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(.) 1

EVELYN DIEDZ

Falling upward, I’m pushing back — as I’m forced deeper into the grey hollowness.

There’s no sign of Rick or Cameron, now.

Memories are echoing — hurting when they make contact, like always. But, those sharp edges are more solid than they’ve ever been. Is it because of the strength of my own thoughts?  Or, is it because I’m so manifest?  No idea.  But, the memories are clear and bright and more painful than I’ve ever experienced them before inside the grey nothingness.

They strike me.

“How long have you been at this, Lysette?”
“Not long enough. The book isn’t ready.”
“How do you even know this will work?”
“I trust what my grandmother taught me.”
“You don’t look good. You should sleep.”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“Don’t say that. Stop smiling. This isn’t funny.”
“Hey — it’s my blood, Evelyn. I can do what I want with it.”
“I know. But … I just worry.”
“You think I’m wasting my time. I know. I disagree.”
“It’s not just that. When was the last time you ate?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“See, that’s a problem. You’re supposed to be hungry. That’s how living bodies work.”
“Do ghosts ever eat anything?”
” … I’ve seen some shit.”
“Ugh. Never mind.”
“Quit trying to change the subject, though. At least have a cookie.”
“On my way to bed. Promise.”
“Can I speed that along? What would it take for me to convince you to come to bed?”
“Ask the right way.”
“Like this?”
“Like that, yeah.”

I’m falling … falling faster … then slower … then faster.

“You think you can’t tell the world who you are.”
“Not really.”
“Elaborate?”
“I mean … I used to be able to say my name.”
“What changed?”
“I died.”
“You make your own limitations, Evelyn Diedz.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We all make our own limitations.”
“Easy for you to say, Doc. You’re still alive.”
“But I’ll die, eventually.”
“Yeah?”
“And if I come back as a ghost, I’m certain I’ll have my own limitations to deal with.”
“How old are you, anyway?”
“Next subject.”
“Wait, no, I’m not done.”
“I’m not telling you how old I am.”
“No — I mean the limitation thing. You really think that’s how it works? You think I’m doing this to myself?”
“Yes.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I’ve researched ghosts for longer than you’ve been alive. And dead. Put together.”
“So?”
“Quote what I just said back to me.”
“This is — …”
“What?”
“… — I can’t.”
“Try it.”
“‘You make your own limitations, Evelyn Diedz.’”
“Ah?”
“Yeah.”
“Feel better?”
“Yeah. Stronger, too.”
“That’s the idea. If you’re really planning on doing what you say, you’re going to need to be able to do that.”
“But you know who I am, already.”
“Maybe put it on a business card.”
“How the hell am I supposed to do that, Doc?”
“We’ll talk about that later.  It’s getting hard to hear you; you’re fading out on me.”

And then, heavier memories push at me, raking me against a wall of sharp points — forcefully. It feels like getting stuffed into a pipe that’s smaller out the other end; it’s like I’m sausage put through a meat-grinder.

“Just how big is Dr. Ada’s vault?”
“Big.”
“And it’s just hanging out there, under his house?”
“Yup.”
“And it’s just all full of ghost things?”
“Pretty much, I guess. Stuff he’s collected — to get it out of the way, he says.”
“Like — is it all really there?”
“You mean, like, could you visit it? Could you touch it, you mean?”
“Yeah.”
“It’s really there. I mean — Doc’s not a ghost, Lysette.”
“What is he?”
“Old.”
“How old?”
“I dunno. Old. Like, if he’s telling the truth? Older than me, and still alive.”
“Does he know about me?”
“Yeah. But I don’t want you going near there.”
“Can you trust him with all that stuff?”
“I want to trust him.  I think so.  For stuff we can’t figure out how to destroy, anyway.  For that, I feel like I sort of have to.”
“I want to trust him, too.  He’s been good for helping us.”
“Yeah — he really has.”

A memory from the more recent past jabs at me.

“Where are you headed?”
“Going up north.” 
“How far north?”
“It’s a place called Drodden. Upstate New York.”
“What’s there?”
“I don’t know yet. Sounds like maybe some animal corruption. Maybe more.”

“I’d offer to come along and keep you company, but — “
“Yeah.  I know.  Got your own stuff to do.  You just keep rattling those chains, Bobby.”
“Hey! C’mon!”
“I’m joking.  I appreciate you being on the right side of this, though.  You know that.”
“Just doing my part. You sure you’re ready to go? You seem kind of worn out.”
“I am – but I feel like this one can’t wait.”
“That bad?”
“I’m getting a bad vibe from it.”
“I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
“I got this.”
“I just like having company.”
“I know.  Don’t let the days get you down.”

“I’ve told you — I like the way the people come to see me.  But — hey, Evelyn?”
“Yeah?”
“Seriously — I meant what I just said: you look really beat-down. Like – seriously. I’m not your boss, but you look like you need a break.”

“It doesn’t work like that.”
“Do you ever get to take a vacation?”
“Maybe. Someday? When I retire?”
“How does a ghost decide to retire? I mean — you’ve heard ‘you can sleep when you’re dead,’ right? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”
“I like that quote the way my Aunt always said it.”
“Yeah?”
“You can sleep when 
they’re dead.”

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Published inpart 2

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