I couldn’t look at my body anymore. Honestly, it was a mess. My skin had changed color, my lips were blue, and I was naked. I couldn’t think of a more disturbing sight, except maybe that time I walked in on my parents—that was pretty bad.
I decided to leave the morgue and walk around the hospital. Initially, I had yelled and screamed at the coroner as he examined my body. Frustrated and exhausted, I had finally given up. I cried. I won’t pretend I didn’t, but in my defense, wouldn’t you?
The hospital was fairly generic, the kind of scenery one would expect from daytime television. As I roamed the quiet halls of the morgue, I tried to recall how I had died or even the ambulance ride to the hospital—if there had been one—but a storm of fog and blurry images would cloud over me and I had nothing tangible to grasp on to.
When I reached the elevator, I waited for someone to come along and push the call button. I might be dead, but that didn’t mean I was stupid. When I realized what had happened to me, I, of course, had tried to touch things, and just like every ghost movie I’d ever seen, my hand had passed through. I didn’t have a physical body. It made sense I could pass through objects, but, being new to the spirit world, I had no idea if I’d be able to take the elevator. I wasn’t sure where I was headed, but it was clear there was nothing for me in the morgue.
In an attempt to keep my thoughts from spiraling into the unknown, I started to read the fliers taped to the wall beside the elevator. I was surprised to find out the hospital had a curling team, but not surprised to see articles discussing the negative effects of smoking. I may not have remembered the ride in, but I’d been in enough hospitals to notice groups of doctors and nurses huddled together on breaks in clouds of smoke and conversation. It had shocked me to see so many of them smoking. You’d think they’d have seen enough suffering and death each day to want to avoid it, but I guess that could be the reason for the habit too. Coping was something I’d never really been good at either.
I’d been so focused on reading, I hadn’t noticed a woman had passed through me. I’m not kidding. Someone walked through me and I hadn’t so much as flinched. It was when I turned to check on the elevator that I saw her standing quietly in her kitten-covered scrubs. I jumped back, thinking I’d scare her, but of course she couldn’t see or hear me, so it didn’t matter. I couldn’t help but wonder: if a ghost startled in a hallway and no one was around to see it, did it happen?
Sighing, I stepped closer to her, ensuring I’d make it onto the elevator. A familiar ding told me our ride had arrived. I stepped in and hoped I’d found my way out of there.
My elevator buddy picked a wedgie and then pulled out her phone. I briefly wondered how many other embarrassing moments I’d soon be privy to when the elevator signaled our arrival. The door opened, and we both made our exit. We appeared to be somewhere in the vicinity of the ER, which should be on the first floor. It seemed like some luck had finally found me. Everything about being dead was disorienting. I’d never felt so helpless and stagnant, but being able to leave this awful place was putting a little pep in my ghostly step.
I came across a viewing window and looked in to see if I could find my parents in the waiting room. None of the faces were familiar, not even my own. I had no reflection. I stared into the semi-reflective surface, looking for my dark hair and brown eyes. I could see my elevator buddy leaning against the wall behind me, playing Candy Crush on her phone, but I simply wasn’t there. I might not have a stomach anymore, but looking for a reflection that wasn’t there really made me nauseous.
I had to get out of there. I hesitantly stepped into the waiting room wall, anticipating resistance or some kind of feeling, but nothing happened. I passed through the wall like it wasn’t there, because the truth was, I wasn’t there. Freaked out and unable to handle the existential thoughts that started pouring into my mind, I ran through the waiting room and straight for the doors.
Outside, I bent over thinking I might vomit, but the feeling soon passed. I ran my fingers through my hair and looked around. It was dark, but a line of light on the horizon told me the sun would soon rise. I found the thought comforting.
Without thinking, I headed toward a bench next to a bus stop and sat down. I wondered if I could ride a bus, just as I had ridden the elevator, but realized unless someone else showed up, the bus might not even stop. Out of frustration and mental exhaustion, I put my head in my hands and moaned.
“What the hell is going on?” I shouted.
“You’re sitting on a bench,” a woman responded.
“What?” I blanched, sitting up. A pink-haired young woman wearing a black jacket with random patches had walked past me. I couldn’t believe it. “Did you hear me? Can you see me?!” I shot up, not realizing at the time that I had successfully sat on a bench.
“Oh, shit,” she exclaimed unhappily.
“Oh my god. You can! You can see me!”
“No, no I can’t. I’m just listening to a really engaging podcast,” she replied as she pointed to her earbuds. Her pace quickened as she continued down the street.
“Wait,” I said, walking after her.
She pulled a hoodie over her wavy pink hair and shoved her hands in her pockets. “I’m late for class. Have yourself a great afterlife. Goodbyyye.”
“But you can see me. You know I’m dead. You have to help me,” I pleaded, catching up to her.
“This is what I get for being late. I can’t believe I thought it would be a good idea to take the shortcut by the hospital. I should have just been late to class,” she muttered to herself.
“What?” I asked stupidly, not understanding why she wasn’t freaked out by me. My hand passed through her as I attempted to grab her shoulder, and she screamed.
She clutched her shoulder in pain and then snapped her fingers. I hit the ground and cried out, pain riddling my body. “Stop!” I begged. She snapped her fingers again.
“Don’t ever touch me again. If you refused to go with the angel, that was your choice. Now deal with it.” She stormed off.
I shook my head and slowly got up. I realized I was crazy to go after her, but at the time I thought I had no other choice.
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