The notice outside the hall proclaimed that there was going to be a demonstration of mediumship on the following Saturday. ‘Only £10. This will be a wonderful show!’ it said. I was indignant. Calling it a show was disrespectful to the dead, and I didn’t agree with charging money for it either.
“If you don’t approve, maybe YOU should be the medium instead and do it your way,” suggested a ghost who was standing next to the hall.
“I don’t think this particular group would like that,” I replied by telepathy. “I would have to find someone else to put on the event.”
“How dare you!” cried another voice. “I’m the organizer of the show. All you can do is criticize.”
I looked all around me. A few people were crossing the stretch of grass in front of the hall. Either it was one of those, and he or she could talk by telepathy, or the organizer was dead or astrally projecting, or I was hearing imaginary voices now.
“I’m entitled to my opinion about how you do your demonstration,” I said, and the words I had just spoken appeared in writing on a blackboard which was propped below the noticeboard and was meant for more urgent announcements.
“What’s going on?” I exclaimed. “I expect I’ll wake up in a minute.” But I didn’t wake up. That was last week, and now it’s Saturday, and here I am in front of the hall again.
“My old dog would have swum out into the bay and fetched your frisbee. But he’s dead now, and my new dog won’t do it.”
What a useless thing to say to me. I’d like to call up the spirit of his old dog to fetch my frisbee, and everything else that I have ever lost. Then I’d like to put both him and his new dog on a raft and push them out to sea, to the place where all the cross-currents catch you and pull you underneath.
He saw me playing with a frisbee, and he must have thought I was like everyone else down here on the coastal path. But I’m not, and I was seeking a diversion to make me forget what I am, even if only for those few moments while a spinning discus loops across the sky and then boomerangs back to me.
The folk songs of my youth are always played in a bluesy style now. Maybe this is not an auspicious time for my last-ditch attempt to make it as a singing star, but when I met the sugar daddy I just had to give it a try.
Now I’m up here on the vertigo heights of this stage, leaning over the microphone as I cajole the audience to look beyond the mundane consciousness of every day to something wilder, which refreshes like a spring of mineral water. Belting out the song I am not; my natural voice is soft, and the rhythm section says it better than I can with even the most basic beat. Just close your eyes and any rhythm is a path to an altered state. Under the stage lights the shadows of amplifiers lengthen unexpectedly and gyrate to the music. Dissolution follows, at least for the concert hall, yet here we all stand at the end so our shadow play cannot be over.
He doesn’t care whether I’m here to sign autographs or to lift hearts; it’s just a gig to him, and who am I to pretend to have met a sugar daddy? It’s really the Devil.
I’ve been working on some darker flash fiction. Here’s the first one:
Children are jumping through hula hoops in the field opposite the duck pond. There’s so little green open space here; it’s all endless city streets that smell like the inside of an empty can. That’s why the children like to come here: to feel grass under their feet, to see water and wild birds and boats.
There has been a scare about the algae, though. It may not be safe to stand near the green and white crust that spread over the pond last year, and the park was closed for a few weeks while it was cleared away. That looks like a bit of it growing again, in a corner of the pond. My throat feels tight; I hope I’m standing far enough away.
Perhaps I should phone up and report it, especially as there’s a child on her knees now, hoop abandoned on the ground and her face turning blue. I so much hope I didn’t spoil this area when I planted the algae. It was just an experiment: mixing plants from the secret witch’s herb garden with habitats of the inner city.