Every pair of dark dog eyes settle on me. The dogs aren’t barking at the ghost like they should be. They’re frozen, staring at me. Or something behind me.
I swallow hard and turn around.
What I see when I turn makes no sense. I blink, and blink again, hoping that one of these times my vision will actually clear. But it doesn’t. What I see standing at the gate, fumbling awkwardly with the latch, is me.
“How the hell do you work this thing?” The me that isn’t me asks.
I look down at the gate that I know I just locked and wonder, did I have one of those Sixth Sense moments? Did I imagine I pushed the gate open and shut it? But really I just walked through? Am I dead? I try to remember what I’ve done for the last few days, could I have been hit by a car? Slipped and fallen into a ravine?
The me that isn’t me looks at me, raises an eyebrow. I never knew how bitchy I look when I do that.
“Hello, a little help here. Your hands are so tiny, how do you use these things?”
I think I can’t be dead. If I was, I wouldn’t be seeing myself, standing in the flesh, right? I’d be seeing some other poor kid that talks to ghosts. “Who...” No, wrong first question. I try again. “What did you do to me?”
I watch my right shoulder lift and settle back down. A shrug, but not my shrug, and I feel a tiny bit better. This is not me losing my mind and talking to myself. This is me, possessed... or something like that.
“I don’t know exactly,” the other me says. “One minute I was trying to talk to you, and then you were being a bitch, and I got pissed. I tried to knock you down, but instead I ended up in here.”
The dogs closest to us look back and forth between me and... me. They seem mildy confused, but not scared, which I guess means I’m not a ghost. Whatever this ghost did to me, I’m not dead. Although being without my body doesn’t seem promising. Maybe I should change that to I’m not dead, yet.
“What’s your name? Mac?” I ask.
“Yeah. And I’m a guy by the way.” He looks down at my chest and twists my lips into a smirk. I see I look bitchy when I do that, too. “Don’t let the big boobs confuse you.”
“Get out, Mac,” I say with as much venom as I can.
He shakes my head slowly. “I don’t think so. I got something I need to do.” He struggles with the gate again. “Seriously, you’re not going to tell me how to open this thing?”
“Give me back my body!” Several of the closest dogs’ ears pull back and the poodle begins to whine. Mac doesn’t flinch.
“Fine, I shouldn’t be wasting time anyway. I got somewhere to be.” He turns and walks my body toward the road, looking both ways before crossing. I’m thinner from behind than I thought, and for a minute I can only watch myself in a sort of daze. This is so surreal.
My own voice snaps me back to the present. “You coming?” Mac calls over my shoulder. He doesn’t stop to wait, but walks into the woods that reach out from the sidewalk.
I run to catch up. The ground feels strange beneath my feet, like it’s there but somehow less solid, hollow. Like if the world were silent, my steps would echo. Or maybe, I’m the hollow one, and the echo is me. I shudder and push the thought out of my mind. “Where are you taking me?”
Mac ignores me and trudges deeper into the forest. It’s strange to see myself so determined. I look taller and tougher. It’s like getting a glimpse of the person I could be if I didn’t have to spend all my time hiding out in the dog park or my room.
The wind gusts through the trees and Mac shivers. I don’t feel anything at all. I reach for a fire red leaf that dangles from a branch and pull. It comes off, but I can’t really feel it. It has no temperature or sense of texture. It’s just there, between my fingers. I am in the world, but not a part of it, and it’s a scary place to be.
Bare branches scratch and claw at my face and Mac barely brushes them aside. “Hey, that’s my body you’re abusing,” I say.
Finally he stops and turns to me. I stare into my own eyes, trying to read them. “You know,” he says, and my voice is flat, and surprisingly nasally. “You wouldn’t be in this situation if you just gave me a couple minutes of your precious time.”
“You were freaking me out. Just because I can talk to ghosts doesn’t mean I want to. Sometimes I just want to feel alone, and not like invisible people are watching my every move.”
“Look, I’m sorry,” he says. “I know this must suck for you. I swear I will give you your body back. I just have to take care of something first.”
He turns away from me and scans the trees slowly before touching the wide trunk of a giant spruce and ducking behind it.
“What?” I shout, following him. “What is so important that you have to hijack my body to do it?”
It only takes two steps into the clearing to get my answer. “Oh,” I say. And when no other words come, I say it again, but softer, the word slipping past the lump in my throat. “Oh.”
Come back Friday for Part 3 by Natalie!
Photo found on tumblr. Original photographer unknown.
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