Sandra had been hearing them for months now and it was wonderful. She was able to spend time with those who had passed, her grandparents, her mother, Bobby and June. It had been so long since she had heard any of their voices. It was like magic, one day they just started talking to her through the radio, fading in and out of the static at first until their voices were strong and clear. She hadn’t told anyone yet, she knew what they’d say, that she was crazy, or hearing things. She couldn’t always hear them on the radio, so she was afraid of trying to get anyone else to listen. She had tried recording them herself, but when she played it back, there was nothing but high pitched whines.
Sandra settled into her chair and turned on the radio, “Hello?”, there was nothing but static. She tried again a few minutes later. There was something in the static, faint but there. “Can you hear me? You’re coming in very faintly.”
Again, something but she couldn’t quite make it out.
“Hello? Are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here.”
Her heart started beating faster, “Is that you?”
“I think so.”
“Yeah. Why can’t I see you? I can only hear you. Where are we? Why is it so dark?”
What should she do? Why didn’t he know? All the others knew.
“I…I don’t know how to tell you this really, but you’re dead.”
“Yeah. There um. There was a car crash, about seven years ago now. Your car went into the lake and you didn’t make it out. I’m sorry.”
There was silence.
“I’m still here. I’m thinking.”
Sandra sat in silence, giving him time to process.
“I think. I think I remember it. Fear, coldness, crushing weight on me. I tried to get out, but I couldn’t figure out how.”
“They said you hit your head, that you were probably unconscious.”
“No. I blacked out for a bit, but I woke up from the water. It was so cold.”
“You’re ok now though.”
“I hope so. Are you cold?”
“No. But I’m not warm either. I’m nothing.”
“The others said it was like that.”
“Yeah. Bobby and June, they died about two years after you, a truck ran a red light and t-boned their car.”
“Can I talk to them?”
“I don’t know. Maybe? They seemed to be able to talk to each other.”
“It’s so empty here.”
Her heart started to beat a little faster, the others wouldn’t, or couldn’t, describe their surroundings.
“What’s it like?”
“I don’t know. It’s like it’s bright and dark all at once. Its hard to make stuff out, but I know I can see. There’s lots of colours too. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like if someone left a painting out in the rain and everything ran together.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad.”
“Yeah. I guess. Better than hell anyway.”
“The others said there wasn’t a heaven or a hell. That they just were.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know. I think where ever you are is it.”
“Well that kind of sucks.”
“Yeah. I’ve missed you.”
“I guess I’ve missed you too. I don’t remember much of it, but I wish I could see you right now.”
“I’d really like a hug.” Dan laughed, his voice sounded thick. “I’m sorry. I’m sure it hasn’t been fun for you either.”
“It’s been a while. It got easier after a few months. I still think about you most days.”
“I’m glad anyone remembers me at all. How…How are my family doing?”
“I’m not sure. We lost touch. Last I heard Katrina was doing some modelling and Jacob was going to college, engineering I think.”
“Ugh. I’d say Katrina is impossible to be around now. I’m not sorry I missed that at least. What about Mom and Dad?”
“Your dad retired shortly after the accident, your mom too. They moved to a smaller house, closer to Jacob’s college.”
“Oh. I guess I don’t really blame them. I’m glad that they’re doing ok though. What else did I miss?”
“Samantha had a baby about a year ago, I don’t see much of her anymore, that’s the most exciting thing I think. We all kind of drifted apart after Bobby and June. Getting older I guess.”
“Yeah. If you want, I could tell the others about you, the might be able to find you there.”
“That would be really great. It’s weird being alone. I miss people. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. Just drifting. But then I heard you and I recognised your voice.”
“Granny said that sometimes people forgot when they arrived, that it could take some time for them to remember who they were.”
“Do you talk to her a lot?”
Sandra shrugged, “I guess. Most days I try to talk to someone, though it doesn’t always work. Maybe three times a week or so?”
“Why doesn’t it always work?”
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t.”
“That seems like a pain really.”
“I guess. I don’t mind too much. Maybe it’s like phone lines and sometimes the wires just go down.”
“Maybe. Though I know a way that you could fix it.”
“Really? What’s that?”
Sandra felt excitement bubbling in her chest, if she could make it work all the time she could show other people, who knew what kind of advancements could be made in the world. Great minds could be contacted and work on new ideas, historical figures could be directly asked about what they thought and felt.
“It’s actually really easy. Why don’t you come join us.”
“Yeah heard me. It’s easy. A handful of pills, a nice, sharp knife.”
“that’s not funny.”
“I’m not laughing.”
“Why would you say something like that?”
“Because it’s true. You can come here anytime you want. Then you could be with us again, you could be with me. You could hold me, feel me. I’m so alone here. I don’t want to be alone.”
Sandra reached out for the radio, her hand was shaking, she didn’t want to talk to Dan anymore.
“Don’t touch that.”
She snatched her hand away from the radio, how had he known?
“Everyone would be better off without you anyway. Trust me. It’s all coming back to me now. The time I spent drifting, I wasn’t drifting, I was looking for you. I moved through the static and the air, I could hear them all. All the things people said about you and boy, was it not nice.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Ugh. I hate her so much, why does she even bother coming? She has to know she’s inviting herself along. No one wants her here.”
Sandra knew that voice, Gemma, her best friend.
“Of course the bitch wanted to split the bill between everyone, did you see how much food she ate? And she was the only one drinking booze. I didn’t even know someone could drink that much.”
That was Becca.
More voices of people she knew started to play on the radio, each say something awful and hurtful. She tried to turn the radio off but every time she pressed a button it only got louder. She pulled the plug out of the socket, but the radio played on and on and on.
“See what I mean? No one likes you. No one loves you. Least not any of the living. But here there are people who love you. Your grandparents, Bobby and June, me. You’ll be much better off. The world would be much better off.”
Sandra had tears streaming down her face, Dan’s voice faded away and was replaced with the voices of the people she loved, and who she thought had loved her, steadily getting louder and louder.