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Rated: E · Short Story · Mystery · #1818018
A woman discovers via Facebook that a nephew is dead; but is he? (short story contest)
It was a beautiful, sunny, spring Sunday with clear blue skies.  October in southern Queensland was a fabulous time of year indeed, especially in the morning.  Liz could hear the Lorikeets chit chatting in the trees outside the window of her little home office, and the occasional magpie beckoning to its mate. 

As she drank her morning coffee, and perused the Facebook pages on her computer, she suddenly stopped and realised the latest update was from Dave’s niece Kate over in the U.S. and it was quite upsetting. She was staring at a distraught photo of Kate with a blazing inferno in the background and the status update said “Everything’s gone, Brian’s dead”.  Brian was Kate’s brother, Dave’s nephew, of course. They lived in the same apartment building in Tucson, Arizona and Liz now recognized that the fire in the background was that building.

Dave was born and raised in Arizona and that’s where Liz and Dave met. At the time, he had a law firm in Tucson and Liz started working there as an assistant to the paralegal and they struck up a relationship; fifteen years later they were still together, living in Australia as husband and wife.

Liz had grown up in Oregon but left at the age of nineteen. She had a bit of the wanderlust in her. She went to California for a couple of years working various jobs, mainly in bars and clubs. After a couple of unsettling years, she moved to Arizona and started attending paralegal classes, again working in nightclubs to pay the rent and for her schooling. She was still attending school when she started working at Dave’s firm.

They moved to Australia about 2 years after they became involved.  At the age of 35, Dave was already burnt out on the whole law thing and though Liz enjoyed the law environment, she also needed a change and longed for some adventure.  Since they were both ready for something different, when Dave’s cousin mentioned Australia, they booked a vacation to the land down under and ended up buying a little farm property there that they fell in love with.  Between the farm and a personal training studio they developed, they had the perfect lifestyle with income and freedom all wrapped up in one.

They had no children of their own, and though Dave wasn’t particularly close with his brother Mat, and Liz had no siblings, they were both quite close to his niece and nephew.  Even though they lived on another continent, they kept in good contact via all the latest technology like standard e-mail and Skype.  Liz did the Facebook thing as well; Dave didn’t really understand it and didn’t care to try.

So, when Liz noticed this distressing status by Kate, she first tried instant messaging Kate straight away.  She also tried e-mailing, but when after a few too many minutes she hadn’t heard anything, she yelled for Dave who was just finishing up a workout in the studio.

Before he was half way across the yard from the studio to the house, she filled him in on the very little details that she had.

“Dave, I think something awful has happened to Kate and Brian….by Kate’s Facebook status, Brian is dead!”

“Dead?! Just like that….dead?!”

She reiterated all she knew, which wasn’t much, as she made her way back to the computer to recheck the messages.

“I tried messaging her and e-mailing her but….” as she scrolled through Facebook and her e-mail “nope, nothing. You need to call her.”

“I’m on it. Let’s see it’s 7 AM here so it would be about 4 PM there” he said as he headed for the phone.  “I can’t believe this is happening!”

“I’m gonna see if I can find any news on it, that fire is so huge there would have to be something in in the Tucson news about-I’ll Google it”

So, as Dave dialled Kate’s phone number, Liz did an internet search to try to find anything on a massive fire in downtown Tucson. 

She wasn’t having any luck when she heard Dave leave a message for Kate.

“No answer, I’ll call my brother.” he said as he pounded out the numbers on the hand set.

“Mat, yeah, it’s me. We’re fine, fine…look, Liz saw on the computer that something happened to Kate and Brian-a huge fire and well, she said that Kate said Brian’s dead. Have you talked to Kate? You, wait, what? Well, shoot, I don’t know. Just a minute”

“Liz, when did that status come up?” Liz went back to the Facebook page, “It looks like about hmmm, that’s odd-I’m not seeing it now.” Liz clicked a few spots on the page with the mouse. “It’s not here, I can’t believe it’s not here. What in the world…?”

“I don’t know Mat” Dave said into the receiver. “Well, Liz isn’t seeing it now, I don’t know must have been some sort of mistake; But, I tried to call Kate a few minutes ago, what? Oh, man!  I’m sorry to freak you out like that, I don’t know what happened here. You’re sure they’re all right? OK, yeah, talk soon; I’ll e-mail ya. “

Dave put down the phone as Liz was frantically scanning the pages, back and forth.

“I don’t get it, how could that happen, I swear I saw Kate and a fire and those words!”

“Mat said Kate AND Brian left his house just fifteen minutes before I called. He said everything was perfectly fine and that they had been visiting all afternoon.” Dave said as he pulled a chair from the corner to sit next to Liz at the computer.  “I suppose she didn’t answer when I called since she was driving.”

Dave grabbed a chair to sit down next to Liz at the desk. “Show me what page you were on when you saw that.” 

Liz clicked and moved the mouse to get to her home page on Facebook, and showed him where the statuses show up; still nothing.

For a moment, Dave got up to see what the birds were squawking about outside. Liz then clicked to Kate’s page and froze in shock-she couldn’t speak or move. Not even a whimper would come out of her mouth when she saw, once again, that picture of Kate and those words “Brian’s dead. “ Liz just went blank.

Suddenly, she could feel herself being gently rocked and felt a hand on her arm. She was no longer at her desk looking at the computer but instead, in bed, snugly curled up under the cover.  Dave was looking down at her as he released her arm.  She could hear the morning birds chit chattering away outside since the window was open to let in the cool spring time air.

“Hey there sleepy head,” Dave said as he sat down on the bed. “I can’t believe how dead to the world you were. You never sleep in this late.”

“What time is it?” she could barely see the clock through her bleary eyes.

“It’s already 7:30. I would have let you sleep, but I know you had that appointment at nine.”

“I just had the most horrible dream” and she went on to tell him every detail.

“How odd and scary. Well, you’re awake now. Thank goodness it was just a dream.”

Just then the phone rang.

Dave got up and made his way out to the living room to answer it. Liz got up and was putting on her robe when she heard Dave exclaim.

“What?! Oh, no, Mat! I, I don’t know what to say.”

He turned to Liz, face pale as a sheet of printing paper.

“Mat said that Kate and Brian’s apartment building burnt down, and Brian’s dead!”

Liz simply fell to her knees and cried. 

© Copyright 2011 Raechelle (raechelle2 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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