A cul de sac: a dead end street with only one way in and/or out.
A cul de sac community: everyone knows everyone, including their business.
It’s all a façade, at twenty years old, I see right past them.
At twenty years old, I learned that the only way in and/or out of this cul de sac was to face your neighbors, who were more like acquaintances that you only socialized with on July 4th Weekend over some burnt burgers and half-cooked hot dogs. Then, there were those who you became familiar with, the ones who caught you sneaking into your house at 4 in the morning, kicking over a potted plant, the sound echoing through the night. The neighbor who knows your secrets, but will never approach you to talk about.
I always thought coming back home from College after dropping out after one semester would kick me in the ass, and it did. Don’t get me wrong, living at home has an immense number of perks and a lot of free time, but I needed to get out of here, and that meant picking up more hours at the newest ‘it’ store.
The newest ‘it’ store was an athletic-meets-fashion store, and to my advantage, I fit the criteria for both. I was lucky to get a job when it was ‘low-season’; the assistant manager and I went to the same high school together, and thus she landed me the job.
It was an easy retail job; there wasn’t much to say about it. I usually took the shitty shifts given to me; I would sometimes pull twelve-hour days, or leave the mall at 10:30pm, and be back at the store for 9:30am. My social life was completely amiss, but this kept me busy, and that’s exactly what I needed right now.
I was just getting in my car, ready for my 3pm-9:30pm shift when I saw him in my rear view mirror, our neighbor, Clark Fields. He was an older gentleman, who was definitely handsome back in his day. His hair had turned gray, most likely from the stress of his recently deceased wife, Carol. His eyes were the real showstoppers; they were light blue, and piercing. When he looked at you, it was as if he was looking into your soul.
Right now, he was doing the upkeep of the flowers that his wife, Carol planted. Their garden resembled something out of a Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. When I was younger, I would chase our puppy at the time, Bean, through that garden, cutting myself on the rose bushes, and encountering the odd bee. Those were simpler times.
I reversed out, turning the car around and looked at the garden once more, Mr. Fields back to me.
God, I hated those fucking flowers.
I had tossed and turned that night, my thoughts racing, like accelerated footsteps.
I could not get the foul smell out of my nose; it was like the stench was implanted up there permanently. Even after a week, it would not leave: it was a mixture of meat trapped in the back seat and left in the hot sun for a long time, with the putrid smell of decay.
Trying everything to get rid of the smell, it was something I was just going to have to live with now. I reached over to my nightstand and grabbed a fistful of coffee beans that were in a small cigarette plate. Bringing my hand to my nose, I inhaled deeply. The waft of coffee beans hit my nostrils and I smiled; but that was a temporary solution – I knew that putrid smell was going to come back.
Eventually, I had fallen asleep. I’m sure it wasn’t for long; the sound of Mr. Fields’ lawn mower jolted me from my sleep. For a man who should have been grieving his wife, he sure was keeping himself busy. I put the pillow over my head, hoping to block out the noise but there was no such luck.
I know that keeping busy helps in dealing with grievance, but c’mon old man. The lawnmower shut off just in time for me to get out of bed. I groaned.
I looked out the window, ready to throw some obscene hand gesture towards him when I noticed him mid-conversation with someone whom I couldn’t make out. Hopefully they were telling him to take it easy on Sunday mornings with his lawnmower.
Getting changed and ready, I made my way downstairs to the kitchen. The sun shined bright through the window, temporarily blinding me. I grabbed the travel mug from the cabinet, and poured coffee in it, watching Mr. Fields through the window. He was by himself, seemingly lost in thought. It was as if he sensed me; the old man’s piercing blue eyes found my own brown deer-in-headlights eyes and his facial expression went stone cold.
Suddenly I felt a desire to rush out of the house, and that is exactly what I did. I ran out of the house, neglecting to lock the door behind me, and dashed into my car.
Starting the car, I put it in reverse, my foot hovering over the pedal. A movement in my rear view mirror made me slam on the brakes mid-reverse.
There she was: standing tall and lean, her wedding ring glistening as sun rays hit it. She was waving at me, what was blonde hair at one point had now turned grey over the years, and it was tucked behind her ears. Her face was angular and structured, like a model’s.
I turned my body around, and gasped.
It wasn’t possible – it was Carol Fields.
I knew it wasn’t possible, because Carol was dead.
I should know; Mr. Field and I were the ones who buried her a week ago under those fucking flowers.
This story was originally on the subreddit r/nosleep. You can find it here
It is also on Vivian’s website, which you can find here
You can find Vivian on twitter here