I Knew Him Well
She’d always used it when she taught Hamlet at the end of October. The famous scene when Hamlet realizes the skull he is holding probably belonged to a man, the king’s jester, that used to make him laugh. In class, the students were either mesmerized or repulsed by the skull. Either way, she figured, they wouldn’t forget the storyline.
After a lifetime of teaching, she felt retirement calling her, and she answered. It took weeks for her to pack up her classroom, giving away the items and books that anyone else may have wanted. The skull wasn’t claimed so it came home with her. It felt familiar after being used as a prop for so many years.
She was retiring alone. Her husband had been in a terrible car accident years ago, and there wasn’t even enough left for a cremation. Teaching teenagers was her way to work through the grief, the loneliness, the utter unfairness of how life had been to her.
Her students were successful, her husband was well respected, and all was perfect within her small circle of the world. She enjoyed teaching, she loved her husband, and tragedy had stayed away until that fateful morning eight years ago. He left work before her as usual, and she had heard about a fatal accident along the road that he normally took to work. It was a Saturday, so with no school in session she quickly drove to the site of the accident.
She recognized his car instantly, an older blue Dodge now in pieces after being hit by two different cars. She knew it had to be him. Looking at the accident scene before the police got there, she couldn’t figure out what had happened because the amount of metal and carnage covered three lanes of highway, and an intense fire had started. She decided to break the law and took a little something from the scene as a memory.
After the last day of school, she unpacked the skull from a box. “Welcome home, Sweetie. I hope you like what I did with the living room.”