by Ashmi Shah

I have been able to see dead people all my life. As a child people thought I was talking to my imaginary friends. I used to play with dead children in playgrounds because the alive ones thought I was weird. Growing up mum was extremely concerned about me.
She often wondered why I was conversing with blank walls or complaining about the strange girl sleeping in my bed.
As I got older, I got better at hiding it, ignoring them especially when mum was around. It took me a while, but I can finally distinguish dead from alive.
The dead are extremely sluggish, they are more translucent and their bodies emanate a flickering static, kind of like grey and white lines that appear on a spoilt television. The alive on the other hand are opaque, very solid to look at and have radiant, colourful auras.
I avoid visiting graveyards or hospitals. There are just tons of them there, always huddling together, ogling at me. Most dead people I see are harmless, they are either hurting or sad. The poor souls seem to be stuck on earth; they often seem baffled at the fact that I can even see them
I have never fared well at school; it is so hard for me to concentrate with the restless whispers constantly ringing in my ears.
Most kids think I am a freak and prefer to keep their distance. Mum doesn’t understand it either, she attributes my grades to my complacency.
I am walking home from school, today was an awful day. I got an F on the math quiz. Mum is going to be livid at my dipping performance. The dead old man is following me home like he always does. I take the longer route home so I can think of excuses to justify my grade.
I open the front door with the key mum leaves under the doormat. I can hear her faint humming coming from the kitchen. I am so focused on my grade that I completely disregard the police sirens wailing in the distance. She comes outside and greets me with her usual “how was school, honey?”
But something is eerily different about her right now. It takes me several moments to realise with a deep sinking feeling in my gut that her body is emanating a flickering static.
Me failing math is probably going to be the least of her concerns.

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