A short story about ghosts

I wrote this chapter about a year and a half ago, mostly because I was very impressed with myself for coming up with that opening line.  I still think it’s a pretty kick ass opener, although I’m not as convinced I did anything with the opportunity.

Still, writing something is better than writing nothing.  As always, I welcome any notes or feedback in the comments

The worst part about being a ghost wasn’t the company, it was the hours. Make no mistake, the company was horrible too, but it couldn’t compare to the endless drudgery that came from watching the world without being able to interact.

Dennis had been a ghost for fifteen years and the hardest adjustment (after getting used to being dead) was getting used to time. He felt every minute as a ghost. Every second was a snowflake, unique and distinct. He could horde them like pennies, hold them in his hand and watch them trickle through his fingers, utterly without value.

He didn’t sleep anymore, which made it worse. There was no respite, and the nights were torturous. There were no people to watch, no TV’s accidentally left on where he could catch up on old sitcoms, no radios left on where he could lose himself in music. Just the lake, the forest and the symphony of snores in the various rooms in the resort.

Sometimes, at night, he’d hover himself through the surrounding woods. The animals could all see him, and when he was lucky, he’d run into a deer or fox. They’d react, startled, but wouldn’t run away immediately. He had no smell and made no sound, so they couldn’t tell if he was a threat or just part of the forest. Once, he managed to float right up to a deer in a clearing of pale moonlight. She trembled, with her nose turned up to catch the night air, and he was able to float beside her. He reached out his hand to touch her flank, but obviously, his limbs passed right through. She jumped and bounded off in the opposite direction. Neither animal nor human were fans of having disembodied ghost hands press into their organs.

So, time. It makes fools of us all, as the saying goes, and Dennis felt that every day was April fools when it came to time.

But then there was also the company.

Dennis was stuck to the resort, severely limiting the other ghosts he was able to meet. Like every ghost, he couldn’t travel further than about two miles away from where he died, and because it was a reputable, well-run resort, not many people had died there. In fact, he was the last.

There was Beatrice, she died of a heart attack, the year before him. She was technically 81, but 16 in ghost years. She was a horrible shrew of a woman, finding slights in the cracks and corners of conversation, paranoid and ugly of spirit.

Patrick was close to 200, having died centuries ago, before there even was a resort. He had been a barber, or doctor technically, since that long ago the two were one and the same. He had been traveling from his office to do combination haircut and bloodletting for a family living on the outskirts of what had passed for civilization at the time. It was just dumb luck that his horse reared, depositing him on his head, which cracked open like an egg. He had been alone for so long before the resort had been built. He was thoroughly, thoroughly insane.

His closest friend, if you could call her that, was Charlotte. Charlotte was 13 and had died in a boating accident, much like him. In the 70’s, people had more relaxed attitudes towards safety and she went out with no life jacket and no real understanding of how to waterski. When she dropped, the boat had no spotters and she drowned. It was horrible and took three minutes. She often emphasized that point, that it took three minutes. If she had just managed to hold on, she would have made it, she felt. Sometimes she needed six minutes, somedays she needed four, but she was convinced that if she could have held on longer, she would have made it.

And that was it for company. The four of them, floating around this resort, with no end. He didn’t know why they were ghosts. He didn’t know why they couldn’t leave the resort. He didn’t know anything.

So yeah. Being a ghost mostly sucked.

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