After doing my morning chores, I decided to go for a hike. There was a beautiful trail on Mr. Milton’s property, our neighbours. Albert told me Mark Milton was a great guy, as long as I did not start anything with him, he did not think Mark would mind me hiking in his woods.

I was in the woods, not even a mile when I saw the spirit of a deer. I felt compelled to follow the deer. Soon I heard the cries of a woman, “Mike, please don’t do this!” My heart was pounding; I had no idea what was going on; this deer seemed to be heading the direction of the voice.

A man was sitting on the side of a tree with a gun barrel placed in his mouth. The spirit of a woman was yelling at the man. And what I like to call ‘death collector,’ all three were in the same area. Death collectors tend to show in events if tragedy. He was in a great deal of distress; this amount of pain is similar to what I have felt.

I could hear him sobbing, mumbling something my ears could not make out. I did not want to startle him and have him pull the trigger. I stepped on a twig to get his attention and hoping the gun did not go off. “Mike?!”

The closer I got to him, the more of his pain I was absorbing. I moved so that I could see his face. Briefly, I glanced at the death collector and the lady. I knew who he was, Mike Milton, Marks’s only child. ‘I killed her, the only thing good in this God-forsaken world.’ I could hear Mikes’s thoughts.

I knew why Mike was here. Everyone in this area knew what happened to Mike and Amanda.

Mike and Amanda moved in with Mark, he was having health problems, and Amanda was missing her home town. The night of the accident, Amanda went out drinking; it was to be a girl’s night out. From what was reported, Amanda drank her cab money, called Mike to pick her up from the bar. Mike and Amanda were having a disagreement while heading back to his dad’s place. Greg had been doing drugs and drinking before getting into his minivan. In a split second, Gregs, minivan, slammed into Mikes’s car. Greg was pronounced dead at the scene, and Amanda died hours after getting to the hospital. Mike was the only survivor.

“Get lost and mind your own business, you are on private property!”

“I will make a deal with you, you listen to what I have to say and if you still want to die I will not stop you. I will wake back to my place and call the police.”

“Don’t you have a cell phone?”

“Hate those bloody things, I left it back at my place.”

“I’m going to pull the trigger!”

“If you were going to pull the trigger, you would not have waited. Me being here would not have stopped you; this means you still have dought!” I sat not too far from Mike on the ground. Breathing in and out for a minute, I wanted to collect my thoughts before I spoke to him.

“I thought you said you wanted to talk, whatever you have to say it will not make a difference, I have heard it all.”

“You need to know what is going to happen. The bullet will travel into your skull, one by one, your organs will start to shut down while you bleed out. In the beginning, everything is going to be black; there will be no sensation. Then you will be starting at your dead body. You will find yourself in one or the other scenarios. You will others follow this death collector, or you will wonder these woods for as long as it takes you to get over the death of Amanda. The thing with death is if you die with baggage, that baggage follows you. You will be in your own personal hell.”

“What are you talking about?”

I moved closer to Mike; I was an arm’s length away. I pulled up the sleeve of my shirt, exposing the scars on my arms.

“You do that?” Mike pointed to my arms.

“No!” The memories came to my frontal lobe. “I was attacked, my friend came to my rescue, got me to the hospital, got the help I needed. I have been fighting ever since.”

“What’s your name?”

“Zita Fox”

“You are the girl… The one that sees the dead and all that stuff!”

I had him talking. This was good! I moved closer and placed my hand on his arm. ‘Place the gun down on the ground’ I repeated this thought over several times. “You could say I can do that!”

“Is my Amanda here now?” The flood gate opened and the tears rolled down his face.

“Brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, medium length. Brown eyes pale completion, roughly 5’9, slim built. Floral top with blue jeans?”

Mike placed his gun down in the ground. “That is what she was wearing the night I killed her.”

“From what Amanda tells me, you were the lucky one; you are still alive.”

“Without her, I might as well be dead.” Mike rubbed his face with both of his hands. For the first time, he was looking at me. “Does she have anything to say to me?”

‘He is a bloody fool!’ I hear Amanda say. “Come on, we all say that about men; make it personal!” ‘Remember the trip to Yellowstone National Park; we promised to go back there again. You need to fulfill this promise; I will be there is spirit.’

I relayed the message to Mike. “She is really here! I thought for a second you were full of it but there is no way you could have known about that trip not the promise.”

“The difference between me and a medium, they like their job we’re as I try to avoid this whole thing.”

Mike gave a pathetic attempt at chuckling, “you are pretty good at it as far as I can tell. I always thought Amanda was around, doors open and close on their own …”

“Oh, that’s not Amanda. That would be your mom!”

“What?”

“She was buried with a small purple heart!”

“Damn, your good!”

“She is anxious about your dad; his heart is not as good as it used to be; he is not listening to the doctors. He eats food the doctor told him not too, and he keeps on saying he will be with Brenda soon!”

“Is my mom here too?”

“Yeh she is!” I waited for him to say something.

“How is it that I spent hours with professionals for two years nothing helped. I spend time with you and … I feel so much better.”

“You needed to hear the truth! Professionals only do what they learn in school. Someone like myself knows the hell you are living. A professional cannot tell you what the other realm is like.” I got up from the ground gathered Mikes’s gun from the ground. “Let me walk you to your place. Wait there until your dad gets back from going to the grocery store.”

“I …”

“Let me do this for you! I had someone to help me; let me pass on his kindness.”

“You don’t even know me?”

“It does not take much to show humanity!”

No words were spoken as we walked back to Mike’s place. A vehicle door closing could be heard. “My old man is back, guess I will have to explain to him why his gun is in my hands!”

I placed my hand in his back, “I am sure your dad is going to understand, and he will have your back.”

Mark was puzzled at my presents; then, he saw his gun in Mikes’s hands. Mike handed his dad the gun and grabbed some bags of groceries from the back of the truck. No words needed to be passed between father and son. Mark knew what had happened; Mike did not want to talk about it.

I broke the tension by introducing myself to Mark. I informed him that Albert did not think he would mind if I hiked in the woods behind his house. Mark nodded his head. He has no issues with my presence on his property. Before I left, I gave Mike my number, “just in case things seem too much to handle, give me a call.”