Written by John from Altjiranga Mitjina
Have you ever been baptized in the cool winter water
On a Sunday Morning When the sky was gray
We fled out of the churchyard so cold it was silver
Into gold. Tan and blue cars and the cars drove away
And all the memories fade Send the ghosts on their way
Tell them they’ve had their day It’s someone else’s tomorrow
The tall and the tiny ships on the water
Smaller and smaller floating away
Will never return now all wooden and burned down
They echo and groan now in their salty graves
And the memories fade Send the ghosts on their way
Tell them they’ve had their day It’s someone else’s tomorrow.
Of course she was a ghost.
It was close to midnight and there was a mist hanging over New Orleans. The streets were deserted. I was sleeping on a park bench in the Quarter. I saw her walking down the steps from the St. Louis Cathedral.
“I couldn’t get in.” Her voice was tiny and not directed at me. She was so lonely that she was talking just to hear another voice.
I sat up as she came closer and took a seat next to me on the bench. I pulled my knees up to my chest and hugged my legs to me. She was ignoring me, as the dead will the living.
She was young. I didn’t want to think how young. There was so much she would never experience that I didn’t want to imagine. Her hair was too bright a red to be natural. She had something stuck through her nose and her eyelids each had multiple rings in them. Her shirt was a size too small for her and ripped around the bottom exposing her belly. She was wearing shorts and flip flops. She was a gutter punk when she died, one of those kids who flock to New Orleans and end up living on the streets and in the gutters and on the steps of the moonwalk.
“I know.” She was surprised when I looked at her and actually spoke to her. “It never lets your kind in.”
“You can hear me?!” She turned towards me with a look of such hunger in her eyes that I felt embarrassed. “You can see me!”
“Yes.” I wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t the first ghost I had seen or talked to.
“How? No one has been able to see me since…” She didn’t finish the thought, but I knew what she meant. There were tears in her eyes, being dead doesn’t stop us from wanting to talk to others.
“I’m here to help you.” I kept my tone quiet and even.
“Help me? It’s too late to help me. Where were you when that man killed me?” Some poor girl living on the streets and some strange man taking advantage of her need and than killing her, it was such an old story and such a sad story that it probably didn’t even make more than a slight mention in the paper.
“I know. I wish I could have been here than, but like you said it’s too late for that now. I’m here to help you now.” I stretched my legs out in front of me. They were cramping from sleeping on the park bench.
“Do you know if my Mom has been looking for me?” There was such a yearning in her face that I had to look away. I looked towards the church where she had tried to find refuge only to be denied admittance.
“I’m sure she has.” I lied. Or maybe I didn’t and her Mom had been looking for her since she ran away from whatever problem was so great that she had decided she could not live at home or talk to her Mom.
“I liked the city better when it was filled with water. There were less people around.” A lot of ghosts expressed a fondness for the city after the hurricane
I wanted to reach out and cup her cheek and offer her some sort of condolences but knew my hand would just pass through the mists that made up her body now. “It’s time for you to move on. It’s someone else’s tomorrow now.”
“I don’t understand.” They never did. I still wasn’t sure. “What are you? Are you a ghost too?”
“No,” I still wasn’t sure how to answer to that question. “I’m in a limbo between the living and dead. I’m here to help those of you that haven’t passed on yet.”
“What if I don’t want to pass on? Maybe I like being a ghost.” She could even hear the lie in that statement.
I stood up and offered her my hand. She look at it for a moment and than reached out for it. Her hand drifted through mine but she followed alongside as we walked towards the river. “Where am I going?”
“To a better place. This is not where you belong. This world is not for you any longer.”
As we walked towards the river and she left me for wherever it is they go I realized that I did not even know her name.
If you're reading this it can only mean one thing, that John from altjiranga mitjina has once again forgotten to provide a blurb after whatever it is he wrote for this issue. All he can say is that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. He'd write more but he'd just forget whatever it was he wrote.