Time really has no meaning when you’re a spirit. It’s as if somebody has stopped all the clocks and is standing to one side smirking and giving you the finger. I read somewhere that Einstein once declared that the past, present and the future all exist simultaneously. He may have had a headache when he thought that one up and most people probably thought he was just crackers.
Like most people who don’t have long white beards and a doctorate in physics, I didn’t understand it at the time, but I think I may do now, even though I don’t have a beard, white or otherwise. At least, I don’t think I have.
Well, despite being dead, I am still female. I still feel like a woman even though I no longer have a body which probably strikes you as being a bit weird. It certainly does me! I wonder if I still look the same. I must try and find a mirror . . . assuming I still reflect in mirrors of course! Dracula didn’t in Bram Stoker’s famous story, but then I’m not a vampire and I have no idea if every-day ghosts like me do, or not.
I’m curious to know what I look like. Do you stay the same forever when you’re dead, I wonder? Will I always be in my early thirties for ever?’ Does Anne Boleyn look exactly as she did when she was executed, or does she wander around the Tower sans her head?
Most of the ghosts I have heard about always look so bloody miserable. I’m not miserable at all; puzzled and frustrated certainly but not miserable. Yes, I would obviously prefer to be alive given the choice, but we are where we are. I have always prided myself on being a good-looking lady in a quiet understated way, so hopefully I will be a good-looking spirit! If I ever become visible, I intend to give people a winning smile to put them at their ease. It would be nice to be a smiley ghost that people would be happy to see, rather than for them to flee in abject terror.
I have never been able to rival Evie when it comes to pulling power, but I have had my moments and I have always been a snappy dresser, able to turn the odd male head which is not something I have to worry about any longer, I suppose. Ghosts have not been known to have extensive wardrobes which means, now I think about it, that I am destined to wear the same clothes for ever. In the normal way of things, I would be appalled by that prospect. Imagine having to wear the same pants until Hell freezes over . . . exactly! Try not to think about it?
The thought makes me chuckle, however. Something else I also no longer have to worry about is periods and all that goes with them. It’s almost worth being dead to escape the monthly trauma. Also not for me is the menopause or the possibility of going slightly mad in the process. I also will not miss the routine of the knickers roulette. I’m sure you know what I mean. I daresay I am not the only girl who had three sets of pants: one for every-day, one for pulling and one for periods. I particularly enjoyed wearing the nice black brief lacy sets – for pulling obviously. Ah well. Memories!
By contrast, I am not actually conscious of wearing anything now. I suppose that comes with not having a body. I don’t really feel anything either. I guess that’s why I couldn’t pick up the phone to ring Pam. It makes me wonder how some spirits can rap on walls, open doors, and make things disappear. I suppose I have much to learn.
The thing about dying is that nobody actually tells you what to expect. It’s not like starting a new job where somebody behind a desk tells you what your hours are and where you go for a wee.
One of the things I am becoming aware of is that I am dimly conscious of the past; and yes, I know about the future as well but only vaguely; I have a feeling it will become clearer, but I have no idea how I know that.
Being vaguely aware of the past, however, is not helping me find out how and why I died. I keep returning to the car park at Terminal Three, but it doesn’t help; I keep hoping I might get a glimpse of what happened there but all I get is endless queues of frustrated people with luggage and bad breath. Yes, I may be dimly aware of the past, but MY immediate past seems to be closed to me. I wonder why?
On one of my visits to the car park I sensed another presence by the lift. All I could see is a white glow and a feeling of anger. It did not seem to be aware of me – or I don’t think it was – and it appeared to be rooted in that particular place. I felt uneasy when I looked at it and decided to steer clear. Yes, yes, I can imagine you’re asking how can a ghost be scared by another ghost? Well, I just am. I really have no idea why it is there, and I really don’t want to know.
So, I wander around the terminal a bit aimlessly; the check-in desks, the gates, even the apron where all the aircraft are at their stands. I daresay if people could see me, even briefly, it would very soon clear the place. There would be stories in the papers; on TV; on YouTube too no doubt. I would become Terminal Three’s Grey Lady, or Red Lady or perhaps the spectral lady with a ghastly smile. For the first time in my life, I would be famous. I quite like that thought, even though it’s a pity I have to be dead to achieve it and I’m not going to make any wisecracks about being ‘dead-famous’ either. I will spare you that!
There are times I pretend I’m alive and imagine I’m a passenger about to set off for somewhere exotic, so I tour all the gates and stop when I find one I really fancy. Somewhere warm and carefree in the Caribbean sounds just about right. Places like Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia or The Grenadines perhaps. I would travel First Class – naturally – and reside in a plush hotel where fawning waiters attend to my every whim.
I would be the Lady of Mystery, wearing deep shades and a red bikini with a patterned see-through Kaftan as I elegantly glide to the bar and order a glass of chilled champers. I would totally ignore the surreptitious glances as conversations pause and the not-so surreptitious stares of husbands and boyfriends.
I would disport myself, temptingly, by the pool reading my favourite Ruth Ware novel and perhaps allow a Mr Hunk to seduce me later. It goes without saying he would have to be swooningly good looking as well as ruggedly well-built and endowed where it matters and, of course, disgustingly rich. I would have no time for peasants, no matter how well-endowed they are. Love on the Dole has no attractions for me.
But then I return to reality and leave the queue. It was a nice daydream while it lasted. I bail out because I know I cannot leave the terminal. I have no way of knowing whether that will change. I hope it does because I would like to go home and see Sonny. I wonder what has happened to him. I hope either Evie or Pam is taking care of him. He must be missing me terribly.
I decide to do a check list of what I know about myself in the hope that it might trigger something. I know my name. Nicola Westbury – Check! I know where I once lived, Tarporley – check! I know about my sister Pam and my friend Evie, and a brother called John who I’m close to but see little of because he’s in the army – check! I know what I do – or did – for a living. A researcher for BBC TV – Check! And I know I had a boyfriend called Alex – check! That’s quite a lot really. Also, most recently, I have seen situations and scenarios in my life. Just very brief flashes or glimpses, you understand, and then they are gone. I hope that one of them will soon explain why I am here. I must continue to build on my knowledge.
I decide to take another look at the other gates and then I stop in my tracks. I spot two friends from the BBC at a gate which announces the destination as Rome. They are Rob and Adele, who both work for News. I wonder if they are on business or if they are off on a break. They don’t look like they are out on a job but then reporters frequently don’t if they are travelling to foreign parts.
They are sitting suspiciously close together. Hmmm. I think they may be an item. I know Rob is married. Not sure about Adele. I think she has a boyfriend which I am certain is not Rob. Well, I guess it’s not the first time an office romance has sprouted like poison weed.
I decide to get a bit close so that I can earwig what sweet nothings they are muttering to each other. No, I am not being a voyeur or a ghoul. Well, I suppose I am a ghoul but not one who would get off listening to a couple talk romantically. It would just be professional curiosity you understand.
‘What do you think happened to her,’ she is saying to him.
He stares around the gate. ‘I heard she was seeing someone called William. They were due to fly to Barbados.’
‘I thought she was living with someone. I met him once. I disliked him on sight. I wouldn’t blame her for dumping him.’ She screws up her face at the thought.
‘Yeah. I always liked Nicola. She deserved better.’
‘Oh, so you had a thing for her, did you?’
He laughs loudly and kisses her. ‘Not since I met you.’
There is a loud announcement that boarding is beginning and they both join a queue.
They were talking about me! I try to ask them questions as they shuffle forward but they can’t hear me. Then they are gone.
Who the hell is William? And did I really dump Alex or did he dump me?