I know from the moment he gets into the taxi that this is probably going to be the greatest day ever. Not great like winning a year’s supply of your favourite ice cream (peanut butter swirled into cookie dough, since you ask). Maybe awesome, pivotal, freaking life-changing would be a better choice of parlance. But I digress.
After another Valentine's Day with only my personal pity party for company, I decide to chance the next speed dating night at the local pub.
With great effort I squeeze into my new red dress and heels and totter into town.
So picture this. Five minutes with each guy, thirty seconds to tick a scorecard, then repeat until all the faces and conversations blur into one average bloke, medium build, brown hair, named John or Ben or Dave who works as a plumber slash software engineer slash accountant slash estate agent and he’s into cooking but balances the calories with urban running, loves to travel so of course he’s learning Spanish blah-de-blah. After number fifteen, I’ve had more than enough.
I’m slipping on my coat and cursing my three-inch stilettos when someone steps into my path. Time slows right down, I even feel my heart beat once, twice, three times. His crow’s feet are more pronounced and his hair has receded, but it's definitely him.
“Hey,” he says, checks my name badge. “Anna, right? I just wanted to say hi. I’m one of the organisers. I’m Neil.”
“You don’t recognise me then?” My tone is friendly with just a hint of venom - some of it self-directed as I’ve gained fity pounds since he last knew me back in high school.
“No, but I meet a lot of girls,” he says, waving my question away. “So I noticed you didn’t leave your scorecard. Meaning you might be free for a drink? Or something else?”
This is when I realise my wildest dream could become reality.
I flirt with him with every fibre of my being. We end up in a cab, and soon we’re on his couch with a bottle of scotch, which still turns out to be his favourite tipple. I match him drink for drink till the room starts spinning, excuse myself and thrust my fingers down my throat till my guts contract in painful spasms and I puke it all back up. After a good swill of his peppermint mouthwash, I return to find Neil passed out.
I stand over him, building courage for my next act. He doesn’t stir, just lets out a snuffle as I unbutton and slowly ease off his jeans and boxers and deliberately leave them bunched around his ankles.
Then I snap a photo with his phone, click ‘Post Public’ on his social media account, and tag it with: “I raped my 13 year old student back in 1993. This is her showing me mercy in 2018.”
I hit Share, and take my leave.
Problems are always best shared, don’t you agree?
@AliceLamWriter #NeilGetsIt #ShortStory
t feels like only yesterday I was enjoying a strenuous squash game with my teenage son. The last thing I remember was my racquet hitting the ball into a perfect shot. There was sumptuous delight in demonstrating to Timothy that I was still on top form. I hadn't forgotten how he had goaded me in our last game about my weight slowing me down.
Then quite unexpectedly, I dropped dead.
Whaaaaat? Where was the warning signs? Apparently, I had been taken down by a ‘silent heart attack’, not even a flea’s chance to clasp my breast and look one last time into my beautiful son’s terrified eyes.
Some days pass.
On an overcast day on the outskirts of Anytown, at the ritual scattering of dirt onto my coffin, the last vestiges of my earthly energies forced me at speed out of the grave and upwards, hovering ten feet above the vicar. I would have screamed with the shock of it -- if I had lungs. I could see and hear, but I had no corpus, therefore no sense of touch. I kept checking to see if I had been left with a faint outline of my deceased lifeform, but there was nothing.
My elderly parents and son, plus my ex-wife amd her new hubby stood together. Close by, a tiny group of other mourners were shuffling about. I recognised my rotund family doctor, and a couple of old school friends.
I was perplexed to note that I could overhear multiple conversations, though no one seemed to be talking. Then it struck me. I was able to pick up thoughts!
You always put making money over family. Maybe now you'll rest, you fool - Linda, my ex. I noted she was flaunting the diamonds and designer outfit I had given her.
Hope there's beer at the wake - Timothy
Swapping your heart pills for placebos was a doddle. Thanks for bequeathing me the million dollars. Moron. Dr Richard Lang. You sly old bastard.
I practised mobilising in my new invisi-state. Without limbs and a nervous system, it was a tricky endeavour. After a few minutes I managed to knock off Linda’s hat, though as it occurred during a gust of wind, I couldn’t be sure it was down to my efforts.
Next I tried to communicate to Timothy, with all my might, that I would always love him. He did look up and scratch his ear.
Finally, I wafted over to my parents, hugging them as best I could. They huddled a little closer together, and Dad muttered, “We’ll get through this,” to which Mum whispered back, “I know, I feel like he’s here somehow.”
Finally, I flew to the neighbouring plot. The marble headstone read: Here lies Brian and Vanessa Lang, and our beloved son, Richard. I did my best to stomp over the grave, and was gratified to see Dr Lang’s face go pale and his hand going too slow for his angina spray. As he fell, I too descended.
#AliceLamWriter #MyFirstDayGhost #ShortStory