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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2204510
Ruby does not want to deal with Black Friday this year.
Word Count: 1514

Ruby walked fast through the mall, which was more overcrowded this year than previous years. Sheesh, she thought, the economy must really be booming this year. I haven't seen the mall this packed on a Black Friday in I can't remember when. There's just too many people here. I can't stand it. I will be so glad when I find what I came for.The frown on her face made the other shoppers who were passing by her from the opposite direction look down at the floor, and continue walking without saying a word to her. Normally at this time of the year, people were more congenial, saying "hi", and "Merry Christmas!", but Ruby didn't want any part of that this year, because the middle of December would be one year since her husband George passed away from heart complications, and that still weighed on her mind heavily. How can these people be so happy? She thought. Don't they knew my one and only true love is gone from me for eternity?

The festive holiday music continued to play, people continued shopping, and sales were still happening at every store, oblivious to the fact Ruby was now a recent widow. Life goes on. To Ruby, it seemed as if the world could care less that she had lost her husband of twenty years.

While reveling in her self pity, and still looking for the only store that carried the latest and greatest electronic gadget that her teenage nephew Billy Joe wanted, a young man close to about half Ruby's age pushed up against her from behind, without even looking back, or not even so much as an "I'm sorry, ma'am". He just continued to push through the crowd of shoppers, as if on a mission to get somewhere really fast. Well, now, I never, she thought. The rudeness of that young man. I'm going to follow him, and teach him some manners. No respect for the older generation.

Although she was carrying a couple large shopping bags filled with presents, along with her bag sized purse, she quickened her pace until she was at a run. When she realized this, she slowed down just a bit, so as to not arouse suspicion with the mall security. She wanted to keep sight of the rude young man. Getting this present her nephew wanted was important, but so was getting this hooligan to offer an apology was important, as well. Why some people don't teach their kids better manners these days was beyond her. She would have taught her only boy, Roscoe, a lesson if he had done this to somebody in a crowded place. "Always do unto others," she and George always told him.
She finally caught up to the guy at the food court, but just like a wraith, he was gone again. How does he do that? Ruby thought. I was just looking at him from no more than ten feet away.

Then she saw a door closing in between the pizza and Chinese food joints. It was one of those steel looking doors with no unusual features, sort of like the lead lined doors used for hospital Xray rooms. There was no handle, just a brass plaque where you pushed it to open it.. That's weird, she thought. All the times I have came here, I have never noticed this door. She looked above the door at the sign. "Mall management", it said. That's good, I will just go to the office and report him, and if I see him, boy is he going to get a good scolding.

She pushed the door open, but no one shared the corridor with her. The drab manila paint on either wall was a stark contrast from the gay green and red colors that the mall was festooned in out in the common areas of the mall where the people shopped.

The hallway went down for about forty feet, then made a sharp right hand turn. Ruby followed it, hoping to either see someone important from the mall, or the boy. When she turned the corner, she saw something that made her stop in her tracks, and just stand there, frozen.

A green mist, like something from a horror movie, was swirling around what appeared to be a portal to somewhere otherworldly. Ruby stood there, wanting to turn around and get out of there, but she couldn't.

Something was holding her in front of this eerie portal. Then she heard something that at first shocked her, then made her want to cry when she realized what the sound was. It was George! She was so glad to hear his voice, yet at the same time, she was scared to death. Then she wondered if this was it, she was finally going bonkers. Was this real, or was she about to get fitted for one of those white jackets that the hands tie in the back?

"George? Is that really you?" she cautiously asked while continuing to stare into this weird opening into...nothing.

"Yes, my love," came a hollow man's voice whom she immediately recognized as her beloved George. "It is I, your only husband."

"Why can't I see you, honey?" she asked, tears streaming down her face, ruining her mascara.

"You are not ready to see me yet, although I have came to tell you that the time for seeing me draws nearer each day, my sweet love," replied George.

"So, this is how you do it, by scaring the crap out of me in a crowded mall on Black Friday?" she hissed. She was no longer sad, now her emotion was anger and rage If George wasn't already dead, she would kill him for this.

"It is that right there that I have come to warn you about, my love," the voice warned. "You must change your outlook on life. You must gain a new attitude and a better perception."

"What are you talking about, a new perception?"

"If you do not turn from your usual ways, being tart tongued and all, like you were towards me for twenty years, then you and I will not, can not, be together for eternity," Georges spirit told her. "You must learn to love your fellow man. I knew how you were when we married, but my love for you made me overlook your bad attitude towards me, and others. What is bad, though, is you got worse after I died."

"I'm not all that bad," she replied.

"Look into the mist, baby."

"Okay, what am I looking for?"

"You will see."

All of the sudden, the green mist began to fade away, and pictures of her and her husbands earlier years began to materialize. All the times she ran him down for losing a job here and there. All the times, she cussed someone out who had cut her off in traffic. All the times she belittled her son Roscoe for not coming home with an 'A' on his report card. All twenty years, in the span of about two minutes. When it was over, Ruby was on the floor on her knees, her shopping bags on either side of her, bawling her eyes out. "I'm so sorry, baby," she cried into the mist which had once again reappeared around the ethereal portal. "I didn't really mean all those things. I just wanted you to always do better, but you wouldn't, and for the life of me, I never understood way, and it made me that much more angrier."

"We can't all be the same, Ruby," George told her. "We can't all try to hold up high expectations. If we all held to the same standard, the world would be a very boring place. Some people do good, some do better, and then some don't do near as good as people would like them. That's okay, though. Those people who can do better than others should lift them up with words of encouragement, not tear them down with vile hatred."

"I will do better from now on, I promise," she pleaded, the tears still flowing.

"You will. You will now, I can see that you truly are sorry for what you have put Roscoe and I through. Now, go, and find Billy Joe that present he wants. Oh, and baby..."

"Yes, George?" Ruby asked as she picked herself and her bags back up off the floor.

"I'll be seeing you at Christmas." Ruby wondered why he would say that, because since he was a spirit, and she knew that he was apparently still down here on earth, instead of one of the two eternal places, she knew he would be seeing her. It was just that, no matter how much she wanted, she still could not see him.


On Christmas Day of that same year, not even a full month after she had encountered whatever it was that day in the mall, Ruby got to see George for Christmas again.
She died of a brain aneurism that morning while preparing breakfast for Roscoe.

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