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Ghosts

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When Lynn Gunn dies, she doesn’t go to heaven.

She doesn’t go to hell, either, though. She doesn’t go anywhere, really. It’s not that she simply ceases to exist, because she definitely does still exist. It’s just that as her body decays in a coffin in the ground, her spirit becomes trapped in none other than the TV screen in her bedroom.

To put it lightly, she doesn’t like it.

She wasn’t ready to die. In a few weeks, she would’ve asked her girlfriend, Alexa, to marry her. If it weren’t for the drunk driver that hit her on her way home from work, everything would be fine. Her friends and family wouldn’t be in mourning, Alexa wouldn’t be using drugs to drown out all her emotions, and Lynn wouldn’t be so fucking angry. She can’t believe the world would betray her like this, can’t believe the shitty hand she was dealt. It’s not like she can fix any of it, though. She’s dead.

In the past week, Lynn has done nothing but watch from the screen. It’s not like she has anywhere else to go. She just stays there and looks into the bedroom of the house that she and Alexa share (well…shared), watching her girlfriend slowly unravel, wishing she could do something to help.

“Hey,” she says one night as she’s looking in through the screen. Alexa is lying alone on their bed, her body still automatically taking up only one side, as if there’s someone on the other side. There should be someone on the other side.

Alexa doesn’t respond, so Lynn tries to speak louder: “Hey!”

Her voice comes out strange and wispy and almost robotic. The screen lights up in a static-y sort of way, and Alexa glances over, furrowing her brow. At the thought that this could be the beginning of their communication, Lynn shouts, “Alexa! It’s me!”

Her voice is definitely distorted this time, her words changing shape into something different, something almost incoherent. Alexa frowns and stands up, but only to turn the volume of the TV down. She must not realize that it’s her girlfriend talking to her. She must just think the TV is acting up.

Lynn sighs. She should know by now that it’s no use. She’s a ghost. She can’t be understood.

She still tries, though. God, does she try.

Alexa gets worse before she gets better. Lynn should know; she’s been watching.

In the past few months, Alexa’s drugs took hold of her to soften the blow of her grief, but they ended up just making everything worse for her. Lynn’s been trying to tell her, but of course, she can’t hear. That doesn’t stop Lynn, though. She’s still there, in the screen, talking to her, even though her words only come out as sounds of static. She talks about how she’s still here, really, Alexa just needs to learn to see it, to make out Lynn’s voice in the midst of all the white noise.

She never does.

Maybe Alexa can sense something there, but if she does, she doesn’t show it, nor does she seem to pay attention to it. Lynn can see it in everything she does: she’s moving on. She’s accepting Lynn’s death, accepting that she’s gone, and that pisses Lynn off, because she’s not gone. She’s right here, right in the bedroom, if only Alexa could just learn to see it.

When Alexa first brings her new girlfriend to the house, Lynn is furious. Alexa is hers, hers and nobody else’s. Maybe it would be different if Lynn really had gone to heaven or hell, but she’s still here. She’s right here and she doesn’t know why. She’s a ghost, and she’s lost, and she’s desperate and angry and sad, and she lets it out in the form of yelling and crying, feeling as though she’s starting to lose it from the way she’s been existing for over a year now. She just wants Alexa to stay with her, to know that she’s here. She just wants to be alive so that she and Alexa can touch, can connect. Her static voice is nowhere near enough.

Alexa grows to be visibly happier, and that’s almost scarier than when she was sad. At least when she was sad, Lynn knew that that meant she wouldn’t be forgotten about. This new happiness stems from letting Lynn go, and selfishly, Lynn wishes that Alexa would at least show some sign of still missing her.

As she watches Alexa’s life go on without her, Lynn starts to scream through the static, desperate even more than ever to get Alexa to realize what’s going on. It doesn’t work, of course, but that doesn’t deter Lynn for a moment, making sure that the sounds that come out of her mouth are as loud and screechy as possible. If anything, though, it just makes Alexa look scared, because to put it simply, her TV is haunted by her dead former girlfriend, not that she knows that. Lynn is beyond caring, though; she’s so upset and so afraid of being forgotten. She would do anything to reach Alexa, but nothing is working.

Lynn breaks down on the day—almost two years after her death—that Alexa decides she’s going to move in with her girlfriend and sell this house. She says something about how she can “still feel Lynn’s presence” and “needs a change of scenery.” Lynn cries then, not even ashamed of herself, because she knows that this is it. This is where they’re going to end.

As Alexa is figuring everything out, her girlfriend asks her, “Are you going to bring that old TV with you?”

Alexa glances over at the TV in question, and Lynn prays that maybe she’ll—

“No,” she replies firmly, shaking her head and crushing all of Lynn’s final hopes in one blow. “I think it’s broken anyway.”