My second night at the graveyard–well, third technically (how could I have missed an entire night?) and I was just as ecstatic as I was before. This time at least I knew two of the ghosts so I went over to Thomas, beaming at him. He gave me a strange look but smiled in return. I inquired who the new ghosts were (not new, he told me, they just weren’t out that first night I was here) then I asked where Enola was.
“Oh, asleep probably,” he answered. “Not like we come out every night, like you know.”
I rubbed my nose and glanced around. “I wasn’t here last night, was I? I don’t know what happened. I just–I was–I don’t know what happened. It was like, I’m missing a full day.”
“Were you drifting?” he asked.
“No, I was laying still, trying t–“
“No!” he laughed, punching my arm. “Drifting. Nobody’s ever told you about drifting? My, you are a young’n. Drifting is what we call… hard to explain… See, we ghosts can sort of… fast forward in time. It’s sort of like sleeping, only you can be semi-awake. Time just passes and you’re not aware of it very much. A lot of ghosts drift. Enola is probably drifting right now. We can drift a short time or for ages. I once drifted for a year.”
I rubbed my nose again. Drifting. I drifted? So I missed a full day? That was kind’ve scary. “I didn’t… mean to, but I did? It happens on its own?”
“No, but it is easy to do,” he answered. “Getting into a state of relaxation, clearing your mind, that sort of thing. Such a shame you weren’t here last night, though, as it was her night out.” He pointed over towards a grave. “She usually only pops out of drifting once a month but she might come out sooner, now she knows there’s a new kid. Literally, kid. She’s one of the youngest ghosts here. She was very annoyed she missed meeting another young’n. Young in age, not… young ghost.”
I felt dizzy with everything he said but I smiled and nodded, thanking him. I got up and went over to the grave he indicated. Ruth Blount, it said. March 9th 1910- March 9th 1928. Beloved daughter of John and Ida Blount. Eighteen. Literally. The day she turned eighteen, she died. I frowned and felt very, very sad for her.
“Thomas?” I returned to where he sat. “How many ghosts are here? That comes out of their graves, I mean?”
“Oh… several,” he answered lazily. “There are about five regular. Me’n Enola’n Anabelle’n Basil’n Charity. Then there are loads who come out maybe once a week or two weeks, and some who come out once a month, and some who come out only a few times a year. That one–” He pointed at another grave. “–came out one, just once. You’re a curious kid.”
“No, it’s fine. Nice to see curiosity. Young folk and all–” He grimaced and then shook his head. “No, that’s wrong for me to say. It’s never good to see young folk here. Stupid of me to say that.” He began floating, indicating for me to follow. I did so, just behind him. “How did you die, Chance?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I’ve always been this way. I don’t know how my daddy died. The first time, I mean. I get my look from him.” Thomas looked at me as if I were absolutely bonkers which I supposed I sounded to someone like him. I got the feeling ghosts like me weren’t usual. “Thomas? Do ghosts have babies?”
The laughter filled the entire graveyard, and every single person there turned to look at us. A few came closer to overhear what was going on. Thomas just kept laughing, and laughing, and laughing. I felt a bit uncomfortable about it, then relieved when he finally stopped. “Babies? Babies? What sort of fantasy world do you live in? We can’t have babies. The plumbing works, Chance, but there’s nothing of essence in our essence, if you get my meaning. And there’s nothing of essence on the receiving end.” I stared blankly at him and he raised his eyebrows. “Did nobody ever give you the talk about sex?”
“Oooh, ah, I kn-know about what se–sex is,” I said, fidgeting with embarrassment.
Thomas looked me up and down. “Fifteen, are you?” he asked and I nodded. “Least you are old enough instead being stuck going through puberty for eternity. I met a kid ghost like that, poor fellow.”
“Isn’t it a bit sad for…” I stopped and held my tongue. For anyone to be a ghost, was what I had been going to say. I didn’t think that was the best thing to tell a ghost though. “It is sad,” I said with a smile and he nodded. “So… ghosts can’t have babies?”
“No. Where did you learn that ridiculous story?” he asked, smacking me on the back.
I fidgeted in silence but he kept looking at me so finally I said, “J-just wondering, really. I don’t know much about ghosts. I just thought… maybe… s-some ghosts had kids… or were different… like… able to interact with… th-the living.”
He smacked me again, laughing even more. “You’re a riot! Interacting with the living? You mean spooking and haunting them? Quite a few ghosts find that fun–I don’t really. The dead are dead, the living are living, I think there should be a line between the two. Not all ghosts feel like that, though.” He paused and shook his head. “Not all living feel that way either.”
“You mean… ghostbusters and stuff,” I said and he shrugged. “Do–do many come here?”
“Nah, we just get a few Symps now and again really. But we hear all sorts of tales from Wanderers, like you. Say… where are you from? You never really talked much about your past.” Thomas studied me as I tried to figure out what to say. What would happen if I told the truth? I didn’t think they’d really believe me.
“Oh, uh, around,” I answered with a smile. Thomas shrugged and didn’t press the matter thankfully, but it did give me pause. I didn’t want to be too… I didn’t want them to think I was really different. So I would have to be careful of the sort of thing I said. Luckily Thomas just thought I was being silly about the babies. I knew Daddy and I weren’t ‘xactly normal but.. am I really… THAT different? I looked around the graveyard and suddenly had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Maybe this wasn’t the best place for me. But I was a ghost, even if I was different I was still a ghost–so I belonged here. Right?
That night I talked to ghosts, listened to some of their stories, and splashed around in the shallow part of the pond. I tried to venture in a bit deeper but was a bit afraid since I had no clue how to swim. Could I drown? I didn’t need to breathe. But I remembered all those video games where if you kept the character underwater for too long, their breath would run out and you’d start taking damage. That was a video game, not reality. I was a ghost, not a human. But I decided to stay in the shallow end regardless.
Before it started getting light, I went back to Thomas and asked where I should sleep. “Oh, any of the empty graves really,” he said, waving his hand.
“How do I know which is empty?” I inquired and his response was to take me over to a grave and point.
“This one. Been here since before I got here, nobody’s ever seen this ghost. This is one of the places we let Wanderers stay in.”
“Thanks Thomas. How do I know when it’s night again?”
He gave me a strange look. “You–” He stopped and then shrugged. “I guess I don’t know, if you don’t know. Hard to explain. I just get this antsy feeling. Like, I can’t sit still another minute. Depends on your level of patience. As I said, some rest for a long time. If you don’t drift, you should notice.” He gave me a pat on the head.
I turned towards the grave and scrunched my face up, trying to figure out how to do this. I saw other ghosts going back to their graves. How…? I didn’t want to ask though. So I just concentrated on not being solid and sank down till I got to the coffin. There were some bones in there. I stretched out in the coffin and went as solid as I could, feeling awkward as I rearranged the bones. I apologized to whoever I was sharing this coffin with then tried to get to sleep.
Yeah, no sleep that day. I think I drifted a bit, I wasn’t sure. Hard to tell. I sang songs in my head and at once point I did semi-fall asleep but woke up pretty quickly. Or maybe not quickly at all. That’s it, I am gonna see if I can somehow materialize a watch. I wasn’t too good at materializing thing. Daddy tried to teach me but… I just wasn’t too good. I decided to pass the time trying, holding my wrist up close to my face. I could see in the dark pretty much completely anyway. I managed to form a band with something that was sort of a watch, but had no idea if it was the right time or not. I sighed and let my arm drop back down. I’m feeling antsy.. but… is it time…?
“You’re not good at telling time, are you?”
I jerked awake and was looking up at a strange face staring down at me through the darkness. I gave a yelp and jerked, going through both her and the ground. I heard her laughing and I felt hands on me, pulling me up. I looked around, a bit dazed. It was night and I could see several ghosts around, most of which were watching us with curiosity. The girl in front of me giggled again and grinned.
“Wowee, you are a Sheik!” She looked me up and down and then offered her hand. I stared, and she sighed, putting her other hand on her hip. “Boy, Chance, you sure know how to treat a lady. Take my hand.” I gulped and took her hand. “Now go on, kiss the back of it. Go on! That’s what a proper man does meeting a lady. Kiss it!”
“Ooh, er, s-sorry!” I bent forward and kissed the back of her hand. She squealed with delight and clapped her hands. “How do you know… my n-name?” I asked, peering up into her strangely colored face.
“Nobody seems to be home.” She rapped her knuckles lightly on my forehead. “You think nobody’s gonna beat their gums about a new fellow? Gossip is the number one thing here at Pleasant Rest. I know your name. Chance. And I! I am Ruth Blount. Kiss the back of my hand again, that’s a good boy. Wowee, you are easily trained,” she said as I obeyed her request. She grinned at me, I smiled back.
“Thomas said you only come out once a month,” I said.
“What am I, Mother Nature? Nosiree, not when there’s someone new.” She circled me, her eyes going up and down my body. I spun as well and noticed out of the corner of my eye a car in the distance. Aunt Kaylee. But she was no where near the gate. “I’m all edged up now! I couldn’t sleep for a century. I wonder how trained you are. Cash, please.”
“C… cash? Money?”
She laughed and slapped her knee. “No! Cash. Right here.” She tapped her cheek and I stared at her. “Oh come on.”
“Ruth, I told you, you keep using slang nobody’s gonna know what the hell you’re talking about.” Thomas came over and folded his arms.
Ruth stuck her lower lip out. “Applesauce, dry up, old man.”
“Yeah, I have no idea what you just said, I’m sure Chance here doesn’t either.” Thomas turned to look at me. “You can ignore her, if you want. She’s a bit… overwhelming.”
“APPLESAUCE!” she yelled and swished to stand in front of me. “Chance likes me, don’t you? I can tell. You’ve got that look in your eye. Besides. I’m the real McCoy. Yep, that’s me. Ruth Blount. A real, honest-to-goodness flapper.” She did a sort of curtsy thing and beamed at me with as much cheer as I usually showed. I couldn’t help but beam back. “That’s it! You’re the berries, boy. Besides, we are the youngest ones here. I can tell you’re… sixteen?”
“F-fifteen, I just turned fifteen not long ago,” I said.
“Ooooh. Fifteen. Still legal. I’m eighteen, baby. Just turned eighteen the day I died. Fifteen, hm? That will do. Hey, sweetie?” She turned to look at Thomas. “Mind if I go spook the Symp? Been bothering me. I can take Chance with me.”
“That car?” I asked, pointing. She nodded. “That’s my aunt. She’s just worried about me. Please don’t go spook her.”
“I thought you were a Wanderer?” She was staring hard at me. “How come your aunt is here, then?”
“She said…” I trailed off and then made a face. “Please excuse me for a moment.” I floated past the gates and down the street a bit to where she was. She looked guiltily up at me and turned off the car, stepping out. “Aunt Emma…”
“Kaylee sent me, and Mira begged.”
“We agreed, three nights. Not one,” I stated.
Aunt Emma frowned. “It’s been two nights. Kaylee came last night and was out of her mind when she never saw you. So I agreed to come tonight.”
Another night missing? Crap, I really must’ve drifted. “I’m sorry about last night, I slept a lot,” I said and looked towards the graveyard. We were being watched. “Please. Aunt Emma. Please. Don’t stay. They’re getting suspicious. One girl wanted to haunt you. I don’t want to attract too much attention. Please. And no visitors tomorrow. Tonight was bad enough. I said no visitors so they won’t get weirded out, so no visitors until the week is up. For my sake.”
“Chance, you can’t give us orders like this,” she stated.
“I will give orders as long as you guys continue to break promises,” I said and she jumped a bit. “Aunt Emma, I came here for a reason and being babied is not one of them. Being… ostrich… ostra… os… ostr…”
“Yes, that. Being that was not one of the reasons either. Making friends was. Getting shut out because I am having so much interaction with the S… living… not good. So… if you guys come and visit before the week is up, I’ll be hiding somewhere in a grave.” I folded my arms and tried my best to look stern. Looking stern was not one of my strong points. Looking cute and happy were. Apparently, my stern face was too cute because Aunt Emma laughed and rubbed my head.
“Okay, hun. We’ll let you have some time alone. Just be careful. Very careful.” She leaned in and kissed my forehead. “We all love you.”
“Love you all too.” I beamed at her then returned to the other ghosts who were giving me looks. I wondered what would happen if I told them the truth so I just smiled and said that I had spooked her. I doubted they believed me but they accepted the story. Which was good enough for me, for now. Even though Ruth was now giving me a really weird look. I turned to her, waiting for her to say something.
“Ducky,” was what she did say, to my confusion. She giggled when I squinted and then smacked my arm. “It’s just great having another young ghost in this graveyard. Sometimes I felt so lonely. And to top it all off, you’re so…” Her eyes glittered. “A sheik.”
“I’m n-not sure what–“
“That’s fine! You’ll pick up my language soon enough. If you like.” She came closer to me and smirked. “You are a funny one. I’m glad to have a friend. You are my friend, yes?” I nodded and she reached up, placing one finger on my forehead. “Good. Tag!” And then she took off faster than I could imagine anyone could go. “Come on, Chance!” She called from halfway across the graveyard. “Pick it up, slowpoke!”
I looked at Thomas who was laughing and shaking his head, then I grinned and took off after Ruth.