So, like, being stuck in plaid and denim for eternity totally blows.
We haven’t seen an issue of Cosmo since 1993, and my clothing situation is becoming truly tragic. Jenny says I should just be thankful I wasn’t wearing my tie-dyed overalls, but she got those totally cute cycle shorts that make her butt look great, and a Samwell sweatshirt never dates.
On the plus side, I haven’t had to blowdry my hair in twenty years, and it looks freakin’ tight.
Anyways, it’s not a complete drag since most of the time the guys can’t see us, but there’s this total cutie staying in our attic right now who saw me last week. He pretty much freaked, but I’m trying not to take it too personally. It was probably the shock of a disembodied head coming through the wall of the shower rather than my eyeliner being smudged that put him off, I guess. Jenny says not to get too attached, but a girl can dream, right?
So the guys are having a kegster, which always makes me a little wigged. I mean, everyone knows what happened at the infamous Theta Alpha Theta rush event, right? Oh man, that huge-- and the basement when the lights--, and then I took the axe from the attic--! Anyways Jenny’s telling me to shut up, you’ve heard it all like, a zillion times.
Some freaky ghost science means we appear more clearly when there’s a party. Jenny says it’s because the Haus remembers us better and that seems like as good a reason as any; she’s the smart one for sure. We still can’t leave, but sometimes we can touch stuff, and a couple people usually see us. If they’ve had enough tub juice they don’t even mind if we say hello.
Jenny and I might be hovering, a little. Metaphorically, and also literally. There’s a guy in our attic, red plastic cup in one hand, mouth hanging open. Jenny does a little twirl of excitement.
“Woah,” he says.
I flip my hair, hoping the lighting is good. He’s pretty cute. “Hi!”
“Are you… the ghosts?”
“Ooh,” says Jenny. “I guess we are! Boo!”
The guy drops his cup, and Jenny does a backwards flip, cackling. I smack her on the arm.
“I’m Mandy.” I wave at him. “This is Jenny.”
“I’m Chris--Chowder. Chris Chow. Chris.”
I circle around him and he watches me with big big eyes as I drift over his head. Being dead makes you kinda forget what it’s like to be corporeal, I guess.
“Ransom told us about you,” he says, a little breathless. “He thinks you’re haunting him. Are you haunting him? Are you… evil?”
“Totally not evil.”
“He’s just such a dreamboat,” Jenny sighs, twirling a little in midair. “And he makes the best faces when we tell him his butt looks cute.”
“Oh,” says Chris-Chowder-Chris-Chow-Chris. “Well, if you’re not evil, what do you like, want? From the living? Ghosts always want something, right? Otherwise you’d be, like, in heaven.”
Jenny and I look at each other.
“Cosmo!” we say at the same time. Then we fistbump. Spending the afterlife with your BFF is pretty sweet.
Chris buys us the bumper summer issue, and hangs around to turn the pages for us.
“Dude,” says Jenny, “if you ever want anyone, like, haunted, we can totally hook you up.”
“You’ll have to lure them up here first,” I say absently. Pleather is totally in right now. Huh.
“Aw! That’s okay, guys! I don’t really have any enemies.”
“If you ever get one, though,” says Jenny, “one haunting, totally owed, oh my God those shoes are adorable.” She sighs a little mournfully. “I wish I still had feet.”
Cutie Patootie Ransom is texting in bed. It’s warm, so he’s kicked the covers off, and his underwear doesn’t leave all that much to the imagination. Jenny and I have a pretty great view, arms hooked over the end of the bed, legs floating out behind us. Ransom shifts to hang his head over the side, pulling one leg up. Jenny and I both sigh.
“You been reading Cosmo?”
“Oops,” says Jenny. We peer over Ransom’s shoulders. My hair flops onto his neck and he shivers a bit, hand coming up to scratch under his ear. Interesting.
“Uh, no. Where was it?”
“Under my bed. Weird.”
I blow in his ear. Jenny catches on, bringing one hand up to tickle his adorable nose. I reach out--
Ransom freezes. He squints around, until his nose is pressed kinda right up against Jenny’s.
“It’s them,” he hisses. Jenny props her chin on her hand and gazes into his pretty, terrified eyes.
“Yo,” says Blondie, “yo, ghosts!”
“Don’t,” says Ransom. “Don’t get any closer, bro! It could be evil.”
“Dude, I don’t think evil reads Cosmo.”
“Hi!” says Jenny. Blondie looks searchingly at the top bunk (right through Jenny’s head, rude), then turns and shrugs. Jenny pokes him right between the eyes, but her finger just goes through him. Or he goes through her finger. Either way: ralph.
“I don’t think there’s anything there, man.”
“Something pinched me,” Ransom says darkly, “right on the butt.”
Busted. Jenny smacks me.
“Aw, c’mon. Look at it!”
We do, for a little while.
Blondie pats him on the head. “I’ll protect you, bro. From evil, Cosmo-reading ghosts.”
I’m painting Jenny’s nails, when it happens. I had this one bottle of Urban Decay Gangrene in the pocket of my shirt at the rush; boy, did that ever date badly. Who knew? It’s something to do, anyway. I paint a face on her thumb.
We ignore Ransom at first, since it’s finals and all. We’ve kind of gotten used to the cursing and wailing.
I look up, finally, and he’s staring right at us. I prod Jenny. She ignores me, corporeal enough today to flip pages with a bit of effort.
“Jenny,” I say, “I think he can see us.”
Jenny tears her eyes away from the Free! Sexy Men Calendar! With Extra Hot Men!
“Oh my god. Oh my god, I was right! Evil, Cosmo-reading ghosts! Back! Get back!”
Ransom scrambles up into his bunk, then seems unsure what to do. He puts his comforter over his head and peers out of it.
“Are you here to kill me?”
“Um, no.” I show him the polish. “I’m painting her nails. We’re totally non-evil.”
“Oh.” He looks considering. “How do I know you’re not just saying that?”
“We probably could have killed you before now, if we were,” Jenny says. “With our evil ghostly ways. Wooo!” She wiggles her sparkly green fingers at him. I smack her on the knee.
“I guess,” says Ransom. His head pokes a little further out of the comforter, and he squints down at us. “That nail polish is really hideous.”
“Yeah,” says Jenny sadly. “I had Vamp in my purse, too. Like, totally timeless.”
“Stylish and sophisticated.”
“Anyway, we can’t kill anyone. Duh. We’re ghosts. Non-corporeal.” I put my hand through the floorboard for effect.
“Oh,” Ransom says again. “That must suck, I guess. Sorry.”
“It’s not so bad. Time doesn’t really pass the same way, when you’re a ghost.”
I drift a little closer, and he doesn’t flinch, just peers at me with his lovely eyes. They’re like, totally poetic. Like ravens at midnight. Or shiny coal. Or like, something real pretty. Urban Decay Oil Slick.
“You could wear pants less often, is all I’m saying,” says Jenny from the floor.
Ugh, just when I’m getting all classy about it.
“Um,” says Ransom.
“You can ignore her,” I say. “Anyway, we won’t be around again for a while.”
“Mands thinks the excitement gets too much for us,” says Jenny.
“After Chris came we kinda fizzled out for a month.”
“Chris?” Ransom says. “As in, Chris Chow? Chowder?”
“He brought us Cosmo.”
“Chowder got you a Cosmo.”
“Such a sweetie,” Jenny agrees. “Oh, hey Mands. Look.”
Her feet have disappeared, which totally blows. It means we’re goners, for a while anyway.
“Bye, cutie!” she says, wispy-kneed. My fingers are looking a little more transparent than usual.
Ransom presses his fingers into his eyes, then blinks at us as we fade away. I blow him a kiss, and wow was I right, his smile is totally dreamy.
We drift back a couple months later. I paint Jenny’s toes. A guy sees us at a kegster and drops his beer. The usual.
Except occasionally, when we look under the bed, there’s a brand new issue of Cosmo waiting just for us.
“Bro, you got a subscription now?”
Ransom’s lounging on his bunk in his underwear. The extra tighty extra whities. He stretches, flexes a little, then grins almost straight at us, where we’re perched for the best view.
“Nah, man,” he says. He looks right through me, and winks. “Think of it as… an offering.”