The first time my sister Jennifer visited me after dying in a traffic accident was on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday evening. I was on the couch, watching Baking With Ancestors.

Shut up, I like the show.

It’s fun to watch contestants seek cooking tips from their dead grandmas and what not. My only complaint is that you can’t see other people’s ghosts; you never know if they’re actually talking to dead relatives or nobody at all and are just a bit kooky. What if they’re getting advice from the ghost of a professional chef? That has got to be cheating, right?

So at one point, I knocked the remote off the table with my foot and leaned down to pick it up. When I straightened up---bam!---there was Jennifer, sitting right next to me on the couch. 

I don’t care how dead you are, you just don’t do that!

“Aaaaah!” I dropped the remote.

“Oops, sorry Amy. That wasn’t the best way to do this,” Jennifer said.

“No shit. You almost scared the dinner out of me!” my heart was rat-tat-tatting against my chest, desperately trying to escape. “You couldn’t have given me a warning first? Like making lights flicker or turning the faucet on in the kitchen? You know, ease me into it?”

“I said I’m sorry. How have you been?”

“Me? I’m great. Alive, for one thing.”

Jennifer laughed, then said, “Do you happen to have tea?”

“Uh, tea?”

“Yeah. Tea. It’s a hot beverage you can brew from special leaves.”

“Funny,” I said, “it’s just...why tea?”

“Not sure. Never really got into it while alive, so I thought I’d start now, I guess.”

Jennifer followed me to the kitchen. I rummaged around in the cupboard and dug up a few dusty boxes of mixed tea bags.

“Mint, camomille, or forest fruit?” I said, holding them up.

Jen shrugged. Not helpful.

I picked mint and prepared us a cup each. I held out Jennifer’s cup. She gave me a meaningful look. Right, she couldn’t actually take it on account of being incorporeal and all.

We sat down at the dining table to drink the tea, inasmuch as you could call what Jennifer was doing “drinking.” I sipped my tea for real, while Jennifer sort of hovered over her cup and made fake slurping sounds. It was as weird as it sounds.

We spent a good two hours catching up. I shared my latest dating stories. Jennifer told me about her encounters with dead celebrities.

But at one point, her face grew serious and she said, “Amy, I have to ask you to do something.”


“I need you to talk to mom,” Jennifer didn’t look up as she said this.

“No,” I said.

“Amy, please.”

“Absolutely not. Nope. No can do.”

“Why not? We were supposed to do it anyway.”

“Yeah. Together. When you were alive. I won’t go there alone.”

“I’ll come with you,” Jennifer tried to grab my hand but her fingers clasped thin air.

“Yeah, I’m sure it’ll help having a ghost there whom she can’t see,” I said.

“Amy, this is my unfinished.”

“I figured,” I said, looking away, “I just hate that you’d put that on me.”

Jennifer disappeared without us getting further that night.


She continued showing up at my house. Every Wednesday, like clockwork. 

She’d wait for me to finish dinner and then pop by for a cup of tea. We’d chit chat, she’d ask me if I was ready to visit mom, I’d say hello no, and she’d just shrug and disappear until the following week.

It kind of became our new tradition. I’d grown used to seeing her again. Then, during one of these visits, we had a fight.

As per tradition, Jennifer asked me to go see mom. As per tradition, I said no. That’s when she flipped.

“You are so incredibly selfish, Amy,” she said, “I could have picked anything else as my unfinished. But I chose you.”

“Well, I didn’t ask you to,” I said.

“I’ll be trapped here forever if you don’t--”

“You can’t do that!” I stomped my foot like a toddler, “You can’t die on me, make me watch them bury you and cry my eyes out for weeks, then show up as if nothing’s happened and hope that I’ll help you move on.” 

“I’m sorry. I guess I forgot to consider your feelings when I was being hit by that car!”

“That’s not what I meant, Jen.”

“I’m sure it’s not,” she said, then vanished. Way to have the last word.

For weeks, I hadn't heard from Jennifer. I'd begun to blame myself for overreacting. Then, when I started to suspect she'd never return, she did just that.

“Amy, I’m sorry about the last time,” Jennifer said in lieu of a greeting while materialising in my living room, “I’ve put too much pressure on you.”

“I’m sorry too,” I said, “I know you just want mom and I to get along again.”

“I do. For one, I’d like to move on, as much as I like hanging out in the in-between. But it’s also been hard for you and mom---me dying and you two not on speaking terms. I hate to see you miss me while apart.”

“To be fair, you’re making it kind of hard to miss you, what with the constant tea visits,” I smiled. So did Jennifer.

“I’d give you a hug, but, you know,” she said. Still, she held her arms out wide and I pretended to embrace her.

There were tears, I’ll admit.

Then we drove to see mom. It went far better than I’d pictured it in my mind. In fact, I didn’t even have to speak much.

I rang the doorbell. Mom opened. All I managed to say was, “Mom, I--” before she trapped me in a bear hug. Then we just stood there and cried like two crazy people.

Three, if you count Jennifer.


After mom and I patched things up, Jennifer could finally move on to roam the afterlife. I'll admit, a selfish desire to keep Jennifer around longer may have played a part in my hesitation to see mom. Yet you can't hold on to your dead relatives forever, I guess.

Day by day, I'm getting used to missing Jennifer again. But now that she’s gone for good, I feel I can let you in on a secret.

I really hate tea.

March 13, 2020 21:05

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Elise Henry
03:46 Mar 19, 2020

A good story I feel it could really develop into a longer story. It had all the makings of one and I wanted to get to know the characters more.


Daniel Nest
12:35 Mar 19, 2020

Thanks. I had bigger plans for it, with a more fleshed out backstory and better characters. Then Covid-19 happened. I appreciate your comment!


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