I woke with the setting sun in my face. Squinting against the light, I slowly sat up, not knowing where I was. Moving out of the glare, I saw head stones. How the hell did I end up in a cemetery?
I stood up, my body aching and protesting as I moved. Dirt fell off of me in a shower and I saw I was wearing my dress uniform. It was filthy and the sleeves were tattered. I tried hard to remember why I was wearing it and I drew a blank. I felt fine other than the stiffness in my muscles and the fact I was in a cemetery. I did the most logical thing I could and started for home.
I got to the house well after dark and there were no lights on as I walked up the driveway. Monica’s truck wasn’t there but my restored Dodge Charger was, backed in to the end of the driveway. A layer of dust dulled its black paint and I frowned. I had just gotten it washed so I had no idea why it looked like it hadn’t been driven in months. Going around to the back, I put my hand on the knob before remembering keys. I patted my pockets and only found a crumpled color photograph of Monica and myself taken the year before while four wheeling in Cabo San Lucas. I stared at it for a moment, smiling slightly as the memory came to me. It had been our honeymoon.
The breeze picked up and I shivered, trying to pull the jacket of my uniform tighter around me but it gapped in the back as if it had been torn. I got the extra key from under the ceramic lawn gnome next to the door and let myself in. The house was silent and dark save for a small light in the living room. I scanned the kitchen for a note but didn’t find one so I went upstairs to our bedroom, navigating easily without turning on any lights.
I went into the bathroom and turned on the light, stunned at what I saw in the mirror. I was pale, covered in dirt and looked like hell. The gold detective’s badge pinned to my jacket glinted dully as I took it off, staring at the rip up the back of it. My white dress shirt was also slit up the back and I suddenly began to feel sick to my stomach. What is going on?
Stripping off the rest of my uniform and leaving it in a pile on the floor, I got in the shower and turned it on hot as I could stand it. I scrubbed myself nearly raw, examining every inch of skin that I could see for any signs of injury or anything else that would explain how I’d ended up where I did. All I found was a tender spot at the base of my skull, where it meets the top of my neck. I wrapped myself in a towel and went into the bedroom, turning on the light as I headed for my dresser. I opened a drawer before something on top drew my attention and I just stared.
It was an American flag, folded into a triangle and in a glass case. There was a small engraved plaque with Detective Kylie Anne Frost, Sunset Beach Police Department. End of Watch 09/23/13. Next to it, propped up against the wall was my badge, the one I carried with me at all times when I was on duty.
Numbness washed over me and all I could do was stare. I was DEAD?!
I heard the door downstairs open and close, our dog Bandit’s tags jingling to break the silence. Monica came up the stairs, her footsteps muffled by the carpet. She was talking to Bandit as she came into the bedroom and stopped in the doorway, staring at me. She looked amazing, dressed simply in a white T-shirt and jeans, contrasting nicely with her tan skin. Her dirty blonde hair was loose around her shoulders, a pair of sunglasses pushed up on top of her head holding it back from her face.
I focused on her expression and my stomach knotted. She looked as if someone had given her the worst news of her life, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open in shock. Bandit peered around her legs and I heard his tail thumping against the wall when he recognized me but he couldn’t get past Monica. “What…?”
“Monica, what happened to me?”
Monica’s mouth worked soundlessly and she began to shake her head. “Not…possible. Oh, my God it’s not possible!” I started toward her and she put her hands up in front of her in a warding off gesture. “Stay away from me!”
I stopped. “Monica, it’s me. What is wrong with you?”
Monica backed up until she hit the hallway wall. Her legs gave out and she slid to the floor, her expression stunned. “You’re not real,” she whispered. “You can’t be real!”
My eyes burned and my throat tightened. “It’s me, Kylie! I am real!” Monica’s face was the color of her shirt and her eyes were a little too wide. She looked like she was about to go into shock. “Monny, honey, please tell me what’s going on!”
Monica blinked and slowly pushed to her feet, her body tensing as she stared at me. Her eyes flicked down the hall toward the stairs, measuring her escape route. “You’re dead!”
She bolted then and I followed, running down the stairs. Bandit nearly tripped me up but I regained my footing, catching Monica as she ran through the kitchen toward the back door. I got my arms around her and she kicked back, tripping me and I did lose my footing then. We crashed to the floor, me still hanging on to her. She yelped in pain as we slammed into the cabinets but I kept my hold on her.
“Let me go!” Monica started struggling against my hold, not having enough leverage to get herself free.
“Monica! Stop! Listen to me!”
“LET ME GO!” She was sobbing now. I had lost my towel at some point in the pursuit and her skin was warm where it pressed against mine, smelling faintly of sun block. “Just let me go, please.”
I was crying as I pressed my lips to her ear. “Do you remember when we first met? I was on the beach, playing volleyball with my friends and the ball got away from me and I had to chase it. You gave it back to me and I thought you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I purposely fumbled the ball when it came to me because I wanted another excuse to go talk to you.”
Monica stopped struggling, sagging in my arms. She was crying so hard she was nearly doubled over with the force of her sobs. “You picked this house because you loved the view from the backyard at sunset,” I continued, resting my head on her shoulder. “I’m going to let you go now. Please don’t run.”
I slowly released my hold on her and she scrambled away, putting her back against the cabinets across from me. Her face was red and blotchy, tears streaming down her cheeks and I felt something knot painfully in my chest. I had done that, I had put that raw, unimaginable pain in her eyes but I didn’t know how. We stared at each other for a long, long time as she took several deep breaths, trying to bring herself under control.
“I thought you were a total klutz that day on the beach, always missing the ball. I didn’t know you were doing it on purpose until you asked me for my number.” Her voice was a strained whisper. She was crouched, her elbows on her knees. “I was going to be with you forever and I…” She choked on a sob, her chest heaving. “I buried you nine months ago, Kylie.”