Chapter Two: Is This Really Fun?
The Girl Who Was Buried in Her Ball Gown: Chapter Two
My eyes were stinging and the rain began to beat down harder, trying to wash the tears away from my shocked face. But the raindrops didn’t divert and trace over me physically as they should have, they merely passed through my current form, undetected as many silver fish slipping through an ocean. Where was Martin? Maybe he was still in the hospital. I needed to hold someone, I needed someone to slap me and wake me from this terrible dream. I couldn’t hug anyone even though I tried. My arms passed right through them, just like it was a dream, but I knew this wasn’t. People had put up their umbrellas by this time, those who had them. It was a thin, solemn forest canopy, of despair and grief. It was so cold too, maybe winter was here already and I didn’t realise.
I wasn’t the only one crying. I noticed all sorts of responses to the burial, to my early departure. I saw the comforters; I saw the confused. I saw how angry Dad was. Someone had killed his daughter, some idiot drunk! I wanted to hug him the most. He had been the strength in our home, but here he looked as weak as a baby. I could see a wall hardening around him; a rampart of rock to protect him, maybe to hide him away from this disgrace. My little sister was also building a defence, but different to Dads.
The girl said something to me but I wasn’t listening, “Hey e-hoa, it’s not all that bad. Look at this.” She got into the coffin even though the lid was on and lay down inside. “We can have some fun. I bet you will like this. Give them some hope eh? Watch this.” The coffin was lowered into the hole. Suddenly the hole filled with something like smoke, only sucking in, not rising upwards. It wandered out in curly, sinister waves then doubled back into itself, imploding rather than exploding. When the coffin hit the bottom of the hole it sent a pulse through me, like an eternal severing. The umbilical cord being cut from the life of the mother, so then the baby becomes its own self preserver and independent vehicle.
When that happened, I saw the Maori girl walking up the vertical side of the hole and she looked just like me! Her hair had changed colour and flowed behind her carelessly. Her face had changed to imitate mine. My ball gown drooped down behind her and I could see her girly features pushing out those six little buttons. She was wearing my ball gown! When she reached the edge of the hole she pivoted as if she were a door-hinge, to follow the ground we were all standing upon. In the crowd, I heard sighs of surprise from a few people and saw shocked, frightened faces among them. My sister, some cousins and my weird Auntie Annie, were the first few who noticed. Whispers of conversation resonated around among others too and I realised that many had obviously seen her. As she walked past my Dad, she broke into a run and then disappeared. Who is this girl? Why is she doing this and calling it fun? I did not like it!
She appeared behind me and gave me such a fright as she whispered into my ear, “What did you think of that?”
“Who the heck, are you? How could you do that to my family?” I was wild!
“Oh, you’ll get to know us, I guarantee that!” I wanted to rip out her eyes but she just laughed and stepped around me. I felt like a volcano about to erupt as I gurgled and rumbled away from her.
“Where are you going? You’ve got a lot to learn yet girl. Who’s going to teach you stuff? Come on, it’ll be fun.” Well, she was right about one thing, I didn’t have a clue where I was going to go. Maybe I might go back to the hospital to see Martin again. Maybe he might hear me, if I spoke to him. Perhaps I should go and see Mum and Dad, Nikki and Tim. What difference would it make anyway, I’m dead! Instead, I plonked myself down on the base of a tall headstone and bawled my eyes out. The rain fell and I sat there in a cemetery filled with people. A vast real estate of lost dreams, unsung songs, unspoken love, unsettled feuds and unwritten stories. However, I was all alone and the glowing ball in the sky went down, and then it came up again.
There were two more funerals and two more bright flashes of light, but no more smoke and no more surprise visitors. What was I doing here anyway? My whole perception of life and death was in a state of turmoil. All of my thoughts, ideals and dreams had been tossed into the great divide of the unknown and the known, the hopes, possibilities and failings; lesson’s to be learned and skills to be honed, or not. And there the coin landed on its edge and spun.
A gentle light shimmered among the trees, above the tombstone I was seated on. The fingers landed on me, “I haven’t forgotten you.” That was all they said. Then the sun went down and the sun came up again.
She surprised me, when she spoke, “Have you finished sulking yet? Come on, I didn’t mean any harm.”
I felt like hitting her and tried to, but she saw it coming and dodged my pathetic punch. I don’t imagine it would have done anything anyway, I was never very good at hitting. Now, my little sister Nikki… boy she could hit. She once gave me a black eye, the little brat! I had to go to school the next day with my award pinned to my face.
“How did you do that?” My friends taunted and what could I say, ’Oh, I walked into a door.’ Lame! No, I had to fess-up, and tell them, “My dear little sister thought I might look better with this on, do you like it?” Maybe I could arrange one for each of you too! “If my dear sister is not available to present you with your very own one, THEN I FLIPPING WILL!” No surprises, they all just laughed! Oh, I was so embarrassed and didn’t even want to be there. I pity the man who marries Nikki.
The girl was still wearing my peacock-style ball gown… and so was I. “Come on. You still haven’t forgiven me yet, have you?”
“Why should I? What you did was horrible! I’m disgusted!”
“It was just a joke. Sorry! Don’t be so super sensitive,” she said in a whingeing voice.
“How am I supposed to react? Haven’t you noticed I’m dead? It’s kind of a bad hair day today don’t you think? Do you think my GHD is going to fix this? I don’t think so!”
“Oh come on, you’re not the only dead one in this place. Have a look around.” Yep, we weren’t alone, I saw a couple of others who could see me too. An old man over by the crematorium had just walked out of the side of the building and was heading into the bush. He gave us a wave as he went. A small boy was darting around all the headstones, playing some kind of game. He disappeared into a flash of bright light, in mid-step.
She stared at me and asked, “So are we friends again?” I wasn’t through sulking yet. “Who is going to teach you stuff? What are you going to do? Sit there on that tombstone for a millennium or two? Build a bridge girl and get over it! Lighten up a little.”
“I don’t think I could get any lighter!” I rebuffed. “I’m a flipping ghost! Even if I spent the rest of this, what do you call this — death — eating steam, I still won’t get any lighter!”
She laughed, “Oh, ho, ho, you are funny! Well at least you won’t need to go on any more diets!”
“Oh, shut up! I never dieted, I’m already skinny! Look at my pitiful excuse for breasts; look at my boy chest! Look, you’ve got something and if anybody knows me well enough, they would have noticed that that stunt you pulled, was not me! What are you, a 12B or C, or something? That is nice! That is what I aspired to be, but I guarantee I’ll never get there now!”
“Hey, there is more to life and death, than breasts okay. Now come on, are you going to build a bridge? Are you going to get over it and move on? Why, you could even get through it if you wanted to. Ha ha! Now who’s funny?” Yes, that was funny, and I giggled a little. “That’s better. Let me teach you something. You’ll see. It isn’t all bad. Besides, you seem like a nice girl. We could be girlfriends, yeah! We could be a team! What do you reckon?” She had her arm around me and I could even feel it, she was giving me a real-sisterly hug. A hug from a stranger was at least better than none.
My poor sister, my little brother, Dad and Mum, they can never hug me again and I will never be able to hug them.
“What is your name anyway, girlfriend?”
“Are names really important around here?” I asked her genuinely.
“Not really. You can actually be any-ah-body. Sorry, excuse the pun. You could be any-one, you want to be. Well, almost.”
“Oh, ha ha! Another funny.” I got her silly joke.
“You’re a smart one, aren’t you?” I started to feel better.
“Okay, come over here then, I will show you my name.” I lead her over to my graveside and we looked solemnly at the freshly chiseled mortar that laid at my head.
The final gate that had connected me to my previous existence had been closed. There would be no way back now, to the life I had once known. Now, a new chapter had been prematurely opened and I was not sure where it would end. We stayed for a time and there were some more burials and more flashes of light. There was even some more imploding smoke but I didn’t see what it was about, although I was curious. I stuffed as many memories as I dared into myself and was ready to leave.
“You ready to go now? It took me a few days to move on also. Ready for some fun?” Her idea of fun and mine may not have the same meaning, but it was time to find out just what was fun. “Come on then, let’s go jump into some mirrors,” she said with a glimmer.
“Jump into what?”