Ghosts still have choices. This is a little known fact. I get to see this on a regular basis: ghosts still learn things, still discover things and ultimately they decide whether they wish to move on or hang out all spirit-like. It’s sometimes like the guy in your high school clique that kept mooning over the girl that he made out with once in the 8th grade: yeah, he can’t help how he feels. Sooner or later he diverts his attention to something else and while diverted his feelings usually change. For a ghost, diverting that attention generally leads to moving on. Death, like life, has some stuff that happens that’s just harder to get over, especially if you died from a violent crime or suffered abuse during your life. Some people who suffered as victims are all “hello oblivion!” and zap right on out of here once what I call the Year of Walking is up; others linger. It’s not about their force of will – doing things by “force of will” is arrogant clip-clap that translates to “Look at me! Respect my authoritah _!” and ultimately doing things magically and/or in the spirit world by force of will means that either before your death or after, someone like me will be called to clean up the mess you made handling everything and everyone so roughly. I’m willing to guess the damage it does to your own spirit body increases your chances of ending up all ghostly yourself. It’s not the way the world fucks you up that makes a difference in the here or the hereafter; it’s what you do about it when you get fucked up.
This is not to say that all ghosts are petulant whiners. They have the same percentage and spectrum of human behavior as do the living, and the whiners annoy just as equally alive or dead. Of course the whining on the other side is usually summed up as “What do you mean I still have to make choices?”
Part of the ghostly process involves eventually making the choice: do I go see what hides behind that next curtain, or do I hang out here? Most go for the curtain.
There are a relative few, however, who figure out that the curtain’s there whenever they want it, and decide to take advantage of the extra time on earth sans airfare. In the process they figure out how to manipulate matter in some way, that they do not need to retain the form they did while living, and that every theater in the world is open to them.
These are the ones that also figure out that I can see them.
Of course, because they’ve got the ghost-system hacked, some of them use my ability to see them to fuck with me. I’ve had things go bouncing off my car when driving down dark country roads at night, found myself suddenly turned around in an alley I’ve cut through for years, even had one pretend to be a tree.
The one that annoyed me the most was the table lamp.
I’m a heavy reader. Before the Internet became common, I used to read at night into the wee hours. I did not feel right unless I went to bed with a book.
My family, when they did travel and did not opt for camping, would cram all of us into a hotel room so that I could not do my reading ritual.
This ghost had been pranking me for awhile, moving small objects (normally something smaller fae do) and issuing fart smells when it was just him and me in the room, and we both knew it wasn’t me. It had followed me to school once or twice, although it often got lost pestering the other children.
This night, however, the ghost oh-so-considerately placed the book that had “disappeared” by my bed (I think my mother had actually attempted to leave it at home.) He then took the shape of a table lamp.
So when I blearily sat up, done with the nightmares I always had when I slept in unfamiliar places, my hand first reached for my book, as it always did. Without thinking, I then reached for the table lamp.
Physical sensations vary depending on what discorporate entity you put your hand on. In this case, it was an expert at shape-shifting and probably knew all about eating out of the wall socket. I got what amounts to a cold electrical shock, and it prompted a series of dirty words from me. Thankfully my dad’s snores blocked anyone else from hearing it; if my mother had known about this particular incident, she would have considered her need to make authoritative snide comments about my swearing more important than my nearly being electrocuted in inverse.
A few weeks later, I was alone in the house and the ghost hid my favorite shoes. I didn’t just get mad, I went nuclear. I was usually an affable child despite the way I was generally treated, and when my mother or sister would go off on one of their verbally abusive tears, I did not answer back no matter how hurtful or untrue the barrage of the day was. ((I mention these incidents because there is a link between adult psychic ability and emotionally violent households. There are, of course, exceptions and people from happy homes can develop these abilities on purpose and are often raised in an environment where they learn how to do so young.))
In that case, however, I actually screamed “Give it back now!” and when I turned around a moment later, my shoes appeared in the house’s entryway, as though they’d always been there. That particular ghost disappeared after that.