Stella, the self proclaimed ghost whisperer, doesn’t seem to stay in one spot for long. I notice how she moves about the room, never standing still for more than thirty seconds. To some this may seem like the behavior of someone who is loaded with nervous energy, but I believe it’s for protection. She keeps watching me out of the corner of her eye as I’m going to lunge at her or heave a paperweight off of Deaner’s desk. I guess she’s not very popular with spirits. She doesn’t seem all that popular with her niece, either. It’s not that Anne doesn’t like her. I just think she embarrasses her. The assistant Principal and Guidance Counselor appear uncomfortable too, as they watch her saunter around the office, picking up things, touching this or that, as if she can pick up psychic vibrations or something.
“I thought of being a teacher once,” she says, though it’s not clear who she is really talking to, them or me. “But I wouldn’t be able to tell the live students from the dead ones.”
“Stella!” Anne shouts in irritation.
Her Aunt laughs. “Oh, relax Annie. I’m just playing. You know I love a good reaction.”
The other adults laugh with her, but it’s strained and nervous.
“Can we go now?” Anne protests.
The woman sighs. “Okay, okay. Let’s go see what Jeremy did to your mother this time.” She turns to Deaner. “Do I need to sign her out or something?”
“At the front office. Yes.”
“Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you,” she says to them, then glances my way. At first, I think she is going to say something rude, but she just gives me a quick, condescending look, before saying to Anne, “Let’s go, chickie.”
Anne slings her backpack over her shoulder and breezes past her aunt. She doesn’t even speak to the other adults. Deaner tries to flash an encouraging smile in her direction and says, “Take whatever time you need. Hope your mother is going to be okay.”
Part of me wonders if the school staff would be half as nice to Anne if she wasn’t an honor student. Probably not. People like me, live ones that is, always get lost in the shuffle. We are too insignificant. No wonder the adult world holds so many distinct social classes. They train us to frown on others when we’re young.
Passing through the walls and emerging out in the main hallway, I see both Anne and her aunt Stella. They haven’t wasted any time and are moving down the corridor at a hurried pace. Stella is speaking to Anne in hushed tones but I am too far away to hear. I pick up the pace to catch up as they round a corner towards the main office. I manage to hear Stella say, “Your mother loves you Anne. It’s just she has always loved the men more.” Then they are in the office.
I don’t follow them in this time. I know they won’t be long. While I wait in the hall, I look over at the trophy case against the wall across from the office. I never have noticed it before. Never put much thought into such things as achievement. Inside the glass case, there are award plaques, trophy statuettes with names engraved on their bases, and other notable displays of the school’s best students. Of course, Anne is in there among them. A plaque for school spelling bee champion, a trophy for gymnastics regional champion, and a photo of her in costume as Galinda in the student production of Wicked. From this, one can determine that Anne Taynor is amazing. She is more than adept at spelling, sports, and singing. I beam with pride, though I don’t know why. She never gave a damn about me in life. She never even knew I existed, and even if she had, she wouldn’t have been interested in an underachiever like me. Girls like her don’t date the class loser. None of those things matter now of course. All I care about is that she’s happy, and when she and her aunt emerge from the office, I am determined to follow them out and make sure Anne is going to be okay.
I follow them down the hall as they head for the front doors. I see the afternoon sunshine coming through the glass. I wonder if when we get outside if I’ll be able to feel the warmth on my face. Or is that another thing that is completely lost on ghosts? I am pondering this when Stella turns around and looks at me. Her glare says she is irritated.
“Stop following us,” she says in a firm voice. “I know there’s something else you could be doing.”
For a moment I do stop, as if she has some kind of power over me. But then I realize, Hey, I’m dead. I don’t have to listen to her. I don’t have to listen to anyone.
“Ghost Boy Blues” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.
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