“What do you mean, you’re dead?”
“Well, I mean, I wanted to tell you, it’s just we got along so well and then it just got weirder and weirder to tell you”
“I but…like I can see you and I can hug you”
“Yeah, I’m not going to lie not sure how the hugging thing works, because I can walk through walls, and I can’t really touch anything.”
“I swear I have seen you eat before”
“I mean did you though or did you just think you did?”
“I guess I didn’t pay attention. Wait does that mean I just walk around looking like I’m talking to air?”
“ummmm, again not really sure but what I can say is when I’m with you, no one seems to question it or give you weird looks so maybe you make me visible or being with you does it. Pretty new to this whole being dead thing, not gonna lie”
“Wait, new to it? How long have you been dead?”
“ummmm not entirely sure but I think like a year maybe. I don’t remember much”
“So, is Patrick your real name? Do you know how you died? Do you remember anything about your life before? Why are you here and not in an afterlife or the next life?”
“Yes. No. No. and I have absolutely no idea.”
“So, you only remember your name and nothing else?”
“Yeah, I have been searching for the last 6 months but I haven’t found anything, and I don’t know what I look like to even recognise myself in picture or anything”
“What?!? But I can see you”
“Yeah, but I’m not sure how that works, and I can’t see myself in mirrors, so I don’t really know who Patrick is”
“That’s, what I can even, wait come with me”
I drag Patrick with me into a bathroom. I can see him in the mirror but now that I’m really looking, I notice a slight ebbing to the edges of his body.
“There can you see yourself”
Patrick has been staring wildly at me until now. He slowly looks up and I see a spark of recognition in his eyes. His eyes quickly brim over, and he lets out a cry.
“What? What is it?”
“I told you I’ve been searching, and I think it was 3 months ago. I saw a news article about a boy that went missing, it was a bit piece, but they said his name was Simon, so I dismissed it.”
“Wait so you think you are this, Simon?”
“I mean I think so. I saw that photo and it was ages ago so I can’t be sure, but I think it was me”
“c’mon, let’s go”
I drag him out of the bathroom and sit us down on one of the benches in the park.
“Can you remember anything about that article? Like the city or the town? Or the dates? Anything so I can find it again?”
I start furiously typing on my phone as Patrick tells me everything he can remember about the article. I don’t know how much time passes but eventually I pull up an article about a boy named Simon. The photo is grainy, but I can see some resemblance. As I continue to read the article my eyes get misty, and I try not to cry out.
“What is it? What does it say?”
“It says….” My breath catches in my throat, and I try again.
"It says you went missing 11 years ago and have been presumed dead ever since. They have never found your body”
Patrick stares at the screen for a long time. He then stares at the window, and I try not to let more tears spill out. I can’t think of anything to say, and we sit in silence for a long time. I wish I knew how to make this better. I wish I could fix it but all I can think to do is hug him. As we hug, we are both crying, and I just let him cry. We both just sit there on the bench hugging and crying. I feel like I have let out an ocean of tears and feel my eyes dry up.
“Should we….do you want to find out if it’s true?”
“What do you mean? How would we do that?”
“Well, the article said you went missing in New York so let’s go”
“I mean…. I don’t know if I want to know and what good will it do and I just…”
“c’mon I can not have my best friend be a lonely forgotten ghost with no memory of his past”
He smiles at the word best friend but still looks at me apprehensively.
“Cmon, it’ll be adventure and I need to know what your real name is, Bestie”
He playfully shoves me, and I shiver at the contact. I hope he doesn’t notice but I guess my brain has clicked that my best friend is a ghost. Wow what a weird sentence. Does anybody else have ghost best friends? is this just a regular occurrence? Do other people have best friends, and they just don’t know they are ghosts? Before I go any further down that rabbit hole, I’m up again dragging (can I drag a ghost? Am I actually holding him? Damn Rabbit holes) Patrick with me.
“Let’s go, if we get in my car now, we can be in New York tomorrow”
“I…. but I ahhhhhhhhh”
“Yep, I know but we must see this through. You are the best friend I have ever had, and we must find out the truth”
I march us both over to my car.
“Wait can you sit in my car? Do you need the car to get there? Should you just meet me there?”
Patrick is laughing as he slides (glides is maybe what he does) into the passenger seat.
“Cmon twenty questions. Let’s get to New York.”
10 hours later and we are in the grimy streets of New York. We come up to the street listed in the article and Patrick asks me to stop the car. I pull over and he gets out of the car to throw up (floats out and bends over to dry heave?).
“Patrick, we are so close now, but I mean, I”
“No, we will go, I have to know now, just give me a minute”
“Are you actually throwing up? What is there for you to throw up? Do you feel like you’ll be sick?”
“ha ha ha I thought we had gotten through all your questions?”
“Ha ha, my bad, so did I”
Trying again to quell the endless stream of questions that seem to come to mind I wait for Patrick to be ready to go on.
As we drive up to the house, I realise I will have to talk to Simon/Patricks parents, and I can’t tell them I can see their ghost son. People around me also tend to be able to see Patrick so what will do if that happens? As these questions plague my mind, a woman walks out of the house with a dog on a lead. I jump out of the car to catch her before she walks away from the house.
“Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you. Are you Simon’s mum?”
The woman turns to me and opens her mouth to speak but before she does, she sees Patrick/Simon and drops the dog’s lead. She gasps and starts to weep. Well, that answers that question. She can see him, and his name must be Simon. I look back at Simon who is still back near the car, and he is staring teary eyed at the woman in front of me. It feels like time has stopped and the air has shifted. I think 20 minutes passes before anyone dares speak.
“Simon……….Is that……Is that you?”
And with that they both run towards each other and hold on to each other for life. Before I realise it, I am also crying watching this reunion but realising we will have tell this woman/ Simons mum that he actually hasn’t come back. That he is dead, and he doesn’t even remember what happened. The woman/ Simons mum ushers us inside and tells us shell get some lemonade. Neither of us speak mainly I think due to the fact we don’t know what to say. She comes back out with some lemonade in a jug and sits across from us. I sit and wait in the silence waiting for someone to say something. The longer it takes the weirder I feel.
“Hi …so I’m Cas….I’m um Patrick I mean Simon’s friend”
I go to stick out my hand while the other 2 just stare at one another. After I a few minutes I let my hand drop and go back to rambling.
“So, I met your son 8 months ago and we have been the best of friends ever since. We have been going to classes well I mean I have I guess he was just hanging around. And we hang out all the time although I realise now that he never ate so what did you do?”
After I stop talking. I see that Simon/ Patrick is staring at me like I’m a moron. And unfortunately, I hate to admit that it takes me way too long to realise my mistake. We both turn to look at Simons mum. She doesn’t look upset or confused and I realise she has been much calmer about this someone might be about their lost son returning after 11 years.
“Simon this must have been so hard for you, I know that you must be sad, angry and confused.”
“I…..mum….I mean why are you not more confused or like I don’t know. I’m not sure what you are supposed to feel when your lost child shows up, but I feel like calm probably isn’t one of the options”
“Agreed, I’m sorry um Simon’s mum…”
“Call me Cathy”
“Okay, sorry Cathy but you seem way too calm, and we thought we would have to explain to you, but I think it’s going to be the other way around.”
“I must admit that this is a bit strange, but it honestly makes sense. Simon you……there is something I want to show you”
We sit in wait as Cathy goes out to the dining room and comes back. She walks back in with a phot album and hands it to Simon. He looks at it and is crying again. He hands it to me and weeps into his hand. There are two boys in the photo they look about 8 or 9. They are both Simon but younger.
“You had a twin?”
Simon is lost to the sadness, so his mum speaks instead. As she starts to tell me I hug my ghost best friend.
“Yes, Simon is a twin. Patrick and Simon. My beautiful boys. They were inseparable. The best of friends. that photo is taken just before Simon started to get sick. The cancer took hold quickly, but we thought he was in remission. But when they were both eleven. It came back and the doctors told us there was nothing they could do. Simon couldn’t accept it and did research every night. He was in the hospital with him everyday and refused to go to school or leave his side. The day he died………”
“I ran away. I couldn’t even think. I just had to go. So, I ran. I don’t even know how far I ran but I……”
“You got hit by a car. A drunk driver came up onto the sidewalk and hit you. I lost both my boys that day.”
I look at Simon and everything from the last 24 hours hits me. My best friend is dead. He died 11 years ago. We are talking to his mum about his death, and she seems sad but like she is at peace with it.
“You aren’t… you aren’t dead.”
“You are in a coma in the hospital up the road, on the corner”
No one speaks again for a long time. We don’t discuss it but soon we are in the car and headed to the hospital together.
We walk up to the room door together and I grab Simon’s hand as he pushes the door open. He is lying there. Just lying. His mum must have been caring for him all this time as his face is shaved and his hair is clean. I can’t bring myself to step in the room and it seems neither can Simon. His mum brushes past into the room and goes and holds Simon’s hand.
“I don’t suppose you can feel this can you”
He shakes his head sadly and finally walks in.
“I don’t feel anything. No connection, nothing.”
He shakes his sadly again and turns back to me. As tears spills from his eyes, I give him a hug and just hold him.
“Thank you, Cas for bringing him back to me.”
I let go of Simon so I can look at his mum. I walk over and grab her hand and squeeze.
“Maybe, he can wake up now. Maybe, you can come back.”
I turn back and see the ghost of Simon. I say that cause now he actually looks like a ghost. Transparent and otherworldly. As his outline shimmers in and out of focus. I begin to cry again.
“I love you, Cas”
“I love you too, Simon”
And with that he is gone. I am sobbing and crying in Cathys’ arms before I know it. We both just hug each other and cry until our tears run dry. We turn around and get ready to say goodbye to Simons body. I touch his hand and his eyes flutter open.