A Trip to the Morgue - A short story by Erin M. Wright
Updated: 2 days ago
My wife died yesterday. I went to identify her body at the Morg. The detective on the case was a black woman in her late forties. Single – or at least she had every intention of making it seem as though she wanted no intimate attention. She wore a cheap pantsuit, messy bun, and shoes that I swear I’ve seen in the Men’s department 10 years ago. I could tell she wasn’t my biggest fan by the way she snarled at me when asking me questions. I figured she’d seen the text I sent my wife. The same text my wife read and tried to respond to as she swerved off the road and crashed into a tree – that’s what she told me on the phone earlier.
It read, “It’s over. She’s pregnant and I love her. I’ve moved out, you can have the house.”
When I answered the phone in my office I was relieved. A part of me was comforted by the thought of not having to face Sabrina and explain how unhappy I’d been for the past three years. I felt joy that I could finally start new with the family that I’d always wanted and didn’t have to worry about Sabrina dragging me to court and trying to sue me for every penny I’ve ever earned.
She never wanted kids, but purposely left that out the first year we dated. I should have never married her, but my mother insisted. She thought Sabrina would look good on the arm of a budding venture capitalist. This is the same mother that also forced me in to getting my bachelor’s, master’s, and PHD. Then shopped me around to all her third husband’s hedge fund friends like a pimp parading around a new trick. My mom always meant well though, she helped me get the job that helped me build my own hedge fund company, which led me to her introducing Sabrina.
“She swerved off the road trying to respond to your text. The message she was trying to send is still on her phone. Do you want to see it?” the detective asked in an irritated tone as she broke my train of thought.
“Uh, yes. Sure,” I said clearing my throat while I attempted to sound miserable.
I grabbed my dead wife’s shattered phone. As I tried to tap the unsent message draft, part of the shattered glass cut my finger. I winced and the detective snickered.
“Did you read this message too?” I asked the carelessly dressed detective as she jotted down notes on her old, tattered notepad.
She gave me a long and agitated stare before answering, “no, not yet.”
I turned my back toward her and opened the draft in her message box. It read, “The house? I’m getting it all, you idiot. I’m pregnant. I never wanted kids, until I realized how much money I would get if I had one when you left. Did you really think I have no idea about the other…”
The message ended. I instantly felt sick and rushed to the nearest bathroom. She was pregnant? How could that be? She told me a long time ago that she never wanted kids and she took her birth control regimen seriously. I began to heave. I was so excited about Tara’s pregnancy, I hadn’t noticed my own wife’s.
Running the water, I rinsed out my mouth and patted my face with the freezing cold water. Once I gathered my thoughts, I walked back in the room to meet the detective, who was now on her Blackberry hovering over my dead wife with the white sheet drawn back so Sabrina’s face and new breasts showed.
“Mr. Uh-Johnson, I’ve gotten everything I needed here. I assume you will call the rest of your family and begin the funeral plans,” the detective said without as much as a glance in my direction.
“Yes. Thank you. Can you cover her please?” I politely asked, I figured she left the cover open to antagonize me.
“I’m sorry sir. I cannot. I’m not allowed to touch the body. The staff will be back soon with the final ultrasound photos of your child. It was two months old.
A smile instantly appeared on my face and took the detective by surprise. I hadn’t slept with Sabrina in six months. I was opening a new office in New York, planning for my split and Sabrina was galivanting around Europe and the Caribbean spending money as fast as I could make it.
“I’d say this is a first. A smile when learning of your unborn child’s death,” she said.
“Look. I’ve had enough of your judgement. I would never want anyone to die, but you don’t know the amount of pain she’s caused me. That baby isn’t even mine! So, put your detective work to use and find out who she was sleeping with the past few months and then maybe he can pay the last two statements of her credit card bill. You don’t know any of the bullshit that woman put me through. The torture. The lies. The depression I went through with her. Yeah, I’m sad she died, but I’m not sad I get a second chance at love and happiness without having to split my business, my hard-earned money with such a cold-hearted, selfish woman,” I belted out.
The detective finally looked me in my face, I finally had her full attention. She saw the pain in my story. She walked around Sabrina’s cold body and covered her face. She put her notepad and phone in each pocket of her blazer, put her hand on my back, and guided me toward the hallway.
“Sounds like you had it rough. So, like you said, you’ve got another chance. Tell this one, not to text and drive,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone and walked down the hall.
I stood in disbelief. How could this tragedy also be a gift? I took one more look at the body, took out my phone, and called Tara.
The phone trilled once and Tara picked up. Before she could say hello, I interrupted, “let’s get married. I’m on my way home. I’ve got to tell you something. And, hey, don’t text and drive. You’re carrying our precious cargo. I love you.”