It took me a while to come to terms with my new existence. Most of my days were spent wandering aimlessly over the grounds of the hotel, across the road, through the golf courses, along the bay. I reflected as I walked, pondering my state of body.
Aside from being invisible to other people my own senses were very different from what I remembered. The sunlit world seemed foggy to me; colors had faded somehow, and objects appeared blurry at the edges. When I walked, I could hardly feel the ground on my bare feet; everything I touched was barely a tickle. Odors escaped me completely; the gentle scents of flowers, the salty water, smoke – all lost to me. My only sense remaining intact, it seemed, was my hearing, which had actually intensified.
My nights were a different world, almost. They were sharper, finely-edged; I could see at night much more clearly than I had been able to see in broad daylight when I was alive. Unsurprisingly, I found I could not sleep and never grew tired, and this discovery opened an entirely new venue of entertainment. Guiltlessly, I passed the time listening in on closed doors, sometimes venturing into the rooms to spy upon the occupants.
Eventually, I found myself following the young man I had seen speaking to Jack. His duties led him all over the grounds, and gave me a chance to become well-acquainted with the various staff members, who I found just as fascinating as the guests. Of course, I tried once or twice to get his attention, but only half-heartedly. It seemed I was completely detached from any chance of social contact.
In the evenings, as he left for his home, wherever that was, I walked down to the bay and shuffled my feet along in the waves. The sunsets, bloody and tinged with gold, lit up the sky over Mobile and slowly died to velvety blues, then black before silver tendrils lifted the night away to dewy mornings. My favorite times, by far, were the stormy nights, when the thunder was so loud it deafened me, and the driving rain and blinding lightning engulfed my desensitized senses to a point where I could almost believe myself capable of feeling, of seeing as I had when I was alive.
It was a clear night, I observed as I walked, with no threat of rain. I had followed Jack and his young apprentice that day. ‘Apprentice’ was probably an inappropriate word for him, but I could hardly have found another more suitable. He had been replanting the flowerbeds at the entrance, replacing the pansies with daffodils and tulips. I had tried to pick one of the discarded flowers up, to try to attract attention, but the stem seemed slippery and hard to grasp, as if it had been made of melting ice, or wet soap, or Jell-o. It frustrated me – the only way I could make any physical impression large enough to cause anyone to notice of my presence was to touch them. I had made Jack shiver twice that day, despite the sun, simply by laying my finger gently on his shoulder. Then I had moved on to “Apprentice.” He had reacted likewise, but a strange light had glinted in his eye – was it fear? I would have to make more of an effort to learn his name. None of the staff seemed to call him by anything, greeting him only be a few kind words, a smile.
My thoughts paused as a gull careened overhead, squalling. I looked down at my toes and, on a whim, thrashed one foot suddenly in the calm afternoon water. Barely a ripple showed for all my effort. I am barely attached to this world, I thought.