Joanne: Part 3

After a long morning of practicing picking up and arranging sticks and rocks Joanne had managed to arrange a short and hopefully pleasant message. It wasn’t anything complex. It was just enough to hopefully get someone’s attention.

HELLO. I AM DEAD. PLEASE TALK TO ME.

‘That oughta’ get the conversation going,’ Joanne though. It can not be adequately expressed how wrong she was. She had arranged this message in a busy parking lot downtown and greatly underestimated how easy it is to ignore a bunch of sticks on the ground. Most of the people who walked by didn’t notice anything. Those who did notice dismissed it as some strange prank. No one pieced together what Joanne believed to be the clear and obvious message. That message being, ‘There is a dead woman here, and she wants to talk to you.’ Joanne sighed and began to reevaluate her plan. She needed to be more specific. Being more specific required quite a lot of time, however. So for a few minutes she just kicked the ground and grumbled instead. Once the ground was thoroughly kicked and profanities were well grumbled she got back to work.

She gathered up more sticks and rocks from some bushes near by. She had gotten the hang of lifting things pretty quickly. Once she was used to the idea of just pretending things were normal it seemed to happen pretty easily. This time around she tried to create a message that might get people to stick around a bit longer.

I AM A GHOST. WATCH ME MOVE THIS ROCK. THEN PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME TALK TO YOU.

Joanne figured the combination of a concise message and a ghost literally moving something in front of someone’s eyes should get her message across. Then she could arrange the sticks into new phrases and have a conversation with someone. She smiled to herself and waited for some new people to wander past.

Once someone finally came to a stop in front of her beautifully crafted message, Joanne got ready. She leaned down and prepared to toss fairly small stone toward a rather confused looking young man. The stranger tilted his head and raised an eyebrow at the message. Joanne waited for the perfect moment and tossed a stone toward the man. It landed with a CLACK at his feet and he let out a terrified yelp. He turned around and ran away as fast as he could out of the parking lot. Joanne tilted her head back and let out an frustrated grunt. She sat next to her message and waited for more people to walk by. Whenever someone did, she picked up another rock and threw it their way. They would look toward her, raise an eyebrow at the message, and move on. Some looked scared. Some looked confused. They all ignored her. Except for one.

Joanne was sitting cross legged on the ground, slouching with her chin resting on her hand. A little girl with short, straight, black wearing a black dress stopped and looked at the now haggard and messy message. She smiled and started to look around. Joanne perked up and reached for the nearest rock she could find. She lightly tossed it toward the girl who watched it with glee. She smiled widely and waved at Joanne.

“Hi ghost,” she said, excitedly, “I’m Molly. It’s nice to meet you.”

Joanne’s jaw dropped and her eyes began to tear up. She smiled at the girl, who stared through her. She couldn’t see her, but at least she believed.

“Hi Molly,” Joanne said between sniffs, “Thank you so much.”

Joanne: Part 2

Joanne sat at an empty table in a coffee shop and stared angrily at a small, ceramic coffee cup. It was the middle of the night and she was practicing interacting with the corporeal world by the light from the street lamps outside. She had been dead for nearly a month and had no idea if she could communicate with the living. She was beginning to feel quite lonely, so she was on a mission to find out what her limits were and use whatever means she could to get the attention of someone in the living world. She took a deep breath, exhaled, and tried to grasp the cup. Her fingers passed straight through it. She grumbled to herself and tried again. She squinted, stuck her tongue out a bit, and tried to grasp the cup with a swift motion. She wound up making a fist inside of the cup. No luck.

“God damn it,” she whispered to herself.

She decided to try several times in quick succession. She clenched her fist into the cup over and over again. Eventually she became frustrated and swung her arm back and forth wildly, passing through it every time. The cup sat undisturbed. She squinted at it and pursed her lips tightly. It stared back at her, mocking her silently.

“I can sit in this god damned chair, why can’t I pick up a cup?” She asked herself, growing more and more exasperated. She clenched her fists angrily and swung them through the cup before groaning and slamming her face on to the table. She closed her eyes tightly and and let out a high pitched squeal, like an agitated tea kettle. She ran her fingers through her hair, pushing off her toque, and let out a long sigh. She stretched her arms out onto the table as she leaned forward. Her left arm bumped the cup and knocked it over. She looked up and rolled her eyes.

“Freaking klutz,” she whispered to herself.

She sat up and grabbed the cup, placing it back in its spot. Her eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped.

“Holy crap,” she said staring at her ceramic foe.

She did it. She picked it up. She knocked it over, she picked it up, and she had no idea how. She tried several more times from every angle to no avail. She tried repeating the motion of stretching across the table but that didn’t work either. She let out another angry squeal and clenched her fists. She stood up and marched out of the coffee shop. Without even thinking she pushed the door open as she left. She started walking down the block and after a few minutes she stopped. She was really quite terrible at noticing these significant moments as they happened.

“The door,” she whispered to herself.

She ran back to the coffee shop and looked at the door.

“Just do it casually,” she said. “Don’t even think about it. Just like normal.”

She backed up a few steps, took a deep breath, exhaled, and casually stepped toward the door. She grasped the handle, her hand gripped it and pulled. Her heart began to race and she laughed excitedly to herself, as the handle passed through her hands and closed.

“Crap,” she said. “Don’t even think about it. Just do it.”

Without a thought she quickly grabbed the door and swung it open. She walked confidently to a table and sat down. Without looking she shot her hand out, grabbed a coffee cup, and turned it over. She looked down at it. That was the secret. Don’t overthink it. Just act naturally. Treat the afterlife like it was any other normal day.

‘Okay,’ she thought. ‘Time to get someones attention.’

Joanne: Part 1

Joanne stood in an empty glass bus stop in downtown Saskatoon late one night and stared, slack-jawed, at her reflection in the glass. Her black hair just barely poked out of the pea green toque she was wearing. Her glasses were crooked and she didn’t really feel the need to adjust them. She just stood, hands in her hoodie’s pockets, swaying back and forth slowly. She was more bored than she had ever been and that’s what she did when she had nothing else to do. She swayed. Slowly. Back and forth. Staring at nothing with her mouth hanging open. She drooled just a bit. She would normally wipe the drool from her mouth at least semi regularly but she didn’t bother this time. There was no one around. No one that could see her anyway. It had been at least three weeks since she had interacted with anyone at all. So she just stared into nothingness and swayed. Back and forth. Forward and backward. Around and around. She swayed out of boredom until she swayed too far to one side and lost her balance. She stumbled and suddenly snapped back into the real world. She braced herself to hit the glass and closed her eyes. Instead she past through it like it wasn’t even there and fell down onto the pavement. She opened her eyes and looked up at the undisturbed bus stop.

“Oh yeah,” She said to herself, “forgot about that.”

She was bored. She was alone. She was still getting used to being incorporeal. Joanne had died three weeks earlier and for some reason she never left earth. She just woke up one day and saw herself laying in bed, post brain aneurysm, and that was it. Her roommate found her body in bed and called an ambulance. It didn’t do any good. Joanne rode in the ambulance with her corpse in an attempt to figure out whether or not this was just some strange out of body experience. When she tried to lean against the side of the ambulance and fell out onto the pavement was when she realized something really strange was up. She followed her family around a bit and pieced it all together from the conversations. She went to her own funeral. That was super messed up. Seeing your own open casket really screws with you. After that, though, she just didn’t know what to do. After three weeks of wandering around the city, she had become lonely. She wanted to talk to someone. Living or dead, it didn’t really matter. The only problem was that she didn’t know what she was even capable of at this point.

Could she open doors? Could she fly? Could she feel pain? The answer to all of these questions was a resounding “sometimes.” It was all very inconsistent and frustrating. She had mostly just wandered around the city and tried to talk to people. She new that didn’t work. Nobody could hear her. Once in a while people seemed to look toward her when she screamed exceptionally loudly. She couldn’t tell if that was because of her or just a coincidence though. It was pretty frustrating. After almost a month of wasting time and ruminating on her situation she thought it might be a good idea to figure it all out. She was obviously stuck here, so why not try to get some things sorted? It was time to find out what she was capable of, and find a way for her newly deceased voice to be heard.

She walked to the nearest coffee shop, passed through a wall and sat in a booth and started making a mental list.

‘Okay,’ she thought. ‘Let’s start with what I know. I can move my body through solid stuff. That’s pretty freakin’ sweet. But I can’t pick stuff up. That’s lame. But I can sit in chairs for some reason, so that’s cool I guess. I can’t seem to get people to hear me and I can’t touch them, which really sucks. I like talking to people. I don’t seem to need food or water, which I guess is convenient?’

She stopped for a moment. She squinted and thought extra hard.

‘I think that’s it,’ she thought. ‘Cool. I’m like an extremely lonely superhero who can walk through stuff. Right on.  I guess I should find some way to interact with stuff. Maybe then I could get someone’s attention.’

She looked at a small, brown and white coffee mug that sat upside down on a plate in front of her.

“Okay, Joanne,” She said confidently. “Let’s try to lift some stuff.”

A God Awful Cup of Coffee

I sat on the greenish, plastic feeling, fake leather seats of the diner booth and leaned heavily on the table. I hunched forward and tried to blink moisture into my dry, unrested eyes. It took all of the energy I could muster to hold my body up with my elbows. I breathed heavily, trying to stifle a yawn with every breath. It truly was arse o’clock in the morning and apparently the only time this meeting could possibly be held. I stared off into the distance and my jaw hung slackly as I tuned out the world around me. Every time I blinked I felt a glimpse of paradise as I wished I could fall into a deep sleep.

“Excuse me?” A voice croaked from beside me.

“Hmm?’ I mumbled as I inhaled suddenly through my nose, straightened up, and looked toward the waitress who had suddenly appeared before me. She was a portly woman with short grey hair and rough, gravelly voice. She sounded like she had been chain smoking for the better part of her life. She had a pad and pencil in her hand and would have had a cigarette permanently drooping from her lips if it were still legal in public places. She looked like a stereotype that existed only in classic cinema diners and she was the only person who wanted to be there less than I did.

“What can I get ya’ sweetie?” she asked.

I thought for a moment. It was too early for me to have an appetite. I needed something to wake me up. Maybe if I was conscious the meeting would go well.

“Coffee, please,” I muttered.

“Anything else?” She croaked.

“Nah,” I sighed and went back to staring forward into nothingness. She grunted as she left to fetch the coffee. She returned mere moments later with a fresh, steaming pot. I almost smiled as she set the cup down with a clunk and began to pour that delicious, dark liquid into it. Oh what a fool I was.

She left the table and I began one of the most harrowing journeys of my life. I picked up the cup of coffee expecting to smell that delicious aroma I am so familiar with. Instead I inhaled and my nose was assaulted with an atrocious, acidic scent. I gagged slightly and looked down at the drink. What had I gotten myself in to? I braced myself and tried to take a sip. Normally I can handle black coffee. I almost spat this slop all over the table. It was the worst thing I my tongue had ever been abused by. It tasted burnt. It tasted stale. It tasted like the hot, wet, anus of Satan himself. I set the drink down and stared at it for a moment. Normally I would enjoy a black cup of coffee as I treated myself to it’s sweet bouquet and delectable flavours. I would never sully such a beautiful drink with anything as crass as cream and sugar. This time I had no choice though. I needed this coffee. I needed to wake myself. I had to do it. I took a creamer and two packets of sugar and poured them into the coffee. I took a spoon from the table and stirred it up. I tried it again. It was still awful. It was the same burnt flavour with a bit of dulcitude on the back end. I sighed and poured in four more packets of sugar. I dumped another creamer in. I took a deep breath and tried again. I don’t know if I could refer to it as palatable, but it was better. No. Not better. It was less revolting. It was still quite revolting though. I decided the only way to get this caffeine into my system was to guzzle the atrocious liquid and just get the whole mess over with. So I did just that. I put the cup up to my lips, took a deep breath, and chugged the hot, offensive mess as fast as I could. It dripped down my chin as I finished it as fast as I possibly could. I wiped the mess off of my face with my sleeve and sighed. It was awful, but at least it was over. The waitress approached with the pot of coffee once again.

“How was the coffee?” She asked.

“It was fine, thank you,” I answered.

“Want another cup, sweetheart?” She croaked.

“Sure,” I said, “Thank you.” She poured another cup of coffee and walked away. I stared into it and and sighed.

Running late, but it’s on it’s way!

This week has been kind of a mess as far as my writing goes. I’ve been trying to get back in to a healthier sleeping pattern and it hasn’t been going well. I haven’t felt very energized and so my productivity has been a bit slow. Most of my energy has been going in to editing a film I’m working on and I haven’t had much leftover for writing. I am still going to post a story today! It’s a flash fiction about coffee. But it is going to be late. I’m trying to be consistent with my posting but it is a bit of a challenge for me! So hopefully over the next couple of hours there will be a story up! Thanks for your patience if you are one of my readers!

The Middle of Nowhere: Part 6

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I sat across from her in silence for almost an hour. It’s a hell of a way to start a new life. Lose everything you knew and everyone you loved in an instant. I offered to help her out. She could sleep in the spare room. We could give her room and board until she figures it all out, however long that took. But she turned it down. She decided she wanted to go through the motions with the scientists and whatever official bodies she needed to before trying to get herself set up on her own. I guess it made enough sense. There’s no reason to wait around. As far as she knew her situation was set in stone and she needed to come to terms with that. She was very practical about it. I still visit her in the city once in a while. We’ve become quite good friends again. She started going to meetings recently. Apparently she was the first person this happened to, but she was far from the last. Kind of a scary thought when you consider it. But they’ve all found each other and they’re working through it together. It’s good for her.

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I wish she didn’t have to go through all this. She was a really good person. One of the few to come out of this town. Nobody should have to lose their whole world in an instant. Especially not her. But I guess it was just the first step in a hell of an adventure. She’s told me some stories from the folks at her meetings. Some of them have it a lot worse than she does. But still. I guess we’d all better appreciate what we’ve got. It could be gone in a flash.