“I tell ya Cellophane,
Shoulda been my name,
‘Cuz you can look right through me,
Walk right by me,
And never know I’m there!”
So echoed the refrain of the anthem of potentially the world’s most lovesick ghost. Mortimer heaved an inaudible sigh and watched glumly as the object of his unrequited affection rounded the corner and slipped from view. Another day Morty might have trailed silently along, following the leggy blonde where ‘ere she went, drinking in the view of her. Today, he simply didn’t have the heart. He slumped against the brick wall, nearly falling through it in his apathy, and tried to remember what life was like when he was substantive. He closed his eyes in the closest approximation of sleep he could manage and let the memories of three hundred years ago wash over him.
As a good, God-fearing Anglican, he dismissed the concept of reincarnation out of hand. At some point he was sure he had heard from the something from the pulpit clearly stating there was one life and one death. In hind sight, it seemed likely that this was a scare tactic, fear mongering promoted and perpetuated by the church to convince the masses to by what the faith was selling. And it had worked. When first he had clapped eyes on Gwendolyn was the day he finally found Jesus, as it were. What he would give, what he would dare to be near her always? And the clergy had provided a path to that end, to hear them tell it, the ONLY mean to achieving that end.
Explain then please, his current predicament. Trapped in limbo, he supposed at some time he must have sinned horribly to be deserving of purgatory, though for the afterlife of him, he couldn’t think of what could possibly have caused such offense to him on high. He had lived a flawed existence, to be sure, but this seemed a tad excessive, even for the fire and brimstone preachers of his youth. And by far the worst of it was his separation from Gwen, a pain he had felt keenly since he had passed on from his mortal body, and intensified with Gwen’s passing.
Was there no justice in this world? That he should remain while she was gone? And then, when he had resigned himself to his fate, he had seen her. The tone of her voice, the tilt of her head, every mannerism, every feature proclaimed her to be his long lost Gwen. Why then, did she answer to the name Joy? Her beautiful golden hair, once falling waves nearly to her hips had been cropped short into a pixie cut and she spent an uncomfortable amount of time in the company of one Brad Geller, and she was just as oblivious to his existence as every other human he had encountered in the three hundred years since his death. It was as if fate were taunting him, no matter what he did, he couldn’t cross the void to the plane where she existed. That pain was more intense than he could have thought possible.
Joy frowned slightly as she made her way along the crowded sidewalk. There it was again, that prickle on the back of her neck as though she were being watched. She notched her chin a little higher in a false show of bravado and attempted to ignore the collection of winged insects fluttering around in her stomach. “This is getting ridiculous,” she though, “I feel like I’m scared of my own shadow.” For weeks now, she’d been struggling with what she had first thought were panic attacks. She wasn’t prone to anxiety, except for the few months when she was adjusting to hormonal birth control. The feelings were similar, but not identical, and when her earlier symptoms had started she had at least been able to pinpoint the cause. She couldn’t think of a thing that might be causing her unease, and her frustration with herself was growing.
Lost in thought, she stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk, nearly falling to her hands and knees. He scraped palm stung from where she had caught herself, an angry red that nearly matched the flush that was flooding her face. Holding your head high was clearly only all well and good if you could avoid tripping over you own feet.
Joy made a face and hauled herself back into a vertical position, all attempts at grace long gone. Humanity continued to stream past her as she brushed herself off and took stock of potential damage. Aside from a scraped palm and wounded pride, everything appeared to be in working order; she’d managed to keep ahold the contents of her purse and if the was a run in her pantyhose, she couldn’t find it. A final check in the reflection of the shop window satisfied her vanity, she turned to be on her way.
But she didn’t move. Joy frowned to herself, something was off. She spun back towards the window and locked eyes with a reflection that was not hers. Sad brown eyes regarded her dolefully from a pale, pointed face. As she continued to stare, the eyes widened in astonishment, blinked once, and vanished. Joy started violently and spun around searching the sidewalk for…she didn’t know what. A phantom? The remnants of her sanity? But people continued to stream past in both directions, each with their own destinations. Well, at least now she knew, she was definitely not at her mental best.
Twelve feet down in the city sewers, Morty was trying hard not to panic. Gwen had looked straight at him, she had seen him! After months of trying to attract her attention any way he could think of, all it had taken was a simple reflection. He heaved in several deep breaths. Physically he knew this did nothing, but he still found the practice comforting.
“Think!” said Morty to himself. “Think! What are you going to do next?” Nothing, he decided. He would wait until he knew Gwen would be home, and then what? Scare the pants off her in the bathroom? Admittedly, the idea did have merit. Yes, that would do, except perhaps for the pants detail. With a plan in place, Morty squared his shoulders and floated up out of the sewers in search of Gwen/Joy’s apartment, bracing himself for what might possibly be the most terrifying experience in his 300 years of existence.
© Max, 2019. All rights reserved.