Sorry for the extremely long delay in blog posts–I’m going to make up for it by posting two this week! Here’s Sparked chapter 2 🙂
P.S. Sorry that some of these paragraphs are indented and some aren’t–I’ve played around with it and I’m not sure exactly how to fix it. Stay tuned and maybe I’ll become a computer whiz one day….
Chapter 2: A Pothole
Despite Vincent’s insistent pleas, Peter followed him all the way back to Virginia. He rode in the passenger seat of his car like they were old pals, moving to change the station on the radio and crank down the window.
“Okay…so you claim to not be able to touch anything, but here you are, touching my radio to make me listen to whatever bluegrass crap this is.”
Peter looked offended. “I can choose what I can pass through and what I can stand on, or else I’d sink to the center of the Earth. Except people, of course. You’re the only one that I’ve ever been able to interact with.” He turned up the music, the wind rustling his tie.
Vincent’s hands were sweaty on the wheel. “And-and that’s because…?”
“You’re like me,” Peter said nonchalantly.
“Well, clearly I’m not like you, because I’m alive.”
“No, son—if you can see ghosts…you must be like—” Vincent swerved onto the exit ramp, going around the turn so fast that Peter slumped against the passenger door. “—never mind. Clearly you’re unstable. I don’t think you’d be able to handle all of this information.”
“I think I’m handling all of the information just fine!” He wacked the curb as he was turning into his neighborhood. He braked too hard when he was pulling into the driveway, making both of them jerk forward. The seatbelt dug into Vincent’s neck. When he unbuckled, it also slapped him in the jaw. He fought with it like a boxer, detangling himself from it as he clawed his way out of his car.
He was breathing heavily by the time he closed the driver’s side door, leaning against his car. Maybe Peter would just stay in that car and never, ever leave.
“Vincent, what a respectable home—”
“Ground rules!” The words were loud, and he shot a glance towards his front door to make sure no one was about to come outside and see him talking to himself. There weren’t any neighbors walking by either, but he would have to make this fast.
“Excuse me?” Peter walked around the car, moving to stand in front of Vincent.
“We need some ground rules,” Vincent repeated, “so people don’t think I’m crazy.” He pulled at his hair. “Which I might be. Jury’s out. Anyway.” He took a deep breath in through his nose and exhaled loudly though his mouth. “After this, I’m only going to respond to you when we’re alone, so don’t-don’t try to talk to me. Unless—well, unless it’s an emergency, or something. Also! Don’t haunt my house. Or…watch anyone.”
Peter gave him a withering look. “How am I supposed to ‘not watch’ anyone? Would you like me to simply stay in the car?”
“That would be wonderful, actually. Can you do that? Or are you trapped with me now?”
“I can…I can wait in the car.” Peter talked slowly, like his feelings were hurt. At the moment, Vincent couldn’t bring himself to care, not after all the other things he’d done for this man that afternoon.
Vincent pressed his palms together in a pleading gesture. “Please. We’ll figure something out, but for now I just want privacy with my family.”
He tried to convince himself over and over again for the rest of the night that he was being reasonable—for not just his own life but for his mother’s and sister’s too. But he still felt bad. When he went to bed that night, he barely slept at all.
To his credit, Peter was true to his word. At least until Vincent bid his mother goodbye the next morning, swung his backpack over his shoulders, and started his trek to school.
Peter walked through the car and hurried to keep up with Vincent. “What grade are you in?”
Vincent was of half a mind to command Peter to wait in the car until he got back from practice, but he’d already made him wait there all night. I suppose school isn’t as private as my house…
He didn’t really want Vincent breathing over his shoulder when he was trying to fill out a scantron, though. Or change in the locker room. Maybe he could figure out another place for him to wait.
Vincent was passing neighbors when Peter asked the question, so he held up three fingers on his hand.
“The 3rd grade? Now Vincent—”
“I’m a junior,” he hissed under his breath. “Now shh.”
The walk to school was about half a mile. He did it every morning and afternoon because he’d forgotten to sign up for a parking pass at the beginning of the year, and the hated the bus.
Peter did not shh. “Vincent, I wanted to talk to you about something. Yesterday you seemed rather unstable, but today you are marginally better and I feel like I should try to explain this to you as soon as possible—”
He kept talking, but Vincent tried his best to tune him out. Had the man not heard any of the rules Vincent had told him about the day before? To not talk to him unless they were alone?
And what was Vincent doing! He was mad because a ghost wasn’t following his rules? He felt guilty because the ghost was going to be lonely if Vincent didn’t talk back? Dear God, what was this? He started to loosen the collar of his button-up. What day was it even? Tuesday? Wednesday??
Wait no, it’s Monday. I’m fine.
Except he wasn’t, because a ghost was talking to him and he could hear it, and no one else could, and he was pretty sure he was being punished for something, but he didn’t know what it was, and what if he was just crazy, and should check himself in somewhere–
He’d left his neighborhood and was just starting to cross the street. There were never any cars there.
Except there was a car there, and he was in the middle of the road. He snapped out of his reverie and started to run, but cars moved faster than runners, and this driver clearly didn’t see him.
Peter put a hand on his shoulder. He instantly felt ill, but he didn’t have much time to contemplate it, because the next time his foot hit the ground, a surge of energy vibrated through his bones. His sneaker hit the pavement and he pushed off. Everything spun as he flung up into the air, flailing, before smashing into the sidewalk on the other side of the road.
Everything was dizzy. His eyes felt like they were rolling around in circles inside his skull. His back ached where he’d landed against his backpack.
A woman was running towards him, looking squiggly. His vision swam and undulated like he was on a boat during a thunderstorm. He felt like he was going to puke.
“My…” he managed as the woman approached him. “Did I sm-smash my computer? I really…I really need that.”
Then he passed out.
Because he didn’t really pass out. He closed his eyes and the dizziness went away, but the confusion didn’t quite.
Now Vincent was standing over himself. He saw the woman that had been running towards him kneeling by his body. The driver had also abandoned his car and was dragging his hands through his hair, fretting. “Is he dead?” The man’s voice cracked.
Was he dead? Vincent looked down at himself—the self that was not the self on the ground, the self that was him, standing there. Huh. He was wearing the same outfit, but he didn’t have his backpack. He held up his hands. He didn’t look…see-through. People at his church had talked about out of body experiences before. Was this one of those?
“No,” the woman was saying. “He’s breathing.”
“I-I don’t think I actually hit him,” the man said. “See, look at my car.”
Instead of admiring the car of the stupid dolt who had nearly killed him, Vincent peered down at his body again. “Am I that ugly?” he asked out-loud, dismayed.
“You’re not ugly.”
Vincent jumped, holding a hand against his chest as he spun around to see Peter standing there, looking…tired, and he was breathing heavily. “Peter? Do you know what’s going on? Why am I here? And there? And what happened with the-with the…” He gestured frantically towards the road, where there was now a giant crater in the asphalt. Then his chest suddenly felt tight. “Oh my God.” He grasped at his chest again. “I’m having a heart attack.”
“Vincent, no. You’re not having a heart attack. I think I might be able to explain—”
Vincent gasped and opened his eyes. He didn’t even remember closing them, but now he was on his back, on the sidewalk, looking up into the faces of the woman and the driver.
He clawed at the concrete beneath him, trying to sit up. Thankfully, his chest didn’t feel like it was collapsing in on itself anymore.
The woman had her phone raised. “Oh, honey. It’s okay, it’s okay. I was just about to call the ambulance.”
“No, don’t!” Vincent cried. He flopped over so he was on his stomach, then slowly got to his hands and knees, then transitioned to a sort of downward dog before finally standing up straight. He had no idea why he decided that was the best path to standing, but he felt okay. Maybe a bit disoriented, but not like he’d just shot through the air and slammed into a sidewalk. “I’m okay. See.” He gestured to himself. “I’m fine.”
The driver nodded like this was enough for him and started heading back to his car, giving him a wave.
“We should at least call your parents,” the woman was saying, trying to hand him her phone.
“No-no, that’s fine. Thank you so much, but I promise I’m fine. I really need to get to school. Thank you again. Okay. Cool.” He snapped and pointed a finger gun at her for some inexplicable reason, then turned around and practically sprinted away.