Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Ghost Children

The ghost children leave their garden at dusk to play on the swings at the playground next door to my house. I watch them from behind my drapes, careful not to move in case I frighten them away. Real children - by that I mean the children still living - impatiently queue.
'C'mon', complains Tom, 'we'd like a turn too'. 'You have had all day', says Angel swinging higher and faster. It looks odd the ethereal way that her unbody is swinging and yet still behind the swing, and also in front. Tom says, 'we don't have all day, we have been in school, and then doing homework, and chores. While you are swanning around in the clouds playing harps and stuff'.
Astral gives a peal of laughter that sounds like garden chimes tinkling in the breeze. 'When I was alive I thought death was like that,' she laughs. 'But it isn't really. At least it depends how you died'.
And how old you were', adds Angel softly. 'So many of us have been killed in wars, or we die of starvation or neglect. Those ones, they cry and cry and they don't always realise they are dead. They are in endless pain. It takes such a lot of our time trying to care for them and so much energy. No matter how much you feed them it is never enough. Never, never enough. And children who have been bombed, they scream endlessly and are forever looking for their limbs. Then there is this one', she says, and they all turn to look at the third swing where an angry black boy swings endlessly. He looks at them through angry eyes, tears running down his cheeks. 'You can wait till hell freezes', he shouts. 'This swing is mine, mine forever!'
'He was shot by a policeman on a swing', says Angel.
Today I had to carry a baby that had drowned,' Astral says. 'I couldn't get him dry and he was so cold.' She shivers. 'I felt like I was carrying his father too. So much grief'. 'What happened to heaven?' asks Tom. Astral rolls her eyes. 'Stupid stories for stupid people. Do you want to know if God exists? Maybe. But he's a lazy bastard if he does exist. Watching over us? Don't make me laugh. If God was a woman we might have some action. But too many men are filled with greed and they don't care about sharing with families and women and children. They take everything for themselves.'
Angel floats off her swing and offers it to Tom. But Tom lifts his school pack from his back and lifts out a little brown boy whose legs are black and blue. 'I found this one down the street' he says, 'he is too little to speak or perhaps too frightened. I didn't understand why he was there. But I couldn't leave him there on his own. Now I think maybe he was trying to find his way here to you. There is a label on his jersey, it says his name is Moko.'
Moko looks up at them with his huge brown eyes, shaded in purple. He smiles, a rather wobbly kind of smile. His teeth are broken. One of his arms is bent at a strange angle. Tom and Angel carefully lift him him onto the swing. They push it gently and the little boy chuckles in delight.
I can't watch anymore. As darkness falls I am closing my drapes.

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