Day 214: Common Turf

I think my out-of-body experiences first started in my dreams. I’d witness something big, like a tornado or a riot, then wake up and read about them on the Internet.

The first time I realized what was happening, though, was when the school fired me and I spent most of the day laying in the park. I loved those kids, and they ripped that away from me. Gazing up at the sky, I followed a bird with my eyes, then with my mind, and soon I was way above my body, looking down on some tots rolling around with their puppy, the mother lounging on a park bench chatting with a friend. They laughed about shenanigans at a PTA meeting.

You have to understand, when you first discover this kind of thing, it’s like being a child again. Every concept of discretion leaves you, and all you want to do is see how far you can go. I had no intention of eavesdropping or causing trouble.

I went to the school and visited my students. Precocious little third graders, but they didn’t see me.

I floated to the teacher’s lounge. Two old timers, Mrs. Barnes and Miss Hickey, munched on bran muffins and locked horns about me.

“We should have stuck up for her,” said Mrs. Barnes. A Black lady in her forties, she wore an elegant summer dress with a green and blue floral print, just slightly too tight—she’d gained a little weight since last year.

“I would have liked to, as well,” said Miss Hickey. A red-haired Irish girl, she was too skinny to be healthy. She had a grey polyester pant suit. “She was my friend, but there was no way. I know it. You know it. And the union knows it.”

What were they talking about? I was supposedly fired for low performance, and I’d been furious when Maggie, the union rep, rebuffed me.

“It still sucks,” said Mrs. Barnes.

“We’ll take up a collection to help her out.”

Their conversation died. I glided through the halls, gathering up all the memories of parties in the cafeteria, choreographed marching through the halls to keep the kids focused, and lots of trips outside to explore what little nature there was. Was I really that ineffective?

I wandered into the office. Mr. Jackson, the vice principle had papers spread over his desk, Principle Wakefield chewing on her glasses across from him.

“This isn’t going to be easy,” said Mr. Jackson.

“That’s the third time you’ve said that.” Mrs. Wakefield set her glasses down and paged through a spiral notebook.

“She’s just too sweet,” said Mr. Jackson.

“You shouldn’t have flirted with her.”

Flirted? He rarely ever looked at me.

“She’s sweet.”

“Nonetheless, we’ve got to have a case.”

It was too much, and my sweetness quickly gave way to anger. I tried to scold them, but they didn’t hear.

A scream filled the office and echoed through the hall.

Mr. Jackson stopped writing and stood. “What did I do now?”

A woman in pink pajamas appeared from nothing and faced him. “Why is she still here? What did I tell you about that hussy? What did I tell you?”

“She’s gone,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “We got rid of her.”

“She’s standing right there.” The woman pointed at me.

“You can see me?” I asked.

“Of course, I can see you.” She turned to me and shook her finger in my face. “Stay away from my husband.” She turned back to Mr. Jackson. “You don’t get rid of her for good, and there won’t be one child in this school that’s not too terrified to come back.”

“You’re dead, Jenny.” Mr. Jackson threw his pen on his desk, and it ricocheted into the corner flower pot. “And I’m sick and tired of you taking my school hostage every time I do something you don’t like. She’s a nice lady, and you forced us to fire her for no good reason.”

“This is all about me?” I asked.

“Of course it’s about you,” screamed Jenny.

“Wait. You’re a ghost?”

“I’m your worst nightmare,” she snarled.

“Really?” I nudged her shoulder. “You don’t seem like much.”

“You… your a ghost, too?”

“Sort of… I don’t know… not exactly,” I said.

Mr. Jackson cleared his throat. “Who are you talking to, honey?”

“Your girlfriend, you idiot.” Jenny shoved her nose up to mine. “You think you can handle me?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“I’m still alive.”

You ever see a ghost go white?


3 thoughts on “Day 214: Common Turf

  1. You are quite odd, which means I’m enjoying this blog immensely.

    I found it strange to read about what the women were wearing. Clothes don’t seem to be relevant to the plot line. The rest of your writing flows so quickly and unencumbered, there might be another way to give the reader a visual without stopping the car to point out the scenery.

    I’ve been going over my earlier work and removing entire sentences and even blocks of description and finding ways to reinsert it subtly for the reader to surmise on his own. The fastest way to solidify reader loyalty is to make them feel smart.

    For instance, one of my characters is a giant, literally, but I never mention it. Instead, I point out how people hurt their necks speaking to him, how he ducks down in doorways like a Ute entering a tee-pee, how his eyes sweep up and down through every room, scanning for furniture and hanging light fixtures, how a Coke Classic disappears with four fingers and a thumb, stuff like that.

    Maybe Mrs. Barnes’s double chin becomes more pronounced when she’s perturbed, maybe Mrs. Hickey’s bony hands play with the loose cuffs of her shirt when she’s nervous, maybe Mr. Jackson’s bald spot acts like a sweaty pink mood ring to all to stand behind him. Maybe.


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