5 long seconds later . . .
This is the first time that the dead girl has been in my presence at the same time as somebody else. I want to say something to Ricky, but I don’t want to spook her. She’s walking nervously, as if somebody may be following her.
There are no spooks to be found measuring Ricky, and I find myself relieved by this.
“This is insane, Jack.”
I know, I say softly.
She looks at me and I nod, motioning her into the hallway where we can have more privacy. I feel like I’m cheating on Ricky, not telling him she’s here. But I know he’d understand.
“. . . keep reading,” I tell him calmly. And then I slowly make my way down my colorless hallway.
She follows me, taking small, careful steps. I want to get a warm blanket to cover her. She looks cold and her clothes are all ripped to shreds. Her eyes are so sad and wanting that I wish I could keep her here. Cook her a warm meal or something.
I wish she could explain everything to me. Tell me if she is real, or just a phantom memory from my lost past. We go into the bathroom and I carefully shut the door, trying not to scare her. Imagine that, me trying not to scare the ghost of a dead chick.
Even though the light is not on, there is a blue glow between us, and I can see her very clearly. She wants to tell me something, I can see it in her face. In her body language. We are no more than a foot apart, and this is the closest I’ve been to any woman, alive or dead, since I woke-up in that hospital bed with those Gatherers chopping me apart.
This is the most intimate I’ve ever been with a woman, as far as I know.
We are studying each other, she and I. She looks like she’s in her mid to late twenties. Her skin is smooth and clear—obviously discounting the fact that I know she’s dead. Her hair is straight, falling just below her shoulders, and a few stands are in front of her eyes. I have the urge to use my finger and push the hair to the side, but I don’t want to make her panic and disappear.
I have this feeling that we’re on borrowed time.
The first time I saw her, a few days back, when we were in the kitchen, she didn’t move any part of her body. Just her eyes blinking. But now, she’s almost alive. A living entity. And in this surreal blue light, I might be the ghost. I could be the phantasm. I might just be the one haunting her life.
She looks at me with kind, affectionate eyes. Her gaze takes me in, and infects me. She’s still tense, afraid of something. But in this quiet little place, surrounded by only my sink, a mirror, a toilet, and a combination shower and bath . . . the worlds we’re from don’t even matter. May not even exist.
My heart is beating really fast, and I am trying to understand her. I need to know what she knows of me. To be able to find out who I am; who I was. And I know that I need her for that. She swallows slowly, her thin lips pursed as she considers the ’me’ she’s looking at. And I see her look at the sink.
I hope that her first question, her first worldly commune with the living, isn’t to ask me about the aromatherapy soaps. Because, I still don’t have an answer for that.
She looks into the mirror, and there’s nothing. Not her, just me. There is no reflected us. Whatever the physics of light are in this strange state, they don’t allow her to appear in my bathroom mirror. She looks at this blank mirror, the reflection of the bathroom door and me, alone. And her head droops a bit.
She turns her eyes up at me, considering something.
“If you have something to tell me,” I whisper, “. . . I’ll listen.”
She nods. She can hear me. This is a breakthrough. I have the ability to communicate with her. Even if it only goes one way. My heart races a bit. I quickly glance around, making sure there are no spooks. That would really kill all of this if she turns out to be a big phantasmal carrot used just to lure me to the Gatherers. But I don’t think so.
I watch, studying her delicate and considerate movements.
Then, slowly and deliberately, she reaches down and takes my right wrist into her hand. And this beautiful girl that can’t talk, this ghost, this dead person, her touch is not what I would have expected. I felt a warmth that I cannot explain. Like picking-up something you thought was really scalding hot, only to find out it is cold and safe.
She is warm.
She takes my wrist, extending my arm towards one of the aromatherapy soaps. Because of the blue light, I assume she wants me to pick up the Vanilla Bean bar. Good choice.
My hand takes the bar as I look into her face for assurance. She almost smiles, briefly, for just a hint of a flash of a second. Then it’s gone. Slowly, she takes my wrist, her fingers closer to my hand now, and stretches my arm towards the mirror.
I have a feeling we are about to communicate the only way she knows how. Or maybe, the only way she’s willing to. The last time she made any noise at all, the screaming came. And I have a feeling that this is what she’s trying to avoid. Whatever makes those screams, it seems to be trying to keep us from communicating in any way.
I nod, placing the way too expensive bar of Vanilla Bean soap against the mirror. She then nods very slowly, glancing back at me. Her eyes are absolutely hypnotic. There is so much going on inside of them, like small galaxies. Universes.
And then she turns back to the mirror that won’t show her image and begins to manipulate the soap, writing letters on the glass. Each letter is thick and slow as her hand presses against mine, pulling and pushing lightly. It’s like she’s aware of how unique all of this is for both of us, and she’s taking her time.
As I read her words I find myself not being able to breathe. There is this kind of vibrating electricity that flows through her hand, into my wrist, up my arm, and into my chest. This is so incredible that it’s difficult to describe. Our two different places, they are momentarily connected. Her movements are very slow and thoughtful.
My eyes are frozen on the mirror.
Help us, John.
And when I look back down . . . she’s gone.