They went everywhere that was supposed to be haunted. Even in the time before, when they were just friends who sometimes had sex with each other, he would see a news story or photo of some place or rumor and he would send it to her, and she always responded, Let’s go. She had no faith in God to speak of, and wasn’t sure of the possibility of an afterlife, but she was the only person he knew with balls enough to follow him into a haunted house. On Friday afternoons he would pick her up after work and they would drive to wherever it was, with their flashlights and lock kits and cameras. It disappointed him that they had never seen anything despite numerous creepy experiences, but she was neither surprised nor disappointed, merely along for the event.
They reveled in the old baseball-afterlife joke: two men, avid baseball fans, make an agreement that whichever of them dies first will come back and tell the other if there is baseball in the afterlife. One of them passes away, and the surviving old man is surprised to see him again and asks about the baseball. “There’s good news and bad news,” the ghost tells him. “The good news is, there is baseball in the afterlife. The bad news is, you’re pitching Friday.” When one of them had a particularly bad day, or got pissed off at a friend or co-worker, it became customary to express their displeasure by saying, “I wish he were pitching Friday.”
She stopped speaking to him for about six months, when he was going out with the blond who was twenty-two but acted like she was seventeen, who Meredith referred to as “the anorexic stick figure.” He punished her for her cattiness by going on vacation to London and the Tower, which his new girlfriend refused to go into. He sent Meredith a postcard, unsigned, that said, “Heard whispers.” Eventually, he allowed her to forgive him for his poor choice in haunting partners, and they had been together ever since.
Once she prayed for eight days that she was not pregnant. When her prayer was answered, it did not entirely restore her faith. She didn’t tell him about it until after the danger had passed, and he worried only in retrospect. She wanted to ask him about living together: it would have been easier for her to not have to drive over to his place, saving her time as well as being better for the environment. He joked that they should car pool, but she could never tell when he was being serious and when he wasn’t. She pointed out that carpooling would mean she would have to come there every evening and leave there every morning, and they hadn’t talked about it again.
Shortly after the anniversary of their second year together, they spent the night in the old Martha Wilson house, the dorm the students said was haunted by footsteps. They used their flashlights sparingly, for fear of being caught trespassing. They zipped their sleeping bags together and lay awake in the dark listening to every creak of every board in every breeze. Some time after midnight, after it had been quiet for a while, things got amorous inside the sleeping bag, contributing to the general creakiness of the house. At some point, as he was in her and all around her, he whispered in her ear, “Tell me if you see anything.” She didn’t, but after she fell asleep, he got up and wandered around the house with a penlight.
Afterwards, things were different. She found herself doodling his name when someone put her on hold at work; he started reading medieval diaries of mystics who achieved visions through fasting. She worried that he might begin starving himself to become more attuned to the spiritual currents. She never expected that, three days before his twenty-eighth birthday, for which she had planned a large surprise party, he would go out into his parents’ backyard and put a shotgun to his chin, leaving his body for his father to find, and leaving it to his mother to call Meredith at work and tell her.
photo credit: "Guards and the Ghost" by Anjan Chatterjee