A surprising encounter on a tram with my dead brother.
|How large is the chance that you are traveling with the same tram as your brother, without even knowing or noticing? It just happened.
A tap on my shoulder jerked me out of the audiobook playing on my phone. Looking up at the offender standing next to my tram seat, a set of brown eyes stared into mine. I took out an ear plug and opened my mouth to ask him what he wanted. But a slight shake of his bearded head stopped me. Confused, I also felt slightly alarmed.
He said, “Is that seat taken?”
I stood, allowing him to slide into the seat next to the window. I studied him carefully. Should I resume my seat, or move to another part of the tram car? He looked sort of familiar, but I couldn’t place him. The tram was about half full. I felt silly and sat down next to him.
“Hello, Carol. Please don’t say anything,” he whispered.
A jolt of recognition whipped my eyes around to lock onto his. He was familiar all right. He was my brother. My dead brother - killed in Afghanistan 7 years ago. Every Memorial Day, our grieving family decorated his grave. His hand grabbed my wrist. He must have noticed my surprise turning to anger.
“I’m in danger. You may be too,” he said.
“I’m listening, you selfish ...”
“Carol, please. You have every right to be angry, but I assure you, I’m one of the good guys."
“What is that supposed to mean?” I said.
"Not so loud. I’ll explain what I can to you later. Now, I just need you to book a hotel room in your husband’s name. Sorry, Sis, but I need you to pay for it too.”
“How do I know you’re not a drug runner or something? Do you have any idea the pain you have caused Mom and Dad - or me and everyone else?” I felt a tear of fury well up. I smeared it away before it could embarrass me.
My brother pressed a phone in my hand. “Take this. It’s a burner. I’ll call you tonight to get the hotel location from you.”
He was my brother. I loved him. I had to help him. What else could I do?
I took the phone and squeezed his hand with all the love I could force into it.
At the next stop, he got off. He didn’t wave. He just looked at me until the tram pulled away.
I reserved the hotel room and waited for his call.
I’m still waiting.
Word count: 429