Dad’s ghost goes past again, grumbling about the rearranged furniture in the living room. Nancy shutters, feeling the cold of his form.
“Is that where the draft is coming from? Well, don’t you worry about that. The first month of rent can go toward fixing it up. We’ll call it a trade. Did you figure out what the good news is yet?”
“Get out. I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to work. You won’t like living here.”
“Oh, I can get along anywhere. You’ll see. In a week or two, we’ll be right as rain.”
This better not cost me Maisy as a client. “No. In a day or two, you’ll be reported missing. But really, you’ll be dead. This place isn’t safe for you.”
She shakes her head. “Is the damage all that bad? Look, I’ll call an inspector and a contractor and we’ll get on track.”
“I have a contractor. He helped dig a few of the graves outback. Leave before you land in one.” Okay, I don’t really have graves dug. But she needs to go.
“I like you, Liv. A real riot. What’s over here?” She heads past the dining room.
“Stop! That door leads to my office. My work. I can’t have you in there. Insurance reasons.” There’s a pantry and the stairs to the basement between the door she’s at and the door to my office. But she doesn’t need to know that. And since I haven’t figured out what all my new friend in the shadows there eats, it’s best not to make an offering.
Then again, it’d solve my problem.
She turns around and heads down the hall toward the back door.
“How do you keep your lawn so well-maintained? Do you have a ride on mower or have you hired a lawn service?”
Poor Nancy. She’s not the roommate for me. And I’m running out of polite ways to tell her to get out of my house.
I take a long, slow deep breath as I contemplate how best to answer her question. The real way is, of course, that I adopted a xanntace. It’s one of the more adorable creatures. Spends most of the time curled up, looking like an opal gazing ball. Though it could be mistaken for a white bowling ball with too many holes. Because a xanntace is covered in nostrils. Their sinus cavity runs all over their body, which allows them to breathe easily while rolling around. It isn’t as if they have arms or legs. Maybe that’s why they aren’t loved? Mistaken for snakes, even though they’re round, not oblong like serpents.
“Nancy? I really can’t rent a space to you. It’s out of the question. I appreciate you coming by. And I’m grateful that Maisy thought to share my flyer with you.”
She sighs. “He has risen. And I think you need to learn about the teachings. Then maybe you would be more thankful and polite when someone shows up at your door looking for a home.”
“Out. Of. The. Question.” I point toward the front door. She doesn’t know it, but I’m saving her life.
“Liv? What are you pointing at?” I hear Dad ask.
“Nothing. Just an intruder I’m trying to see out.”
“An intruder? Where! You should fight them off!”
“Yeah. I’ll get right on that.”
“Are you talking to yourself?” Nancy tilts her head.
“No, a ghost. Told you there’s one here. Sometimes more. And various monsters as well. I won’t tolerate being told that I’m going to Hell. I’m not changing my profession or hiding who I am to make you or anyone else comfortable. There will be no burning at the stake or drowning or what have you. Which is all too common with people who ask me if I’ve heard good news. I won’t be part of a religion that can’t tolerate me as living and existing. No matter how much I might want to believe, I won’t be hated. Now get out.”
Nancy pulls a monogrammed handkerchief from her purse and dabs her eyes. “I really feel you need me. Your soul needs to be saved!”
I shake my head. "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. Leviticus. See, you can’t live with me. I’ll defile you. We’re a terrible match. I don’t know why Maisy thought otherwise.”
“Perhaps she sent me to help you?”
“No. More likely she doesn’t know that your beliefs will always keep us apart. At worse, I’m your enemy. At best, I have to live a lie to please you. That won’t happen. Thanks for coming. Goodbye.”
*** 775 words