“I swear to fucking god, Mandy,” Jenny says, “if you sing ‘The Power of Love’ in the shower one more time I am going to rip your spleen out through your nose.”
“That’s not anatomically possible,” Mandy retorts, “and I would know, I’m pre-med.”
“I know you’re fucking pre-med, Mandy,” Jenny hisses, “I’ve been stuck in this god-awful house with you for nearly two full decades. Please, for the love of Christ, stop humming!“ Her voice rises to a shriek on the last word and her eyes flash burgundy.
Mandy just blows a passive-aggressive bubble at her with her gum. “It’s not my fault,” she whines, “I died with it stuck in my head, okay, I think it’s part of like, my soul at this point.”
“I’m pretty sure we don’t have souls,” Jenny says, “that’s why we’re ghosts. If we had souls, we wouldn’t be here.”
“No, that’s vampires,” Mandy giggles, “we’re all soul. Soul and ectoplasm. It’s like the exact opposite of a vampire.”
There’s a pause. Mandy starts humming again. Jenny grits her teeth.
“We don’t even shower!” Jenny screeches, “We’re fucking ghosts, how do you sing in the shower without even showering—“
“Okay, that’s enough—“
“Don’t tell me what to do—“
“Me? You don’t tell me what to do—“
And that’s when the fuse box explodes.
“Huh,” Jenny says, in a small voice, “I didn’t actually know we could do that.”
They stare at the burned-out lights consideringly. “You’d think we’d have done that before now,” Jenny says idly.
“Guess not,” Mandy returns.
“It’s pretty sweet though,” Jenny admits, smiling.
“Very cool,” Mandy agrees, and then grins up at her. “Hey, wanna haunt the shit outta some hockey players?”
“I”ve never wanted anything more,” Jenny says honestly.
“That’s the power of love!” Mandy sings, and punches the air. Jenny’s eye twitches.
“I’m bored,” Mandy says, “Wanna make out?”
Jenny tries to cough, but it’s kind of hard without lungs. “What?”
Mandy shrugs. “I’m bored. You’re bored. Neither of us has gotten laid in like ten years. Why not?”
Jenny looks at her. She thinks about it. She really thinks about it.
“Yeah, okay,” she agrees.
“Wait, really?” Mandy asks, startled.
“Yes,” Jenny says, and hooks her fingers through the loops on Mandy’s high-waisted shorts. “God, Mandy, you’re an idiot most of the time but this idea is fucking genius.”
Mandy makes a face like she’s not sure whether to be offended or pleased, but before she can decide Jenny is kissing her.
It’s not bad. It’s really, really not bad.
“Hey, Mandy,” Jenny says concernedly, “this is gonna sound crazy, but I think one of the hockey players can see us.”
Mandy floats up through the attic floor with a triumphant shriek. “Ha! I was wondering when you would notice!”
“Jesus, Mandy, you gotta stop doing that,” Jenny mutters, “you’ll give me heart attack. Well, no you won’t, but—”
“It’s the hot one!” Mandy continues delightedly. “I don’t think he can see us, but he can definitely feel something, and I think he heard me singing in the shower this morning.”
“Still doing that, huh,” Jenny says, “well, I guess there’s not much else to—“
“Oh, shut up for a sec,” Mandy says, “think about what this means, Jenny.”
Jenny stops. Jenny thinks. Jenny stares at her blankly. “Yeah, I got nothing,” she says.
“Halloween,” Mandy says slowly, as if explaining to a small child, and Jenny’s eyes light up, in both the excited way and the creepy ghost way.
“Boo, motherfuckers,” Jenny smirks.
“This is gonna be good,” Mandy agrees.
“There are boys in the house,” Mandy says.
“Yep,” Jenny agrees.
“Lots and lots of tall, athletic hockey-playing boys,” Mandy adds, an eyebrow raised significantly.
“You’re not wrong,” Jenny says mildly.
There’s a long moment. Mandy stares at Jenny. Jenny stares out the window.
“You could be a little more excited,” Mandy says, crossing her arms across her chest. “It’s been just us two alone in the house for like a decade, I’d think you’d be excited to get some new faces around here. And hopefully they’ll fix it up, too, I’m tired of the squirrels in the bathtub, they’re so mean to me.”
“It’s because they hate your singing,” Jenny says automatically, “they’re really quite sweet little creatures otherwise.”
Mandy glares at her.
Jenny sighs. “Right, yeah. You’re right, new people will be nice. I’m just …”
“Y’know,” Mandy says absent-mindedly, “I think I dated a hockey player back when I was alive. Freshman year, maybe?”
“Chad,” Jenny tells her, “his name was Chad,” and Mandy beams.
“Yeah! Chad!” she agreed. “He was super hot. Well, he was all right. Awful hair, excellent abs, it balanced out. He was decent in bed, too. Well, he was okay. Awful at—“
“Okay,” Jenny cuts her off, “that’s enough, Chad’s probably almost 30 now with a beer gut and you’re exactly as hot as you were at age 19. No point thinking about him these days.”
“I dunno,” Mandy says, “it seems suddenly relevant—“
“No, he’s not!” Jenny snaps, unexpectedly loud.
There’s a beat of silence.
“Oh, you’re jealous,” Mandy says, “that’s new.”
“I’m not jealous,” Jenny mutters. “That would be dumb. We’re not … we’re not real or serious, we’re just hooking up because it’s convenient. I don’t care what you do. You wanna haunt the hockey players, well, whatever, I don’t need you—“
“Whoa,” Mandy says, “slow down there, buckaroo—“
“Did you just say buckaroo?”
“I’m talking about having some people around to liven things up, not—romantic competition for you, Jesus, Jenny,” Mandy says, exasperated. “I’m not going to break up with you because you’re no longer the only person in the house.”
“Break up?” Jenny says, “so we’re dating?”
“Oh my God, you idiot,” Mandy says softly, “of course,” and Jenny smiles.
“Sorry I freaked,” Jenny tells her, “I’m not good with the feelings, or the emotions, but—I do like you, for real, I mean.”
“I know, babe,” Mandy says, and kisses her.
“Did you just call me babe?” Jenny whispers.
“Shut up, babe,” Mandy says, and kisses her some more.
It’s good. It’s really good.
“We gotta – we gotta stop arguing so much,” Mandy says, and sits down on the attic floor.
Jenny stays standing. “Maybe if you weren’t so fucking annoying—“ she snaps.
“Hey!” Mandy says, “Maybe if you weren’t so mean to me all the time!”
“I’m mean because you’re annoying,” Jenny hisses.
“I’m annoying because – I’m not annoying!”
“You sing,” Jenny says despairingly, “you won’t stop humming under your breath, and it’s driving me insane.”
“Yeah, well,” Mandy retorts, “the thing is, we’re dead. We’re both dead, and it sucks, and it’s not fucking fair, but that’s the way it is. We’re trapped in this house possibly forever, and there’s nothing to do, so yeah. I’m humming. Maybe if you would talk to me sometimes instead of lurking in the kitchen 24/7 I wouldn’t get so bored, but whatever.”
Jenny looks at her, and sighs, and joins her on the floor. “Yeah, okay,” she says, “I’m sorry. For the hiding and for yelling at you all the time. It’s just—I miss my mom, and my dad, and all our friends. I’m going to be nineteen forever and that’s just not goddamn fair. I was gonna be an artist, I was gonna change the world and now I’m just dead. And I’m taking that all out on you, and I’m sorry.”
“Hey,” Mandy says, “It’s okay, I get it. I mean, I really get it. It’s the exact same for me. Well, not like the exact same. But I was gonna be a doctor, and save lives, and then get married and have three kids and a dog and a house, and now? I’ve never even been in love with anyone, not for real, and now I never will be. But we can’t keep screaming at each other all the time. You’re all I have, and vice versa, and we have to learn to deal with that.”
Jenny looks at her, and breathes in deep, and smiles. “Okay,” she says, “Okay. We’ll make it work.”
“Don’t need no credit card to ride this train,” Ransom hears an off-key voice drifting out of the attic window, and he looks up. He sees a flash of movement through the window, a glimmer of sunlight of blonde hair – but that makes no sense. There’s never anyone up there but him or Holster, and it’s graduation day—the frogs they gave their dibs to aren’t due to move in for months yet.
Ransom looks again and the window is empty, but he still feels something unsettling shiver down his spine.
“You ready, bro?” Holster asks, and Ransom looks at him and smiles.
“Yeah,” he says, “yeah, I am. Goodbye, Samwell. Hello, real world.”
“Let’s do this thing,” Holster says, and Ransom straightens his graduation cap and fistbumps him.
Ransom doesn’t turn back for one last glimpse of the Haus as an undergrad, but if he did he would have seen two girls standing in the window, one blonde and one dark-haired, waving goodbye.
“They grow up so fast,” Mandy says tearfully, and Jenny punches her affectionately in the shoulder.
“There’ll be more,” she says, “there’s always more.”
“Yeah, but Justin was the best,” Mandy says. “We’re never gonna find another dude who both believes in ghosts and has an ass that perfect.”
Jenny smiles. “We can always haunt his phone and send him creepy texts at midnight,” she points out, and Mandy brightens.
“Feel the power of—“
“Shut the fuck up.”