Dead At Heart - Cover

Dead At Heart

For a time I stayed as far away from the inhabited areas as I could. Exploring the countryside or simply just wandering, lost in my own thoughts for that is all I had. Eventually though I kept being drawn back into town, chasing the ghosts of the living so hard that I felt I could explode. It was cruel and I certainly didn’t deserve it. One of my adventures into a town led me to a tavern. I was never allowed in any alehouse or taproom when I was alive, of course with my friends I had tried to sneak in several times but were always thrown out on our rears or earned ourselves a clip round the ear for attempting such boyish dreams of drinking before we had met maturity. It seemed petty now but no one could stop me from sitting at the bar and so, there I sat. 

The apple was sat in front of me on the bar, whole as if my teeth had never broken the wrinkly skin. The damn fruit followed me everywhere, every time I threw it in frustration, kicked it into the distance or reluctantly ate the thing in anger it would appear in front of me again. Sometimes all it would take was for me to turn around, and there it was, other times it appeared days later but always the apple was my shadow. It had come to the point where I now spoke to it as if it were a person. At first I spoke to it of my hate, my anguish, blaming the fruit for my very demise. There is, however, only so long a person can hate a piece of fruit., Eventually I began retelling the tales of adventures my friends and I had. I spoke to it of my mother, and of how she would tell me stories even when I proclaimed myself an adult and too old for such nonsense. I missed her stories now.

At the bar I imagined the apple frowning at me as I asked it for a glass of its finest sweet summer cider, it was not amused. The tavern was in my hometown, and the town itself had changed over time, buildings appearing out of thin air, roads built in and out of the centre,and farmsteads swallowed as the place grew, however the tavern remained unchanged from when I had snuck in as a boy, so it felt like home to me. After a time I could hear conversation starting to pick up around me as I sat on the bar, staring at my accompanying apple. The ghosts came early that day, funny how I should call them ghosts when in truth I was the one dead. It had taken years but I finally managed to catch some of the conversation that happened in the world of the living. I found the tavern and other places of social gathering to be the best places to eavesdrop. A big man sat next to me and gave out a bellowing laugh, the kind a drunk man gets when he finally catches on to a joke. I could see the people in the bar as flashes of translucent blue, incorporeal but still the most real people I had in my life.

It took awhile before I finally caught on to what the big man had roared laughing at. He was repeating a story about a boy who thought himself the best climber in all of town. The boy had boasted this to the prettiest girl in town, and in turn the she had challenged his claim and requested that he pick the fruit from the tallest branch of the tallest tree…. I knew the rest of the story. The man laughed again and my anger rose. I knew the attempt would be fruitless but went to pick up his mug and throw it across the bar, for an instance I felt it. I felt the feeling of the solid wood on my hand, I felt the liquid inside slosh as I applied force to the container… but then my hand passed right through it. Startled, confused, and in disbelief but even more so when mere seconds later the mug flew from the man’s hand, slid along the bar and shattered against the tavern wall. I heard the sound of objects breaking, the sound of other mugs being thrown off the bar in the wake of the one I had thrown. At that point I panicked, I was both excited and scared. The ghosts of the living all made an uproar, terrified by the paranormal disturbance, and then they vanished. Gone as fast as they had appeared.

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