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Joseph, Can You Hear Me?
The light was too bright. I raised my right arm to cover my eyes. Where was I; and more importantly: why wasn’t I at work? My wife, Lucy, and I are short on money and I can’t afford to get fired.
My eyes adjusted. I moved my arm, feeling something, that felt like it was attached to me, move as well. There was an IV attached to my vein. “Think back Joe. Think back”
Sparks flying from metal on metal. A girl stops to take a picture. I act like I don’t notice. I’m working on the construction site, at the base. My hard hat’s on, my headphones to block out sound are in. I’m doing my job.
Then it goes black, and I’m in a hospital.
I’ve been in a hospital a few times before: sixth grade when I broke my arm. In college when I fell off a skateboard. I was here with my Lucy while she was in labor with our still-born child. There’s a cord you can pull, like a bus cord, to call a nurse… or is it a button? I have to find it though.
My body’s stiff; maybe I haven’t moved it in a while. Flexing my fingers and cracking my neck are painful. Another hand sneaks into my vision. A woman’s. Is it Lucy? Her nails are painted purple, and she has bangles on; so probably not.
“Oh my gosh” I hear a voice by the door say, Then footsteps, running in the opposite direction. The woman with the purple nails sits on my bed. “Hey Uncle Joe” she says from the edge of the bed. “You remember me?”
The girl has heavy makeup, long brown hair, and an “Aerosmith” shirt on over tight jeans shorts. “Honestly no” My voice! I realize this is the first time I’ve used it since… Well at least as far as I can remember. “I’m Sam” she says with a soft smile. “Should I know you?” It’s still a little stiff, and gravely, but my vocal cords are still making sound. “Not if your memory’s been affected at all. I’m your Niece”
I feel bad; I didn’t even remember I had any siblings… or maybe it’s on Lucy’s side.
About four doctors rushed into the room at that point, along with a nurse, who came up to me. “Joseph?” she asked. “Yes?”
“Get the electric shock!”
“What? Why are you getting the shock?” I asked frantically. Looking to Sam, she looks perfectly calm. The pads they use to shock people come down. “Clear!”
The pads go right through me.
I turn around, completely dumbstruck. There’s me, lying on the bed, my head on the pillow. “What’s happening?” I’m beginning to panic.
“He’s gone” says the doctor solemnly. “Time of death?”
“Eleven forty two AM. Someone inform Misses Kaplan”
“Can anyone hear me?” I shout
“Nope” replies Sam, leaning on a wall in the corner.
“What happened to me?” I’m almost sobbing all of a sudden
“Well, you were working on the sidewalk by the concert hall where there was construction going on and a piece of concrete fell and hit you in the back of the head. You’ve been in the hospital for about a year”
“How come no one can hear me?”
“Didn’t you hear the doctor? You’re dead”
“What?” I’m shocked out of my tears “But what about my wife?”
“She’ll be fine. Don’t worry” I had so many questions. But most of all: “Why can you hear me”
“I’m dead too. I died about eight months ago. Ghosts help people move between, well, states of being I guess”
“Oh, poor Lucy” I put my head in my hands. “Come on” said Sam, coming over and taking my hand, or my wrist rather. She pulled me off the bed the doctors were surrounding and led me out of the room, and down the hallway, further and further away from the anchor of my body.