The young man was clearly despondent as he flopped down onto the park bench beside me. To be honest, I was a little surprised when he spoke. I have been sitting in the same spot every day for many years and it is extremely rare when anyone acknowledges me. City life can be like that: nobody really wants to get involved with anyone else.
It was a pleasant change, to have someone start up a conversation. I turned towards him and smiled, in the hope that it might cheer him up a little, and it seemed to encourage him because he continued.
“I’ve been working there more than two months now. I've never really seemed to fit in, right from the start. I have no idea why. It can’t be an age thing, because we’re all pretty much of the same generation. It can’t be my tastes because I do my best to join in with the water-cooler conversations about sport and television and music and all that. But some days it’s like I just don’t exist, you know?”
I nodded. I could sympathise with him because I used to have the same problem until a friendly soul helped me out and taught me where I was going wrong. I wondered if the same advice would help him, but I hesitated before deciding to offer it.
“You might have more success if you did.”
“Necromancy: talking with the dead. There are enough of them and most of them are quite lonely.”
It was a mistake. It took a couple of seconds for the words to sink in, then the poor lad looked shocked, followed rapidly by uneasy. He stood up slowly and began to back away from me, all the time watching in case this madman he had chosen to approach made any sudden and threatening moves.
“I guess I’d better be getting back to work now,” he said as he turned and hurried away from me. “You take care of yourself.”
A little patronising, I thought, but replied anyway. “Yes, you too. Come back any time you feel you need a chat.”
He will come back. They always do. One day he will realise why the people around him behave as if he isn’t there: because from their point of view, he isn’t. He’s one of us – the dead – so necromancy is his only choice.
Of course, we just call it talking.
A very short story for Tuesday. Written because that's how the office feels this morning. Like I'm trying to communicate with the dead. And Hallowe'en's on the way. :)