All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
A Living Ghost
The warm sun fell on Melanie's shoulders as she relaxed and tilted her head back. It seemed as though the sun was brighter and stronger than normal, but she didn’t think much of it. Melanie was at the beach on a school trip. She was graduating in two weeks, and this was the final thing her class would do together. She lived in Florida, about two hours from the coast.
She stood up, and threw on her cover-up. Everyone else had already gone inside, and the beach was completely empty. It was odd, seeing as it was a Saturday, it was a beautiful day, and it was Florida. Suddenly, the air seemed unnerving, and a pit formed in her stomach. She quickly decided to go on inside and shower before dinner; shaking off the strange feeling.
When Melanie got into the small beach cottage, things got stranger. All her classmates were clustered around the small TV. Her eyes flickered from person to person, and saw many were crying. Her best friend, Ellen, sat on the couch, silencing low sobs. Melanie walked over to her, and gently asked her what was wrong. Ellen tried to speak, but couldn’t. One of the other girls, Kaylie, pulled Melanie off to the side. Her normal calm and collected persona was starting to crack, and she was worried. She said o Melanie, “Apparently the sun is starting to explode. We only have about an hour until we die…”
“No…No, it can’t be.” Melanie whispered.
“Yes it is. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you.” Kaylie said, and walked towards a group of sobbing girls.
Melanie looked around the room for her boyfriend. His name was Eric, and they had been together for two years. He was her pillar; she could trust him with anything, and wanted to talk to him right now. He was normally reserved and quiet, but she saw the fat tears starting to well up in his eyes. She began to wipe them away, but started crying herself. He tried to comfort her, and said “Darling, please don’t cry. It’ll be alright…”
He knew he was lying, and so did she. She stared remorsefully at him. Without saying a word to anyone, or even each other, they left the room and went into Melanie’s. She sat down on the small bed, and he paced by the window. He looked as though he had something on his mind. While facing the window, he said “I have something to say, I suppose. I was going to wait a few weeks, but that won’t exactly work.” He gave a short, bitter laugh. He pulled out a small box from his pocket, and dropped to one knee. “I was going to ask you to marry me, Melanie. I love you. I want you to be my wife, forever and always. Please say yes, so we can at least be engaged.”
His short speech caught her off guard, but she almost immediately said, “Of course, honey. I love you too, you know that.”
She lay down on the bed. He lay down next to her, and pulled her close. He started to gently kiss away the tears that were falling, and let her cry into him. He whispered to her, “I love you so much. And we’ll be together, I promise.”
She started to respond to him, but was cut off. A faint rumbling started in the distance. They could feel the heat, running ahead of their almost certain death. The heat filled the room, the house, and the Earth. It caressed the house with its’ fiery talons, peeling the paint. They could hear a terrible sound in the distance. People were dying, and screaming.
Melanie could feel it growing closer. The pit had grown to the size of a boulder, and she tried to take deep breaths to calm herself. Suddenly, her body was on fire. The pain was incomparable to anything she had ever felt before. Her body shook uncontrollably. She briefly wondered if this was Hell. The pain grew and grew, and it was in every bit of her body. Everything was burning, and she could smell her own burning flesh.
Finally, miraculously, it stopped. There was no pain, no hurt, no revolting smell. She tried to move her hands and arms, and found she could. She wiggled each individual finger. She felt like she was floating. It was pitch black, warm, and she wasn’t standing on any floor or surface. It was as if she was asleep, or in a coma. It was warm, comfortable, and she was at ease.
Suddenly, she felt like she was being pulled somewhere. Her limbs started to gain more weight, and gravity took effect. It was getting brighter, and less warm. She didn’t like this. She wanted to stay in her warm, cozy cocoon. She tried in vain to fight it; to stay in her warm, lovely, perfect space.
She realized she could open her eyes. It was hard to open them, like after sleeping for a long time. She could move her body, but it was hard. Nothing was very responsive.
Blinking, she came to. Melanie was splayed out on a small cot in her laundry room. A blanket from her room covered her. Someone had obviously put it on her. She was wearing an old pair of jeans, and a faded t-shirt. She tried to remember what had happened. She remembered the sun…and a lot of pain…and fire. She remembered the fire burning her. But after that, it was a blank slate. She supposed that someone must have taken her to the hospital for treatment. Perhaps she had amnesia or brain damage. She decided to go see if her mom was home.
Swinging her feet off the side of the bed, she looked around and listened. The birds were singing outside, and the house was quiet like normal. Sunlight trickled in through a small window.
She walked through the hallway, and through their kitchen. Her mom’s door hung slightly open, and she went inside. Her mom sat on her bed, reading a book.
“Hi mom,” she cautiously said. “What happened to me?”
“I’m not exactly sure how to say this…” Her mom said.
“I’m fine, mom. Just tell me.”
“You…well, you died in the fire. In the sun exploding. This is your afterlife.”
“No…NO!” Melanie’s face paled, and she started shaking her head. “No. I was with Eric, and he proposed, and we’re gonna get married, mom. I have the ring! It’s right here on my finger. And I have a heartb…” Her voice cut off as she realized she didn’t have a heartbeat. The diamond glittered mockingly at her.
“It’s true. Accept it. You’re only making this hard on yourself.” Her mom said.
“I won’t! No!” She turned and ran out of the room. She went back to the cot, and wrapped the blanket around her. She looked at the diamond that held Eric’s promise to her. She wondered what had become of him, but didn’t dare ask her mom. Thinking of him, however, was not easy to do. She began crying, and waited until sleep embraced her.
It was dark again. She saw her life flashing by. She saw a nervous little girl getting on a school bus. She saw herself in middle school, braces on her teeth, gossiping and painting her nails hot pink. She saw herself meeting Eric for the first time. He was big and tall, and she was shy around him. She saw their relationship blossoming, and them laughing together. She saw their lover’s spats. She saw their marriage, and how amazing it was. She saw him holding their first born. It was the life she should have had. A life lived to its fullest with him by her side.
It then changed, and drastically. She saw her body burning, while Eric stood by helplessly. He had been burned too, but not as severely. She saw him in a hospital bed, staring blankly at a wall, while muttering, “It should have been me that died…not her…” She saw him begin community college, where he barely tried. He tried stupid and dangerous things, to try and elicit some emotion besides grief. He started drinking at bars, and hiring prostitutes. He started dating another woman. She was middle-aged, heavily set, and widowed. She wanted company at night, and he did as well. He accidentally got her pregnant, and she wanted to get married. He drank more and more each day, and sunk into a serious depression. His married life was killing him slowly inside. Eric started to beat his wife, and she was constantly covered in bruises. She saw the night when he sat, holding the gun in his hands. He turned in over and over again, contemplating taking his own life. He cried, a lot that night, and every other night too. It killed Melanie to see the broken man he’d become.
She was whisked away, tears streaming from her eyes. She was being pulled again, and rapidly. She had no idea where, though.
She was abruptly in front of an old time country store. It was an old barn, converted to a store. She glanced to her left, and realized she was in a car with her mom. “Mom, where’s Eric? I need to find him, before it’s too late…”
“You won’t find him here, her mom said. Melanie looked crestfallen. “But you will now start your journey. You’re a time traveler. Like right now, it’s about 30 years after you died. Go ahead and look around. But if you want to leave more quickly, eat something. It makes you travel more.”
Melanie jumped out of the car. She looked down at her left hand, and noticed the palm was covered in huge, terrible looking burns. She touched them, and they didn’t hurt. They just looked disgusting. Melanie looked questioningly at her mom.
“It’s to remind you,” her mom said, looking away. “To show you’re not really a person, but a shell of a person. A living ghost. People can touch you, feel you, talk to you, but as soon as you time travel away to another time, they forget you. It’ll be like you never existed to them. The only memories of you they will have is from before you died.”
Melanie stared out the window, tears pooling in her eyes.”Not even Eric?” she whispered.
“I’m sorry, honey, but no…” Her mom’s voice trailed off.
Melanie got out of the car and walked into the barn. She wanted something to eat, but saw nothing. All of the food wasn’t anything she liked, or was something she couldn’t eat raw. She then saw a box of lollipops. They were 25 cents apiece. She asked for a chocolate one, and realized she had no money. Sticking her hand into her right pocket, she pulled out five dollars. She paid for the lollipop with it, and stuck the rest back in her pocket. She unwrapped it, and put it in her mouth. It tasted strange. Instead of the normal yummy taste, it was disgusting. It was like eating tar. It stuck to the roof of her mouth, and seemed to suffocate her. She spit it out into a trashcan.
Melanie decided to go to the bathroom to try and rinse the taste out of her mouth. She looked at her reflection in the dingy, grubby, poorly lit bathroom mirror. She looked almost the same as the day she had died. Time (she supposed, or perhaps stress) had added wrinkles. She had dark circles under her eyes, and felt old. She turned on the water and splashed her face. She washed her hands, and shaking her head at her reflection, and walked out of the bathroom.
She then heard a voice calling her name. “Melanie? Mel…That can’t be you. You died 30 years ago…This must be some sick prank.”
When she turned around, the owner of the voice gasped. She recognized the face, but couldn’t remember the name. It came to her, all of a sudden. It was Patrick, and she had taken Spanish all throughout high school with him. They had been really good friends, and she had talked to him about anything and everything. She considered him her brother. He had been handsome in high school, and time had been kind to him. He had a rugged quality, and the lines around his eyes were from smiling. The expression on his face was heartbreaking. He opened his arms, and hugged her. “Melanie, how can this be? I mean, you died…I saw your coffin…” He stopped speaking, and held her at an arm’s length away. “Please explain.”
She explained to him what her fate was, and how her ‘life’ would be spent. “Patrick, please, stop. I need to find Eric. I have to go. I can’t let him kill himself. I have to let him know I’m alright…” She turned to go, but Patrick put a heavy hand on her shoulder.
“Mel, stop. Please come get lunch with me. Or even just talk to me. I’ve missed you so much. Forget Eric. Come with me. You had fights with him all through school. And after you died, he went into a depression. He has mental issues. I know you better than he does, Melanie. I love you. He’s married with a wife and kids. He’s moved on. We can be together now. I loved you since high school, Mel. I was just too afraid to show my true feelings.” He tried to take her into his arms then, to hold her and kiss her.
“Stop!” she said, pushing him away “Patrick, no. I love him. I don’t know what you’re talking about, by saying you love me and all, but I have to find him. We were engaged, Patrick. I have to see him; to help him. Please, just let me go.”
As she started to walk away, she could hear him calling out her name. Ignoring it, she walked on. Melanie started to feel a familiar tingling in her stomach, and took her first steps to finding Eric.