Friday evenings always made me think. I tried to avoid it by going out but with the recent murders and the general mood of the city it didn’t seem like a good idea. And so I was left to consider my life, and that automatically meant my mediumship. I had regular bouts of self-doubt and sometimes almost convinced myself that I must have some kind of mental illness. There is really no way to permanently silence those suspicions, especially when most of the people who tend to consult you really are crazy. But, crazy or not, the way I saw it, Edinburgh was full of ghosts, but they had yet to need my help. Most of them ran things quite smoothly and the majority was beyond help, mere blips, fading out after centuries of being trapped in the same habits. Sometimes I visited them at Greyfriar’s but especially the section of former inmates always left me with a desperate feeling.
“Um, excuse me?”
I almost fell off the couch.
It was a young woman’s voice: “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t want to scare you but I’m quite new to ghost etiquette…”
“It’s okay. I’m just not used to being visited in my flat”, I assured her. “Why don’t you come out?”
“Due to our injuries we considered it less frightening to not show ourselves”, a male voice this time.
“You can’t really be a medium without seeing your fair share of gruesome. I’d prefer to talk face to face instead of guessing which in direction to speak.”
And so they came out, the poor kids, and told me about what had happened and what they had found out. I had heard of Cheesely before – ghost walking tours are a medium’s more but still not quite respectable job – and I was glad to finally being able to help someone, even if it was too late for Caitlin, Jenn, and Matty.
So if this was me finally going crazy, at least it was for a good cause.
Eliza was hesitant at first and insisted on making up a story that did not involve any ghosts, or at least not any that had contacted her personally. We decided that she should call a former colleague who now worked at the tourism board and say that she had pieced together some oral sources in the course of her research into folklore and ghost stories and that the possible discovery of the one-armed skeleton would be valuable PR, maybe even distracting from the recent tragedies.
Luckily, the construction had progressed enough for the exhumation to take place the next day. The press had been blessed with plenty of gruesome crime to write about and did not hesitate to incorporate the finding into their mythology. The proper burial promised enough publicity for it to be a priority and two days later we waited on the scaffolding at the construction site for the sun to set.
It turned out Matty’s family was just as crazy as him and his younger sister would be quite cool with being haunted and even joined us for our ghost watch. He finally felt like his life – death – existence? – was a story worthy of being told. The sun set and even though we waited for a couple of hours, there was no sign of the one-armed ghost. Although we had been impervious to the cold since we became ghosts, I had my arm around Caitlin who was cuddled up close to me. And I thought that even after death it’s not too late to find someone to hold on to, however translucent she might be.
Jenn turned to me, looking at her feet, and for the first time I noticed how shy she was behind that snark. “I always knew that I would regret wasting so much of my life with being unhappy but I still couldn’t help feeling like that.” She looked up. “And now I’m so glad that I got another chance.” She took my hands and I couldn’t contain my grin. For the first time since I began my “life” as a ghost, I felt free of that ever-lurking sinking feeling and was lifted up instead.
And suddenly Caitlin started to sway, slowly floating up into the night sky, still firmly holding on to my hands, and her smile beckoned me to let go of my defences, of that sarcasm that only served as a distraction from my perpetual discontent, and I shushed the snarky voice that ridiculed the kitsch of it all and rose up to meet her.
Tamara was listening to Horizon by Amy Campbell while writing this piece.