My husband is rebuilding our lower deck.
That isn’t remarkable except for the fact that he is doing a beautiful job, and that the lower deck is where the Ghosts hang out.
On any given day I can see one of two of them standing out there looking out over the oak trees behind the house no doubt with hearts heavy with ghostly thoughts of what might have been. Or maybe they’re just enjoying the view in a spot where they know demons and excorcist alike are not welcome.
Most of them came to California during the California Gold Rush where they died along with their dreams of wealth and glory. Some of them just dreamed of getting away from the poverty, social restrictions, and other constraints of their former lives. They broke free from their own society only to die a few years later on the banks of the river a block from my home.
“I didn’t die here.”
Sitting across from me was Nigel, The Ghost. He takes my coffee cup in his semi transparent hand and slides it across the table, then takes in the aroma.
“There isn’t any blood in this cup is there?” Nigel asks me.
“No,” I say. “You would have smelled it. Why are you such an asshole?”
“I was just asking.”
“No you were being snarky because that is what Ghosts do.”
“Fine.” He put his face back in the cup, then looked up at me with his black eyes that suddenly turned to a bright hazel blue. He pushed his shaggy black hair out of his eyes and took a deep breath.
“My life was good before I died. It wasn’t always that way up until my foster family adopted me. Before then I didn’t know that you could put a turkey in the oven at home and cook it. I didn’t know that people could be nice to each other all the time. I didn’t know that some parents never went to prison, or passed out on the floor, or brought home boyfriends who’d try to… well, I just didn’t know. I suspected that there were other ways of living but it just seemed like fiction.”
He looked out the window then stood up and put his face close to the glass. “The deck looks good. Teddy is doing a great job. The Gold Rush Ghosts like to go up there and look at all of the tools. They’re kind of odd but I’ve gotten used to them. There is a big difference between someone who died in 1866 and someone who died in 1986. Did you realize that I would have been sixty one years old now? Sixty one. Six one. I bet my hair would be gray, or at least the temples might be white. A few weeks before I died I met a woman in an art gallery in San Francisco. We exchanged numbers. Had I lived we might be married now with a couple of kids going to college over Zoom. I left her a message, and she left me one. It was phone tag. Then it was Thanksgiving. Then I was murdered and I never saw her again. I don’t even know if she knew I died. I’m sure she must have if she followed the art world. She must have known.”
“What was her name,” I asked.
“I don’t remember. I was hit in the head so I don’t remember a lot of things. Or maybe it is just this ghost thing that scrambles my brain. I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know. Do Vampires forget their former lives?”
“Some do,” I answered, “but it is usually intentional.”
“I understand,” said Nigel. “You need to warm the coffee up. It’s cold.”
“I’ll warm it up and make another cup for me,” I told him.
I made coffee. The cats circled Nigel’s feet. I watched him as he sat thinking about his former life and the woman he’d met back in 1986. Before the water even got to a boil he faded away and vanished back into his Ghost world, or wherever he goes when he fades away.
I made more coffee and looked out on the deck. My kids are still here from Thanksgiving. We’re going to help Teddy put up the stairs today.
The morning is still cold, clear, and everyone is asleep.
Right now I’m looking out over the deck and there are no Ghosts. Only a lone squirrel sitting on the edge where a rail will eventually go.
December is almost here. I guess if you’re a Ghost it never changes, but then again, I’m not a Ghost, and they aren’t too open about giving answers.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman