May 12, 2005

How long have I been dead?

“How long have I been dead, Jack?” It was the same question she always asked.

“Four years.”

“Oh. It seems so much longer.” I shrug. The last time she told me it seemed so short and next time I was as likely to hear either. Most ghosts can no longer feel time. “You’re not still in love with me, are you?” Most ghosts can no longer feel a lot of things.

I answer with as much honesty as I can muster, “You know I’ll always love you, but no, we’re not ‘in love’ anymore.”

She nodded to herself. Well, to be honest, since she wasn’t paying much attention, it was just one mist-like part of her form wavering in a different direction than the other mist-like parts, but I knew it was a nod. I’ve been interacting with this ghost for four years, I knew her for six more when she was alive. I understand her body language, even without her body. Of course, the tattoo helps. When I’m honest and feel like depressing myself, I’ll admit the tattoo probably does all the work.

“Why are you here?” The bluntness does not hurt anymore, not much. She is still sharp, still smarter than I am, but she does not understand emotion any more than she can feel time. I suppose I’m lucky she’s that kind of ghost. The ghosts that go the other way are the only ones that make headlines anymore.

She asks the question again, “Why are you here, Jack?”

“It’s Thursday.”

“Oh.” Suddenly she is in focus. She’s still colorless of course, but now I can see arms, legs, even fingers. Her eyes are always there, in perfect detail, but the rest of her only shows when she’s paying attention to the mortal world. “Tell me. Have you found the book?”

“No.” She sighs and starts to fade back into mist. Then I tell her what I did find. When I am done speaking, I can distinguish individual strands of hair and even the fibers of the denim overalls she was wearing the day she died. This time when she nods it’s obvious even without the tattoo’s help.