I swung my legs back and forth, watching them go through the couch to the rhythm of the music. It was playing softly and it was the composer I liked, but I could not enjoy it. My daddy was sitting in a chair not far from me, looking even more sad than I felt. I was sad, I was very sad, but I still did not understand really what happened.
I looked at my daddy for a second. He was staring at nothing, just ahead. His hands were on the armrests of the chair he was in and his body was still. He did not breathe. He did not need to breathe, like me. He used to, but didn’t no more. Like he didn’t eat since he got home and he didn’t sleep. He just cried or sat in silence.
I looked down at my legs again. It was weird being alone with him. We were not even home, we were at Aunt Kaylee’s house where Daddy said we were living now. I did not know why we could not be in our old home. I liked our old home. It was real neat and the waterfall was real pretty. But Daddy said, when he come home, that we had to live with Aunt Kaylee now cause Mama was not going to come home.
I did not know why Mama was not going to come home. I asked him if she was lost but he said no, she was gone and would not come back. I still think she is lost somewhere but Daddy and Aunt Kaylee keep saying no. Aunt Kaylee cried a lot, and so did Miracle. I cried, because I did not want Mama to be lost–but I knew she’d come home. She loved me and she loved Miracle and she loved Daddy.
Daddy said she went with the Grim Reaper and that meant she was gone forever. Miracle says it’s called being dead. I looked that word up in a dictionary. It means deprived of life. I had to look up the word deprived. But that made me real confused. I kept having to look up words and finally did not keep going cause it was confusing. I put away the dictionary and decided that being dead was stupid (and confusing).
“Daddy?” I was looking at him again and he finally looked back at me. I smiled, hoping he would smile too but he kept frowning. “Daddy, I’m hungry.”
Daddy’s face got all scrunchy. “There’s leftover pizza in the fridge.”
My legs stopped swinging and I kept smiling. “Are you hungry too?” I asked.
“You didn’t eat breakfast and, and you didn’t eat di–“
“I’m not hungry, Chance.”
“Are you mad at me, Daddy?”
I sighed and hopped off the couch, my feet not touching the floor. Floating was nice. I also liked that I could go through things, like my daddy could but Mama and Miracle did not do. I didn’t know why. I asked my mama once but she said it was because I was special, like daddy. I liked being special. I liked going through things. It made going into the kitchen at night and getting food when I was not allowed real easy. I made no sounds when I floated. I learned that walking made noise. Floating made no noise. So I did not walk anymore. Floating made me sneaky like a kitty.
I floated into the fridge and then remembered the little light did not come on unless I opened the door so I floated back out and made myself go solid. I opened the door and looked for the pizza. It was on a higher shelf and I had to stretch to get it. I also got some drink that my mama and daddy did not like me to drink. It was called pop. They said it was not good for me to drink cause I was just seven.
I took a piece of pizza and the can of pop and went back to the other room to sit on the couch. I watched my daddy, wondering if he would say something about the pop but he was looking at nothing again. I opened the pop but he did not look. I slurped it loudly but he did not look. “Can I play a game?” I asked.
“Turn off the music, then,” he said.
“Do you want pop?”
I sighed again and turned off the music and then turned on the TV. I found a video game to put in and began playing. Video games were super fun. Daddy and I played a lot. Sometimes Mama played with me, or with Daddy. They liked to play video games together and argued a lot over it then laughed a lot. Miracle did not like video games at all and liked to read instead. She liked books without much pictures which made me confused. I tried to read her book once and it was really weird about a boy who had a toy car and tollbooth thing that took him into another place and it was so weird. Miracle found me reading her book and got real mad and I tried to say I was sorry but she threw her pillow through me and said I smelled like toe scum.
Mama told me not to be upset but I was not upset. I know Miracle did not mean what she said and I didn’t smell like toe scum I smelled like this really nice soap Mama always bought me that smelled like green apples (except green apples really did not smell like that they smelled the same as red apples). So it did not make me upset when Miracle said stuff like that. I did not get upset at all a lot of times, and Mama and Daddy always told me I was a really gentle and had a sweet temper.
“Daddy, wanna play? I got this racing game started,” I said cheerfully.
“Chance…” Daddy looked at me and then finally moved something other than his head. He moved his hand and rubbed his forehead. “Just play quietly. Now isn’t the time, okay?”
“Okay.” I turned back to the TV and began the race. I was not real good at racing games but it was fun. I crashed my car a lot but it was fun to do. I liked hitting other cars and messing them up. But when I hit a car, and the crashy noises started, Daddy got up and came over, yanking the plugs out of the wall. I dropped the controller and stared as the TV went black. “Daddy!”
“No video games,” he said in a real angry voice.
I sat back in the couch and nodded. “Okay,” I whispered. I finished eating the pizza and drank some more pop, staying quiet as my dad sat down in the same chair he sat in since we stayed at Aunt Kaylee’s house. I did not like being in this house I wanted to just go home even though my bedroom window looked out at the horses which sometimes was a bit scary. Miracle got the window looking at the waterfall. Now both our windows looked at houses. We lived in the town now and that meant I couldn’t go outside.
I did not understand that though. I liked to sit outside but Aunt Kaylee told me I was not allowed to anymore. Miracle was allowed to go in the backyard but not me. I didn’t know why. But Daddy could not go outside either so I knew it was probably cause we were special. Because we looked different. But wasn’t special good? It was reallllly confusing.
Then I figured something out. “Daddy?” I asked, my voice not really loud, a bit scared since I didn’t wanna upset him.
Daddy’s shoulders got all hunched up. “What is it, Chance?” he asked in the kinda voice that I knew meant he was trying not to lose his temper.
“Are you sad cause we can’t go see Mama?”
He breathed in real deep and loud. “I told you… Mommy isn’t… coming back.”
I jerked back against the couch and couldn’t stop the frown on my face or the tears. I did not frown or cry much but this was too much for me. “Daddy, you said that’s where Aunt Kaylee and Miracle were going today! How come they get to go see Mama and we–“
“Your mother is not coming back!” It was not an angry voice, it was a sad voice, and he was crying.
I got off the couch and went a little closer, my hands curled up together under my chin. “But… you an’ Aunt Kaylee–I heard, and Miracle and Aunt Kaylee were gonna go say goodbye to Mama so she can’t be lost if they can go say goodbye to her… How come we can’t go see her?”
Dad looked at me and then pat his lap. I climbed up and he put his arms around me, his face in my shoulder as he cried more. I cried too. “Baby, your sister and aunt are not going to see Mommy. What we meant with saying goodbye is… because your mother is gone, like I told you. Saying goodbye means… Oh Watcher, I knew we should have talked to you about this before.” He pulled back and pushed back my hat a bit so he could touch my hair. “Chance, what do you know about death?”
“When a person dies, that means they are not around anymore. They go to a different place that we can’t go to.”
“How come? Why did Mama go?”
“Oh… Chance…” He leaned in and began crying again. “She didn’t want to go. She would have given anything to be here with us, but she did not get a choice. Someone made her, a very bad man made her. When someone dies… there is a funeral which is where people who love the person go to say goodbye to them, even though the person is not there. Do you understand?”
I shrugged. “So Mama is not there but Aunt Kaylee and Miracle and Poppop and Grandpa an’ everyone else are going to say goodbye?” I asked and Daddy nodded. “How come we’re not there? I don’t love her less than Miracle loves her. I love her the same.” I paused for a second and then added, “I love her more.”
“Baby, I didn’t want to tell you this until you were older…” He looked at my face as if trying to learn something. I blinked and rubbed a few tears away from my eyes as I waited. “You and I are very different from other people. You know we are. And… we’re… we are what people call ghosts.”
He looked at me and I knew he wanted me to say something. “Oh,” was all I said cause I didn’t know what else to say. “What are ghosts?”
“Well, ghosts–are different from regular people. We are see-through and can float and go through things.” I nodded when he said that, wanting to know more since I already knew that. “Um. Okay well… the thing is, some people are afraid of ghosts. A lot of people, actually, and… a lot of people don’t like us and would be very scared and mad if they saw us. That’s why you can’t go outside and play since we live in town now, since someone might see you.” He closed his eyes and bowed his head. “That’s why we can’t go to Mommy’s funeral, because people might see us. Your mommy was loved by a lot of people so there are gonna be lots of people around, which means we can’t go.”
“Oh. How comes people don’t like us?”
“Well, baby. They don’t know much about us and people don’t like what they don’t understand. Maybe when you get older it will be different but right now, we can’t go around most people. They’ll be afraid and might try to hurt us because we are so different.”
“I can’t get hurted,” I said with a smile. “We can go all not solid.”
“Sweetie, there are people that can hurt us. Now, they probably live very far away but we need to be careful. I don’t want anything happening to you.” He put his arms tight around me and he put his face against my shoulder again. “You need to be very careful, Chance.”
“I will, Daddy,” I said but then I frowned. “I want to get more pizza.” I made myself go not solid and floated away. Daddy’s hands dropped to his lap and he just watched all quiet as I went to the kitchen. I did not want more pizza but I needed to think without him looking at me. I was not real happy.
People were afraid of us and would hurt us if they saw us. Because we were different. Because I was different. Miracle was allowed to go out and do stuff, but I had never gone out. I thought back as far as I could. I had never been anywhere but our house near the waterfall, and the waterfall, and some of the woods around the house. Miracle went shopping with Mama, but Daddy and I were always home. I never thought of it before. Now I did think of it. We had to stay away from people because we were different. I could not go say goodbye at Mommy’s funeral because I was like this. A ghost.
I floated to the stairs and up to the second floor where Miracle, Daddy and I had rooms. Aunt Kaylee had the big room on the downstairs. I went to Miracle’s room and floated in through the closed door. I found her dictionary and opened it. It took me a few minutes to find the word and when I did, I stared in complete confusion.
Ghost [gohst]. Noun. An apparition of a dead person.
I didn’t know what ‘apparition’ meant but the last words were obvious. A dead person.
I was… dead?