Conversation with the Living
Will you stop? Hello! You’ve been playing with that stupid board for over an hour now. You’re driving me crazy. In fact, the only reason I’m responding at all is to get you to shut up and stop all that chanting and mumbo jumbo stuff you’re doing. Geez.
What does a person have to do to get some quiet around here? Oh, and just FYI, Ouija boards don’t really work. We just sometimes get bored and like to aggravate the living.
For Heaven’s sake, why are you cringing? You have been calling for me, right? Well, here I am.
Look, I can’t do anything to you. I’m just an empty shell. Fog like. Here, I’ll show you. See?
So, you got me here, what is it you want?
Excuse me? Allow me to let you in on a little secret, just because you’re researching the house and found that I died here, doesn’t mean I owe you anything.
Wrong. Regardless of what you think, this is still and will always be, my house. I was, after all, here first. In fact, it’s been like over a hundred years ago, now.
Oh, all right, fine. Go ahead. Ask your silly questions.
What’s it like to be dead? Why you want to know is beyond me, but okay. It’s a little hard to explain. It’s kinda boring, actually. Once your body dies, you have no need for sleep anymore, so you have loads of time to just wander around. I found out early that people, living people, really don’t like to hold conversations with me now that I’m dead.
Then you have all the other dead people, and all they want to talk about is how they died, when they died, and how awful it is to be dead. You can only take so much of that before you go loopy.
Being dead, it’s not so bad actually. Just boring.
What’s that? Oh. Well, there really isn’t anything to feel. Since we don’t eat, we don’t feel hunger. Since we don’t have a living body anymore, we don’t get tired. We don’t get cold or hot or sweaty anymore either.
Why don’t I talk funny? What do you mean?
Oh, I see. I have spent most of my time listening and learning. In fact, I love watching television. Reality TV, oh yeah.
The story of my death? That’s kind of a sad story, actually. You sure you want to hear about that?
Well, I was just about to turn seventeen. My boyfriend, John, intended to ask for my hand.
Hey, it was a long time ago, girls got married early back then. We didn’t have many options. I was lucky I knew how to read. A lot of the girls my age didn’t. It was thought to be a waste of time to teach us lowly women to read. That’s another story though.
Anyway, as I was saying, I was just about to turn seventeen. We were having a huge winter snowstorm. There was snow and ice, and wind. I didn’t care about the snow though. John was coming over to take me for a sleigh ride, and I was going, no matter what. I didn’t care what anyone said. John, he was so wonderful. He had put little silver bells on the harnesses of the horses. The jingling echoed sweetly through the night as we made our way over the snow-covered roads. I remember that night like it was just today. That was the last time I left the house.
By the time we came back home, I was frozen with cold, but so happy and so in love. I knew I’d made the right choice with John. He was a good man. We would get married, have children, and live happily ever after.
I got a fever the next day. After two nights of the raging fever, I went to sleep and never woke up again.
John was broken up over my death. I saw him at my funeral. Yes, I actually attended my own funeral. I wanted to see who would come, and also who wouldn’t. You’d be surprised at all the people you think are your friends, who aren’t. People that were supposed to have been my friends said terrible things about me at my own funeral. Like, how I was stubborn and stupid for going out in the cold. How it served me right to be dead. How high and mighty I always seemed, the conniving wretches. That’s all right, I got them back. I took a crash course on haunting, just for them. That was fun. Revenge, it can be fun.
Well, of course I still have feelings. What you see before you is a soul. Where do you think your feelings come from?
John came to my grave to see me every day for a month. He felt my death was his fault. After that first month, he started coming less and less. Then, one day he just stopped coming.
I went to his house to see how he was doing. Okay, I wanted to see why he wasn’t coming to see me anymore, and I admit that I missed him.
I may have been dead, but I learned to hate that night. I slipped into John’s house, and there he was, with my one of my best friends. I never went back. I heard they got married. I heard they had children. They lived happily ever after. They had my life, the one I was supposed to be living. Yes, I learned all about hate.
Sadness is a terrible thing. It can eat away at you whether you’re alive or dead. I hid from the world for many years after that. I wanted to forget. I didn’t.
How did I hide? I went into the darkness, into the shadows, and wrapped myself up in them and just stayed in their cocooned arms until I was ready to leave. Shadows have life in them.
You didn’t know that? Well, they do. They sing. You can hear them if you listen. You don’t have to be dead either. In the dark of the night, you should try it. It’s beautiful.
Well, I suppose it’s just like with me. If you believe, you can see us, if you believe in the shadows, you can hear them.
I finally came out of the shadows when your family moved into the house. This house had been empty for many years. It was quiet and peaceful and empty. Then you moved in and with you, came the noise and the chaos. It was wonderful. I hadn’t realized how much life is in the young. How much I missed it.
Now, why are you sitting here in the night, talking to cardboard?
Don’t be stupid. I can’t tell you the future. I can’t tell you if some boy likes you or not. I’m dead, not a fortune teller. Geez. You have to figure that out for yourself. You have to make the future yourself. If I have learned anything in my life and in my death, it’s the world turns with or without you. It’s not fair or just. It just is. You have to make your own future and live your life to the fullest for as long as you’re allowed.
Now quit screwing around in here in the dark and get out there and enjoy it while you can.
Courtney Rene lives in the State of Ohio. She is a graduate and member of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her writings include magazine articles, short fiction stories, several anthologies, as well as her young adult novels which include, the A Howl in the Night series, the Shadow Dancer series, Feathers, and her new release, COLD, published through Rogue Phoenix Press. For a complete listing, visit www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com or feel free to contact her at email@example.com.
Copyright © Courtney Rene 2019