I looked down at my body thinking about the things I’d been in life. Drug user. Occasional part time employee. Troubled daughter. Needy sister. High School drop out. Yeah, I’d lived like a loser, and I died like one but I sure as heck was about to spend my afterlife like one. It was finally time to take charge of my life, except that it was my death. Well, you know.
I’d been shot. People in the movies get shot and they go to the hospital and everything is fine. Not me. I’d been shot in front of my favorite bar, and now a crowd of people were standing around my body. I’d been dead like a minute maybe, minute and a half tops, and one of them was just now calling an ambulance. Losers.
I shook my head at all and tried to walk away, only I couldn’t I sort of floated. Two steps and I got the hang of it. Four steps and I stopped trying to walk and just sort of pushed myself forward. I went really fast. I guess that’s how the dead travel.
I knew where I was going, my ex-boyfriend’s house. We’d been broken up about three minutes longer than I’ve been dead. It went like this: tell him it’s over, tell him why (my good news), and then he drags me out of the bar and shots me. So yeah, Dave’s house was the first step on my post death review.
He was on the couch, beer in one hand, the thing he stole from me in the other.
“Give it to me!” I shouted. He jumped like fifteen feet off the couch.
“Angie? Oh my god Angie?” He looked all around but he didn’t see me. I guess ghosts don’t show up, but somehow he could hear me. I could work with that.
“You give me back what’s mine!” I shouted again. He went whiter than a sheet.
“What the hell? I’m sober. This isn’t happening.” He repeated it like fifty-five times and each time I told him to give it back. Finally he broke. “Okay, okay take it! Just leave me alone!”
He held the slip of paper out and I tried to grab for it. Too bad ghosts can’t move things. My hand just went through. “Take it to Alice.”
“Alice? What your loser sister? No way. No way. I gotta get outta town.”
“Take it to Alice or I’ll haunt you until the day you die,” I threatened. That did it. He was in his car before another minute passed.
I willed myself back to our house, the place I shared with my parents and my sister. She was still eighteen and perfect. Always was, always would be. Well perfect anyway. Perfect little Alice. I’d hated her a lot in life, but death brought me some wisdom. I was just sad we weren’t ever going to be close, be like the sisters you saw in movies. I got to her bedroom while Dave was still pulling in the driveway. It was a Thursday night, so she was studying. I’d been out partying. Normally I’d have given her hell about it, but being dead, I just gave it a smile. The doorbell rang and we went downstairs together, her walking, me floating.
Dave held out the piece of a paper like a shield. “Here. Take this. It’s Angie’s she wants you to have it.”
“Then why doesn’t she give it to me herself?”
“She can’t okay? Just take it, Alice, don’t give me a hard time.” He held the lottery ticket out to her and my sister didn’t even look at it.
“A hard time? You show up with whatever that is and say she can’t give it to me and I’m not supposed to ask questions. What do you think you’re doing anyway?”
“I’m giving back what I took?”
“What you took? That doesn’t make any sense. What did you take?”
“He took my life.” I whispered it, but they both heard it. Alice looking right through me, right into the corner where I was standing and didn’t see me.
“He killed me.” Dave winced, because now I realized giving Alice what he’d stolen wasn’t enough.
“I want my life back!” I shouted it at him, screamed at him, filled with a rage only the unforgiving dead can feel. I stepped forward, forgetting that I couldn’t touch him and slugged him. I’d hit Dave before, just like he’d hit me. Never in the middle class living room my mom loved, never in front of Alice, but yeah, I’d decked him once or twice. This was a thousand times worse than that. I hit him with everything I had.
He jerked. Just a little. It pissed me off, so I hit him more. “Stop! I’m sorry, okay Angie? I’m really sorry. I’d take it back if I could. I mean it. I swear I didn’t mean to shoot you I just couldn’t help myself. Come on, Angie, ten million. You’d have shot me over five.”
I didn’t stop hitting him. I went lower, making him double over in pain. I went higher and he put his hands up to block me. The winning lotto ticket slipped to the floor. Now Alice did pick it up.
“You killed her? You killed my sister over this?” Alice screamed at him. My kid sister screamed at him while she cried.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry okay. I’d switch places with her if I could. I would. I swear to God I wish I could switch places with her.” I balled up my fist, ready to hit him again when a jolt of electricity came through my chest. It hurt.
In front of me Dave put his hand to his heart.
I blinked, but the pain in my chest stayed there. It hurt worse than getting shot. Worse than dying. But Dave was the one moaning now. Alice watched him for a second, then kicked him square in the chest, pushing him out the door. I heard my little sister dial 9-1-1 but underneath it I heard someone say clear. I looked at Alice, my winning lotto ticket in her hand, telling an operator to send the cops. Then I looked up and saw the bright lights of an operating room. My chest hurt, everything hurt, I was in a hospital, a bunch of people were working on me, but I was smiling. Smiling because I had a feeling Dave had traded places with me, and now that I had a second life I sure as hell wasn’t going to be a loser any more.