You can wake up every day in the same room for years and not notice that water stain on the ceiling that looks like Dr. Sloth squishing a puppyblew in a loving embrace.
But when you die, something in your brain picks up on all the things you missed when blinded with mortality. Keyathra Bitter Aslo was more and more sure of this every day of her un-life. Last year she had noticed the pathetic attempt at a garden that was their front lawn. It had become important, all of a sudden. It mattered in her ecto-plasm heart.
"Key! Get up, you've got to help me clean while Meka's at school!" Kale shouted up the stairs. I effortlessly slipped through my bed, the floor, the ceiling, and right next to her. Ectoplasm is remarkable stuff.
Kale held a dustpan and rag, and her hair was pulled back and pinned up all over the place. She looked comical and flustered, but I felt no pang of amusement in my heart or feeling of laughter coming on. I simply saw that she was comical. It's so hard getting used to this ghost business.
"Could you dust? It irritates my allergies so much," she pleaded, hopping back and forth on her feet. For a owner she's decent, I suppose. "I'm going to scrub the kitchen floor."
"Of course," I said, and walked over to the bookcase, and began to eliminate the dust that coated all the trinkets, books and other weird things that sat on the shelves. I didn't have to brush the dust elsewhere, I merely moved it through space and time to the great dust-bin some ten thousand dimensions away. It's something I do pretty well, but don't find any pleasure in.
As I dusted I was thinking about school. North Brightvale High. Oh how I missed our yooyuball games with Meridell High. Our brilliant Green & Gold fighting their furious Blue & Red, and all the students screaming happily. Lunch hour, with our food that almost defied description, but that my sister Meka could always put words to.
But NBH did not accept dead students. Even if my grades had been good. Even if I had been a promising yooyuball player (and Fyora knows we need better players). They were firm. No ghosts.
I finished removing dust, then wandered through the wall. I moved through the brightly painted bathroom, the sullen sitting room, and out into the mid-morning mist of our yard.
I looked in dismay at the bushes. Dead as me, except more solid. I surveyed the grass—it gave every sign of having been blow torched! Then I hovered reverently over the pathetic flower bed. It lay in a mass of tangled vines, broken stones and dark, barren dirt. I had never seen it when I was alive. It had just been the place through which I passed to get out of boring old home, and into the sparkling lights of the big world beyond.
It was unhappy. It mourned for its lost flowers, for the spindly, leafless, young trees that now lay in death on their sides. For all the little animals that had once lived there, then moved on to happier places. It mourned every bud, shoot and hopeful seed that had had its dreams crushes. And I mourned with it, despite not being able to honestly experience misery.
I heard Kale calling. I went back through to the inside, leaving the miserable excuse for a garden all alone. For misery wants company, and is never satiated in its want.
Hate, pain and anguish ran through my veins. Or, rather, the memory of what those things used to feel like ran through what would have been my veins would I have had the need for such things.
"Meka? On the North B. Yooyuball team?!" I shouted dully. I wanted it to sound angry, but my vocal chords rang false. Kale tried to calm me, but wasn't sure how, when I couldn't be grabbed by the shoulders and held at arms' length.
"Yes!" she squeaked. "Isn't it marvelous? They said she might actually do quite well."
"Well? Well?!" I shrieked. Ah, there's the old bitterness and anger, almost as real and when I was alive. "That was what I was to do! And now that little doormat is going to do it? Oh, that's just fine! I suppose we should throw a BBQ! A big party! We'll invite everyone! We'll call it "The Party to celebrate Meka's acceptance at school and the breaking of Key's last dream!" It'll be a hoot and a half!" I shouted, then evaporated in a puff of rage.
I soared up to my room, flame burning in my eyes. Something had to pay. I couldn't even touch Meka; she has extreme ectoplasm allergies (and besides, it isn't really her fault). I didn't want to attack Kale; she might refuse to cook ghost-compatible meals, and I refuse to let the fact I died keep me from eating. I need some stability in my post-life world.
Something inanimate had to be destroyed. Something had to pay.
I stuck my head through my window, and the first thing I saw was–
"The Garden!" screamed Meka, dropping her backpack and dashing through the gate. In the dry, wasted space of land that was not-so-accurately titled "the garden" a bluish flame blazed everywhere. Kale was inside the house, screaming my name, and Meka's eyes reflected the flames in horror.
Meka dashed to the little stone well in our yard, pulled up a bucket of muddy water and threw it at the flames. They were not extinguished. Water doesn't halt the ghosts of flames, only flames that are alive.
From the top of the house, I watched, trying to decide if I was satisfied or miserable. All my anger had left me, and now was in the flames.
It had never been a good garden, but now I felt—was this regret?—sorry to have burnt it. It had longed to merely be alive again. I had just wiped it out, and now all of its passions and dreams were gone.
Much like how I felt when I heard of Meka being on the Yooyuball team.
Misery took over satisfaction in the blink of an ectoplasm-tear stained eye.
I had wrought on this poor land the very pain I felt myself. There was nothing in that over which to be proud. I felt very ashamed. This was more than merely a memory of shame, this was shame itself. I hung my head and cried. The fire blew away as my tears fell onto the roof of our little house. The flames had not touched it.
Kale walked over to me as I dug in the dirt.
"That was a lot of money you spent getting the ground dug up and new soil put in. I never knew you had that much saved up," she remarked casually. I ignored her and continued in my task.
Kale coughed. "And I see a cart dropped off my rocks. And flagstones. And a couple of young trees, not to mention fertilizer, some watering cans, a wheelbarrow–"
"Yes!" I shouted at her, eyes glowing red with annoyance. Then I calmed myself, breathing deeply, out of habit. "Yes. I want to do something good, especially after what I did yesterday. I took a lot out of my savings, and will be taking even more out as I need it."
Kale scuffed the ground gently with her foot. I continued:
"I'll be putting in a path, and setting up flower beds, planting grass, trees, and of course, flowers." I smiled at her calmly. Then the calm crumbled and I sobbed.
"I have to make it up somehow. The old garden, it—" I sobbed, almost with true misery. "—I need to make it up to it." I sobbed, thinking of how stupid that must sound, and what a fool Kale must think of me.
But she said nothing mean. She merely nodded her head and looked me straight in the eyes.
"You do what's right, Keyathra," she said, and turned on her heel sharply, and walked back to the house. I sniffled a bit, then turned back to my digging. What it is right. Oh yes, I shall do what's right.
After having inspected the water stains for a few more minutes, Keyathra sat up and turned to the window. The sun shone, promising a happy day. She leapt through the wall, then hit the flagstone path below. Around her, flowers in their second summer burst from their beds, as happy to see her as she was to see them. The beginnings of a gazebo sat on a little hill to the East of the house.
Butterflies fluttered happily and bumblebees buzzed lazily. The cracks between the flagstones were filled with happy green moss, and the trees were stretching their arms to the sun. Another day had begun for the world, another day full of gardening lay ahead for Keyathra Bitter Aslo.