Miranda got out of her faded, rust-covered car and slammed the door. “Great!” She looked down the dirt road only to kick the tire as she walked to open the hood. “You couldn’t die where there are actual people or traffic, could you? It had to be in this scenic, stupid, middle-of-absolute-nothing spot!” She propped the hood open and leaned on the front of the car, looking in. “Nothing’s smoking, sizzling, or hissing...which means I am so screwed! I can’t even fiddle with anything to make you start again, you stupid piece of—” She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. With a sigh she turned around, feeling defeated. “Okay, Randy, you just need a little reflection time here to come up with a new game plan.” She walked across the shallow ditch, and headed toward a large tree. “No need to stand in the sun and bake your brain while you do.”
Dropping to the ground, she sat with her back against the tree. “This has not been one of my better days.” An orange butterfly fluttered down to sit on the top of some weeds a few feet from the tree. She watched it for a moment. “It started out bad enough. Can you believe he dumped me? I mean, seriously, he was hardly the catch of a lifetime or anything, but to leave me a message, breaking up with me on the phone? That is so low!”
The butterfly’s wings flitted a few times, making her feel as if it were responding to her dilemma. “Apparently, I’m too blunt, and that bothers him.” She snorted and shoved her heavy hair back from her face. “I just tell it like it is. It’s not my fault most people prefer to be lied to.” The butterfly moved to another plant a few feet away.
Randy sighed. “I should have taken that as a sign and just stayed home, called in and played dead, or something... Going in to work in the mood I was in was such a huge mistake.” She beamed at the frantic fluttering from the creature. “But you won’t tell anyone I screwed myself right out of a job, right?” She shrugged. “The job sucked anyway. I should have left there a long time ago. I mean, really, I was hired to work in the art department...which for some silly reason I thought might have something to do with art...but, nooo, was I wrong or what? I spent all my time being the flunky and running this here and that there... I don’t think I was even allowed to contribute to more than a handful of projects the whole time I was there”—she huffed out a breath—“and the boss...what a chauvinistic asshole!”
The butterfly seemed to pause in its movement, and Randy nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. Telling the boss man that I was not his personal gopher was probably not the best way to go about it.” She pulled her knees up and rested her chin on them. “I’m single and unemployed all in one day. Oh, and let’s not forget that stupid piece of crap sitting over there.” She looked at her car on the road. Looking back, she watched the insect flutter up and hover for a moment at her eye level before it flew off in the direction of the car. “Yeah, I better see if it will start...not that I have anywhere to be, but I’d rather sulk at home than in the middle nowhere.” She got up and brushed off her pants.
She tried looking under the hood again. “Maybe you just needed a break, huh?” she said to the car. “I’m going to try to start you now, and if you can just be nice and get me home, I promise I’ll call someone to fix you up.” She patted the car gently before climbing in behind the steering wheel. “Impress me,” she whispered as she turned the key.
Three times she tried and although it made noise like it wanted to start, it didn’t quite seem to have the energy to complete the task. “Well, at least you’re not completely dead. I’ll just give you a few more minutes to get it together.” She got back out of the car and leaned against the side, peering down at the motor. “I should have taken shop in school instead of art,” she mumbled to herself.
Sighing, she closed the hood with a loud bang. She glanced up at the sky to see dark clouds rolling in fast on the breeze, covering the sun. “Oh, that’s just what I need to complete my—” The rain began so quickly she had to close her mouth to stop from swallowing it. It pelted her, soaking her before she could get to the door of her car.
Hopping in quickly, she slammed the door shut and brushed wet hair out of her face. “Perfect!” It was hitting the windshield so hard she couldn’t even see the road. She wiped her wet hands down her drenched pants a few times before she realized it was useless; they weren’t going to dry. “I have seriously pissed off the world today, haven’t I?”
Waving her hands around she tried to dry them before she dug into her purse for her phone. She held it in her hand and squeezed her eyes shut as she opened it. Opening them slowly she almost laughed. No signal. “I’m shocked,” she mumbled without emotion as she tossed the phone over her shoulder into the backseat. The rain ended as fast as it had begun.
Grasping the steering wheel, she slowly lowered her forehead to rest on it. A strange, yet familiar feeling prickled across the back of her neck. She didn’t raise her head, just smiled into the steering wheel. “You could do something to help.”
She lifted her head slowly, afraid to move too fast, and turned to look beside her. She watched the image of the man she’d been seeing for years become clearer. If she focused hard enough, he almost appeared to be real. Many times over the years she thought she was seeing things, possibly ghosts, but it was only ever him.
He gaped at her, his shock more than obvious. “How...you can see me? Truly?”
Randy sat there wanting to reach out and hug him. Hallucinations didn’t talk—did they? His voice was rough and deep, and she’d never been happier to hear someone speak. “I more or less sense you most of the time, but if I focus hard enough I can see you.” She looked at the scar across his left cheek. “You’re very clear today.”
He frowned. “And you can hear me?”
Randy tried not to grin. “I’m answering you, aren’t I?”
“And yet, here we are talking and being all visible-like.” She looked at him, from his long ebony hair down to his black worn boots. “I have a lot of questions, mostly pertaining to whether I’m sane, but right now...I don’t suppose you know anything about cars?”
Dark eyebrows shot up, he opened his mouth and then closed it for a moment “I have never actually been inside one until this moment.”
“Ah. I figured as much.” She reached around and grasped the key. “If this happens to start, I’ll be driving like a speed demon to get home ASAP, so will you be able to chill right there and come with me or am I gonna watch you poof away again?” Serious pale blue eyes looked over every inch of her face.
“I don’t think I comprehend the meaning of what you just said.” He said it softly, still frowning.
Randy laughed. “Sorry. I want you to come to my house with me, is that possible?”
He opened his mouth then closed it for a moment, a serious look in his eyes. “I am not certain I will remain with your car when it’s moving, but I will come to your home later on if I cannot.”
She bobbed her head a few times, smiling. “Cool.” She let out a quick breath. “Cross your fingers.”
Frowning again he looked down at his hands. “For what purpose?”
Randy chuckled. “Never mind!” She turned the key, it groaned a few times, a bit faster than before. She tromped on the gas and the car roared to life. Without looking beside her, she threw it into drive and slammed her foot on the gas, trying to get home as fast as she could just in case it died again.
“I believe I will meet with you at your home. I do not like being in this thing while it is moving,” he murmured between clenched teeth.
Randy glanced beside her and swore her ghost was slightly green and suffering from motion sickness. “Okay... Hey, what’s your name?” She looked back at the road and gunned the gas pedal again.
Closing his eyes briefly, he opened them again quickly and swallowed. “Jareth Blackwood.” He inclined his head to her. “Until later.”
She glanced over to see him gone already. “Jareth,” Randy whispered. Her ghost had a voice and a name; maybe today wasn’t such a sucky day after all.