I Can See
by Jon Beight
“Daddy. Wake up. Something’s wrong with Mommy!” pleaded Megan over the blare of the television. “Daddy! Wake up!”
Charlie woke from his six pack nap, as he called it, to find a pair of urgent seven year old eyes looking at him. He tried to shake the cobwebs loose.
“She’s lying on the front lawn, laughing and crying,” said Megan, in her squeaky little voice.
Charlie rose from the couch and stumbled to the kitchen window. Pushing away the curtain, he saw Evelyn, lying near the road, on her back with her arms reaching straight out.
Putting on his shoes, Charlie walked outside with Megan pulling him forward by his pant leg.
When he reached Evelyn, she was still on her back, laughing for a few seconds, then crying uncontrollably, and then laughing again, hard.
Charlie looked at Evelyn, rolled his eyes, and shook his head.
“What’s goin’ on, Ev?”
Megan began to cry.
“Oh honey, don’t cry. I’m okay,” reassured Evelyn, as she rose to be at eye level with Megan. “I just learned something about myself today.”
“You learned something? What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Charlie.
Evelyn ignored Charlie and continued talking to Megan.
“Sweetheart, somehow today, in the last hour, right here, I could see how things were going to be.”
“How things are going to be? You mean, like the future?” asked Charlie.
Evelyn got to her feet and stood herself square with Charlie.
“Charlie, for our entire marriage, I’ve lived with your drinking and your inability to hold down a job. I’ve somehow tolerated your belittling me and cringed at the way you’ve tormented Megan. I always hoped you would somehow change, but I finally realized you were never going to. I was ready to accept that this was my life, when suddenly it happened. I was just out here looking around at the trees, the hills, the sky, when it all became clear.”
“What became clear?”
“It became clear that Megan and I won’t have to put up with you any longer. Do you want to know why?”
Her fearlessness was something Charlie hadn’t seen before. It made him nervous.
“I think you’ve lost your mind.”
“I used to go to my mother when I felt scared about the future. She would always say, ‘Don’t worry honey. You’ll see. It will be alright. Someday you’ll see.’ I didn’t know this was what she meant, that I would really see!”
“See? See what?”
Evelyn took a deep breath. “Okay. Try to keep that puny, primitive little brain of yours open for just one minute. I don’t know how, but I know what’s going to happen. I know what’s going to happen in the next minute, the next hour, and the next day. Whenever I want to know, it will unfold in front of me. It becomes as clear as a crystal goblet. And the beauty of it is I can change it if I want to.
“You’re full of crap, Ev.”
“Oh really? Stand right there.”
Evelyn stood still for a few seconds with her head tilted back, staring at the sky.
“Charlie, before I can count down from ten, you’ll hear a dog bark, a black truck will drive by with a load of furniture, and a breeze will blow a speck of dust in your right eye.”
Evelyn began counting down. “Ten…nine…eight…”
A dog barked and Charlie spun his head to find it. As he searched, a black truck drove by, loaded with furniture. Its breeze stirred the dust, a speck of which found its way into Charlie’s right eye.
“What the—!” said a flustered Charlie.
“I’ll tell you what else I know Charlie. I know when you’re going to die. I know when, I know where, and I know how. I’ll tell you this much. You’re going to break your neck in a fall.” Evelyn started laughing. “But don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.”
“What’s so damn funny?”
“I’m laughing because you’ve made Megan and me so miserable for so long that you had me reduced to thinking of ways to kill you. But now I see that you’re going to take care of it by yourself.” Evelyn started laughing even harder as she said, “It’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me.”
“Charlie. I want to make a deal with you. I might tell you when and where you’ll die, but only if you leave us right now. If you don’t leave you’ll never know, and even if you manage to cheat death, I’ll know about the next time, and the time after that.”
“You’ve really lost your mind, haven’t you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t. But if I haven’t, do you really want to take the chance?”
“You won’t survive without me Ev.”
“Yes I will, Charlie. Do you want to know why? Because two days after you’re dead, I’m going to win the lottery. Megan, and I will be taken care of for the rest of our lives. You, on the other hand, will be worm food. So have a nice life, Charlie. Watch your step.”
Charlie packed and left soon after. He died the following month of a broken neck, the result of a drunken fall from a ladder.
Evelyn was sitting on the garden patio of Megan’s Tuscany home. The air was sweet with jasmine that floated on the Mediterranean breeze. As she sipped her tea, her granddaughter came running from the front yard.
“Grandma! There’s something wrong with Mommy. She’s lying on the ground laughing and crying.”
“It will be alright, honey, you’ll see,” said Evelyn. “Someday you’ll see.”
◊ ◊ ◊
Jon Beight lives and works in Western New York. He has been published in Feathertale, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Foliate Oak, Boston Literary Magazine, and other fine publications.
One thought on “I Can See”
Nice bit of whimsy. I wondered, though, whether Evelyn told Charlie before he left. AGB