Author: S.D Robertson
Published: 11th February 2016
SEVEN HOURS DEAD
Mum and Dad decided to stay at our house for the night,
to keep things as normal as possible for Ella. They took
the poky third bedroom, which was only slightly bigger
than the double bed it contained. I’d have rather they
used my room, but they felt it wasn’t appropriate – and
it wasn’t like they could hear my protests.
I was finding it increasingly frustrating that no one
could hear or see anything I said or did. The only external
confirmation of my existence came in the form of my
parents’ dog, Sam, who’d arrived with Dad. A usually
placid King Charles spaniel, he barked incessantly and
ran around in circles whenever we were in the same room.
It excited me at first, as I wondered whether I might be
able to use him to make contact with my family. But it
soon became clear that there was little chance of any
Lassie-type behaviour. He wasn’t the brightest of pets.
Plus he’d never liked me much when I was alive and
apparently death hadn’t changed that. Trying to talk to
him only served to increase the volume of his barking,
so I soon abandoned that possibility.
There was another moment of excitement when, to my
surprise, I realized I could see my reflection in the mirror.
My mother was brushing her teeth in the bathroom. I
must have passed mirrors before that, but this was the
first time it had registered.
‘Hey,’ I shouted, jumping up and down; waving like a
lunatic. ‘Look, Mum. Here I am.’
But she couldn’t see my reflection any more than she
could hear what I was saying.
I waited for Dad to follow her and tried again. I stood
beside him as he too brushed his teeth and washed his
face. There I was, clear as day, right next to him, asking
him to look at me. But apparently I was the only one who
could see it.
At least I looked to be in one piece. I was relieved not
to see any sign of the injuries I’d suffered in the crash.
‘None of this feels real,’ Mum said to Dad after the
two of them got into bed. ‘I keep thinking – hoping – I’ll
wake up and it’ll all have been a bad dream.’
Dad took her hand and let out a sigh.
‘I just feel numb,’ she continued. ‘After the initial shock
of it all – after telling Ella what happened – it’s like … I
don’t know. As if it’s happening to someone else. Not me.
Why aren’t I crying now? I feel I’m not reacting as I
‘There is no right way to react,’ Dad replied. ‘Parents
aren’t meant to outlive their children.’
‘But how do you feel, Tom?’
He sighed again. ‘I’m putting one foot in front of the
other. We have to be strong for Ella.’
I couldn’t listen to any more of their conversation. It
felt too much like eavesdropping, so I walked to Ella’s
room instead. Sitting down on the floor next to her bed,
I was consumed by a rush of fears and anxieties.
How on earth would this fragile little girl manage
without me? Would I ever get through to her and, if not,
how could I survive here alone?
Oh my God, I’m dead, I thought, the terrible truth
starting to sink in. I’m actually dead. My life’s over. I’ll
never hug Ella again. I’ll never wash her hair, brush her
teeth or read her a story again. All those little things I used
to take for granted. Gone. Forever.
Then I thought back to the accident. Why the hell did
I go out on my bike in the first place?
Ella coughed in her sleep. I looked over at her flushed
face and her blond curls, matted and unruly across the
pillow, and it was enough to jolt me out of my spiral of
self-pity. ‘Stop it,’ I said. ‘Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
She’s the only thing that matters now.’
I hadn’t got a clue whether or not ghosts – or spirits,
as Lizzie put it – were able to sleep. I didn’t feel particularly
tired. But I lay down on the floor next to the bed
and tried to clear my mind, if only to be able to do my
best to get through to Ella in the morning. It took a while,
but eventually I drifted off.
I woke up the next morning alone in Ella’s bedroom.
Apparently she’d already got up. To my dismay, I noticed
the door was shut. My experience so far as a spirit had
been that I couldn’t interact with anything around me.
This meant I was trapped. However, I remembered a
scene in the film Ghost in which Patrick Swayze’s character
had to learn to pass through a closed door. It was
a flimsy information source, but what else did I have to
I walked up to it, held my hands out in front of me
and tried to push them into the wood. Nothing. I didn’t
get thrown backwards as I had after touching Ella or the
paramedics. I just couldn’t move past it. Next I tried to
turn the handle, although that was no use either. My hand
stopped upon reaching it, but I couldn’t feel or exert any
pressure on it.
I went back to trying to pass through the door. I imagined
myself doing so, pushing through like it was made
of liquid. I even tried running at it, shouting and screaming,
hoping my anger might unlock some hidden ability. But
nothing worked. I really was trapped until Ella came in
to get a jumper from her wardrobe a short while later
and I was able to exit the traditional way.