Time of Death (Short Story)

Lana is humming along the way as she unlocks her front door. Little does she know as to what is waiting for her behind this red door. She senses something different about the air in the house as soon as she steps in the house. It’s hard to shake off this eerie feeling. As soon as she enters the living room, her chest starts hurting. “Hurt” wouldn’t be properly accurate for this situation. It is like the explosion of a volcano; the only difference is, her life was coming out of this volcano instead of lava. She has just been shot. But why? And, who is this person covering the face? She looks both confused and haunted by these two questions. She falls on the hardwood floor on her back. The bullet is still inside of her body. The shooter crosses over her body without making any noise and leaves through the back door.

What should anyone do in this situation? She sees her phone has fallen in front of her on the floor. It takes her everything to grab the phone. She thinks about calling for help, but her phone starts ringing. It’s her mother. As they say, one doesn’t think clearly with a bullet in the body, she picks up the phone thinking it might be her last chance to hear her voice. Her mother lives in another city.
“Mom,” she moans in pain.
“What happened?” her mother sounds worried over the phone.
“Nothing. Just remember that I love you more than the rest of the world,” her voice breaks several times to say this one sentence.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Her mother is now panicking.
“Don’t forget me,” she says those words with tears filled in her eyes.
She really needs to call for help now. But she senses that she is fading. It is probably too late. Suddenly, she hears Parker. He is her cuddle buddy and her neighbor, Jim’s dog. She sees a blurred image of Jim and Parker before passing out. Her mother is still screaming over the phone. A dark cloud surrounds her.

She wakes up covered in a fog blanket. Is this what the afterlife looks like? There’s nothing magical about this place as she has always imagined. Someone screams something gibberish with a voice like an ambulance siren from near her left hand. She cannot see the face because of this mystery fog, which only gets thicker by the minute till it consumes her again.

Someone calls her name out loud, which makes her wake up. Lana carefully examines the room. There’s no one here. And, she is certainly not dead. She thinks it might be a good time to remember everything happened after the red door, but she fails even though it takes all of her energy to try.

She is running and.. running.. and searching for something but she is not sure of what. There is no one to be seen. She is probably searching for someone. Suddenly something grabs her hand from the ground. She tries to take a closer look at it and she wakes up. She sees a doctor is taking her pulse.
“Glad you’re awake,” the doctor says with a big warm smile.
She momentarily doesn’t remember how to respond. She opens her mouth and closes it again.

She wakes up again. This time she sees a woman in her room. She is in her late 20s. She looks so familiar, but Lana is still having a hard time memorizing anything. Doctors think it is because of the trauma.
“Do you recognize me? I’m Claire. Your sister.” Claire squeezes her hand. It all starts coming back to her in fragments. Lana suddenly feels delighted to see her identical twin sister.
“Mom was here all night. I just sent her home.” Claire sits beside her.
“I’m glad that you are here,” Her first words after the shooting.

As she lies there in the hospital bed feeling completely blank, she begins to think about the meaning of life. She always wanted to be a teacher and live in a small town or village surrounded by mountains. Far away from this city crowd, she grew up with. But along with the time, it became a dream and then fragments of dreams. With time, she forgot what she was living for anymore. Her father left her quite a bit of money. She became an assistant at a law firm. She at least knew she was breathing. Her day starts and ends with work, which gives her barely the time for anyone. The picture of her own life started playing before her like a movie with no pause button. If she had died, her life would be for nothing. Frustration covers all over her like dark clouds covering the sky with no ray of light. She suddenly feels envious of Claire, who has a four year old girl, Hope. She closes her eyes again with the feeling emptiness.

She wakes up feeling suffocated. Literally. Someone is trying to suffocate her with the pillow. She desperately fights to the push it away, but she fails again and again. Suddenly she hears something and the pillow is immediately moved from her face. She takes a big gasp of air before seeing what is happening. When she sees it, it becomes hard to process. Claire is holding a pillow and a cop is pointing a gun at her. Claire looks back at her, “I’m sorry. Forgive me. I was doing this for Hope.”
“For Hope?” Lana asks feeling confused and devastated and worried.
“We both have life insurances,” Claire says with full of remorse in her eyes. A nurse is constantly asking Lana if she is okay, but she is unable to produce a single word. Her world comes down breaking into pieces like glass. Being mortified, she silently watches her sister being dragged away by the police.

After two months. Lana had left the city and her old job to get away from everything; from everyone. She now lives in a small town surrounded by mountains and ocean. She took a job at the local school as a teacher.
“Mom, where is Aunt Lana?” Hope asks looking up to her as they both are standing on the mountain by the ocean. She couldn’t bring herself to tell this little girl the truth about her mother. She will someday, but not at this moment. So she became her mother; she became Claire.
She over gently squeezes Hope’s little hand. “Over there,” she points at the sunset over the ocean.

(The attached picture is collected from internet)