Dorothy and I are casually walking around in Brussels after a night on the town. We are heading up to the main road where we hope to catch a taxi. Failing that, we’ll call an Uber. Just love how easy life can be, everything available at the click of a smart app on my iPhone. We’re in no rush to be anywhere. Babies and kids are snug in their beds at home with a nice babysitter minding the house. We’re enjoying some moments of blissful freedom and some idle banter along the way.
“Want to hear something creepy?” I just love this kind of talk at night.
“Oh do I want to hear this?” Dorothy is already raising her shoulders.
“Did I ever tell you that a few months after Nathalie died, I received an email from her?” I know I’m pushing it a little, but it’s a really good story and I’m dying to tell it.
“Oh yes, that’s creepy alright.” Dorothy is now leaving a bit more space between us as we walk.
“Oh come on, don’t worry, there’s a logical explanation to it at the end.” I reassure her and at the same time, jumping the gun.
“It was an email that got stuck?” Dorothy is eying me warily.
“Something like that.” I don’t want to reveal too much just yet. “What happened was this. I was sitting at my desk homeworking one day, when I’m alerted by an email in my inbox. So I go over to Outlook and I stare blankly at my inbox. There sitting in my list of emails, is one from Nathalie Humblet.”
“You’ve got to be joking.” Dorothy is not happy at this thought.
“Millions of thoughts race through my head as I sit there completely immobilised. I know for sure she’s dead as it was an open coffin funeral. I had seen her with my own eyes. There was no way that this could be fake news. As you can imagine, I am frantic and I call my boyfriend.” I recount to truth.
“What did he say?” Dorothy wants to know.
“Oh he just stated the obvious. Nathalie is dead. Dead people don’t send emails. Somebody is playing a nasty trick on you. Just delete the email.” I tell her rather disgruntled.
“Oh that’s not a nice thing to do. You could have died from a heart attack receiving such a mail.” Dorothy is apt to exaggerate. “Did you delete it?”
“No, I hadn’t read it yet.” I tell her.
“Oh you hadn’t opened it? Why not?” Dorothy presses on.
“Darling, I was scared senseless.” I admit. “But I had to know for sure. Was it really a mail from Nathalie or was it some nasty scam? So I opened the email. And read it. To my horror, the mail was authentic. It was sent from Nathalie’s account. On that very day. Composed in her typical short abbreviated way of writing. And she was talking about a subject we had discussed a year or so ago. It was really and truly a mail from her.”
“Oh this is really creepy.” Dorothy is feeling more and more uneasy. “What did she say in her email?”
“She was asking when she could have my old computer, as hers was almost on it’s way out and this was her only means of communication.” I tell her. “I had promised her she could have that old machine.”
“What what what?” Dorothy stutters.
“By then I was crying hysterically and I had run outside into the garden. I called my boyfriend again. He told me to either send a mail back to Nathalie saying that she wouldn’t be able to use my computer anymore. Or to call her brother and inform him of this incident.” I remember. “I think he also told me repetitively to calm down.”
“So which option?” Dorothy inquires.
“Huh?” I look at her bewildered.
“Which option did you chose? Did you reply to her mail or did you call her brother?” Dorothy wants to know.
“I called her brother. Left him a voice message.” I sigh with relief. “He called me back ten minutes later. By that time my boyfriend had arrived to check out the alleged culprit email. He’s a computer genius you know, my Wim.”
“And?” Dorothy looks at me expectantly.
“Her brother was full of apologies. He told me he was clearing out Nathalie’s house and belongings. In the process, he had rebooted her computer. There must have been a mail that was stuck there somewhere and it must have gotten sent quite inadvertently.” I go on. “But you know, just between the two of us. Till this day, I still believe that I have indeed received a message from Nathalie beyond the grave.”
“Oh no, that can’t be good.” Dorothy wails.
“Why not?” I ask of her. “I mean think about it. That mail must have been stuck there for months. Why did it only send when her brother rebooted? It’s a sign.”
“I hope for you it’s a good one.” Dorothy is looking around her now, probably looking for a way out of this eery conversation. “What do you think her message meant?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t give it much thought after I had talked to her brother.” I suddenly look shocked and feel an icy wave creep over me.
“Say it again, what had she put in that email?” Dorothy is talking really slowly now.
“She was asking when she could have my old computer, because hers was on it’s way out and this was her only way of communicating…” As I’m saying it, the message suddenly becomes clear. I repeat, the message I received three years ago is finally making sense.
“She wants to use your old computer because hers is nearly dead.” Dorothy has stopped walking now. “Like, you know, she is dead.”
“Aha…” Is the only sound I can now make.
“And this is her only means of communication. With the outside world.” Dorothy is pausing dramatically between each sentence. “If I remember correctly, she used to call more on the phone than send emails.”
“That’s right. Unless she hadn’t spoken to you in a while. Then she’d mail first.” I nod with my eyes still popping wide open.
“So she is asking you to help her communicate…” Dorothy’s voice has dropped to a whisper.
“Aha…” I’m still voiceless.
“Darling, what are you going to do?” Dorothy looks around alarmed, almost expecting to see Nathalie lurking behind a tree.
“I don’t know…” There. I’ve managed to make at least one intelligible sentence.
What do you think? What would you do if you received a message from beyond the grave? And what do you think I should do about the one I received? Let me know in the comments below.