I killed myself at seventeen.
At my funeral, my grandmother said I was in hell. My own grandmother.
She was wrong. But not by much.
Being dead sucks. The thing I miss most is food. The last thing I ever tasted was a cold shotgun barrel.
Other ghosts don’t like me. I once listened politely while some dead pizza guy bitched for an hour about how he’d been shot for $20. But when I tried to tell him a little about me, he said he didn’t want to talk to me anymore. It’s lonely.
I had a lot of regrets. Things I wished I’d done different.
I was so glad to meet Emily.
You don’t need any special gift to talk to ghosts. You just need to be receptive. Most people aren’t.
She was sixteen, and she reminded me of myself.
Emily thought she was crazy at first. But I convinced her otherwise. We talked when she was alone. In her room after dark. On solitary walks.
Her parents were hardcore conservative types with a big US flag in the yard and fifty guns. They wouldn’t let her watch R-rated movies, listen to any good music, and they didn’t intend to let her go to college. She always kept her eyes down when she was around them. “Yes sir, no ma’am.”
She didn’t have it much better at school. She was awkward and plain, so kids were mean to her. Guys asked her out as a joke. Girls would flick ketchup packets at her at lunch. She told me that the friends she did have, she felt like they kept her around so they’d look better in comparison.
I felt for her. I was really all she had. She told me once, this voice she couldn’t see, “I don’t care if you’re just in my head, just please never go away.”
And I saw so much of myself in her that it felt like a chance for a do-over. I could help her make the right choices, keep her from making my mistakes.
I told her she didn’t have to be like me, lonely and kicked around forever. She could change things for herself. It took me a while to get through to her. For Emily to see things my way.
But I think she was just as happy as I was the day I finally convinced her to take a pistol from the gun cabinet and shoot both of her parents to death at the breakfast table.
She picked out a good rifle, next, and filled her backpack with magazines.
“Let’s go to school,” I said.
I only managed to kill a dozen of the fuckers at my school before the cops stormed the building and I had to make my exit. But I didn’t have a friend to talk me through it.
Emily will do better. No regrets this time.
And after, we’ll have all the time in the world to hang out.