Saturday, July 12, 2014

the ghost, first part

When we die, we can stay, but only if we like.  Grace Kinder chose to dwell in the home she'd picked out with her handsome young fiance after her little blue car took an unfortunate tumble down a hill into a winter pond.  She couldn't imagine her life, or death, without him.

Her fiance was not so loyal.  Maybe it was a flaw in character, maybe he was overwhelmed with the kind of support a handsome young man receives when his fiancee is ripped from his arms days before their wedding.  Few can resist the suffering of good looking people, and no one is immune to flattery.  Her fiance was married within six months to the pretty daughter of his new neighbor.  Within three months, the young bride was pregnant.

Grace discovered she could affect the living world.  She hovered with red rimmed black hole eyes as the pretty girl examined the results of a home pregnancy test.  Grace screamed, and the girl gasped.  It was a small thing, this unruly shriek had only toppled a crumpled tissue in a wastebasket and had breezed the hair around the girls ear, like a soft whisper might.  It was this second thing that startled she and Grace both.  The excited ghost spent her day and most of her night slapping and punching the newly expectant mother.  The expectant mother spent the rest of the day in bed with a slight headache and indigestion.  Grace needed practice.

By the time the young wife displayed a sizable bump, Grace was knocking over shampoo bottles and unraveling whole toilet paper rolls.  Her demeanor had improved significantly since the initial shock and horror of death.  Grace restricted her torment to the interloping pregnant woman and spent whole evenings sitting with her lost love as he drank in the garage, smoked on the porch, and played video games in the basement.  In many ways, it wasn't very different from the time she'd spent with him while living.  Routines feel good, they feel right, they're comfortable.  Grace furrowed her shimmering ghost brow and stuck out her black tongue when the pregnant woman asked for her husband's presence at dinner or required him to attend outings.

When the boy was born this young wife became even more insufferable.  Her constant demands drove Grace's fiance away, sometimes for days at a time.  Grace put gum in her hair as she slept, which was seldom with a newborn in the home, and filled her toothpaste tube with pebbles.  She blew light bulbs with a touch of her translucent fingernail and reset the oven timer to burn cakes, pies, and whatever else the woman attempted to cook.  The woman had become more and more jumpy, Grace's fiance stayed away later and later, and the baby cried.  Oh how the baby cried.

When a ghost decides where they'd like to spend limbo, there are no takesies backsies.  That's it, never ending lease, regardless of what happens.  Some spirits wind up haunting vacant lots when their buildings are torn down, or meandering around in parking garages.  The human mind is just as short sighted in death as it is in life.  Everyone goes with what they know, despite the understanding that it precludes everything else.

So when Grace found herself watching her former fiance bang his whore secretary in his basement video gaming bean bag chair while his now not-so-pretty wife slept in a Valium induced stupor and their baby sat howling, it occurred to her that she might have been hasty in her choice of eternal eternal damnation/resting home.

This baby, Tim, was a looker.  He had his fathers black mop of thick bristly hair and his mother's brown velvet eyes.  When he cried, which was often, his screams carried with them a sense of urgent and important need rather than the whiny quality that accompanies so many infant bawls.  Tim looked and sounded as though his crying was necessary.  He screamed like a fire engine, like a police siren, it was a confident call to action.

He had stopped crying, which is what startled Grace, who was so used to his howls.  The father was busy with the whore, the mother was busy with her deep deep sleep, and what was keeping Tim busy?  A moth.  A little white moth with fat finger shaped legs was fluttering and skittering along the stairwell and Tim followed behind, reaching out his stubby hands.

Grace grabbed the moth without thinking and lured the baby back into the safety of his nursery, where she slammed the door.  Tim giggled.

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