“Melody?” Ms. Sharp asked her assistant for confirmation. The short, pale, dark-haired woman scanned the living room with brilliant golden stars in her eyes. After a moment, the glow faded and she nodded.
“He’s there,” she said and pointed at the old couch in the center of the room.
“Of course he’s there! We wouldn’t make up something like that,” Mrs. Taylor said. Ms. Sharp nodded at her.
“I wouldn’t have assumed it from you. However, there is always the possibility of being wrong about something. No matter how sure you are,” she said. Then she sat on the edge of a recliner across from the seemingly empty couch. “Go ahead,” she said to the couch as Mrs. Taylor handed her a cellphone. After a moment, a cell phone on the coffee table lit up with Siri in listening mode. Then, it replied.
“Calling: Mom,” the digital assistant said. The phone in Ms. Sharp’s hand vibrated and its screen lit up. It showed a picture of a tan teenager with light brown hair that seemed to have a lot of effort put into its “messy” style. The name said, “Dean”.
“Hello, Dean,” Ms. Sharp answered with the speakerphone.
“Ms. Sharp!” Dean’s voice sounded relieved and grateful. “Thank you for coming, I knew you could help!” His words caused a trace of guilt to sink Mrs. Taylor’s stomach. The two weeks since that first call Dean made were an emotional rollercoaster for her. He suggested he call Ms. Sharp on the first day; but, she refused to bother a multi-billionaire and a stranger on top of that. She almost started to believe she was going mad over his loss until her husband talked to Dean too.
The two of them finally convinced her to call Ms. Sharp. She had no idea what she planned to say to avoid sounding crazy, but she was amazed when they took her seriously. Within a day Ms. Sharp herself was in her living room talking to her ghost son. As much as she loved her son, she knew he meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. And certainly nothing to the most powerful woman in the world. However, it blew her mind how compassionate she must be to show up herself to a stranger’s house with nothing more than a good faith ghost story. She heard someone needed help, and she came to help. No matter what happened, Mrs. Taylor would spend the rest of her days espousing Ms. Sharp’s humanity.
“You were right, and I’m more than happy to help,” Ms. Sharp replied. She nodded at Melody. The woman in a black suit stepped closer and placed a small white cube, about the size of an egg, on the coffee table. “I brought you a new body,” she said.
“Whoooa! THANKS!” Dean shouted into the phone. He stopped talking but made several non-intentional ‘thinking’ sounds; Ms. Sharp guessed he was trying to figure it out.
“Uh, how does it work?” he asked.
“This technology has some strict rules. Nothing that can’t be worked around though. For you to receive this body, we need to be on the same team so to speak,” Ms. Sharp said.”
“Huh?” Dean asked. His parents also gave Ms. Sharp a questioning look.
“It’ll help you understand if I explain how you became a ghost in the first place,” she said. “You,” she pointed at the empty couch. “Are something known as a Unique Soul,” Mrs. Taylor found herself standing up straighter with a grin; she always knew her son was special. It seemed God thought so too.
“There are different types with different abilities. In your case, you’re a “Plant Soul”. You’re supposed to be ‘rooted’ to this Earth. Ideally, the roots die when you do, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes accidents happen so fast that the person doesn’t realize they’re dead.
“Yeah,…” Dean sighed through the phone; that was his situation exactly.
“Your soul and body are supposed to be two halves of the whole that make you up. That version of you is like a team; two halves working together to make the whole better. But also, competing against every other team.”
“You make life sound like… a game,” Dean’s father said. Mrs. Taylor was quick to silence him with an elbow in the ribs. However, Ms. Sharp still looked up at him and smiled.
“It’s all about perspective, Mr. Taylor. If you don’t treat life like a game, where’s the fun in that?”
“The richest woman in the world knows what she’s talking about,” Mrs. Taylor said to him under her breath. Ms. Sharp turned her attention back to the phone in her hand.
“Of course teams can group together to help each other, but there needs to be a formal agreement. A sort of contract, if you will. The universe is quite fond of written agreements,” she said.
“The universe? What, like God?” Mr. Taylor asked with a chuckle. “Oww,” he said when he got a second, more vicious elbow in his ribs.
“Let her help our son!” Ms. Sharp smiled at both of them.
“I don’t claim to know how it works,” she said. “However, I have grown my business with the philosophy of ‘words’ and ‘intent’ holding a great deal of power in the universe. Imagined or not, there’s something special, magical even, about two parties making a deliberate agreement. Each person has a strong intent to fulfill their end and they agree to help each other as much as they can. Whatever entities run the universe; they seem to like that sort of thing.”
“So what does this have to do with teams?” Dean asked.
“Simple. To access your new body, I need you to join my team first.”
“Great! Let’s do it, how?” Dean asked. At his question Melody walked over to Dean’s parents and handed them a clipboard with several papers on it.
“Your parents need to sign your soul over to me. Then, you’ll need to add your signature too if you want to keep the body for longer than a day.”
“His soul!?” Mr. Taylor asked with an almost offended look on his face.
“It’s the only part of him left,” Ms. Sharp said. “And he can’t use my equipment if he’s not on my team.” By the time Ms. Sharp finished her answer, Mrs. Taylor was handing her husband the clipboard with her signature already on it.
“She knows what she’s talking about,” she said, then stared at him and lowered her voice to a begging whisper. “I want Dean back.“