Being dead didn’t agree with Julie too much.
“This kind of sucks,” she told her best friend Robert. He shrugged and jerked his hair out of his face.
“Your funeral kind of sucked, too. You know that your Aunt Cathy talked your mom into making you wear that yellow sundress, right? You looked like a big yellow bird that got into the codeine or something. I was embarrassed for you.”
“Thanks,” Julie said. She tried not to sniff, but it was difficult. “I told her that I wanted to be buried in my blue silky thing.”
“Then you would have looked like a hooker, Jules.”
“Yeah, but a hooker or a muppet bird?”
Robert had to give her that one.
“Anyway,” she said, inspecting her toenail polish. It was candy apple red, the same red that she had painted them a week before her death. She wished now that she had picked something a little cooler, if she was going to be stuck with it for eternity. Purple, maybe. Something with little silver stars. “My room, it’s like this shrine. I can’t even lie down on my bed, because there are so many little bears and flowers and things there. Gosh, Mom! Let it go already, will you? I’m seventeen, not seven.”
“Technically, you’re not even that. You’re dead.”
“Thanks, genius. Like I could forget. Seriously.” Julie kicked at Robert, but her foot passed right through him.
“Nice,” he said, completely unfazed.
“One of these days, Bobbert, I’m going to learn how to phantasmisize—“
“Is that even a word?”
“—and you’re going to be in so much trouble,” she finished. “There you’ll be, walking along on your way to school, and WHAM! I’ll kick you right in the face. Right in the face. Whadda think about them apples?”
Robert turned to look at her. “I think that maybe you’re still a little bitter about being dead.”
She flopped back on Robert’s bed, staring at the constellations that he had painted on the ceiling. She had laughed at him then, because he had been so hung up on making certain that they were absolutely precise, but now they were comforting. The universe in miniature.
“So you’re saying that you’re not bitter,” he said. He poked his finger through her leg. Nothing, not even a resistance. Air Julie.
“Of course not! Why on earth would I be bitter? I mean, sure, it wasn’t in my plans, but being dead solves a heck of a lot of problems. No more tests, no more chores. I sure don’t have to worry about telling Ralph Hannison that I don’t want to go to prom with him, now, do I?”
“He’s taking Cherry-Lips Cheryl.”
“He’s what?!” Julie sat up. “He waited, what, two minutes after I died before asking somebody else? Hasn’t he ever heard of mourning? And Cherry-Lips Cheryl? He’s going to taste like Chapstick and Halls by the end of the night!”
Robert yawned. “Maybe he doesn’t mind. Maybe Chapstick and Halls is totally his thing. And besides, I thought you didn’t care.”
Julie scowled at him. “I don’t. I’m glad he’s taking Cherry-Lips Cheryl to the stupid prom. I’m glad I’m dead. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me! I get to float around, I get to eavesdrop. I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to. It’s super sweet.”
“Right,” Robert said. “You’ll never get to drive again. Never get to go to college. You’re invisible to everybody but me. Your only friend is the high school science geek. Being dead sounds awesome.”
Julie sighed dramatically. “RAW-bert, you’re such a buzz kill. You know this don’t you?”
Robert shoved her aside and opened up his astronomy book. “My best friend’s a dead girl.”
Julie thought. “Touché,” she said.