“You know to much,” he had told me that fateful night. The night I had jumped off that fire escape to my death. …
It had been a Friday evening when I had been wandering the streets of New York. I had been out of school for nearly three hours already, but it would probably take some miracle to have my father notice my disappearance – he probably wouldn’t care. He had never cared about me, not since my mother had died. She had been all he ever cared about, not me, her. He used to only spend time with me to make her happy and ever since, his efforts to spend time with me had been halfhearted, until finally he had stopped all together. I resented him for it, growing bitter towards my friends and teachers. I needed my mom more than ever now; she was the one who could level my anger and frustration, even if she was the one I was mad at. She was exactly what I needed right now.
I continued meandering down the block and that’s when I witnessed it: a man coming out of the local bank. He had burlap sacs with him, sacs overflowing with money. I stopped and stared, my fatal mistake. His eyes locked with mine and that’s when I ran.
I ran until I reached an alleyway, into which I ran, my other fatal mistake. I heard footsteps echoing behind me. I looked forward to what lies ahead of me: a dead-end. My throat closed up; my death approached unless… I look up. I see a fire escape, forgotten, attached to an abandoned building, its ladder hanging down: my only escape route. I jump and grab onto the last rung, but it’s to late as I hear him closing in on me. Still, I climbed for all that I was worth and spin around just to be staring into his cold eyes, eyes that radiated death.
“You know to much,” he had told me. It can’t end like this! It just can’t! I thought frantically to myself, my heart beating vehemently. I turned, looking down from the escape apprehensively and a breeze washed over me pushing my long satiny hair back behind my ear like my mother used to do. I could smell a faint whiff of the perfume my mother used to wear; I looked up, startled. Was she watching over me as I came to terms with my fate? My mother would’ve wanted me to keep calm in situations like this, but how could I now when I was looking death in the face? So I did what my only choice was – I jumped.
I stood up uneasily and blinked. Had I survived such a fall that could’ve snapped my neck? I couldn’t have and I didn’t; I looked down for a second and immediately looked away. I could hear the sirens and I knew that soon the police would be here searching for clues and the thief was most likely long gone. I look over my shoulder just to check though. No sign of him anywhere. Something caught my eye, I looked down at my hand – I could see through it! My senses finally came to me and I realized I was just a ghost, a wandering spirit in New York. But why in New York, shouldn’t I be in some kind of heaven or afterlife? Why was I here?
I sort of drift through neighborhoods gazing longingly in the windows of bakeries and cafés at the savory sweets, wishing that maybe I could just have one taste of something, but of course I can’t. The littlest things, the things you take for granted, in life can truly drive a person, or ghost in my case, to desperation and frustration. Mother used to say that the world was my oyster – that it could be what I wanted it to be and shaped it to be. Well this oyster had just slammed its shell down on my fingers shutting me out of the life that I had once lived. Death was so unfair and sudden claiming the most innocent of souls without mercy. It wasn’t right – here I was trapped in a world I once loved, but now I find myself being a prisoner of, doomed to walk the earth as wandering spirit forever – or so I thought …
As I wander the world, I see it in a different light: a terrible light at that. New York, now through my ghostly eyes, seems to be a terrible place to live. Poverty left and right, shootings and robberies – the life I once lived seems so different from this. Then again my family certainly wasn’t the poorest. I begin to feel guilty – really, really guilty about all the things that I see. My mother had always been for helping out the needy and community service; I had always been buried in a book or busying myself in other things. The world was her oyster, not mine – if I ever had an oyster it was probably one on my plate that I used to refuse to touch when my parents brought me out to some gourmet seafood restaurant, not one that compared to how I shaped or changed the world. My mother made an impact on the world with her kindness and compassion; I had made my impact with moodiness and a sudden death. Why did I have to spend my days brooding over a mother who’s gone when I could’ve been doing other things that were actually mattered to the world?
I continue to brood when I feel raindrops on my head and shoulders – just to match my mood, I think sullenly. Wait a sec. This isn't right, I think to myself. It never rains or anything in this ghostly version of New York, there's hasn't been any weather whatsoever. Why now? I wonder as the sun starts to come out again only to be interrupted by a hailstorm and then to become sunny again. Suddenly, I’m surrounded by people like me – pale, see through ghosts. Then I hear loud trumpet like one of an elephant. I spin around and see a mammoth behind me with the rest of its herd. What is this place with all these ghosts and out-dated animals? I think to myself. All of a sudden I feel warmth on my back and I turn around. My mother stands there with her long hair billowing behind her and I hesitate. You would think that I would want to run up to hug her after all these years, but instead I find myself hesitating to reunite with the one person who I actually loved. As I regard her coldly, I see a small trace of sadness etched onto her face that was made young again from the years in the afterlife. Her eyes plead forgiveness from me and I felt sorry for her, but still …
“I know it doesn’t change anything between us,” she says hesitantly, “but death is for the better of our world… do you see?”
“My death…” I say, “was that for the better too?” She falters and then says:
“Yours was untimely and it was unfair…” she pauses, “but all things must come to an end at one point.”
“Like yours did?” I ask.
“You still don’t understand, do you?” She seems more sympathetic than angry though. “All things must come to an end. It is the laws of nature. Nature creates things and eventually they wear down, then she rebuilds them again.”
“So you’re saying that I’m going to be replaced with another thing that Nature creates?”
“Not entirely replaced – your memory still lives on – your reputation and such. You’ll never be forgotten.”
“My rep wasn’t really good in the first place,” I say dubiously, “and I haven’t made much of a name for myself. How will I be remembered?”
“You’ll be remembered by being you,” my mother beams.
“That pretty much clears everything up,” I mumble.
“What I mean,” she says rolling her eyes, “is that you’ll be remembered by your personality and the image you made for yourself while on Earth.”
“That’s not saying much for me, but I think I understand that death is inevitable, but all for the better.” I conclude. My mother smiles and then takes my hand.
“Where are we going?” I ask
“On.” She replies as light enfolds us.
Perhaps it wasn’t that the world was my oyster. Perhaps it would’ve been if my life had been longer. My mother had made her impact, but I could’ve had too. Maybe the world was never my oyster; no the world had been our oyster.
YOU ARE READING
The World Was Our OysterTeen Fiction
Her mother is dead. Her father ignores her consumed with grief. She jumps off a fire escape to her death. Elizabeth is now wandering the streets of New York as a ghostly image of herself, wondering who she will be remembered as, who she was. Her mo...