There was a tub in the guest bathroom upstairs and Clara wondered if she would just flow down the drain when the plug was pulled. Manifesting took a little more concentration than simply being alive did, and anytime something, or someone, distracted you, things happened. At first, she started floating in the air, then she started sinking through the tub. Hot water still felt good and being with someone who had kept notes on what she liked and where was really nice.
“Where are the rest of the ghosts, Amy?” Clara asked as she settled into a half way state that allowed her to have most of her body immersed in the hot water.
“Hiding out until the sun and the cameras disappear,” I think I hear someone coming up the stairs, follow me up into the attic please.” And with that Amy drifted up and through the ceiling. Clara followed, a little clumsily but still easily. They watched as a cop explored the bathroom, looking for anything out of place, and they could tell he wondered why the tub was full and why the water was still hot. But after a few hours the cops took Clara’s body away, and they all milled around for a while and they left too. Clara noticed time seemed to pass by more quickly. But there was less to care about now. There were no bills, no crimes, no sins, no time, and…
“So tell me, Amy,” Clara stretched her legs out and they passed through Amy’s body, “what’s the downside to being dead?”
“You’re going to freak out when I tell you this, Clara,” Amy replied, “but you are dying on borrowed time.”
“I mentioned that when you and I first met, and it’s true, hold on, hear that?” Amy stood up and cocked her head. “That’s Matt. He’s been dead longer than anyone else around, maybe thirty years or so.” Amy shouted, “Hey Matt! Upstairs bathroom! Clara Strickland just died! Come on, we’re having a tub party!” Amy sat down with a splash. “Your hearing is better now, have you noticed that?”
Clara was trying to hear whatever it was that Amy heard when a nude man glided through the wall and sat down in the tub beside her, with only half of his body showing.
“Hi!” the man said, “I’m Matt, and you are Clara, I am a very big fan of yours,” He leered at Amy, “you have told her, I assume?”
“Yes,” Amy laughed, “and she’s cool with it, but you had to think she’d be the kind of ghost everyone likes.”
“You are so awesome, I’m really glad you’re dead, and a ghost!” Matt seemed nervous but happy.
“Uh, thanks, I think?” Clara laughed. “So you’re the oldest ghost alive, uh, dead?”
Matt looked like he might have been thirty at the most, but Clara couldn’t tell. Both Matt and Amy looked very happy. But why not? Being alive was a burden. Being dead…maybe not so much. Still…
“So ghosts can die?” Clara asked.
“Beats me,” Matt replied slipping his arm around her. Clara let his arm pass through her. No sense is being too easy but Matt laughed hard. “She catches on quick! But seriously, the last ghost that was here for very long at all was a woman named Prudence. She claimed to be over one hundred, and she’s the one who told me ghosts simply disappear after a while. No one knows why.”
“And the sunlight thing?” Clara asked.
“Uh, a ghost in Lubbock told me about that.” Amy said. “Freaked me out.”
“And the camera thing?” Clara stood up and grinned at Matt who was staring.
“That came from Sammy,” Matt said, “he’s around somewhere, and there’s Ted, who doesn’t like to leave his house. He watches television a lot. But he died in front of the TV so…”
“How do you know any of this is true?” asked Clara and the other two ghosts just looked at her.
“I guess we don’t,” Amy finally said.
They met at Ted’s house, and for three days, with breaks just to relieve the tension, they all wrote down everything they had ever heard about being a ghost and then panned everything they didn’t know to be a fact. At the end of three days they had a page and a half of notes.
“That’s it?” Clara asked. “That’s not even a five minute conversation!”
“Mostly,” Ted said, “all we really know about being dead is the day to day stuff. It’s not like we could know anything about any other ghosts.” Clara didn’t like Ted but was careful not to show it. Ted was depressingly dead. He watched television a lot and complained about the people living in his old house. But the people were rarely home, and their only hint that Ted lived there too was the television being on at odd hours. But they were smuggling cocaine into SoCal so they were used to odd things happening.
“You know,” Sammy said, “I wouldn’t mind trying out that camera thing. You know, let one of you take my photo. If it turns out to be true, we just tear up the photo and I’m free. If it isn’t then we can stop being camera shy.” Clara did like Sammy. He died young and hadn’t aged. She never wanted kids but if she ever had one she hoped this would be what she wound up with.
“Hey, Clara,” Ted asked, “why are the lights on over at your house?”
“Holy shit!” Clara swore, “George is back. Anyone want to go over and spy on him with me?”