30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 25
She’s doing it again; she shouldn’t be able to hold the tiny blunt, let alone take a hit, but she can and does.
“Whoa,” that’s some good stuff,” Christina says as she exhales a cloud of acrid smoke.
The four of us, James, Seth, me, and her, are sitting at my place in West Hollywood, getting high.
“Dude, let her try the good stuff, the stuff you picked up yesterday,” James says.
“Uhm, hello,” Seth says, stepping behind Christina’s chair and swiping his hand effortlessly through her head over and over. “Remember?” We don’t need to give her the good stuff.”
Christina doesn’t seem to notice his hand or hear his words.
I feel my heart sinking again; she looks so real, so substantial; she can’t be a ghost. But Seth’s hand waving through her brings me back to reality; my girlfriend is dead.
This routine has become our daily ritual. We’re trying to help Christina move on, but she doesn’t see or want to accept that she is dead. Every day we show up, surprised she’s still here, and we try again. Maybe today will be different, we tell ourselves. But, I don’t judge her. Who’d want to accept that they were an ex-person?
Seth passes his hand through her head again.
This time she does notice his hand.
“Hey, don’t mess up my hair,” she says. “I’m getting headshots this afternoon.”
Seth raises both hands, palms out. “I couldn’t if I tried,” he says. He sinks onto the couch and accepts the joint from my girlfriend, the ghost.
He’s dejected, I can tell. He hates this as much as I do. We all loved Christina. Only I was in love with her. Not because she was on her way to being a star, but because she was so pure and kind and funny and sweet and about a hundred other things.
I sigh and sink onto the couch beside Seth, extending my hand for the joint.
“Christina, um, don’t take this the wrong way, sweetheart, but don’t you think it’s, um, time for you to, you know, move on?” Seth says earnestly, wiping away a tear.
“What are you talking about, you goof? I live here with Scott,” she says, turning to me and patting my
thigh. At some point, she must have moved to the floor. I didn’t notice, which means I’m done smoking for the day. I hand the joint back to Seth. He tries to brush it away impatiently but then accepts it from me and takes a big hit.
“No, Christina, you don’t. You don’t live anywhere. You’re a ghost,” Seth says.
She looks stunned for about five seconds.
Whoa. Was this all it took, a direct statement of the facts?
But then she starts laughing hilariously. She’s clutching her sides; she’s laughing so hard.
“Oh… Seth,” she wipes the tears out of her eyes, “You always kill me! ‘You’re a ghost!'”
And then she’s laughing again.
“Don’t you remember? He said the same thing yesterday,” James says.
What he doesn’t say is that it wasn’t just yesterday. It was also the day before and the day before that, all the way back for three weeks.
How can I grieve if she’s still here?
Seth and James exchange a look. They both get up, head for the door.
“Peace, you two,” Seth says.
They leave, and then it’s just us.
She stretches back on the couch, begins rubbing my scalp the way she knows I like.
An unfairness between ghosts and humans is this: I can feel her touch as if she were real, but whenever I try to touch her, my hands slide through her like water.
She kisses me a bit. I feel like a pervert. Like I’m taking advantage here somehow.
“Should we take this into the bedroom?” she asks.
My eyes raise at this. Do I want to be that guy?
She’d gotten amorous two other times; both times, I feigned not feeling well or sleepy. But she remembers neither rejection. To her, it’s always Wednesday, the day she died.
Then I have an idea; maybe this will be the way.
“Sure,” I say, moving my face towards her, letting her kiss me again. I’m embarrassed by how aroused I feel.
She takes my hand, leads me into our bedroom.
“Here,” I say. “Stand here and undress for me. You know how much I love that.”
She slowly pulls her T-shirt over her head, then slips her shorts off.
“Now, baby, don’t panic, but I want you to err, look at yourself in the mirror.”
I stand up from the bed, walk behind her as she turns to the mirror.
Her clothes are back on her. I figured she couldn’t get undressed. Her clothes are, I’m guessing, made of whatever ectoplasmic material the rest of her is. They are part of her.
“But, … I don’t understand,” she starts to weep. It kills me when she cries.
“Oh, baby, I’m going to miss you so much. I love you. I always have.”
Christina isn’t convinced yet.
She is sliding her shirt off again, this time facing the mirror.
Her T-shirt sort of splits into two copies; the one that she’s pulling off looks translucent. Underneath it is another shirt. The instant she tosses the fainter copy into the air, it dissolves into nothingness.
“So, Seth wasn’t kidding? I’m a ghost?”
“How’d I..,” she starts but stops.
“Aneurysm. Three weeks ago,” I say. Already I can feel grief begin forming a giant tidal wave that will consume me shortly. Christina will be gone, for real, soon.
“So, you guys have been doing this all that time?” she covers her mouth.
I feel the tidal wave rising behind me.
Our bedroom fills with light.
She kisses me again, whispers, “Thanks for loving me the way I’ve always wanted,” then walks into the light.
The tidal wave crashes, and I fall onto the bed, crying alligator tears.