Monday, June 5, 2017

Story 233: Reasonable Adults

"Mom!" Alex's voice echoed down the hallway, "Something is happening!  The house is haunted!"
Internally, Jane was ready to scream.  She was just sick and tired of her son freaking out about every aspect of their move - the color of the house, the school they were next to, the lack of a Wawa in walking distance, the shape of his room - and while she had never struck him and felt certain she never would there had been quite a few times in the last three days where she visualized it in excruciating detail.  Externally, she stood up and smiled so that her voice wouldn't sound too annoyed.
"It's fine, Alex.  There's no such thing as ghosts."

Jane ran into him coming the other way as she left her bedroom.  He was pale, and his eyes were wide.  Something had genuinely spooked him.  He pointed towards the kitchen with a shaking hand.  "The... it... it wants to talk to you."
Goosebumps swarmed over Jane's arms despite her firm disbelief in the supernatural.  Picking her way around the boxes she had yet to unpack, she walked into the kitchen.  She was half expecting to see an intruder and was trying to remember if she had unpacked the knife block yet, but... there was no one there.
"Alex?  Kiddo?  There's nothing here."
He slipped around her and nervously pointed to the game of Scrabble that was dumped out on the kitchen table.
"That's... seriously?  That's what this is about?  I told you that I would play with you later.  Did you really think that this would work?  Pretend to be scared and I'll just... look.  I'll still play with you after dinner but you need to give me five minutes to myself."
"No, mom.  Look.  Look at it."

CALL YOUR MOM, the tiles said.  She was about to tell Alex that, A for effort and all, but she was still going back to her room... when they moved.  Tiles slid around each other until the table now said SORRY FOR THE SCARE.
"Alex?  Go play in your room."
Jane sank into a chair and stared at the tiles as they started moving again.  Magnets?  No, the table and the pieces were all wood.  Some sort of... air powered... but the thought wouldn't go any further.
BE OUT OF YOUR HAIR SHORTL it said, and then kept spinning tiles.
"We lost the other Y," Jane said, "and it only had the two to begin with."
A blank tile slid into place after 'SHORTL' and then the whole phrase disassembled itself.
"Oh.  Okay.  What do you need?"
She flinched at the thought, but part of her had been expecting it.  "You want me to dig you up, I assume.  Well, thanks for telling me before I unpack things into the shed I guess."
"And do you need me to tell the police who killed you?"
"I suppose not."

Jane stood up.  This was going to be yet another difficult chore, but she certainly wasn't going to leave a corpse in her back yard. "Well.  I'll get to work on that.  If I have to tear the shed down I don't know what to do with the pieces, and then... I'll tell the police I was..."
"Yeah.  Making a garden.  Sure.  Anyway what I'm saying is it might be a few days."
"No, thank you.  I mean, for not... no bleeding walls or moaning or throwing things."
Jane nodded.  It was a relief to hear from such a reasonable spirit, it seemed to bode well for the afterlife.  "Well.  Listen, if you have any trouble 'moving on' or 'passing over' or whatever once this is done... I'm sure we could work out something.  Roommates, kind of.  You know."
Jane thought about going to the hardware store, but she had a landscaper coming the next day anyway that might be able to move the shed in one piece and besides, that headache was still lurking in the corners of her brain waiting to come back.
"Alex?  Everything is fine, it's... everything is fine.  Go play outside while I get a nap."
Alex, seemingly recovered from his brush with the paranormal, thundered past towards the back yard.
"Oh, but... just stay away from the shed for now, okay?"