Joanne looked at Terry. Terry looked back at Joanne. He had a shocked expression on his face that looked like it may never disappear. She had an awkward smile that may last just as long. Terry was really living up to the reputation he gained from his photos. Joanne wasn’t sure if she should try to talk or if she should let Terry process the situation a bit more. Judging by how things had gone so far it could be an exceptionally long wait so she opted to try speaking.
“So-“ Joanne tried to say but the second she spoke Terry’s arms shot up defensively and he yelped as though something had jumped out at him from behind a corner. Joanne sighed. This was the only other person she had found in the afterlife. A man so nervous he was scared of conversation. She waited fora few more seconds until Terry lowered his arms.
“Sorry I startled you,” She said, being sure not to step or lean forward and risk terrifying Terry even more.
“No, it’s fine,” Terry finally said, “It’s just, um. I am, uh, pretty easily startled, you know?”
“Of course,” Joanne said. “I totally understand.”
There was an awkward silence that, as awkward silences always do, lasted far too long. Terry had placed his hands in his pockets which caused his far too long arms to bend awkwardly. His university branded t-shirt barely seemed to fit his long, thin body and added to his strange appearance.
“So, how long have you been dead?” Joanne asked.
“About two years,” Terry replied, “You?”
“Three months,” Joanne said, “I’m pretty new to the game.”
“Right,” Terry said, before another incredibly awkward silence ensued. “One quick question. How did you know my name?”
Joanne apologized for not having explained what she had just went through immediately. She had been so caught up in the excitement that she skipped straight to introductions. The two of them sat down and Joanne explained the situation to Terry. She admitted that she may have come off as a creep and a stalker, but Terry seemed to understand.
“I have met so few people in the afterlife,” Terry said. “It’s always kind of a shock when you actually see someone else.”
“How many people have you met?” Joanne asked, leaning back on the couch.
“Maybe nine or ten,” Terry replied.
“Wow, seriously?” Joanne asked, with wide eyes. “Where are they?”
“Oh, they’re gone,” Terry said nonchalantly. “They worked out their issues and get to move on again. Eventually everyone does. Except fore me. I’ve been stuck longer than anyone I’ve met.”
Joanne leaned forward, excited to finally find some new information about the afterlife.
“So it’s like an unfinished business sorta thing?” Joanne asked. Terry squinted at her and tilted his head slightly.
“Sort of,” he replied, “But, you know, more like a ‘you’re not ready for the second door yet’ kind of a thing.”
“Second door?” Joanne asked.
“Yeah,” Terry said. “You know, when Peter gives you his cryptic, self exploratory, psychotherapy session. It’s always ‘Do you go through the door to new things, or the door to the familiar!’ Didn’t you get that same speech?”
Joanne furrowed her brow and felt a deep, sinking feeling in her stomach.
“Who’s Peter?” Joanne asked. Terry looked shocked. He appeared to me at a loss for words.
“You,” he said, pausing. “You never met Peter?”
Joanne shook her head, slowly.
“Oh dear,” Terry said. “You’ve got some catching up to do.”