The church was old and in need of repair. The stained glass window needed a scrub. The pews gave people splinters in their bums. The bibles had dicks and balls scribbled next to hymns. Harry and Morris were sitting on top of one of the sinking ceiling beams, their feet dangling over the edge. They look out towards the dirty window, lit up by the moonlight like a big fluorescent baby Jesus.
Morris started off.
“Ivan told me about this Asian girl that came through the other week.”
“What’s it matter that she’s Asian for?”
“What’s it matter that she’s Asian for, is that part of the story?”
“No, I’m just painting the picture for you.”
“Right.” Harry wasn’t going to press the matter further. He poked his finger through the hole in his forehead and scratched its contents absentmindedly.
“So Ivan meets this girl, last Tuesday I think it was. They’re chatting each other up, and he asks her what her story is…”
Morris had paused for a big reveal. Harry pulled his finger out and pretended to care.
“She slipped on a banana peel. Impaled her neck on a cricket stump at the supermarket.”
Morris stared at Harry with an open ear-to-ear grin. The moonlight streaming in from behind his translucent face made him look like the man in the moon.
“Why would they have a banana stand next to the cricket paraphernalia?”
“Maybe they didn’t Harry. Maybe some kid grabbed a banana without mum or dad seeing, then they dropped it on the ground in front of the stumps.”
Morris was pretty stoked that he had provided a sound explanation for the aisle five carnage.
“What would a supermarket be selling cricket kits for anyway?”
“It’s Ashes season.”
“Yeah but why would they have one set up in the middle of the supermarket, just waiting for someone to conveniently slip on a banana skin and get impaled?”
“Why do you have to be so glum all the time?” Morris was rather put out.
“I fell into an open grave and cracked my head on a rock while I was looking for a $2 coin in the dark.” Harry’s eyes looked up towards the gap in his skull.
“You need to get on with it, that happened years ago.”
He had hit a nerve.
“Excuse me for being upset that I died Morris. Excuse me for being a bit sore over the fact that I was only alive for 19 years and 4 months and I never got to properly live and fall in love and have children and I only had sex two times.”
The conversation had fallen flat.
Just at this moment of silence, a teenaged couple burst into the apparently empty church, tearing off their rain-soaked clothes and sucking on as much exposed skin as they could manage. Harry and Morris watched on from their beam as the couple started going at it in a pew. Morris thought that this was rather bad timing, considering Harry’s previous outburst, and was determined to bring things back to status quo.
“Let’s go to Paris.”
He wasn’t joking.
“You’re off your nut.”
“You’ve gone round the fucking twist.”
“We could float there.”
“Float to Paris?”
Morris remained optimistic. “We’ve floated to Alice Springs before. I don’t see why we’d have a limit for how far we’re allowed to float.”
Harry stared at Morris, realising that his friend had just traversed previously unexplored valleys of fuckwittery. The young couple could still be heard grunting below, filling the silence.
“I don’t speak French.” Harry sounded defeated.
“What would you need to speak French for? We’re ghosts. We’re not going to be asking anyone for directions to the Princess Diana memorial.”
“What if I want to watch the telly?”
Morris stared at him, disappointed yet again. The couple kept the volume up.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you Harry. For the 20 years I’ve known you, you just mope around. All day. You don’t go to parties. You don’t check out celebrities’ houses. You don’t haunt that guy who dacked you during school assembly. You just float around and complain about what could have been.”
Harry stayed silent, trying to ignore the ecstatic shrieks of the girl below them.
“You’ve only got one afterlife Harry. You remember what happened to Seamus? One moment he was minding his own business, hiding in that little boy’s cupboard, the next – gone.” To where, no one knew. Morris grabbed Harry’s see-through head and turned it to face him.
“Do something with yourself Harry. You’re only in limbo once. You never know when you’re going to move on. Who knows, maybe it’ll just be nothing after this – like how you feel before you’re born. And then you’ll be sorry that you didn’t make the most of it while you were here, just like you wish now that you’d made the most of it when you were there-”
Morris motioned his head towards the couple in the pew, still going strong.
“Stop letting yourself get shafted by missed opportunities. Fuck some shit up.”
Harry cheered himself up, for his friend’s sake. He felt a bit sorry for Morris, mostly because of the fact that he died poking a snake with a stick to see if it was asleep, so he was clearly a purebred fuckwit.
“I guess we can have a go at floating to Paris. But if it gets too tedious then we’re just stopping in Thailand for a bit and coming back.”
The silence between them was pleasant, as much as it could be with the two kids below still thrashing around.
“He’s going on for a while isn’t he?”
“I’m not sure if it’s impressive or not? Surely she’s done with it by now.”
“Should I steal their clothes and pull my head off in front of them?”
“Yeah go on, it’ll be a laugh.”
Words by Hannah Cockroft, illustration by Danyon Burge