Short Story by Nabeeha Ahmed
Entry in the 2015 LIS Writes competition
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Short Story by Nabeeha Ahmed
I can recall everything about the moment I died.
I remember the fierce waves hurling at me aggressively from every angle and
knocking the breath out of my lungs. I remember the pouring rain, the way it fell
like tiny bullets onto the skin of my bony fingers as I tried to reach out to grab
Mostly, though, I remember the panic. Oh God, the panic. I knew I wasn’t going
to make it. The shore was too far; it was raining too hard; my body was too numb.
I couldn’t do it, so I didn’t try.
Instead, I let myself fall, the numbness taking over my senses. I couldn’t breathe as
water shoved its way into me. All I could hear was the pounding in my chest and
the voices in my head screaming at me, begging me to try.
But I didn’t. I could feel myself falling into and out of daze, whether this was
because of the strong drugs or the water, I didn’t know.
I kept falling, the freezing water enveloping me.
Darkness overwhelmed me and I tried to let out one last strangled gasp but was
only able to choke down more water before I felt myself shutting down.
The pounding stopped, the screaming faded and my limbs went limp.
My body isn’t found until two days later, when an unlucky fisherman comes to the
river, traumatized to discover the washed-up body of a dead girl laying face down on
the damp sand. He screams and runs back to the city, tripping over himself. Not long
after, loud police cars and an ambulance appear with suited men jumping out and
rushing over to my body. I watch as they haul my body into the back of an
ambulance in a slick black bag and slam the door shut. Tomorrow they will report
the results of my autopsy and they will find the drugs.
Right now, reporters yell and jump from the sidelines, eager to receive answers,
while my mom buries her face into my father’s chest and weeps. Surprisingly, I
begin thinking how the whole scene reminds me of my eighth birthday party, when
the bouncy castle caught on fire and I burnt my right arm. That was the day when I
had gotten into a huge fight with my best friend over something stupid.
Exactly ten years later, she’s standing here, listening to the policemen and
contemplating about what happened while comforting my parents and sister as she
holds back her own tears. There’s no doubt that she recalls what happened on my
birthday, when she slipped a pill into my drink during the surprise party and told me
I would feel much, much better. At the time I felt that she was a good, caring friend.
I had continued to think that even after she watched me leave with a group of
drunken strangers. I had even continued to think that while stumbling across the
bridge later that night, heavily intoxicated and alone, all alone.
“Mrs. Harrison.” I’m brought back to the present by the booming voice of a
large police officer approaching my mother.
“We would like to ask you a couple of questions, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t think it’s the right time to-,” my father starts before my mum interrupted.
“It’s fine, Robert.”
My sister remains quiet.
The police officer clears his throat. “Do you know where your daughter was last
My mom nods. “She was at her surprise birthday party. In fact,” she turns towards
my best friend, “Lisa was the one who threw it.”
Lisa now has the police officer’s attention. “Were you with her the entire
I can see Lisa visibly nervous. “Um, no, she left with, um, some people.”
Lisa quickly responds, “Just some guys from the football team.” She’s
“Was Sarah popular in your school? Did she have a lot of friends?”
Both my parents and Lisa nod and the police officer jot something down on his pad.
I’m tired of listening and turn away from them. I walk straight through the bushes
and through a parked police car. I’m walking in broad daylight but no one can see
me. Which is ironic because just last week I was everything to see.
Not anymore. Because I’m dead.
The words echo through my mind. I can’t believe it. I won’t believe
it. I will have my life back. My amazing, perfect life.
I chant that mantra over and over again to stop myself from crying. So lost in my
thoughts, I trip and instinctively reach out for the pole for balance, but my fingers
went brushing through the thin air and I fell completely on the ground. No one tries
to help me.
That’s right, they can’t see me. Because I’m dead.
I can’t even help myself. I burst out into tears right there, sprawled across the
sidewalk as random people walk over me, walk through me.
Everything I had is gone. Poof. It’s gone, just like that. I’m overcome with a
strong sense of nostalgia for all my memories - from my first dog to graduation -
that I can remember.
But also for the memories I will never get to have. Graduation from college, my
first job, my wedding - things I will never have the chance to experience.
I’m crying because the memories I have are the only ones I will ever have. Finally
deciding that my duties as a ghost don’t involve bawling on the ground, I weakly
push myself up and wipe my imaginary snot with my sleeve. Without much
thought, I walk down the familiar street towards my block.
Around me are children playing and laughing; housewives trimming their hedges,
gossiping; couples practically glued to each other, whispering. Looks like everyone
is having a fantastic morning. Except for me, of course.
I’m about to turn to my street when I stop. Do I really want to see this right now? Do
I really want to see my old life, everything I’ll never have, again? My throat tightens
up and my eyes well up with tears again. I let out a shaky breath to calm myself
I can’t ignore this forever, I think, and begin to take wobbly steps towards my house.
My parents’ car is in the driveway, which means my family is home. Unlike the
houses surrounding them, their blinds are shut. It’s obvious no one has heard the
news, otherwise they would be depressed too. It wasn’t like Old Grey, my 95-year-old
neighbor, had died. It was me.
The world doesn’t always revolve around you, Sarah. Lisa had snapped and
retorted those words at me just last week, when I had failed my language test and
had refused to do anything with anyone, and had rejected anyone who did anything
Whatever. I’m dead now, it doesn’t even matter what people do.
But a part of me wants everyone to feel the way I’m feeling. That part wants them
to feel the loss deep in their hearts and wants them to be miserable over my death.
The other part of me, I guess the more humane part, is deeply ashamed that I am
even capable of these thoughts. The world will go on, regardless of my existence or
not, and I will be here.
I will be the only one stuck in eternal misery, while others go on and enjoy the rest
of their lives.
I feel like all of me has been sucked out and I am just a walking pile of dead skin and
sunken bones. I have lost everything and everyone.
Last week I was so sure of who I am, what I was going to do. I, Sarah Harrison,
would study journalism and someday I would go write for the New York Times.
People would know my name and I would walk the streets hearing, “That’s her”,
“I loved her article from last week”, “She’s opened my eyes”. I would have been
successful, famous, loved - I would have been happy.
Now I don’t even know who I am. I am a lost dead girl who will forever be stuck
in the past. My future is an endless void of meaningless, miserable existence. I am
In my depressive state, I can’t bring myself to walk into the house. I ache to be able
to materialize into my old self and take my life back.
I should be somewhat happy. Everyone wants to be able move freely. To be home
all the time, to skip school, tp see everyone without them seeing me. I can do all
that now. So I push myself through the front door and stand in the dark, empty
I am home.
Except that I am not. Because this isn’t
Home is my family.
My parent’s laughing over a game show; my dog running around chasing cats off
our property; the distinct chatter of my sister on her phone.
Home is the smell of my mother’s cooking; the scent that embraced me every time I
entered the house and lured me into the kitchen, a place where I would collapse onto
one of the stools and drone on about my day. Home is the bright living room during
The times when I could lay on the floor, complaining about the heat with my
dog snuggled next to me, chewing my mother’s cookies.
Home is being cared for.
All those times I had pretended to be sick or faked an injury to get out of school.
All those times when my mom pretended she believed me, and made me chicken
soup and read me her favorite books.
Home is not this huge brick house that has lost its spark and hardly sees
Home is not this broken family or the sadness that washes over them as they
walk through the dark corridors, in constant reminder of their loss.
Home is not this loneliness that fills me from top to bottom and the constant
aching for my life, for my home.
Home is something I have lost.
Home is something I will never have again.