At 22, Marc thought he had his entire life ahead of him. He was about to graduate from college, he had a couple of girls interested in being more than friends, an internship waiting to bloom into a fulltime position once he received his degree… He never expected it would end so quickly, and he never expected that if it did end, he wouldn’t know what happened.
When he arrived at the local cafe he and several of his friends frequented almost daily, he’d been running late. He wasn’t surprised when he sat down and said hello, that he was ignored. His feelings didn’t even get hurt until Claire and Heather showed up. That was when things started bugging him. His friends all cheered their welcome as Claire sat down next to him, and Heather took the seat across from them, clapping loudly as they took their seats. Claire gave Marc a slight nod, but quickly looked away. Everyone was talking at once, and things were getting confusing as Marc tried to figure out why his friends were so angry with him. “What did I do?” he asked to a crowd who refused to answer.
Their waitress, Sally, walked over to the table, smiling brightly as she did every night. She went around the table, nodding at everyone, memorizing their orders with expertise as drinks were called out. Marc waited until the table was quiet before adding his drink to the order. She tucked her pad in her apron pocket before he’d even had a chance to finish.
“Why the hell is everyone ignoring me?!” he complained, crossing his arms over his chest with a loud “Hmph!”
Claire eyed him, tapping her finger on the table and slightly shaking her head. Marc didn’t understand her veiled clues, though, which frustrated him even more. “This is ridiculous! Would somebody please tell me what’s going on?!” he demanded. The table continued their banter, paying no attention to him in the slightest.
“You’re not here,” Claire whispered, tucking her head and hiding her lips behind her napkin.
“Marc, I don’t know what’s going on. All I know is that I can see through you, and nobody else here can even see you!”
The waitress ran up to the table in a panic. “Oh my God, ya’ll! I just got a call from Eddie. There was a wreck just outside the firm. Police are everywhere, and Marc’s car… Eddie said it doesn’t look good.”
NO! His heart, or what would have been his heart had he been alive, was pumping through his chest. He held up his hands, turning them over to see if there was anything different about him. He stood slightly, and patted himself down. Not knowing what he was looking for or why. Some semblance of reality, something to prove this wasn’t happening. His keys jingled in his pants pocket, his shoe was untied and he jumped when his cell phone rang. He grabbed it from his back pocket and punched the button to answer it. “Hello?” he whispered, cradling the phone against his face. “Hello?! Can you hear me? Please God, tell me you can hear me!”
He looked at the screen on the phone. Law Office of Eddie Robinson. “Jesus, Eddie, please! Hello?” he cried out, sinking back into his chair. He accidently knocked over Claire’s water. Five people at the table, and every single one sat back in their chairs, wide eyed. “Did you see that?” Heather asked.
Claire grabbed a napkin, barely looking at Marc, excusing the accident as her being clumsy, but Heather looked afraid, and Marc smiled with a certain satisfaction. Even if he was dead – he still existed, and could at least let them know he was still around. He reached out towards another water glass and as about to tip it over when Claire slapped the table. “Marc,” she whispered. “You’re dead.”
“No!” Marc screamed at her. “I’m not dead!”
Claire looked at him. And so did the rest of the restaurant. Everyone at the table burst into laughter, and Marc stood up, taking a bow, showing he was a good sport. Their practical joke stressed him enough for a lifetime, but the relief of not being a corpse gave him the best adrenaline rush he’d ever had. Marc closed his eyes, sighing and laughing at the same time. “You people are nuts!”
Claire laughed at him. “I don’t remember being convinced I was dead.” He chuckled and winked at her. She had him there.
An ambulance sped past the large windows behind where the group always sat. Heather smiled at Chris and then looked around the table. “Hey, wasn’t Claire supposed to be here tonight?”