GHOST OF A STRANGER, a short story by actung. Date added: 2011-10-05. Times viewed: 2660.
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Colin was neither shocked nor surprised to see Amy waiting for him when he arrived home.
‘Will you talk to me now?’ she asked.
Colin had ignored her for most of the day after realizing that Amy is in fact dead, a ghost, someone whom is no longer actually living and not only that but Amy was someone whom Colin knew nothing about. She was a complete stranger and Colin had more than enough of helping out strangers in need, whether those strangers are living or not.
It was early that morning when they first met. Amy looked right at Colin and he acknowledged her with a ‘good morning’ before moving on. It was what happened next that had Colin thinking ‘oh no, please no’. For as Colin made his way towards where he worked; Amy followed asking ‘you can see me?’ Colin had instantly realized his mistake.
Having had so much trouble in his past talking to spirits or ghosts in public, Colin had vowed never to chat with any soul lost or however else, in public again, so Colin continued his day as if he had never acknowledged this ghost of a stranger. He has had trouble in the past in regards to talking to thin air from those around him who cannot see spirits and the times he has helped spirits in the past regularly required him to give up a lot, from taking up all his spare time to losing jobs. But now trying to convince himself not to be so nice and help out these spirits was proving a difficult challenge.
A lunch time visit to the loo was the second time Colin would acknowledge this new spirit. When Colin was sure there was no other living soul around he asked her who she was.
‘My name is Amy, and I need your help.’
‘I can’t talk here at work, and neither can I talk to you while there are others around. People think I am crazy when I talk to thin air, I may be able to see you but my work colleagues and others who may be around cannot.’
Another man entered the loo and Colin whispered ‘please go’ before he headed back to his office. This other man was left to wonder at what he seen while noticing Colin leave and also noticing that there was no one else nearby with whom anyone could have been having a conversation with.
Now Colin had arrived home, and Amy was there waiting for him.
‘I will listen to you but, I am telling you now I am not going to promise you anything. I am happy with my life and I am not going to make any unnecessary changes to it just to suit the ghost of someone I do not even know’ was Colin’s response to Amy.
‘I have but one request of you, and I wouldn’t even ask it of you only for the fact that I don’t know what else to do.’
‘Ok’ responded Colin, ‘if I can I will help you, what is the problem?’
‘It is my father, I do not know where he is. I need to find him and I need you to help me tell him that it is ok and I love him.’
‘Your father is living?’
‘My father is living?’
‘Yeah, I mean is he still alive?’
‘Yes, of course.’
‘You are sure of this?’
‘Yes, he is alive; I just need to find him that’s all.’
From their chat Colin discovered that Amy had died in an automobile accident, an accident in which her father had also been in. Her father survived. Amy was only nineteen years old, and had been living alone with her dad before the accident. Her mother had died a few years earlier from cancer and there were no brothers or sisters. The obvious place to try to find Amy’s dad Colin thought was in the house they lived in. Colin got that information from Amy and even though it had begun to get dark and that he would need to take a bus he thought that it was as good a time as any to go get things sorted and then move on with his own life.
Of course, Amy would tag along, after all Colin was going to where he was going so he could help her, but Amy was slightly disturbed by a few things. First of all the bus they got on was blue and cream in colour. The buses Amy was used to getting when she was alive were green in colour and they had a conductor. Colin paid his fare to the driver upon entering the bus.
Something else that bothered Amy was how the passengers dressed and looked. It was not at all what she had been used too. What she was used to seeing when she had boarded buses in the past were loud people, radios would have been a common thing, but now as she looked around she saw people reading books while others wore strange ear pieces, some of these people even seemed to be talking away to themselves too. She told Colin of her observations but of course, he didn’t reply, not wanting to seem to be talking to thin air or himself. Amy didn’t understand this, why Colin wouldn’t acknowledge her while others around them seemed to be talking to no one in particular. Amy told Colin where to get off the bus though the stop seemed to be a little further off than what she was used to.
Colin had a question to ask upon getting off the bus.
‘Amy, I know this may sound strange but can I ask you what year it is?’
‘You’re right, that is something that does sound strange.’
‘Humour me please, what year is it?’
‘Amy it is 2011’.
‘Yeah sure it is. My accident was only a little over a month ago, there is no way 23 years has passed by’.
‘You are not the first ghost I have encountered and all I know is that after we die time is no longer so straight forward. People do not carry around radios anymore. We have small devices that can store thousands of songs which we can playback through headphones or earphones. And those who seem to be talking to no one in particular are using other mobile devices or phones to talk to whomever they need to.’
‘Then if you are so concerned with being caught talking to thin air, why don’t you wear one of those ear pieces for when you do want to communicate in public with spirits?’
Colin was thrown somewhat by this. Amy had a point, something Colin had not considered before this point.
Amy still being quite amazed by the bus trip explained that what she could remember after her death was spending time with her father and it got to the stage where she just could no longer find him. Colin asked again about the possibility that Amy’s father may be no longer among the land of the living. Amy knew somehow and without a doubt that her father was still living, she couldn’t explain how she knew this only just that she did.
‘I know you were in an accident and were with your father when you died but can you tell me more about what happened?’
‘I dropped out of college, my father was devastated, I did not want to be where I was, it had been his plan for me to go to college. My father picked me up the day I made my decision to leave, and that was the day I died. We argued in the car and we were blindsided, hit by a truck. I died instantly. I remember standing just outside the car looking in seeing my own body, seeing my father hurt and I could do nothing to help him. I was helpless and remained that way. I watched my dad fall apart. He blamed himself for my death and I could do nothing to tell him it was ok. I need to find him and tell him it is ok, I am ok.’
Amy turned away from Colin as she finished speaking and she didn’t see his expression. He felt that finding Amy’s father was going to be at least a little more difficult than he had previously anticipated, and arriving at the house where Amy had lived prior to her death proved him right.
Knocking on the door of Amy’s former home Colin asked Amy ‘what is your father’s name?’
‘It is Kurt, Kurt Patterson.’
An elderly woman answered the door, ‘can I help you?’
‘Who the hell is she?’ asked Amy.
Colin thought it was just as well that Amy was a ghost and that the lady could not see or hear her.
‘Sorry for disturbing you madam, but by any chance would Mister Patterson be home?’
‘Mister Patterson? .... Oh you mean Kurt.’
‘Yes madam, is he here?’
‘I am sorry but Kurt has not lived here in a long time.’
‘You wouldn’t happen to know where he moved to by any chance, would you?’
‘Unfortunately I don’t.’
‘Well thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me at such a late hour.’
The lady apologized for not being able to help and went back inside her home closing the door.
‘Well what now?’ asked a very worried Amy.
‘I am going home to get some sleep that is what’s now.’
‘You have to help me.’
‘I have helped you; unfortunately it has come to a dead end, literally.’
‘Please what, we do not know where your father is, so there is nothing else I can do, sorry but I have given up a lot helping those like you and it is time for me to go home.’
‘Those like me?’
‘Yeah, ghosts, spirits or whatever you are and not only just ghosts but ghosts of strangers. I do not know you. I did not know you when you were alive and no offence but I do not want to know you now, so goodnight, I am going home.’
‘Goodnight?’ spoke Amy in an uncertain tone, ‘goodnight’ she continued in disbelief before turning around and vanishing.
The following morning Colin awoke, put on his trousers, and made his way to the bathroom only to almost fall backwards with what he saw. Amy was there ready and waiting to make a new plea for Colin to help her. He caught his balance by holding onto the bathroom door.
‘God, can you guys not just leave me alone?’
‘I can never rest until I can talk to my father, and you are the only hope I have of ever getting to talk to him.’
Colin shook his head and turned away from Amy.
‘Look I tried to help; we don’t know where your dad is. I have a life to get on with so I wish you all the best.’
‘I saw him.’
‘Good for you, I need to get ready now.’
‘No, you don’t understand, I saw my father.’
‘I understand fine, it is you who does not understand’, looking through his shirts hanging in his closet Colin continued ‘wait, you saw your father as in since I last saw you?’
‘Yes, he has aged seriously and he hardly moved at all.’
‘Where did you see him?’ Colin asked seeing an opportunity to move on from Amy rather than actually having a chance to help her.
‘I don’t know, it is kind of hard to explain, like I just got an extended glimpse of him, he was wearing a dressing gown and slippers and he was sitting in a wheel chair.’
Colin and Amy now had an idea of how and where they could find Amy’s dad, from what Amy described, her dad could be in a hospital or a nursing home. But for right now Colin had to get to work. He promised he would help Amy when he got back. He lost so much in the past helping the ghosts of people he never knew before they had passed, so at this moment in time he was not willing to lose anything else other than his spare time. For right now it was time for him to go to work and the hunt for Amy’s dad would have to wait.
Frustration hit when the search did resume. Ringing hospitals and nursing homes where not getting the two anywhere. The fourteenth phone call provided the break through. Colin rang Harvey’s Medical Home and the lady who answered could only say that she could not discuss anything in regard to the patients residing at the home and that included their names. After that particular phone call, Amy told Colin that that was where her father was.
‘Are you sure?’ Colin asked Amy.
‘Yes positive, just like I got to see my father before, I somehow saw that nurse that you were talking to, at the same time I could see you talking to her, even though you are miles apart. I recognize the building where she is, I know my dad is there.’
‘Ok then, I will see you on Saturday and we will go see your dad.’
‘Saturday? That is three days away, I need to go there now.’
‘I told you I cannot lose my job, that facility is a five hour bus trip away, I would never get there and back and then go to work so we will have to wait and go at the weekend.’
The weekend came and the trip was made. Colin once again found it difficult taking a bus trip and not talking to Amy who sat next to him the whole five hours. He questioned his own sanity and why it was so that he was doing this and it was about to get worse too. Amy couldn’t understand why Colin couldn’t just get himself an ear piece and pretend to be on the phone.
The nurse on duty at the medical home again refused to acknowledge whether or not Kurt Patterson was staying at the home. Colin was not a relative, even though he said he was representing a relative, so their argument was getting him nowhere. Amy called him, while Colin had been arguing Amy had gone to look around and she had found her dad.
Colin’s first thought was to ask if he could use the loo then sneak over to where Amy was but instead he decided to tell the nurse why it was that he was actually there. At first she was sceptical, the thought that the guy on front of her could see and talk to the ghost of Mister Patterson’s dead daughter was not an easy pill to swallow, but that changed when the nurse felt a chill and a light breeze when Amy passed directly in front of her.
Colin followed Amy and the nurse followed Colin. Colin approached Mister Patterson who sat motionless in a wheel chair in a bed room. Colin crouched down in front of Amy’s dad, before Colin could speak, a single tear began to flow down Mister Patterson’s face for what he saw was not a strange man, he could see his daughter just as she looked not long before the accident that killed her. Their hands held each other’s and after an unspoken moment Colin stood up and thanked the nurse and left. The nurse looked at Mister Patterson and saw his head turn slowly towards her. She believed she witnessed a miracle for Mister Patterson had been more or less catatonic for quite some time.
Colin never saw Amy again after that day, but he did often think back on that time. It was about nineteen months later though when Colin noticed a man walking up the garden footpath to his house. He opened his door and was greeted by a much healthier looking Mister Patterson than what he had met.
‘You can see me can’t you?’ came the question.
It took a moment but it hit him like a brick. Mister Patterson was no longer in the land of the living and he had come for Colin’s help ….
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