Life After Death

“Life After Death” by Brie Barbee

I didn’t expect it to be so boring when you died. Then again, I wasn’t even sure there was going to be an afterlife, so everything that came after that was a bit of shock anyway. I definitely wasn’t expecting to wait in a crowded lobby to get my job assignment, though, like a DMV for ghosts that somehow managed to be worse than the original, or the fact that ghosts even had jobs when we don’t need to eat or sleep. But the weirdest part about being dead is how much everyone around me tried to pretend like they weren’t.

I don’t know if you know this, but as a ghost, you look exactly the way you did when you died, and you’re going to look that way forever. This works out pretty well for some people (although that usually means their deaths were upsetting for different reasons), but generally, ghosts are not a very attractive bunch.

I think I’m one of the exceptions, because I didn’t die particularly young or after years wasting away, yet I still managed to look normal. An aneurysm at 46 is what got me, or at least that’s what the paperwork they handed me said when I first came to.

I looked the way I always had, with the same blonde hair and thin fingers I had always seen in my periphery. I wasn’t allowed to see my reflection right away to confirm this, which makes sense when you consider the types of people that usually come through here. I vaguely remember wishing I had chosen something more fashionable to wear that day, but when you’re a ghost, fashion trends change quickly and you realize none of that matters anyway.

The first ghost I saw, besides the elderly attendant who ushered me to collect my job, was a young man who’d died in a car crash. He was a really sweet kid, only 19, but the fact that he was standing there calmly, covered in his own blood, with gravel sticking out his cheeks and having a conversation with me like nothing was wrong made me want to curl up in the corner and cry. But I soon found out that wasn’t something I could do anymore.

When you can’t eat, sleep, have children, or age — or do any of the things that tend to define your humanity, there’s not much to do as a ghost, which is why the dead like to pretend they’re still alive. It’s why we have jobs and talk the way we do. Commenting on the weather is a far more common greeting around these parts than “hello,” even though there is no weather to comment on.

But it does make sense, I suppose. When you can’t enjoy the physical pleasures of being human anymore, the next best thing is remembering what it was like when you could, even if that ends up manifesting itself in some pretty weird ways.

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