by Susan Browne
© Susan Browne, 2016 and 2018 all rights reserved
Flash Fiction Ghost Story. John is struggling to move on, and his girlfriend Jeanette isn’t helping. He finds one of her friends supportive, as she has a very unique perceptive ability, and a way of communicating with other realms.
‘I love you to the moon and back, don’t ever leave me John,’ she says, and flings an arm out over me. Her love spills out all over the floor and the walls and the bedclothes, like the blood of someone all shot up. She is wearing that lace black tiny slip that doesn’t cover much. Long curled auburn hair spreading out over both pillows and over her shoulders. Eyes closed, biting her lip.
I’d love to give her one. But there’s nothing left to give.
My clothes are in a pile ready. A bottle of water, and my gloves.
‘Off you go, so,’ she said. Always encouraging me to train hard, pushing me towards my dreams. And off I go. Out of our flat, onto the street, grimy from holiday-makers and slovenly locals from the night before. Chip papers, pizza boxes, cans. Outside the gym the neon sign reads ‘open’ and has the same flickering body builder lifting weights over his head.
I go downstairs to the basement where the ring and the bags are. Patcheen is there training already, sweat flying out of him. He’ll fight that fight now. It was going to be me. I don’t resent him. He swings again and again. I want to show him how to develop his left hook. But he can’t see me. I move in between him and the bag, letting his fists go through me over and over. He thinks that someone has come in and put the aircon on. I made the air cold.
‘Hello?’ he calls. ‘Rory?’
No answer. So he keeps going. I like that he can feel me.
The ball is hovering nearby. It changes to a distasteful swamp green/brown colour. The ball follows me everywhere. I have no idea what it is. It doesn’t talk back, it just changes colour and shape.
I can see things now that I never knew were here. Pockets of grey that follow people around. Some of them are spirits, cling-ons. These have crazy long hands and claws. They don’t look human. Patcheen has this grey cloud over the middle of his back. It moves with him.
Then there’s the alco’s, that lay in wait for another drink. They hang around bars and around drinkers. Hold on till the person is drunk, and then lodge in them. Tasting and unfurling. I tried to pull one out one day. He hit me so hard I thought I was dead all over again.
‘Mind your own business, hero,’ he laughed, showing yellowed rotten teeth. The girl, a tourist, lay there on the grass. Her eyes rolled over to white. It was ages before anyone found her.
Sparkles – silver and gold, bounce out of happy people. They fill up the room sometimes and even help the people with the grey stuff. It’s like a Disney movie when that happens. It’s a weird thing, being able to see all this shit. Kind of interesting. But I know I don’t belong here. All of us that linger are lost. We don’t fit any more.
Later I am back home again. Jeanette has a friend over. Trisha. Jeanette has gone to make coffee, so it’s just me and her. The TV is on silent, some chat show flicks across the screen. She is watching that, then she looks over. Her eyes fix on me. She blinks, then looks at me again.
‘Can you see me?’
She smiles. I know she can. I don’t have a body, but the seers can distinguish your old body outline, and some of your features. The sensers channel information about you, and have a knowing about you. They are both rare enough, so far anyway.
‘Can you let me know that you can see me for sure. It’s so fucking lonely.’
‘I see you John.’
‘I want to go. But she won’t let me. I don’t want to hurt her, but I don’t belong in this place. Tell her she needs to let me go.’
‘I can’t tell her that, she wouldn’t listen and it would upset her too much.’
‘If you don’t tell her..’ I was about to threaten her, tell her I’d mess up her head, and then I watch as she just smiles and closes her eyes. There’s a weird feeling in the room. Then all these angels. Gold. Then a massive blue angel with a white sword. Michael. The ball is unravelling. It’s no longer a ball. It’s an angel too. It makes me want to cry, but I don’t have any eyes or tears.
Jeanette shrieks from the kitchen and Trisha goes to her. They are on the tiled floor. Jeanette is crying, Trisha’s hugging her. They rock back and forth. I look at Archangel Michael, and his eyes are like pools of sapphire. He points to her and I see another massive angel wrapping his wings around her.
‘Let’s go now,’ he says.
‘I can’t leave her.’
He gets his sword and cuts a grey cord that I see now tethering me to Jeanette. It shrivels up and disappears. She lets out a loud sob and takes a deep breath as though a great pain is just leaving her.
‘Now you can.’
‘Will she be okay?’
‘Of course. Look at all the help she has.’
I don’t know if I believe him, but I follow him. A feeling of peace comes over me, followed by euphoria.
I see the place on the street where I got hit by the truck. I see the bystanders doing all they can. The bawling kid that someone should have taken away somewhere. The paramedics, the body bag on the trolley being zipped up. Jeanette screaming. Like its happening right now. But I am risen above it. There are all these angels there. The ball is my guardian angel, and it is beside me always.
My baby. She’ll see when she gets here.
About this Story: This story was a response to a writing prompt for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge in July 2016, and it successfully made it through to the next round.
The Prompt: Genre = ghost story, location = a boxing ring; object = a neon sign.
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