-like strobes of hot remorseful air. Deep down in the interior of Amy’s troubled heart, she was dying.
Amy hurried in quick small steps when she saw a glimpse of the cemetery through the thick rainfall. She turned into the entrance and began to run while staring at the ground. Amy solely depended on memory to guide her towards Fredrick’s uncovered grave.
Flashes of memories with Fredrick began to resurface. The memories felt rougher than the first tidal wave before a tsunami. The curvy wave came crashing over Amy’s head and it sent her stumbling to the ground. Amy was taking the long way around. She grabbed handfuls of the gravel from the road causing the rocks to pierce the palms of her hands while she remembered what Fredrick showed her at the coffee shop.
She cried out, “God, why?”
She thought about the moment she fell in love with Fredrick when he pulled his hand out of his pocket and revealed a ticket stub Amy dropped from a movie she went to see when she saw him for the first time. You can’t begin to describe the pain of losing someone you love so dearly.
Amy gathered enough courage to find herself not only standing, but also nearly running to his grave. The closer she got to the grave, the more she knew something wasn’t right.
She could see where Fredrick was.
Fredrick’s coffin hung wide open. Amy stared into the empty grave in complete disbelief. She nearly threw up due to the unnatural sight. Without hesitation, she quickly peered into the direction she heard a voice come from. There was a woman running towards Amy through the trees and gravestones, screaming for help. Amy stumbled to her feet and ran towards the crying woman.
“Please, please help me!” The woman cried. “My husband’s grave is empty!”
The woman turned around and began rushing in the direction she came from and Amy ran after her.
The trees grew so closely together that the leaves and branches that reached out for what seemed like miles deflected the rain. Amy lost the woman, so she could only follow her cries for help. While continuing in the same direction, Amy couldn’t hear the woman anymore. She raced from side to side, dodging gravestones and trees.
What was that? Amy thought. She couldn’t believe there was any sight of fire while the rain was pouring so drastically. In such disbelief, she rubbed her eyes clear of tears and water. The closer she crept towards the light, the more she knew it was actually fire. She could see the flickers of light cast from the flames.
The moon peered down through the trees and into a dry circle of witches. About 400-500 feet wide, a circle of the cemetery had been left untouched by a single drop of water. The rainfall around the witches acted as camouflage for Amy. If you were to stand inside the circle, you couldn’t see out. The rain appeared like a wall. She rested behind a gravestone while she watched the witches practice.
Amy sank behind the gravestone when she heard one witch say to another, “I love the way her skin cuts.”
Amy covered her mouth to prevent any sound she could possibly make. She brought her knees to her chin and she grabbed her legs with her arms. She thought she had an opportunity to view their dark ceremony, but when she looked over the gravestone, Karen was standing directly in front of her.
Amy, so shocked, she turned around and sank into her same position. Nothing happened.
Within seconds, Amy stood to her feet to face Karen, but there was no sight of her. Amy could only see the witches.
Amy mumbled to herself, “What the hell?”
While staring into the dry circle, she noticed one tree becoming more visible.
The witches turned towards the tree and then a voice shouted, “Tonight, he is happy.”
Fredrick’s body fell upside down from the tree with both legs tied to different branches. His arms hung pointing towards the ground and his back had been mutilated.
Amy was useless. Her mouth hung halfway open, but nothing was more shocking than watching Karen reveal herself from her hooded cloak.
“He is happy!” Karen shouted. “Now, feel his energy.”
Everyone bowed their heads and raised their arms, including Amy, but she only raised her arms against her will. Release your fear, and let the demons run free.
Fredrick’s dead body began to shake uncontrollably. Right before everyone’s eyes, his body became stiff and his arms reached out. As if Fredrick was performing a reverse sit-up, his body had begun to slowly raise itself up. Fredrick’s eyes were blacker than coal. His body was whiter than snow. Fredrick was standing up, using the rope around his ankles to float in midair.
Karen shouted, “Tonight, he feels joy.”
The large dry circle became engulfed in flames while Fredrick hovered over the burning pit. Everyone, including Karen, screamed for their lives while they were being burned alive.
Amy hid behind the grave she had been using for stealth and she started crying harder. “Fredrick,” Amy mumbled to herself, “What happened to you?”
Amy heard heavy rainfall and a burning fire at the same time. She took a deep breath and slowed down when she heard the fire stop. Amy peeked over the gravestone and she could see the rain falling in the circle, putting out the fire. In the middle of the pit, she saw a small piece of paper. She looked everywhere, but Fredrick was gone. There was only burned charcoal-like bodies. She hurried to the center of the pit and picked up the piece of paper. The edges were burnt, but Amy could still recognize that it was the ticket stub. She quickly covered her mouth and looked up to see Fredrick, standing and very much alive, and then he blew her a kiss.
Fredrick told Amy, “You were chosen, Amy. You were picked. You have an opportunity to spend eternity with me.”
Fredrick reached out his hand and then said, “Come with me.”