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Why can't you hear me? A story posted to Reedsy Prompts. It's sad so have some tissues on hand.

If you want to view it on the actual site go here,

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How do we truly know that we are dead? There are myths and stories surrounding what happens post-mortem. Whether it be that be one just seizes to exist. Or a religious belief that there is in fact an afterlife that you are sent to when all is said and done with your life. Where we may think that we will be scrutinized for our actions which will, in turn, determine the fate of our eternal souls. Ghosts can be thought of as a dead person caught in non-corporeal form. Perhaps they are trapped and cannot move on or that really is what we all become.

Thinking that they were still alive, Marley went upstairs and walked through their overly furry border collie named Clove. The odd thing is Marley didn’t even feel it, Marley just thought that they walked next to Clove. When they tried to coax Clove into going to bed, the dog didn’t even acknowledge Marley. Not that this was surprising, Clove hardly ever listened anyway. Marley regretted that they slacked on the training of Clove. So, the pretty dog just did what she pleased for the most part.

Inside their green wallpapered master bedroom Marley laid down next to Suzume. There appeared to be tear stains on the cotton embroidered pillow that was clenched just under her closed and moving eyes beneath her eyelids indicating that she was engrossed in REM sleep. Marley thought that this was strange but Suzume had been through a lot as of late, with the miscarriage and overworking. That sting of losing the baby still hurt their feelings as well.

Marley laid down to sleep even though that was impossible for them to do on account of their death. Perhaps it was just a bout of insomnia or at least that is what Marley believed. Come morning where barely any light came through the partially curtained window due to the season being winter. Suzume woke up and stretched her thin arms up then took a deep yawn.

Marley looked at her lovingly and said good morning, she didn’t look their way which confused Marley.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning.”

“Good morning!”

They even tried to tap Suzume on the shoulder to get her attention but she didn’t say anything or move her head in their direction. How could this be, they asked themselves?

Suzume rose up from the bed and stifled loudly. Then headed for their shared and bright bathroom. Sometimes Marley felt that the lights in the bathroom were intolerable in the morning.

Marley didn’t follow, instead, he ran down the stairs looking for a bite to eat. They realized that they hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning. Although Marley didn’t feel hungry, they figured it would be best to eat anyways. Scouring the pantry to find some bread to toast. When they grabbed the half-empty bag of whole wheat bread and tried to pick it up they noticed it was expired. They didn’t have the ability to smell anymore but if they were able to they would’ve noticed that it smelled yeasty. So, they attempted to toss it into the garbage. Instead, the stale bread bag just fell through their fingers. There must be an explanation they said to themself with annoyance.

Not knowing that they were a ghost that was currently haunting their spacious and beloved home. They then heard the light footsteps of Suzume descending the stairs. Marley had noticed the stairs were squeaking a bit. Their plan was to inspect the staircase and to try and fix the problem that was first perceived a week prior.

Marley leaned on the linoleum dark blue countertop as Suzume filled up a cup with water from the sink with a filter attached to it. Living near a mountain gave the water a lot of hard minerals so the filter was necessary for it to be drinkable. While she was sipping it she looked forlorn; an expression Marley had not seen on her delicately featured face since her father died years ago.

This seemed a bit bizarre to Marley and they called out to her again with the sound of worry in their voice,

“Suzume, what is wrong, babe?”

There was no reply and Suzume finished her water then put the empty plastic glass next to the rather deep sink.

“Suzume, what is wrong, babe?”

No response again so Marley shout the question again at her.

“Suzume, what is wrong, babe?”

Seemingly unphased by their pleas to get their attention. She took her phone out of her stylish faded jean pocket. Marley didn’t know this but Suzume was responding to texts from friends and family checking in on her because she was so understandably distraught. Marley had died from a sudden and unprovoked heart attack. What was even more strange was that Marley did not see their lifeless body because they only became aware of their surroundings after the body was removed and sent to the morgue.

After Suzume put her phone away, the newest and high-end phone nevertheless, she got up slowly and went to the door. Where was she going wondered Marley? So, they followed her out the almost closed door and saw that she was going to get into her Porsche. Haphazardly Marley got in first when Suzume opened the driverside door and crawled over to the passenger seat. Then Suzume slid into the all leather and comfy seat and started the vehicle with a powerful rumble of the engine.

Suzume’s first destination was the local breakfast restaurant Felichier. As she opened the large rod-handled door and walked in Marley was hot on her trail. She ordered her usual and it was the meal that they always got together. A quail egg with avocado toast dressed up with unions and some spices. In addition, she ordered a cappuccino. When the waiter came to take her order, Marley tried to place one too.

“I will have the same meal but with a macchiato instead.”

The waiter didn’t acknowledge them so they repeated,

“I will have the same meal but with a macchiato instead.”

Marley was going to try again but the waiter only wrote down Suzume’s order and walked off to get the order to the kitchen. Looking around the dimly lit restaurant Marley tried to go and talk to another patron to experiment. Same result, no answer. Had they become invisible, was it some sick joke?

After some time Suzume got her meal and ate it slowly. Another oddity, she never ate slowly, she rather tended to inhale her food. When she was finished and paid with her credit card and walked back to her car Marley continued to follow her. Next on her trip out was to go to the church. Which seemed out of the ordinary given that it was a Thursday. She never went during the week, only on Sundays. Marley just stayed in the car though, he didn’t enjoy going to church. When she was finished it must have been about forty-five minutes. During that time Marley had been racking his brain trying to figure out what was going on. Coming up with nothing, they just waited for Suzume and when she came out, she was crying. She opened the car with a shaky hand and got in,

“Suzume are you okay?”

“Suzume are you okay?”

“Suzume are you okay?”

She didn’t say anything and just waited a few minutes before gathering herself and got back on the road. Marley was concerned but noted how beautiful her dark eyes were when she cried. Not that they wanted to see her cry. Next, she pulled into the hospital and Marley was perplexed, is she not well? Was that why she was ignoring them? Getting out of the Porshe, Suzume headed into the south entrance. Marley unsettled by this, followed but the sliding doors slid shut behind her. Marley walked up to them but they would not open.

After a few moments of getting frustrated an elderly man triggered the doors to open and Marley went in quickly. They almost missed Suzume but they found her and followed. She was heading down a corridor that was marked by a sign showing that the morgue was at the end of the hall. Marley didn’t understand but she had been called down there to identify them. Marley had died on the side of the street and although she was called to be informed of their death due to the fact that Marley had their wallet on them, they still needed a positive identification.

Suzume paused at the entrance and inhaled the awful smell of formaldehyde which made her want to wretch. Gathering some bravery, she pushed the double doors open and walked in where she was met by the doctor that was doing the autopsy. He led her into a cold room and Marley walked behind them. Suzume kept crying and when she was shown Marley’s body she broke down further. It hit Marley then so hard that he almost fell to the ground. There where was their body, their dark short hair drenched in liquid, their once tanned skin pale and sickly looking, and their tattoo on the upper arm looked undefined. They regretted that they were not able to add more feminine features to their body to be more non-binary looking before their life was taken from them. Disturbed, Marley pointed at their corpse and asked,

“How, what, why am I there?”

“How, what, why am I there?”

“How, what, why am I there?”

No one told them but Suzume gave a positive identification and Dr. Kindling asked if they should call someone for her. To which she responded no. Suzume left and Marley did not go with her this time. Instead, they were no longer a ghost, whether or not they moved on or was simply just no longer existing is uncertain. All that was known is that Suzume and family and friends missed them dearly. It seemed that Clove did not understand why her dog parent didn’t come home.

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