A ghost attempts to help his teenage brother. But could he be a bigger threat?
Not terribly happy with how this one came out. I will take another stab at this idea, later.
Of all the things to talk about in my life, my death is perhaps the most boring part. A drunk driver fell asleep at the wheel. It happens, far too often. It was quick, at least that I'm thankful for. I didn't even get angry at the guy who did it, whom I met soon after, because of the guilt he suffered over the act that did him in. After all, his wife left him after his child died, someone far younger than me. These things do happen as they say. But their common occurrence never makes it happening any easier for anyone involved.
The worst part of everything is the waiting. That's what we do, those who've been cut short. I don't call us ghosts, it's more like we're in a giant open-air waiting room, staring at you all as you pass by and through. Going about your day-to-day lives like we are never even here, or were never part of you, once.
That's the way we like it, though. I prefer my mother, father, and brother to have a small moment here or there, saying "remember the time," and that's it. I don't want long drawn-out crying or speeches. I don't want extended pain for anyone. I just want what's best for my family until that time is done.
They live in a typical American suburb in the Midwest. A house in a cul-de-sac with a second story built in that familiar cookie-cutter style that all suburbs have. One set of plans rotated several different ways to give the illusion of choice, built on land that can't support farming or factories. We have white vinyl siding. White picket fence. Red shutters and roses, with a porch in front that looks as if it could be at home in a southern dramedy, complete with drawls that drag on almost forever.
The hardest part for any of us is the waiting. That's what we do now. We wait and watch until we finally see that white light indicating our number has been called. Or that dark void that pulls us downward into a place that's far worse than nothingness. We can do nothing but watch, as say, Derek sneaks his friend Benny up to his room late at night. Benny wasn't dressed for anything good. He had a dark hoodie pulled up over his head, and his hands shoved in his pockets. Glances were stolen in furtive shots as if he expected our mom to step in at any moment and catch him.
I wish she would catch him. It was one in the morning, after all, a weekend night yes. But still, one in the morning. What would anyone be doing in someone else's bedroom at one in the morning on a weekend night when they're both in the tenth grade? I know what you're thinking, and you'd be wrong. I wish Benny had kissed Derek. Instead, he slid something else into his hand.
Derek looked up, his arms now twice the size they were since I died eight months ago. He dealt with the loss by working out. Preferred burning pain in his muscles to the pain in his heart, the absence that my loss had given him. Derek brushed the dirty blond hair out of his eyes and held the package in his hand. Those small sickening white rocks weren't weed. "This will keep you flying for days, guaranteed," Benny said with a sad smile. I could tell from his eyes that he was currently high. That was no surprise. Benny spent much of his life that way. Dulling the pain of living until he could finally pass away and spend his time waiting with us.
It's much worse for drug addicts who pass on. Imagine being addicted to a substance you can no longer have. Once your dead, you'll never again feel the rush of cocaine or the bliss of heroin. Your only hope is to hang around those who do get high, hoping for a small taste of it as the addicts push their limits and their souls sometimes lose connections with their bodies.
"Don't," I shouted. Of course, he didn't hear me.
"DON'T!!!" I shouted again.
"What are you waiting for," Benny grumbled. "Give me my money so I can go. I don't wanna get caught."
"I dunno." Derek, brushed his tangled hair back again, looking at the small packet. "Now that I'm holding it, I'm not sure."
Benny rolled his eyes. I could tell he was thinking 'virgins'. But he didn't say it. "Look, your mom won't even know it. It smells almost like cinnamon when it's burning, and you just act chill and no one knows. That's what's so damn great. You're high as hell, but everyone thinks you're straight. I'm high right now in fact." He said with a smile.
"No shit," I growled.
"No shit," Derek said.
That's when everything stopped for me. And started again. Did he hear me? Did Derek HEAR me in God's waiting room? Could he? No. He couldn't. Could he? Did I get...through to him?
"Kick him out," I said. I was standing over Derek at this point. "Throw his drugs back to him and kick him the fuck out. Get rid of him!"
That's when I first saw it. Smoke. Thin red smoke.
Smokers are what they're called. They're like a cloud of dark smoke-filled negativity. Smokers influence the living to do the absolute worst things. No one has told me where they come from. No one has told me what they were here for. But, if there was a smoker around you, watch out. Everyone you care for is going for a ride. Someone will go crazy. Someone will lose their temper and start fighting and throwing things. Someone will lose their cool and slip into depression.
I started giving Derek's room a panic-filled search. Shoving things out of the way, looking in corners and tight spaces. Of course, in God's waiting room, things tumbled. Things fell. Nothing was seen. When I glanced back, it was okay again, as if nothing had been bothered. The poster on his wall for Destiny, as well as the statue that was included in the pre-order for the game, had tumbled and cracked. But then, it was okay.
"Get out," Derek shouted. Shocking both of me, and Benny. I jumped back, startled by the violence of it. Red smoke again filled the room and flared up. Then died out. "OUT!" He shouted louder. He threw the packet at Derek and jumped to his feet. He slammed the shelf by his door to the floor. "I said OUT!" He picked up the Destiny Statue, A character in a cloak with an armored face holding a weapon at an unseen enemy, and threw it down. "OUT!!"
Benny jumped over the bed and headed for the window he had crawled in from. "I'm leaving you, psycho," he snapped. "Wait till after school."
He sat in the center of the room on his knees, standing in the middle of a mess that resembled the mess I had created in God's waiting room. The first tear fell from his eyes. Then another. I watched as mom threw the door open, and stormed in. "Derek, what the hell," she shouted.
"I just wanted to see him, mom." He mumbled. "One more time. I just...and so....I just..." none of it made any sense. Yet it made all the sense in the world. I looked up at mom, the woman who gave both me and Derek life. Dad stepped in behind her, a wild look of anger turning to fear.
Then I saw it again. Smoke. This time. Blue. I searched, looking high and low, beneath Derek's bed. Below his mattress. Nothing. There was smoke. There was a smoker here. There was....Dad began moving through the room after me. "You high?" He asked, lifting the mattress. "Are you on drugs?" He looked beneath the bed. Mimicking my every move. "What are you doing, huh? What's wrong with you?" As he stepped forward, I stepped aside. Then glanced at the mirror Derek kept beside his desk.
Mirrors and us, those who wait, have a strange relationship. We can see ourselves, but they can't see us in it. The living has no idea we're there, though we can see pretty much everything, the good, and the bad. If there's something more powerful there beside us, which happens from time to time, they're revealed in the mirror. There's no hiding from it.
What I saw in that mirror wasn't a demon. Or an angel. Or anything else. Derek was on the floor, crying his eyes out, mom was in the doorway, still unsure of what to do. Dad was searching the room for drugs, going far farther than my search went for the smoker. And I was behind Derek, staring at myself. Smoking.
I was the smoker. It was me.
The power and influence I had over my family's lives, and all my loved ones. It had become this spiritual poison that was now dripping out of every pour, every orifice of mine, covering everything they loved and held dear. I only wanted to help. I only wanted to change things for the better. But I made things worse. Far, far worse for all of them.
I don't know when I did it, but I had moved from the room into the bathroom, leaning over the sink like I had done a few times before. Especially when my younger brother pushed every button of mine, and made me want to hit him. Instead of hitting him, I'd come here, sit in the bathroom and splash cold water on my face. I'd wait until the storm rushed past.
Water would do no good. Can't touch it anyway, and all I'd succeed in doing is getting one of my family to crazily start throwing water everywhere around the room. No, I couldn't do that. But I could do something else. I looked up into the mirror. The smoke, that poison that was spiritually killing my family had dissipated. There were the faintest hints of blue smoke. No red smoke. "I can touch all of their lives," I said. "It can be for the better. It can be for the worse."
Walking through the bathroom door now, down the short hallway towards Derek's room, I stepped inside. Dad held him tight, whispering something to Derek, who held on. The tears had dissipated. Mom was holding him too, from the other side. "I only wanted to help," I muttered.
I had never tried speaking before. I had never tried assisting before. I only knew one thing, that what had happened in that room, would never happen again. "Have to clean up this mess," I muttered to myself.
"You're still going to have to clean this mess," mom said with a small smile.
"I will mom," I whispered. "This will never happen again."