Writing Prompt: Imagine Life as a Ghost

The writing prompt “Imagine life as a ghost” was posted on reddit today–this was my take on it:

I stood in the rain and it passed through me. The jackets and umbrellas of my family flapped and bucked in the October wind, but I didn’t feel it or smell the wet leaves that covered the ground. Preacher Davis read from his Bible only a few feet away—I was sure I’d recognize the words if I could hear them, but he was as silent as empty space.

The world was no more muted to look at than anyone would expect for a dismal autumn day, but every other sense was gone. I couldn’t feel my own weight on my feet, or the fingernails of my clenched fists biting into my palms. I only knew I was naked by looking down.

It was like a terrible dream. I’d tried to get their attention for the whole first day, but no amount of yelling or grabbing seemed to reach them. It was simple exhaustion that had finally made me accept the inevitable. If I couldn’t hear and feel my own sobbing, how could I expect them to?

I stood behind my wide headstone through the whole silent service. My buddies and my cousins hustled to their cars as soon as it was over, ducking out of the rain and the cold. My son stood there crying for a long time, his wife’s arm wrapped around him and her head laying against his arm. She held my grand-daughter too—a precious little bundle with alert brown eyes.

Finally even they were gone.

As soon as they were out of sight, the workers hired by the funeral home stepped in. It took them only minutes to bundle up the soggy sheet of artificial grass that they’d spread to keep the mud down and pull apart the metal frame that they’d used to lower the casket. My casket. It held a body that didn’t seem like part of me anymore.

They backed a small dump-truck of dirt up to the open hole and in seconds the casket was hidden forever. They gave it a lick and a promise with a rake and then they were gone too. I stood there alone, looking over the field of carved stones and feeling no more alive than any of them.

Something moved at the corner of my eye and a gravelly voice spoke. I hadn’t heard that voice in more than twenty years, but I knew it instantly. “Well, boy? Are you gonna join us or are you just gonna stand here and mope all day?”

I took the picture above in Drake Cemetery (Adams County, OH) in December of 2015.

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