i won't tell you how i died, in adhereance to ettiquette. but i did. i spent a few hours in limbo. i watched ghosts come and go. i waited and waited. eventually the hours turned into years. i finally found someone to talk to, who told me that sometimes, if a ghost isn't ready to trans(or des)cend, it is assigned a haunt. sometimes, ghosts don't have family or loved ones they feel passionate enough to haunt. no one i knew in life seemed hauntable to me. i talked to my advisor about it, and he said it was fine. he took a box of files from under his desk and flipped through a few before stamping one and sending it down the chute. he explained that some individuals, though they know no one who died, feel their life is going nowhere, that they have no control over anything that happens to them. someone with bad habits and worse memories. not someone suffering, but someone bored. these people go into boxed files like the one under his desk (there were thousands of desks and thousands of boxes just like his, possibly millions) that get assigned when a ghost requests a random haunt. 

after the paperwork was notarized, like the letter a, like a bird, my soul and spirit was reunited after death. there's a young mother i follow around for eternity. in ghosttime, of course, twelve hours is twelve years. i'm free to roam the universe as long as i perform at least one haunt per day and two per night. i don't get paid, but there isn't really a need for money in this realm. i see other ghosts in passing - on the way to the market to look at the boxes of fruit, at the pharmacy (out of habit, we tend to visit places we went in life because nowhere we go really matters in death or quasideath) these habitual spots are more like tokens or temples, we turn our neighborhood walks to the convenient store into desire lines. anything new becomes strictly disinteresting in death, never tempting. the mother i follow, i still don't know her name. she's alone almost all of the time. the only person who visits her refers to her as honey, but i don't think that's her name, because she calls him honey as well. the baby is also called thus. i wanted to know her name. i tried floating over her bills for years at a time, but i was too shaky, the words were too blurry. i couldn't make out a single vowel. the baby sometimes would stare right at me. the mother seemed to notice, and feel disturbed by it. i didn't want her to feel that way. it wasn't my idea of fun. some ghosts, i had heard, idealized and prioritized creeping and spooking their haunts, but to me it felt cheap and unkind. instead, i tried to help. sometimes the baby would knock something off the table and i'd set it down gently instead of letting it shatter. the mother would never notice, neither would she even feel very paranoid. but even if she had no idea i was there, i hope to hope's end that she at least benefitted from my help around the house in at least some small way. in life, i was not a helpful person. it's hard to remember, seeing as it was hundreds of years ago, but i specifically remember multiple instances when i lied because it was easier on me, even if it was harder on the person i lied to. i was lazy. i'd see people struggling, and i would watch with my hand propping up my face. i had been sleepy, unmotivated, unkind, neglectful. i watched a lot of television, and i liked its company more than i liked the company of some of my closest friends. it wasn't their fault. they were interesting, honest people. it was my fault because i was not. for a few months i floated above the kitchen sink, in front of the window. light and night washed around me like a strobe, i could see my reflection, somewhat, if i strained my eyes, and stayed still for long enough. there wasn't a face, there was hardly a form. but i kept watching, hoping i could recognize something - anything. nothing familiar came. the humans raced behind me and within me, filling cups with water, washing plates, kissing the baby, sweeping the floor. it was so different from death, where you need nothing.

As a ghost, on my walks, I've noticed that if you focus very hard, like crouching above an anthill, you begin to notice that even if they don't seem like it, the people are having conversations, or pretending to have conversations: their mouths moving in turns. although it was hard to tell because they usually did this while or after eating, so who knows, maybe they're just chewing?To one another, we just look like shadows, especially those within fog or steam, fractionated and half-solid half-liquid, like a swamp in winter.