Ghost Story: Free


agzaiM werdnA

I was free! I was free, I was free, I WAS FREE!

But like always, I screwed it up. I'm sitting here, on the toilet, looking at her in the shower.

I was so free!

I thought this time I had actually left her behind.

Well you were wrong. You don't have the power to do this.

I did have the power; At least, I thought I had the power. It was like this with pornography when I was alive. I'd subscribe to an online service, and then when it expired, I'd resolve not to download any more.

I'd say to myself "I'm free! I'm finally free!" But then, seven or eight days later, without even realizing it, I'd have signed up for another 30 days somewhere else. And I'd weep, "I was free. I was free..."

It was your coping mechanism. Your life was hard. Your afterlife is proving to be harder. You think something like death was going to change you?

I knew it was my coping mechanism. I guess what I needed was some counseling. I never got it in time. I chose a really stupid way to go, too. You see, she'd dumped me. She wanted to see other people, but I suspected she found the stack of disks. And I didn't know how to cope. So I stepped in front of a bus.

But that didn't kill me. What killed me was when I kept refusing to eat in the hospital. They had me hooked up to an IV but up until I didn't have the strength I kept pulling the needle out. She came to visit me, and begged me to stop, but I kept doing it. In the end, I was in such bad shape they didn't know if it was the anemia, the infected wound where the IV had been, the wounds that refused to heal, or the malnutrition that killed me.

And you certainly show it over on this side.

I look at her. I get my face so close to the shower curtain. She hasn't started showering yet, and I almost expect there to be a mark or condensation from me pressing my face against the curtain. I wish I could just leave her alone.

But you can't. She's the most beautiful person you've ever known, and she didn't want you.

Thanks for reminding me.

Sorry to have to say these things. I was wondering when you were going to start paying attention to me again. Look - I can help you. I can help you forget.

No thanks. I appreciate the offer, but we already had a talk about this. I have to overcome this on my own.

Suit yourself.

I look over her pale skin. I know it's soft, but if I were to touch it, it would be as unyielding as stone. I pass my hand gently over the back of her neck, and she shivers. Maybe it was the fact that she wasn't wearing any clothes, and she had yet to get into the shower. Maybe she sensed me.

I'm inclined to believe the latter. Anytime you touch anyone, you give them a little chill.

I sigh. A bad habit. It makes me forget what I am. I hold her gently in my arms.

The magic begins. I embrace her so tightly that the soft, stonelike skin begins to yield, so much so that it becomes my own. Suddenly I can see through her green eyes, and my hands run through her red hair. As I lift her leg to get over the edge of the shower, I notice the freckles on her face slowly vanishing in the mirror as it steams up.

It's almost like I can feel every drop. Nothing in my world even comes close to this. The simple pleasures of falling water.

I rinse and clean her, washing her hair. I remember when I used to do this, back when I was alive. She'd be in the bath, and I'd pour water though her hair with a cup. But now, with her hands, I guess a simple shampoo and rinse will have to do.

I look down and notice her swollen belly. A child. Not mine, of course. I've been dead far too long. I've never touched it, and I hope I will never feel the need to. I've felt the curiosity, but at least I'm strong enough to disregard that. At least, I like to think I'm strong enough...

Oh, not this again! Get away from the kid!

Suddenly, I realize what I'm doing. I promised myself I'd stop this. It's the only way - the only way to move on. To forget her.

The thought alone makes me shiver in her skin. To leave her is unthinkable. But every moment I'm around her is two more moments I'll have before I can "move on."

For Christ's sake! Get the Hell out! I gave up on this whole throwing you into a Nihil plan years ago. You're so close! I need you to end this! Every moment we're still here is another moment we both suffer!

For only the third or fourth time, my Shadow and I agree. I begin to leave, a cold shock to my system, the stray drops of water passing right through me. I hastily jump back in.

"Wait just a damn second. I seem to remember you saying 'Give it a try! If you don't like it, you won't have to do it again. Besides, she won't even notice.'

"Well, she has noticed. She thinks she's going crazy! And what's your angle on this?"


Okay - first off, you either have to trust me or not. Because otherwise, you're just running in circles again. "Well, he's trying to convince me that he thinks what I think, but he really thinks something else, or maybe he wants me to think he thinks that." That sort of thing.

Second, do you think it's fun being someone's "dark side"? Sure, it's great being witty and clever and getting to do fun things. But all the other time - the time I spend watching you screw up, the time I spend silent - that's a living hell. And don't even get me started about Pardoners.

Right now, you're a lot closer to one end that the one I'd prefer, but it's an end nonetheless. I want out. I want to end this. We have to get this over with.

I know I go about it the wrong way, but I'm trying to help, here. I think I'm being pretty honest for a change, admitting my motives. And believe me, it's hard helping you - you screw up a lot.

Disregard that. I'm doing it again - slipping back into "Shadow mode"...

I hope you can see now, this is not in my nature. I usually just try to help myself, but we have a common goal, here, and I guess whatever change comes is better than what I (I mean we. We!) have going now. It's hard for me to talk about things like "our goals" and "our needs," "us" and "we."

But who knows? I might be leading you astray. Or I might not. I might help for a little while, get scared and change my mind. Think about it. Watch me.

I hate it when he makes sense.

I finally step out and take a good look. I take a good look at what I'm leaving behind.

This will be the last time. It has to be now.

I'm free.

We're free.