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Starting over…part 9

“What do you think?” asked Kit, wrapping her blue robe tighter around herself.

“I still can’t believe you sent them back,” said Jerry.

“They were loud.”

“That’s not a good enough reason and you know it.”

“They were kids.”

“A lot of kids come through here.”

“Too many, if you ask me.”

“That’s not up to us,” sighed Jerry.  “We’ve had this discussion before.”

“Who IS it up to?  You never tell me that part.”

“I can’t TELL you that part, because I don’t KNOW that part.  I told you, I don’t think anyone is responsible.  It’s fate, destiny, the way things are.”

“I hate it when you say things like that.  It makes me want to rip your heart out.  Not that you have one, and even if you did, it wouldn’t do any good.”

“You’re such a sweet woman,” he laughed.

She raised an eyebrow.  “I try.”

“They’re back together.  Met in a grocery store.  Seem to be…”

“In love.  I know,” she said.

“The dog’s living with Lilly.”

“I know that too.  She would have died again to save him.”

“Yes,” he said.  “She would have.”

“Children are an imposition.”

“Not everyone feels that way, Kit.”

“I told you not to call me that.”

“It’s your name.  Deal with it.”

She tutted and flapped her hand at him.  “What do you want to do with them?”

“I need her to type.”

“When are you going to give that up?  The sixties are over, Jerry.  There’s no need for an underground newspaper.”

“It’s not about the newspaper,” he said.  “I’m going down there.”

“What!”

“I’m going down there to talk to Lilly.”

“After all this time?” she asked, aghast.

“Yes.  I want you to send me back.”

“I won’t do it.”

“You will,” he said, standing up.  “And you’ll do it now.”

“I hate you.”

“I know, my darling, I know,” he said.  “I will come back to you.  You have my word.”

She snapped her fingers and he was gone.

“Rex.  I have to go to school.  I talked to the cats, so they shouldn’t bother you too much.”  She heard them chuckle in the hallway.  “I HEARD THAT,”

“Rats,” said Cleo.  “She has ears like a hawk.”

“It’s eyes like a hawk, Cleo,” said Bitsy.

“Whatever,” said Cleo.

“If they do bother you, go by my mom.  She’s working from home.”

“Okay.  Will she give me a treat?” asked Rex, his tail swishing back and forth.

“I’ll remind her.”

“Thank you.”

She kissed him, grabbed her backpack and left.

“I called you all weekend and you never called back,” said Ken.  “What’s going on?”

“You know how we always have fun together?”

He nodded, putting his arms around her.  “How could I forget?” he growled, grinning at her.

“Well, I think we should see other people.”

“What?”

“I met someone.  See, I died and he was already dead, and that can make a strong bond between people.”

“What?”

“Which part don’t you get?”

“The seeing other people part,” he said.

“I’m breaking up with you.”

“I don’t get it.”

I’m    breaking    up     with     you.”

“Saying it slower doesn’t help, Lilly. I want to know why you’re breaking up with me.”

“I told you.”

“You died?”

“Yes.”

“When?” he asked.

“Last week and I saw you and Jill get together before my body was even cold.”

“Jill?”

“I’ve seen you looking at her.  I’m not blind, you know.”

“Who is he?”

“His name is James.”

“Where did you meet him?”

“I don’t know, some place where dead people go.”

“Is this a joke?”

“No joke.”

“So, that’s it?”

She nodded.  “It’s not that I don’t still…”

He dropped his arms and walked away.  “Hey, Jill, wait up.”

“Well, that was easy,” she said, to no one in particular.

“Lilly.”

She looked up and saw Jerry walking toward her, wearing a suit and tie.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered.

“I came back to talk to you.”

“Why?”

“About the typewriter.”

“You have to be kidding,” she hissed.

“I’m not.”

“Who are you supposed to be?”

“A biology teacher.”

“Hi Mr. Martin.”

“Hello Sandra,” said Jerry, pleasantly.  “You’re doing much better work this week.”

“Well, things are a lot easier, since you told me to practice anatomy on my boyfriend, instead of the plastic model.”

“Glad I could help.  I’ll see you in class.”

“Okay and thanks,” she said, waving at him.

“Anytime,” he said.

“You told her to practice anatomy on her boyfriend?”

“Of course, it’s the fastest way to learn.  I mean live models are…”

“You can’t do that!”

“Hi Mr. Martin.”

“Hello Roger.”

“Can I transfer to your class?”

“It’s full.”

“Please?”

“Go ask Ms. Rice in the office, if she can squeeze you in.”

“Thanks,” he said.

“This is so not good,” said Lilly.  “Not good at all.”

“It’s fine.  Now, I have something for you to type.”

“What?”

“It’s a kind of form letter.”

“Where’s the typewriter?”

“In my office.”

“You have an office?”

“Yes.  I can pretty much have anything I want.”

“Show me the letter?”

He handed it to her and watched her read through it.  “You’re inviting everyone on the other side to a meeting to discuss what happens in the human world?”

“Yes.”

“You can’t mess around with our lives,” she said.  “That’s not fair.”

“Oh, sweet, innocent thing.  We always mess around with your lives. It’s what we do.   This meeting would control, what could be done, that’s all.  It would stop inappropriate things from happening.”

“What kind of inappropriate things?”

“Men having all the power and…”

“I’ll do it,” she said, folding the sheet of paper in half.  “Take me to the typewriter,” she said happily.

 

 

 

Starting over…Part 8

“That was delicious,” said James, clearing the table.  “Thank you.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” said Lilly’s mother.

“Who are you?” asked Heather.  “You help with the dishes and you actually talk.”

“I’ve known him for a long time,” said Lilly.

“No you haven’t,” snapped Heather.  “What about Ken, your boyfriend?  You remember him, don’t you, Lilly?”

“He’s not my boyfriend anymore.”

“Does he know that?”

“He will.”

“You have a boyfriend?” asked James.

“Not for long.”

“James, did you call your parents?” asked her mother.

“Yes, they said I could stay overnight, since it’s the weekend.”

“I thought you wanted to live here,” said Lilly.

“Baby steps,” said James.  “I’ll have to talk to them in person.”

“Oh, right.”

“That was the best thing I ever ate,” woofed Rex.  “I’m so happy.”

“Excellent.  I wasn’t sure what you would like, but that food is good for you.”

“It was wonderful.”

“Why are you talking to the dog?” asked Heather.  “Are you just crazier than usual, or what?”

“She’s not crazy,” said James, hanging up the dishtowel.

“A lot you know,” huffed Heather.  “Stick around and you’ll see.”

Lilly told Rex it was time for his bath.

“Well, that was fun,” said James, wringing out his shirt.

“It was,” said Rex, wagging his tail and splashing water everywhere.”

Lilly was towel drying him, with the fourth huge bath towel, and telling him how beautiful he was.  “Jame and I will take you for a walk when you’re not so wet.”

“Okay.  I’d like that,” said Rex, happily.

“Okay, I’d like that,” sneered one of the cats.

“Cleo, knock it off.”

“I really hate that she can understand us,” hissed Cleo.  “Makes it so much harder to plot against everyone.”

“I don’t like it either,” said Bitsy.  “But I love her.”

“Me too.”

“I don’t like Heather,” growled Bitsy.  “She’s mean and won’t let me sleep on her pillow.  She won’t let me do a lot of other things either, so I roll around on her blanket when she’s not here and she freaks out because she hates cat hair on her bed.”

Bitsy chuckled.  “I don’t like her either.  She gets really crabby when she finds my mouse under her bed or in her shoe.”

“GOOD KITTIES,” said Lilly, loudly.  “I see catnip in your future.”

“She’s going to drug us again,” said Cleo.

“I’m okay with that,” mewed Bitsy.

“You know,” said James.  “I don’t think we’re really finished with being dead.”

“Why not?”

“I just have a feeling.”

“What do you think’s going to happen?”

“I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s over.”

“Should we be afraid?”

He shrugged.

“Then we should get married and live as fast as we can, before it’s too late.”

“That’s one option,” he laughed.

“What’s another one?” she asked.

“Wait and see what happens.”

“By then it could be too late.”

“Is that how you live your life?” he asked.  “Do everything now, in case there’s no time left?”

“There’s no other way to live,” she said, seriously.  “You should know that, having already been dead.  Sometimes there are no second chances, no tomorrows.  I don’t believe in putting life on hold.”

“I see your point,” he said.

“I’ve always lived that way.  I don’t care if other people don’t understand it.  We only have a limited time to fit everything in, and we don’t know what that limit is, so we can’t not do things, or put things off, because then we may never get to do them.  I never want to be a person who, on their deathbed, tells everyone what he wishes he WOULD have done, but didn’t.”

“You’re absolutely right,” said James.

“I know.  I want to die with no regrets, no wishes unfulfilled..”

“You won’t have any.”

“I know that,” she said.  “And in the words of Freddie Mercury, I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW.”

“You shall have it,” he said, twirling her around.

“I know that too.”

“I’m so glad you died,” said James.  “Otherwise I wouldn’t have met you.”

“That’s so sweet,” she said.  “I’m glad you died too.”

“What do you think is wrong with them?” asked Cleo.

“How should I know,” said Bitsy.  “I think all humans are only good for laps, food, pets  and…”

“What do you want Bitsy?” sighed Lilly.  “Just tell me.”

“You need to clean the litter box.”

“She’s not a very good servant, is she,” meowed Cleo.  “I mean we trained her since she was a child, but she never really caught on to the fact that she’s only here to do our bidding.”

“Some of them are slower than others,” said Bitsy.

“That’s not hard to believe.  They can’t even jump to the top of a fence.”

“Tell me about it,” chuckled Bitsy.

“The dog can’t do that either,” whispered Cleo.

“You can sleep by me and I’ll keep you warm,” said Rex.

The cats looked at him and then at each other.  “I guess we could try it,” said Bitsy.

“Sure, why not,” agreed Cleo.  “Okay Rex, we’ll see you later then.”

“Woof.”

 

Starting over…part 7

“Who said you could wear my shirt and what’s with the dog?”

“Rex, this is my sister.  Her name is Heather, but I call her Crabby Pants.”

“Funny,” said Heather. “Take off my shirt.”

She did.

“MOM!” yelled Lilly.  “I got a dog.”

“A dog?” asked her mother, coming out of the kitchen.

“This is Rex.  He found me.”

Rex held up his paw.

Her mother bent down, looked into the dog’s eyes, shook his paw and said, “Welcome home Rex.”  Then she went back into the kitchen.  “You have to go and get dog food  Lilly.”

“I like her,” said Rex.

“So do I,” said Lilly.

“And he needs a bath,” she added.

“A bath?” said Rex.

“Don’t worry, it will be fun.”

“Really?”

“Sure.  What kind of food do you like?”

“I have no idea.  I’ve been eating whatever I find in the alley.”

“Stay here while I go to the store.  I’ll be right back.  You can sleep on my bed,” she said, showing him where her room was.  Then she kissed him on the face.”

“Thank you for loving me.”

“How could I not?” she said, her eyes filling with tears.  “You’re so beautiful.”

He licked her, sighed, put his head on her pillow and closed his eyes.  Lilly smiled and covered him with her blanket.

The store was almost empty.  She grabbed a cart and went to the dog food aisle, where she threw a huge bag of dry food and twenty-five cans of dog food that said it was the best thing your dog could ever eat, into it.  She picked up a few toys and some things she thought the cats would like.  When she got to the counter, she saw James, paying for a bottle of water.

“James?”

“Lilly,” he said, his eyes wide.

She fell into his arms.  “I’m so happy to see that the carrots didn’t get you.  Come home with me and you can meet Rex, he’s the dog I saved and I didn’t die this time and I think one of the things the woman in the blue robe gave me was the ability to understand what animals are saying. I haven’t introduced the dog to the cats yet so, you should be there to see that and the dog is going to live with me.”

“Take a deep breath,” he laughed.

“I never thought I’d see you again.  You look fantastic.”

“I think that was one of my gifts,” he said shyly.

She stared at him, then put her arms around him and kissed him.

“That will be eight-five dollars and seventy-nine cents,” said the kid, standing behind the counter.  “Whenever you’re finished making out.”

“Making out?” she said, pulling away from James.  “Who says that anymore?”

“I do,” said the kid.  “How are you going to pay for this?”

“Why is it so expensive?”

“It’s dog food. Dog food is expensive.  You bought enough to feed a small kennel.”

She handed him her mother’s credit card, then kissed James again.

“What do ya think?” she asked.

“About what,” gasped James.

“Us?”

“OMG,” he said, and kissed her again.

“That’s what I think too,” said Lilly.   “I mean we were dead together, right?  Being dead together has to mean something, doesn’t it?”

“There’s someone behind you,” said the kid.  “Take it outside, get a room, do whatever you want, but get out of the way.”

“Thanks,” she said, dragging the cart toward the door.  “Are you coming home with me?”

“Yes.  Can I move in?”

“Sure,” she said.  Why not.”

“Where’s your car?”

“I walked.”

“How did you plan on getting the nine million pounds of dog food home?”

“I didn’t think that far ahead.”

“Then it’s a good thing I drove.”

“It is,” she laughed.

“MOM! I BROUGHT HOME A BOY.”

Her mother walked out of the kitchen.  “Dinner’s almost ready.”

“This is James.”

“Hi James.”

“Can he live here?” asked Lilly.

“Are you homeless, James?”

“I am not.”

“Do you want to live here?”

“I do.”

“Then ask your parents if it’s okay.  We’re having vegetarian chili for dinner and corn muffins and ice cream for dessert, with pie, of course.  No carrots in anything, but I don’t know why I said that.  We all hate carrots.  We absolutely never have carrots.  Dinner in thirty minutes.”

“Is she serious?  I can really live here?”

“Sure, why not?  She’s good about things like that.”

“Okay.”

“Wanna met Rex the wonder dog?”

“Yes.”

“Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand and pulling him up the stairs.

Rex was asleep on the bed and the two cats were sitting in the doorway looking at him.

“He’s you’re new brother,” said Lilly.

“Fat chance,” said Bitsy.

“Hey, be nice.  He was living on the street and he’s had a hard life.”

“What did she say?” asked Cleo.

“You heard exactly what I said.  And no chasing, biting, scratching, or terrorizing him and don’t hide his toys.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously, Bitsy.”

“Can you understand what I’m saying?”

“Every single word.”

“Rats,” said Cleo.  “Now we have to talk about her behind her back.”

“You mean like why doesn’t she get a haircut and…”

“What’s wrong with my hair?”

“Nothing,” said James.

“No. Not you.  My cat is dissing me.”

“Let’s go,” said Bitsy.  “I need to use the litter box.”

“TMI Bitsy.”

“James this is Rex.  Rex, this is James.”

“Woof.”

“Hi,” said James.

“I bought you a ton food, Rex.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Are you two in love?” asked the dog.

“Hold on, I’ll ask,” said Lilly.  “He wants to know if we’re in love.”

“Definitely,” said James.

“Good,” said Rex.  “I like him.”

“TIME FOR DINNER!” yelled her mother.  “Bring the dog.”

 

 

Starting over…part 6

“STAY.  SIT,” yelled Lilly.  The frantic dog sat down.  “GOOD DOG,” she screamed, over the traffic.  “STAY.”  Carefully she made her way across one, then two lanes of traffic.  Then she kept going, until she finally reached the small cement strip that divided the four lanes of cars on each side, going in different directions.  The dog leaned into her, whimpering.  She bent down and hugged him.  “It’s going to be okay.”

“I know,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m really scared, but I know it’s going to be okay and not like last time,” said the dog.

“How can I understand what you’re saying?”

“I thought people could always understand what I was saying,” said the dog.

“They can’t.”

“Well, that explains a LOT,” said the dog.  “I thought people were just stupid.”

“They are,” said Lilly.  “Now, we have to get across the expressway.”

“Okay.”

“Stay right next to me.”

“Okay.”

“Do you want me to try and carry you?”

“I weigh more than you do.”

“Oh, right,” said Lilly.

“Do the cars ever stop?”

“I don’t think so, but sometimes there’s a break in traffic, like the one coming up.  If I fall down, you keep running.”

“What?  And leave you in the street?”

“Yes. You have to promise to do that before we start, and do it fast because the break is almost here.”

“Okay, I promise.”

“RUN!” she yelled.

“Why aren’t you having any carrots, James?  They’re your favorites.”

“I don’t like them anymore,” he said, pushing the dish away.

“Since when?”

“I just don’t care for them, thank you.”

“They’re good for you.”

“Not if they choke your to death?”

“Excuse me,” said his mother.

“I don’t want any Mom, let it go.”

“Okay,” she said, passing him the mashed potatoes.

He took two huge scoops and wondered what Lilly was doing and if she and the dog were safe.

“Can I stay with you?” asked the dog.

“Won’t the people you live with miss you?”

“I don’t have any people.”

“Then yes, of course, you can stay with me.”

“Thank you,” he said, licking her face.  “It’s really hard for dogs to live on the street.”

“You don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

“I think you died, when you tried to save me before.  That’s what I meant when I said, like last time.”

“I got that and yes I died.  I would do it again to save you.”

“I’m so glad you didn’t have to.  I felt horrible when you were hit by that truck.”

“I’m glad I didn’t die too and I would never want you to feel horrible.”

“I know,” he said, pressing against her again.  “Will you give me a name?”

“Sure.  Is there anything you would like to be called?”

“I think my mother called me something, but I can’t remember what it was.”

“Well, think about it for a few minutes and if you can’t remember, we will pick something out.”

“I think it was Strength,” he said.  “But that was her gift to me, not my name.”

“Her gift?”

“Yes all mothers, give their puppies gifts when they’re born.  I had a sister and she was given Speed.”

“That’s really beautiful.”

“Dogs are good about things like that.”

“Dogs are good about a lot of things,” she sand, “and, by the way, I have two cats.”

“I like cats.”

“Do you think I’ll be able to understand what they’re saying too?”

“Absolutely.”

“Oh, boy.”

The dog laughed.

“How about Rex?”

He though about it, then said.  “I like it.”

“Rex it is,” said Lilly, as they walked along.

“Are you sure humans can’t understand us?”

“I’m positive.”

“We should tell other dogs and cats about that.  Maybe they won’t think you’re all so dumb.”

“We can try,” said Lilly, but as I said, humans really aren’t that bright.”

 

Starting over…part 5

“Can you get us out of here?” asked Lilly.

“More than likely,” said the woman.  “Where do you want to go?  I hope it’s somewhere far away from me.”

“You’re kind of a bitch.  You know that, don’t you?”.

“Oh, sweetie, I’m a radical feminist, we love that word.  It’s like music to my ears.”

“Actually, I like it too,” admitted Lilly.

“Good.  Now that that’s settled, where do you want to go?”

“What are our choices, other than reincarnation, step-ins, Greeters or zombies?  What about angels?”

“There are no angels and we don’t do zombies.  Zombies are far too messy and unpleasant to look at.”

“Looking for options, here,” said Lilly, glaring at her.

“Do you want to go home?  Back to the time before you died, or farther back than that?”

James and Lilly looked at each other.”

“You can do that?” they asked.

“I can do almost anything,” she said, in a bored tone of voice.

“I want to go back to just before I died.  But I want to remember that I did die, and I want to remember what happened when I was here,” said Lilly, immediately.”

“And you?” she said, standing in front of James.

“Same for me.”

“I see,” she said, tapping her chin with her finger.  “Can I play a little?”

“Play?”

“Yes, dear. Play?”

“What does that mean?” asked Lilly.

“Play with your lives, of course.  What else would I be talking about?  I mean we do it anyway, but with your permission, it might be even more fun.”

“Uh, that sounds scary.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she snapped.  “It’s no big deal, I’d just tweak a little here or there, and it would all be for your own good.”

“Who gets to decide what’s good?”

“Ah, you’re one of those people.”

“One of those people?”

“Yes, define your terms, no sweeping generalizations, which part of the elephant did you touch.”

“I think she’s missing some parts,” whispered James.

“No, I am certainly NOT missing any parts, you’re all just so…BORING!”

“Promise you won’t hurt us?”

“I promise to do my best,” she said, holding up her fingers.  “Scout’s honor.”

“Scouts aren’t very honorable anymore,” said James.  “And that’s the Vulcan symbol.”

“Okay, then on the Goddesse’s honor.”

“Deal,” said Lilly.

“Fine,” said James.  “If it’s good enough for Lilly, then it’s good enough for me.”

“Oh, do get a backbone of your own, James,” said the woman, flapping her hands at him.

They all turned toward the door at same time.

“Quickly,” said the woman.  “Jerry’s coming.  Stand over there,” she motioned, pointing to the corner.

They ran to the spot she indicated and Lilly was standing on the grass, across from an expressway, staring at a large German Shepherd trying to cross four lanes of traffic going ninety miles an hour.

James, was at the dinner table, looking at a deadly bowl of carrots.

Both of them stopped what they were doing and remembered what came next.

Starting over…part 4

“I can’t believe you talked to him like that,” said the Greeter, as they walked down a hallway.

“Do you have a name?”

“How could I not have a name?” he asked, rolling his eyes.

“I don’t know, maybe they use numbers, or colors, around here.  How should I know.”

“I have a name.”

“Well, what is it?”

“It’s James.”

“Okay, James, why not?”

“Why not, what?”

“Why shouldn’t I have talked to him that way?”

“You don’t know what he can do to you?”

“Do you know?”

“Of course not.  But things around here aren’t always what they seem to be.”

“Nothing is EVER what it seems to be.”

“What if he’s really bad.”

“Do you think that’s the case?”

He bit his lip.  “He’s not telling you the truth.”

“Do you think he’s Santa.”

Why do you keep asking that question?”

“Because I think he might BE Santa.”

“He doesn’t even look like Santa.”

“That would depend on which version of Santa you were thinking of.”

“No version of Santa that I’ve ever seen, looks anything like him.”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“I believe you.”

“Why?” asked James, frowning.

“You wouldn’t lie to me.”

“No.  I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean I know what I’m talking about.”

She threw her arm around his shoulder.  “Well, I’m not sure we should stay here James.  What do you think?”

“What’s your name?”

“Lilly, with two el’s, not just one.”

“Pretty.”

“It was my grandmother’s middle name.”

He nodded.

“How do you think we can get out of here?”

“I have no idea,” he said.  “Where would we go anyway?”

“I guess that would depend on what’s around us.”

“That’s true.  Maybe we should we scream together?” he said.  “Screaming seemed to work last time.”

“Sure, why not.”

“Oh, please don’t,” said a woman, dressed in a long navy blue, velvet robe.  “Once was enough.”

“And you are?” asked Lilly.

Why are you here?” asked the woman, impatiently.

“We’re dead,” she said.

“Besides that,” sighed the women, letting her arms fall to her side.

“We want to go back to earth.”

“Whatever for?,” asked the woman, surprised.  “Earth is a terrible place. It’s loud and very…thick.”

“Loud and thick?” asked Lilly.

“Yes.  What do you think it is?”

“Alive.”

“Well, you’re alive now, just in a different way.”

“Who was the guy who looks like Santa?”

“You mean Jerry?”

“Is that his name?”

“If that’s who you’re talking about, it is.  Did he show you his typewriter?”

“Yes.”

“Then that was Jerry.  He had a different name, a long time ago, but no one could pronounce it. I think he even had a hard time saying it.  In any event, he fell in love with the sixties, in America, and suddenly he was Jerry.”

“Is his last name Claus?”

“No. Why?” asked the woman.

“No reason.”

“How did you die,” she said, looking at James.  “Tell me.”

“I choked on a carrot.”

“Of course you did,” she said wearily.  “And you?” she said, staring at Lilly.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?  Everyone knows how they died.”

“She ran in the street to save a dog and was hit by a truck,” said James.

“I did?  I was?”

“You were,” he said, giving her a half-smile.

“Was the dog okay?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, good.  Then it was worth it.”

“People like you are the reason I never had children.”

“Hey,” said Lilly.  “That’s not nice.”

“Nice is simply an opinion, dear, just like all those other words.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting over…part 3

“Have a seat,” said the old man, holding out his hand.

“Thanks,” they said.

“Do you know what this is?”

“A typewriter from the stone age?” she guessed.

“Something like that.”

“If this is this a job interview, I don’t want to be a secretary.”

“What do you want to be?”

“A writer in Paris in the thirties.”

“I can’t help you with that and today, Paris isn’t what it used to be.”

“Nothing’s what it used to be,” she said.

“That’s true.”

“I know.”

The old man snickered.  “I think I like you.”

“Why?”

“You’re difficult.”

“She really is,” said the Greeter.  “You should have seen her…”

“Seen her what?” asked the old man.

“Nothing,” he said.

“I shoved a girl named Jill a couple of times, and made contact.  He seems to think that that’s a big deal.”

“What?”

“Seriously?  Do I have to repeat it?” she asked.

“You actually moved her?”

“She did,” said the Greeter.  “More than once.”

“She’s stealing my boyfriend.”

“Well, technically he’s…”

“I KNOW.  He’s no longer my boyfriend because I’m DEAD.   But I haven’t been dead that long and…”

“She’s not doing it alone, you know.  You’re ex-boyfriend is doing it too.”

“Doing what?”

“He’s letting her come on to him.  Why are you only angry with her?”

“I…” she stammered.  “Can you put me back there so I can hit him?” she asked.

“I can,” sighed the old man.  “If I do, will you settle down and let me tell you about this typewriter?”

She stood up, and raised her right hand.  “You have my absolute word.”

And then she was back on the sidewalk staring at her ex.  “Oh, yeah,” she said, and punched him so hard, he flew into the side of the school.  Then she picked him up and threw him across the street, where he hit a chainlink fence, bounced off and landed in the dirt.  Jill went to his side, but he held up his hand to stop her.

“Jill,” he said.  “This isn’t working.  Nothing good has come from us being together.  Let’s just move on.”

Jill nodded, and said, “You’re right.  I think I have a cracked rib.”

And then she was back in her chair, facing the old man and the desk with the ancient typewriter on it.  “Better?”

“Much,” she said happily.  “Thanks.  Now, what do you want me to do with the typewriter?”

“It’s not a regular typewriter.”

“No kidding.”

“When you type on it, the words burn into the paper and the message is sent to heaven, hell and the entire in-between.”

“I don’t believe in any of those places,” she sighed.  “They don’t exist.”

“And yet here you are, sitting across from me in the in-between.”

“Is that where I am?”

“It is.”

“Where’s hell located?”

“You just left there,” said the old man.

“Ah.  That explains a lot.”

“It should,” he grumbled, rubbing his face with his hands.  “How you can’t all know what it is, is beyond me.”

“Excuse me,” said the Greeter.  “Where’s heaven?”

“We don’t think it actually exists,” said the old man.  “It’s more of a working theory at the moment.”

“What exactly is this in-between place?” she asked.

“This is the place people come to when they die.  From here, they go someplace else and before you ask, no, we don’t know where, what, or when, that someplace else is.  I mean they have to have a place to go, once they’re dead, you know.  We can’t just let everyone float around now, can we.”

“I guess not.”

“So,” he said,  “when you type on this machine, it makes others…let’s just say…it makes them sit up and take notice.  The problem is, that no one here can type on it.”

“Surely you jest.”

“I jest you not,” he chuckled.  “We can type, we just can’t touch this particular machine.”

“Why not?”

“No one really knows, but when someone tries, their fingers start to burn up.”

“Burn up?”

“Yes,” he said.  “If they don’t move them away quickly enough, they blister and catch on fire.”

“Weird,” she said, looking at the machine.

“We think so too.”

“And you want to see if I can do it?”

“Yes.”

“Have other dead humans tried to do it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“No one ever screamed before.”

“I see,” she mused.  “And you think there’s a connection between my screaming and not catching on fire?”

“That’s what we’re hoping.”

“Are you Santa Claus?”

“No. I am not.”

“Just checking.”

“Satisfied?”

“Not really.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

“What do you want me to type?  Poetry?  Good things?  Evil things?”

“First, we have to see if you can touch the keys.”

“Out of the way,” she said, shushing him off his chair.

She sat down, stretched her fingers and wrote:

I’m sitting here
typing
on a machine
that existed
when dinosaurs
roamed the earth
wondering what happened
to my life
and hoping that my fingers
don’t catch on fire

“How’s that?” she asked, ripping the paper out of the typewriter, staring at the letters that were burned through the paper.

“It’s absolutely perfect,” he said, merrily.  “Absolutely perfect.”

“I don’t want to type anything evil.”

“Evil is simply a matter of opinion, my dear.”

“Well if my opinion tells me that what you want me to type is evil, I’m not doing it.”

“Of course you aren’t.”

“You can’t make me,” she said, while the Greeter, tried to get her to be quiet and sit down.

“I would never ask you to do anything you weren’t comfortable with.”

“Are you positive you aren’t Santa?”

“Quite positive.”

“Who are you?”

“Ah.  That, my dear.  Is a very good question.”

 

Starting over…part 2

“What did you do to me?” she asked, looking around.  “Where am I?”

“It’s a quiet room.  Well, it’s not really a room, it’s more like a space.”

“You mean like a place where they put people for a time out?”

“Yes!” he said, excitedly.  “That’s it exactly.”

“How did you get me here?”

“You know that magic rope Wonder Woman has?  The one that makes people tell the truth?”

“I do.”

“Well, I have something like that but it just, mmmmm, knocks you out.”

“You knocked me OUT?”

“More like lulled you to sleep.”

“I don’t feel lulled.  I was going to push Jill again and then everything just went black,” she said.

“You were lulled.”

“I have a headache.”

“You can’t have a headache. You need to be alive to feel those kinds of things.”

“Then maybe I’m not really dead.”

“Then maybe you’re just remembering what it was like to have a headache.  You wouldn’t be here, if you weren’t dead,” he sighed.

“Says you.”

“And everyone else!”

She snarled at him.

“Why are you so…so…like you are?”

“Like I am?  What are you trying to say?  Spit it out, Dead Man.”

“Oh, very nice,” he huffed.  “Dead man?”

“I’m a Dead Woman, aren’t I?”

“Well, yes.  But we don’t use those derogatory terms around here.”

“How can that be derogatory?  You can call me Dead Woman, since that’s APPARENTLY what I AM.”

“Why are you being so difficult?”

“Am I?” she asked, surprised.

“Yes.  You are.”

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.  I’m newly dead, remember.  Is there a playbook of some kind.  One with instructions?”

“There’s a list, but it’s not very  good.”

“Well, then, you tell me what’s expected of me.”

“You’re not supposed to be able to touch living people, let alone make them move.”

“Why not?”

“Because it can’t be done.”

“I think you’re wrong about that,” she said, looking at her nails.

“How do you feel about reincarnation?”

“Can I go back and beat-up Jill?”

“Of course not.  You have to go back as a baby.:”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?  Do you think you can just reanimate?  Then you’d be a zombie.”

“Why can’t I take over the body of someone who wants to leave?  I can just step in and be them, only with a twist.”

“You want to be a step-in?”

“A what?”

“A step-in.  You step into a body where the person hates her or his life.  Once you’re in, you live out the rest of that person’s life.  The perk is, you don’t have to start from the beginning.  The downside is that sometimes you kill yourself.”

“No kidding.”

“No.  No kidding.”

“Do I get to pick the person?”

“You can make a profile and then see who’s available.  If you agree, a contract between you and the person you’ll be subbing for is made. Then the switch takes place.”

“It sounds like fun,” she said.

“It’s not what you think.”

“Why not?”

The person could have been sick, in trouble, have a lot of problems and you’ll have to deal with the people who know him, or her.”

“You mean I could be a man?”

He nodded.  “You could have a spouse, kids, someone could be after you…”

“Wait, you said I could screen the person, so I can pick someone who doesn’t have all of those problems, right?”

“I guess.  The thing is, once you’re in, you can’t change your mind.”

“Why would I change my mind?”

“It happens, believe me.  You don’t know what it’s like to be someone else until it’s…too late.”

“But I’ll me, not the other person.”

“Yes and no.  You’ll have some of the other person’s memories and the feelings that go along with them.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound good.”

“It’s not.  It’s not good at all.”

“What else is there to pick from?”

“Excuse me?”

“You said I could be born again as a baby, be a step-in, and what else?”

“I guess you could stay here.”

“And do what?”

“You could be a Greeter, picking up new cross overs.  That’s what I am.”

“Anything else?”

“You could be a ghost.”

“Really?  Could I haunt Jill?”

“I don’t see why not, but that kind of thing gets old really fast.”

“If I haunted a library, could I read all the books?”

“Since you can touch things, I’m going to say, yes.”

“That would probably get old too, right?”

“Everything does, if you do it long enough,” he said.

“What else have you done?”

“I’m still kind of new, so nothing.  I’ve just been a Greeter.”

“Is anyone in charge of this place?”

“I don’t even know what this place is.”

“Wanna find out?”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s look around,” she said.

“I tried that but no matter what I do, I end up in the same place.”

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty much,” he said.

She grinned, grabbed his hand and started running.

“See, I told you,” he panted, waving around the same place they started..

She started screaming at the top of her lungs.  He slapped his hands over his ears, and the room suddenly changed.  When she stopped, he said, “I never thought of doing that.”

They looked around and saw an old man, in a white robe, standing in front of them.

“Yo,” she said.

“Yo, yourself,” he hissed.  “What IS WRONG WITH YOU?  You woke everyone up.”

“Yeah, well you shouldn’t keep people in mazes, then they wouldn’t have to yell.”

He glared at her and ground his teeth.  Then he started laughing and said, “You’re probably right.”

“I am?” she said.

“She is?” asked the Greeter.

“Maybe,” said the old man.  “No one has ever yelled before.”

“I can do a lot of other things too.”

“She really can.”

“I don’t doubt it,” snickered the old man.  “Come with me.”

“Why?”

He burst out laughing again.  “Why not?”

“I don’t know who you are.”

“Do you know how to type?”

“Yes.  Everyone knows how to type.”

“Not everyone,” said the old man.  “Follow me.”

The Greeter pushed her.  “Go ahead.  I’ll be right behind you,” he said.

“Fine, but if he kills us, it’s going to be your fault.”

“He can’t kill us, we’re already dead.”

“Good point.”

“Come along, children,”  laughed the old man.

“Do you think he’s Santa Claus?” she asked.  “‘Cuz he sure looks like him.”

“Just go, will you.”

“I’m going, I’m going,” she said.

 

 

 

 

Starting over…part 1

“Hey!” she said, looking at the girl sitting next to her.  “Helloooo?”

The girl laughed, at something someone said, then got up and walked away.

“She can’t see or hear you,” said the guy behind her.

“Why not?  I’m right here.”

“Well, you are and you aren’t.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, turning to look at him.

“You’re here, but your here, isn’t the same as her here.”

“I’m sorry,” she sighed.  “Do you speak English?”

“You’re basically dead and she’s basically alive, and that makes communicating difficult.  Well, impossible, actually, but…”

“Dead,” she laughed. “Me?  Are you crazy?  Why would I be dead?”

“You have no heartbeat, brainwaves, or lung activity.  That means dead.  Stone cold dead.”

She looked down at her hands.  “I don’t believe you.”

“Understandable,” he said, nodding.  “I know you feel as if you’re still alive.  Death takes some getting used to.  It happens to a lot of crossovers.”

“So, you’re dead too?”

“I am.”

“Are you telling me that being dead feels and looks the same as being alive, but just in a different place?”

“Pretty much.  Especially in the beginning.”

“That sucks.”

“It doesn’t have to.”

“I think it does.  And look what I’m wearing,” she moaned, staring down at her bloody t-shirt and jeans.  “This is my sister’s favorite shirt and she doesn’t even know I borrowed it.  She’ll kill me when she finds out it’s gone.”

“Too late for that,” he snickered.

“Oh, ha ha.”

“Do you want to know what happened to you?”

“No.  I want to go home and then wake up to my regular life.”

“Good luck with that.”

“I’m too young to be dead,” she said, glaring at him.

“Well, don’t look at me.  I didn’t kill you.”

“Kill me?  Someone killed me?”

“Not on purpose and you played a part.”

“You mean I helped kill myself?”

“Most people do.”

“What does THAT mean?”

“It means people smoke, drink, do drugs, eat and…”

“I get it.”

“Not to mention extreme and dangerous behaviors.”

“I said, I GET IT.”

“Fine.  But you did asked.”

“You’re right.  I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“HEY, is that Jill hanging on my boyfriend?”

“Yes.  But technically, he’s no longer your boyfriend.”

“OMG, I’m hardly even dead and she’s moving in.  Is there anyway I can hit?”

“No, but if it will make you feel better, try it.”

She marched over to Jill, stood right in front of her and shoved her as hard as she could.  Jill made an ummmph sound, and flew backward, landing in one of the bushes at the end of the sidewalk.

“How did you do that?” he asked, shocked and horrified.

“With my hands.  Duh.”

Her ex-boyfriend was helping Jill to her feet, asking her what happened.

“I think I’ll do it again,” she said, getting into a fighter’s stance, making jabbing motions with her arm.

“Don’t.”

“Why not?” she asked, circling the pair.

“Because you’re not supposed to be able to do that, that’s why not.”

“Don’t care.”

“There will be consequences.”

“Don’t care.”

“You should,” he said, nervously.

She shoved her again.  “You know, this being dead thing might not be so bad, after all.”

He grabbed her hands.  “You have to stop hitting her!”

She twisted out of his grip, held up her fists, and said, “Make me.”

So he did.

 

 

 

 

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