Mark will always be sixteen. Like a broken clock, time will always stand still. The door to his room had remained locked over the days, and May could not bring herself to wade through the odds and end that was the life of Mark, she could see his guitar through the half-opened door. He loved music. Mark loved chocolates. He loved life.
Three detectives approached the house; it had a white picket fence, a suburban home. The lawn, even in the dark, could be seen to be well manicured, the work of a patient gardener who took pride in the job. A slight drizzle disturbed the quiet, windless night. The neighbourhood was a good one. They checked the address in their book again to be sure they had the right address. Yes, they did. They were on the right property, and the address 1231 Starkford Avenue stared right back at them. The trio were battle-hardened cops; they had seen the worst of them - criminals, rapists, kidnappers, serial killers, plus other depraved acts by people who loved the dark side of life. However, they all felt uncomfortable for the reason they were on the property. They raised their hand to knock and saw the front light come on. A speaker above them blared, "Hello, please can I know who you are?" The pleasant robotic voice came on. Technology. Everyone had those, but it kept changing.
"Please press the little button by the door to reply." The voice continued.
The three detectives looked at each other, and Detective Tom Folley volunteered by reaching for the button on the door.
"We are detectives from the Ed Sharpton Precinct; we would like to know if we are on the residence of Mrs May Smith?"
The voice on the other end sounded a little panicky.
"Detectives? What could be the matter?"
Before the could reply, she continued. "A moment, I'm coming to the door."
Within moments, a tall lady, barefoot and in her pyjamas opened the door. She was looking from one face of the detectives to the other. One of the detectives was on the verge of tears, but thankfully the rain made it difficult to see. Detective Foley showed her his badge.
"Please forgive my manners, do come in." She opened the door and stepped aside to allow them to come in.
"Ma'am, I'm afraid we had some bad news." Detective Foley took the lead again
Well, she guessed it had to be something unpleasant. It was never good news to have three detectives show up at night at your doorstep. She braced herself.
"There is no good way of saying this." He continued.
"Your son, Mark Smith, was found unresponsive by the officer ..." The rest of the statement was a blur. The colour went out of the world and all May could see was darkness.
Time stopped for May. Anything further the detectives said that night was a blur. She tried hard to listen, but it was like listening to a scratched vinyl record. The words all appeared garbled. Today she had decided to make sense of it. However, the harder she tried, the tougher it became. She had read and seen on TV of such occurrences. However, she never dreamt of it ever happening to someone she knew. Not Mark. Not the sweet boy that loved music so much, that loved the outdoors more than anything.
It was difficult to process all of the events that led to the three detectives visit. Mark had his first heartbreak from Lucy two weeks ago. Lucy was not the problem; the parents finally won; they never liked Mark due to a long history of the family feud that predated the duo. A long time ago, Mark's grandfather won a major court settlement, and Lucy's grandparents had to pay which bankrupted them. Ever since the incident, there was no love lost between the families. When Mark met Lucy, he had no idea whose family she was from. However, that was to be revealed the first time he visited their home and mentioned he was the son of Orson Smith. The guests at the dinner table turned quiet, and there were hushed whisperings. The host managed to tolerate his presence until he was gone. Lucy was later told to chose between the parents and Mark. It was not much of choice, but she chose family. Mark received the news and locked himself in his room for three straight days that May feared the worst. On the third day, he emerged cheerfully and kissed her goodbye. He had a party to attend. He was not the partying kind, but May was grateful that he was at least trying to socialise.
He called her by 10 PM sounding very happy. The party was a success. He would be home soon. She stayed awake. Waiting. An hour crept by, then two, then four. She was worried. Then the knock. She was confused to hear an unfamiliar voice. She hurried to put on a coat on her pyjamas and ran to the door with her heart beating. She opened the door a crack and saw the three figures in uniform. Her heart sank. What could it be? Was there housebreaking? Did something go wrong somewhere? The thoughts came in quick succession, each bouncing off her like water off a duck's back.
"Hello Ma'am, please could you follow us down to the morgue to ID?" The voice broke into her chain of thoughts.
The morgue! Oh, not my son! This moment is not happening! This, right here, is a crazy nightmare. Wake up May! But the three figures in her front is as real as it gets.
"What happened?" her voice sounded strange to her ears.
"The deceased, em.. sorry your son, was involved in a motor accident. He was not driving. They were three in the car. He was seated at the back. At an intersection on 25th Street, a drunk driver ran a red light and t-boned the rear of the car. The driver and one passenger are at the hospital in critical condition. Your son was found unresponsive by the first responders. We are sorry for your loss Ma'am."
It did not make sense.
At the morgue, it was strangely cold and quiet. The sheet drew back, and May lost it. It was Mark. He appeared to be sleeping.
The burial occurred in one week. The whole town turned up, even Lucy's family attended. Everyone was sorry for her loss. Everyone said the same mechanical things people say at a funeral. Most wore black and tried to not laugh at something funny in order not to appear insensitive. Soon everyone will forget Mark.
There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is conveyed to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.
Today, Mark died the second death, and May swore that she would make sure that he did not have to experience the third. She had no idea how to go about it, but she wanted the world to know that her son, Mark, once lived, and touched many lives while at it.
An August Visitor
Three weeks after the burial, a knock came to the door. May opened the door, and Mark stood smiling shyly at her.
It couldn't be!
"You are dead! What are you doing here?" was the first word she whispered when she came to.
The boy smile again, this time you could feel the uneasiness of it.
"I can explain. I'm human and not a ghost." He said and extended his hand. She could feel it. It was real. She was confused.
"I was confused too when I saw my face in the obituary section of the local newspaper. Imagine my shock. I showed it to my parents, and after much persuasion, they told me the truth. I am your son."
"I doubt that you are, you may look like my Mike. My Mike died, I just buried him," she said in an almost whisper.
"No, I am not Mike. I stalked your home and followed you to the hair salon. I stole your hair and carried out a DNA paternity testing, and it came out you are truly my mother. You had a twin, and one died at childbirth. Right?"
She was confused as she never told anyone this. She nodded.
"Well, I was the one that died, except that I didn't. The nurse on duty is the person who swapped me with a dead child. She wanted a baby but did not want to go through the normal legit route."
Like a Rubik's Cube, all the patterns fell into place; it all made sense now. The twin she'd mourned for sixteen years just waltzed into her home!
There were tears of joy. It appeared that Mike might not have to die the third time. This stranger a few seconds ago, who is also her long-lost son can continue his legacy.
Authored by: @greenrun
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