I stand in the hall a few moments. Mr. Jeffs is right in front of me, Donald Pluth’s schoolbooks under his arm. If I were alive, he would see me easily, but because I am death not quite warmed over, I am invisible to his eye. Even when I step up to him, my face mere inches from his, he doesn’t seem to feel my presence. I’d read once that most adults don’t have true ghost experiences because they have lost the innocence and open minds they had as children. There is something about the onset of adulthood that robs us of many things, including the ability to see the world as it actually is.
As if to prove this theory, Mr. Jeffs steps forward, passing right through me, heading back to his class. It is strange, his moving through the same space as I. I don’t feel a thing. Not a shudder, nor a shiver. Not a single emotion washes over me in those few seconds we occupy the same area. Perhaps if he was one of my peers, a teenager, I would feel something. I would be able to connect somehow, and be tempted to take him over to live inside his skin. But there is no temptation. In fact, I don’t think I can interact with adults in a spirit sense. We have nothing in common, I suppose. If I am to take on a new body it will have to be one of the students. And then it hits me. Goth girl. She seems to be the type who wouldn’t mind being taken over by a wandering spirit.
I head off down the hall, realizing I don’t really know that much about her, other than she has been gothed out all year, and probably the year before too. I can’t say for certain because I’ve never paid her much mind. I guess in a sense she is the female version of me. No one paid me no mind either, except my best friend Will. I don’t know how we got to be friends. We are nothing alike it seems. He plays team sports, gets good grades, and while not ready for his own hunk of the month photo shoot, is good looking enough that the girls call him Sweet William. Sometimes I wonder if this is flattering, or an insult on his soft, almost feminine voice. He told me once the nickname itself came from Mr. Jeffs, who dubbed him that after a song by Van Halen or something. Hell, I would have been happy to be named anything when I was alive. I guess with me gone from their plane of existence they could call me anything now. But still I’m nothing to nearly everyone. I remember my grandma saying when I was little that things eventually get better. But she was wrong. If you start out as nothing, that’s how you’ll end. Even death doesn’t make you popular. I hate to be so negative about it all the time, but I’m dead, you know. I am the original negative, absent of life, yet still chasing a dream.
And right now that dream’s name is being announced over the school public address system. I stop and listen. They are calling her to the office. They don’t say why. They never do. But it must be something bad. What in the world could she be in trouble for? I head to the office to find out myself. Along the way, Anne comes out of a classroom, her bag slung over her shoulder and a fast pace to her walk. I fall in behind her. I want to tell her not to worry; I am with her. But she doesn’t know I’m there. She didn’t know when I was alive either, so it’s no biggie, I guess. Still, I hope to find the means to let her know I’m watching over her. Somehow. Someway.
We round the corner together and here we are standing in front of the main office. She hesitates and takes a deep breath. As she reaches for the door knob, it opens. They have been waiting for her. Assistant Principal Deaner and Guidance Counselor Miss Watkins. This isn’t going to be good. I take a deep breath myself.
“Anne,” Miss Watkins says with a forced smile. She is holding the door open and motioning my dream girl into the office. When Anne steps over the threshold and asks what’s going on, the guidance counselor closes the door behind them. Doesn’t matter. I pass through it and follow them. They will need an exorcist to keep me out now.
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“Ghost Boy Blues” 2018 Paul D Aronson.