Or Not to Be

Or Not to Be by Laura Lanni Read Free Book Online

Book: Or Not to Be by Laura Lanni Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laura Lanni
here, Mom?” I ask.
    “You did it this time,” she says.
    “Not intentionally. That’s how it’s been
for me so far. I just jump around.”
    “Don’t worry. You’ll develop better
control. Just focus on your son. If you brought us here, you need to be with
him.”
    Joey’s eyes are closed, but he’s not
napping. His scrunched eyebrows give him away. His mouth is pulled firmly into
a scowl. He is definitely thinking, and I can hear him.
    I helped Daddy make a good list before
he went to the store. I asked for Fruity Pebbles. Mommy always makes me eat Wheaties
or Cheerios or a bagel, but Daddy might let me have good cereal for breakfast.
He just nodded and wrote it on the list. I don’t know why Daddy even went to
the store. Amy and Miss Evelyn and all the ladies from church, and even mean
old Mrs. Smithers, all brought over pies and smelly casseroles today.
    Daddy wanted Bethany to go with him.
I’m the only one who knows where all the stuff is, and he didn’t even ask me to
come. Daddy might get lost in that big store all alone.
    Good thing Bethy didn’t go—her face is
all red and blotchy, and her hair is all messy, too. If Mommy sees her like
that she’ll make her brush her hair. Bethany told Daddy she had to finish
cleaning up the kitchen. It was already clean, and now she’s sitting on the
swing.
    I think she just didn’t want to go.
Mommy calls that making excuses.
    Joey lies on his
back in the semidarkness under the bed, eyes still closed in concentration.
He’s thinking about food. Any food sounds good. His belly grumbles.
    I
hope Daddy hurries up with my Fruity Pebbles.
    His eyes pop open when he hears noise
outside. The thump of a car door. The front door squeaks and Michelle comes in,
calling, “Joey!” He doesn’t come out from under the bed. Instead, he grins and
waits. Aunt Michelle is almost as good as Fruity Pebbles.
    My Joey loves my sister because she’s fun
and funny. Knowing Michelle is with my family, in my place, gives me some
relief. She’ll take over for Bethany, feed Eddie, and hug Joey. She’ll fill my
empty spot for a while.
    Michelle drops her pile of stuff in the
foyer and takes the stairs two at a time and enters Joey’s bedroom humming
Bette Midler’s “The Rose.” She lies down in a pile of crumbs by the bed and
lifts the edge of the blanket to peek under. She spills a shaft of light under
his bed, and Joey smiles at her, reaches out his hand to touch her face. Still
humming, she lays a kiss on his palm and crawls under the bed with him. She
pulls my boy into her arms.
    As she kisses his soft, dirty cheeks, he
giggles and offers her his last Oreo, which she stuffs in her mouth. After a
few minutes of hugging, Michelle gets Joey to snuggle in the covers on the bed
with her. She grabs the top book in the stack by his bed and finds the bookmark
holding our page from the last night I ever read Joey to sleep—the night before
I died. That was just two days ago, but is feels like a lifetime has passed.
How long is a lifetime, anyway? Mine passed like a blink, just like the first
day of my death.
    While Michelle reads about the adventures
of Bigwig, Hazel, and Fiver, Joey falls into a deep sleep in her arms. Michelle
drops the book and cries while she cradles my sleeping son.
    | | | |
    “ Better now,
Anna ?” my mother asks.
    “I’m relieved that Michelle has my boy and
he’s not all alone under that bed waiting for me anymore.”
    “Good. Then you can start to consider your
situation. Take some time. Look around on your own. Just call me if you get
lost or need a nudge back.”
    “What am I looking for?”
    “Watch your life. Watch your family for as
long as you like. Go back and remember the good and bad. There is no reason to
hurry here on the dead side. Just relax and absorb as much as you can.”
    As suddenly as my mom appeared, she
leaves, and I know for certain I’m alone once again.
    Look around. Watch my life. I can do that,
I think, but I can’t control

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