I hurried back into the house from the mailbox, clutching the envelope in my hand, careful not to mar it. If I was right, this was one of the most coveted invitations in the afterlife, and one had been sent to me. I held it, but savored the anticipation of actually opening it. I had all the time in the world.
I had been in this house for more than 100 years. I had been born in this house, I had married in this house, Maureen and I had raised four children in this house, and I had died in this house. My daddy and his daddy had worked together to build this house. This collection of hand hewn timbers and lovingly applied plaster was my daddy’s gift to his bride, my mother, on their wedding day. I don’t know why I’m the only one left here. You’d think some of them would have stuck around too, seems like they had a lot invested here; maybe even more than me.
I don’t know where Maureen is. My oldest boy, Lionel had been killed at the end of his war. I reckon he’s spending his eternity where he passed. I don’t even know if any of the other kids are still alive. I think probably not.
I hadn’t yet been born for the Civil War. I went to France, as a young soldier, for WWI. When I returned I married Maureen and we moved back into this house. I was too old for WWII.
I don’t get out much anymore. Specters’, such as I, are seldom invited to events or parties. There were some hippies living here in the 60’s. They would often invite me to play Ouija Board games with them and we had a blast, but the house has changed hands a number of times since then. I don’t think Eve and Steven, the only living occupants of the house now, even know I’m here. They are somewhat self obsessed.
Back in the kitchen I used a knife to slit open the envelope and removed the paper from inside. I was right. It was my invitation:
You are cordially invited to be our guest for dinner and celebration,
three nights hence
Dinner will be served on the village green promptly at midnight
Sheets are optional
I found the reply card in the envelope and checked the box that I would be attending and I looked at my clothes. I tossed the card into the air and with a twinkle it disappeared, winging it’s way back to my hosts, advising them that I would be coming.
The thing I remember most about dying was the disappointment I felt when I realized that I would have to wear the clothes I died in forever. Shit, had I known that in advance I would have dressed up, but no, I was doomed to spend forever wandering around in my nightshirt. That’s what I get for passing away in my sleep. I figured I should find a good sheet to wear – Something colorful. I started rooting around in the back of Eve’s linen closet.
A burgundy coloured flat sheet caught my eye. That might be just the ticket, I thought to myself. I pulled it out and hid it in the attic. Neither Eve nor Steve had been up there since they moved in. In fact the lead soldiers I had hidden in there, as a child, were still hidden there, after all these years. Tucked beneath the floor boards where I had stashed them so long ago.
It seemed an eternity while I waited for the appointed night to arrive, but when the time came I pulled Eve’s wine coloured bedclothes over my head and floated up to the roof. With a flourish I waved my arms and felt the snap that always comes when travelling this way. My eyes closed and when I opened them again I was on the green and a party was underway.
It was good to get out. It was good to rub elbows with the other haunts. I made my way to a rough table set in the grass and a barmaid set a large schooner of beer down in front of me.
“Dinner will be served in about an hour,” she told me as she set the glass down, “feel free to mingle. You might see someone you remember.”
I thanked her and she disappeared. My eyes scanned the crowd, there sure were a lot of us dead folks.