Part 1: Chapter 1 - Being dead
Sometimes death is just the start.
She walked along the path looking at everyone’s faces as they walked past. Did she recognize anyone? She didn’t know but then she didn’t even know her own name, yet she could tell you the name of the cat she had who died when she was 5 she even remembered finding his dead body after he had been hit by the zooming red car. 'Ascending' he was called, a strange name for a cat but then what was normal for a cat? Maybe she would see him again. She supposed anything was possible. She was wearing a black hoodie, ripped jeans that she couldn’t work out if we're on purpose or if she was that bad off. Her chestnut brown hair was pulled up in a loose ponytail as if she had halfheartedly thrown it up with no hairbrush. If she had known this would be what she would wear for the rest of her life she would have taken more care in her appearance she thought at the same time she dismissed it. she wasn’t exactly skinny in fact you would say she looked more like someone who hadn’t had a decent meal in a while, rather than someone who had purposely dieted. She was thinking of her old tortoiseshell cat with his white feet and mostly black tail, it was strange what her mind did remember compared to the stuff it had forgotten.
She couldn’t remember having a mom or a dad. It was all so strange, she wasn’t sure about anything. The only thing she did know for certain was that she was dead. And she was alone. Where was the bright light everyone always talked about in the movies? If she had seen the light she would have gone into it days ago. She had visited graveyards, looked around the city, looking for anything that might make her remember who she was and a way to move on. Unfinished business was the only thing she could think of that was keeping her here. There must be something more to death than this, surely wondering around a city that she didn’t recognize was not how she was going to spend eternity. Hopefully not anyway. Had she been bad, had she deserved to die and this punishment? Where was everyone else that was dead? Were they all having a party she wasn’t invited to?
She watched everyone walk past and sat on a bench, looking in the shop window opposite, she was the only one who didn’t have a reflection.
“Do you see me?” she asked out loud everyone ignored her. Did they ever see her? She asked herself trying not to cry. Did anyone miss her? When someone sat on her well in her she moved on, they didn’t like the feeling any more than she did. They shivered as if they couldn’t get warm. Invisible in death, invisible in life? With a bit of effort, she could kick stones and enjoyed doing that small bit to still be able to affect the world. Maybe she should go back to the local graveyard she thought sadly. Blinking she was there, still alone she wondered around not knowing what to do. She had looked at all the graves loads of times none looked like they could be her but she always felt drawn to this particular graveyard. Was she even buried yet? It would help if she even remembered her date of birth or how long she had been dead. How was this fair? She thought looking around at the flowers on all the graves.
“Hello poppet,” A voice said she looked around and saw an old man sat by what she took was his wife’s grave, she went and stood by him and read the grave
Eileen Fletcher beloved wife and mother.
She smiled at the man putting the flowers on the grave talking to the women who was long gone by the date on the grave. So much love after so long. She found herself putting her hand on his shoulder trying to comfort herself more than him, not that he would feel or know. Well, he might feel the cold tingle they all seemed to get when they walked through her or sat in her.
“Is that you dear?” the man asked. Had he felt her? She didn’t mean to give him false hope. Once the old man left with a huge smile on his face telling his wife he loved her, she carried on wondering the graveyard looking at the other visitors. Looking at their faces was she in here? Would her family ever visit? Would she recognize them if they did? Did they care? Were they dead too?
“Hello?” said a voice behind her knowing it wasn’t her he was talking to she carried on walking.
“Dear?” said the voice again.
She looked at the voice there was a little old man sat on a grave staring at her.
“Can you see me?” she asked the man who nodded.
“Are. Are you dead too?” she asked not quite trusting herself this was the first ghost well she assumed he was a ghost, she had seen since being here. He was the first ghost she had seen since waking up invisible.
“I think I am dear,” Said the old man. He didn’t seem frightened just tired. She noticed the grave was quite fresh and took in his name, Ernest Frank.
“Ernest?” she asked him wondering if he like her didn’t know his name
“yes dear?” he said with a smile. Well, she thought to herself at least he knew his name.
“Do you know why we are still here?” she asked wondering if he had any answers.
“Well, I am waiting dear?”
Waiting for what she thought and so she asked
“My daughter to join Me,” he informed her. She pulled a shocked face at him, when he saw it he smiled sadly.
“Not like that dear.” He said sadly.
“My daughter is dying. I promised her if I went before her I would wait.” Ernest told her calmly as if this was a normal conversation. She gave him a weak nod not knowing the polite way to answer that. He smiled at her,
“What is your name dear?” he asked her smiling. This made her frown
“I don’t know” she admitted looking at the graves around her.
“I don’t know who I am,” she told him worried trying not to cry.
The man didn’t have long to wait his daughter died the very next day and he said goodbye holding his daughter's hand as they both walked into a blinding light. She tried to follow them but the more she walked at the light the further it got away, she couldn’t go with them. Had she been bad in her life? She didn’t feel bad she just felt lost like, she wasn’t here or there she was trapped, maybe if she found stuff out about herself, maybe she would get answers. Maybe if she knew who she was she could move on? It had been days since the man and his daughter had gone, although she made regular trips to the graveyard, she hadn’t seen anyone else like her since. What she could work out was she had at least been dead for about 2 weeks. Well, she had aware of being dead for 2 weeks. She had been a ghost for 2 weeks. She hadn’t slept. She hadn’t eaten. She hadn’t talked to anyone but Ernest. She just wondered the city, praying someone would see her. Someone would see her eventually, someone would tell her it was going to be okay. She could move big things now if she concentrated. But she knew it wasn’t right to mess with the living.
Today she was wondering a high school well from what she could remember she was about 18 maybe she had gone here. Maybe she was still meant to go here. Maple Ridge High seemed to be full of students that didn’t seem to want to be there, she watched them all searching for anyone she recognized. She found herself wondering the halls like a lost student. Nothing felt familiar there were other schools in the town she had not visited yet. Maybe she had gone to one on the other side of the city. With concentration she could get things to move and enjoyed about 20 minutes of making one maths teacher keep losing her pen and ruler, she didn’t know why this teacher made her so sad. Maybe it was because she was pregnant, maybe it was the wedding ring and the nice clothes. She didn’t know. But the teacher made her sad she made her want to cry. She didn’t not like the teacher, she just felt sad about her. Did she teach her? Did she know her? She did not know. The city of Maple Ridge was quite large which made even less sense for the fact she was the only ghost around here. She was wondering what to do next when she heard
“it’s up to you?” said a girl’s voice talking to her friend.
Wow, she thought those words at that time was actually perfect and as she thought that she started laughing. For the first time she could ever remember, she laughed. She watched all the people walk around school hovering that’s right she could hover, it felt weird when they walked through her and they seemed to find it as strange so hovering out of their way was good. Sometimes she wondered if she could fly. She was about to leave to investigate that exact thought when she saw it.
In the trophy case was a boy’s football trophy with a name, which somehow she felt drawn to. It felt familiar. Like she knew it. It was strange nothing else ever did she thought. Looking at the name on the 6-year-old plaque Ayden Brown. She knew it wasn’t her name unless she had changed genders when she died. But somehow it felt really important. She knew it was a sign. Ayden would have left this school years ago, so apart from the name she had nothing else to go on. She wondered how she would manage to find him when all she knew was the name. She could think of Ayden Brown and imagine herself going to him, but that only seemed to work with things she had an image of in her head. Or had walked to as a ghost. She had tried going back to where she remembered first waking up, but she couldn’t get back there. It was like a barrier had been placed between her and there, nothing helped.
She looked at the girl names anything for a clue for who she was, but no other names caught her eyes thinking of Ayden Brown and only Ayden Brown she concentrated on drifting to him.
When she opened her eyes she was on a college campus and on top of that she was in a lesson, and it was packed! The man in the middle of the room was talking about things she strangely understood every word of.
Was she going to be a doctor? Was she smart? She could tell she was in a class, for people training to be doctors. God, she hoped they all managed that. Was it okay to still think God when she was dead? Was Ayden Brown training to be a doctor? She sat on the teacher’s seat as he wasn’t sitting in it wondering what to do now, looking around the room for anyone she recognized. No one caught her attention, but a guy who had blonde, shaggy hair which awkwardly hung over a tense face watched her with annoyed dark blue eyes. He was actually quite hot if he didn’t look so stressed she told herself. Was he stressed about the lesson or her?
She moved slightly and he looked at her and mouthed,
'go away.' He was wearing a plain blue t-shirt and jeans a jacket slung over the back of his chair. He was looking at her mouthing
'go away.' almost constantly. He could see her! Finally, someone could see her! Well, she hoped he could see her, was it her he was talking to? She looked at him and then went and hovered over by him he swore under his breath at her and she wondered if he really did see her.
“Can you see me?” she asked so hopefully. He ignored her but by the fact he subconsciously tried to block his ears made her certain he did. He was alive was he one of those medium people she remembered from TV or was he someone who was just a bit crazy? How come she could remember TV but couldn't remember her own name! how come she knew that was called SDAM Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory. Why the hell would anyone even know that!
Did he see the dead or did he just see her? Did she know him? Was she haunting him? Somehow people seeing the dead seemed as familiar to her as breathing did. All the thoughts popped into her head so she looked at him carefully he seemed annoyed at her staring. She couldn’t say for sure that she didn’t know him, she didn’t know herself after all but he didn’t seem to personally know her. She soon got bored with his class, wondering how she ever managed school herself. She started doing what she did at the high school earlier that day and kept hiding things every time the teacher put them down. She couldn’t remember anything about who she was alive but knew she possibly wouldn’t have done this then even if she could.
Soon the class was over, as Ayden was the only person who had seen her in days she decided following him everywhere was the way to go. Maybe he would talk to her when he wasn’t surrounded by others. It really seemed to annoy him and she soon realized she wasn’t the only one doing it.
“You need to tell people I am dead. They have got to go feed my cats” a little old lady was telling him.
“You need to tell my children that I do not like where they have placed me. I told them I wanted to be cremated.” Said an old man. He was surrounded by about 25 ghosts at any one time, no wonder he looked so tense.
Now here was the party of the dead she had thought was going on without her. Ayden tried his hardest to ignore them all. She just watched him sadly. Never spoke but always watched. She didn’t talk to the other ghosts they all seemed just intent on bugging him to the point she decided it wouldn’t be fair to bother him with her problems as well. So she disappeared leaving him alone like he wanted.
She wondered around the city for a few hours. Then the night came in and she decided she wanted to at least be around people who could see her. So she thought of Ayden and found herself in his room.
He had his headphones on listening to very loud for headphones, but obviously loud enough to block everyone out. She knew that song she liked that song. Funny she thought now remembering all the music she liked, maybe the things she though about would eventually lead her to remember the simple things. Like her name.
He was still surrounded by the dead but by a lot less ghosts than earlier. He was in a room on the outskirts of the college, though she had thought it was a dorm she realised it wasn’t. She realised what little she knew of college. Had she planned to go herself before she had died? Was she attending one when she died? He really seemed like he wouldn’t talk to the dead.
The man was going on and on about him being in a grave, the lady about her cats she sighed the guy was what 6-7 years older than her, she wouldn’t want to do ghosts bidding herself but felt the familiar feeling that she may have done just that.
She decided she would help him, something told her he needed her help more than she needed his. Was that her unfinished business to help people? Did she have to make up for a crime? What had she done to die? Her new job she decided was going to be helping others move on till she could find a way for herself to. Also to help Ayden actually listen to the dead and not just hear would be a good start. Come on with his profession he was going to see a lot of ghosts in his life.
“Where do you live?” she asked the old lady, her first words she had said out loud in hours. The lady looked at her and gave her an address. Thinking what to do she concentrated on the guys note book and pen she could move stuff with a hell of a lot of concentration. She concentrated on writing a letter for the old lady. Telling one of her friends she had to go out of town and could they go feed her cats. The guy watched her with half interest still more annoyance than interest though. With an address of who to give the letter to she disappeared and posted the letter, the next day the old lady moved on her body had been found and the cats feed and taken to a shelter she watched on with a pang of sadness, watching the ghost’s family find out watching them grieve. Did people grieve for her? Would they ever? With a fake smile she went back to Ayden and asked the other ghosts
Still refusing to talk to them Ayden went about his classes, though he seemed a lot happier when he came back at the end of each evening, to less and less dead. Till a week later he returned to only 4 ghosts in his room 2 of them new. She had listened to all the dead and gone about doing what was right to help them, to get them to move on. Though she didn’t have a clue how to fix the buried man’s cremation issue. He started going on and on at Ayden about it the moment he came in the room so Ayden plugged himself into headphones ignoring the dead. She wondered how long he had been able to speak to the dead and see them and why he refused to.
“Pretending you can’t see us doesn’t work, when you look straight at us and mouth go away.” she told him seriously yanking his headphone off his ears. She couldn’t take it anymore this was his job not hers. He looked up and shot her a look that made it obvious he hated her or at least hated the dead. Well she thought she was only trying to help. Shrugging at him she disappeared again thinking he deserves to be bugged by the dead. Even trapped as a ghost she had better things to do than hang around a guy who obviously hated her. Nothing did come to mind. So she again found herself wondering trying to piece bits of her life together. She remembered a few more things about herself little things, like her favourite food when she was alive, her favourite animal. Her favourite book and favourite film. All she wanted to do was follow the dead, she helped into their light but she also wanted to help everyone she could find. She helped more when they came out of hiding from her. Though she wanted to know why they had hid no one would tell her. Just that they hadn’t been ready? As if it was her making them go into the light?