Ever since dying a year ago, I’ve been scheming my way back to life. Not because my new realm bored me. There was no shortage of fascinating people here willing, in fact, insisting on telling me their old stories over and over until my ears burned. But because my little sister Violet, who was still alive, needed my help.
She needed my help with her unruly hair. Incidentally, her hair was what killed me. Or rather, it was an errant spark of electricity from the faultily-wired socket when I turned on the hairdryer to style her hair for a school play.
She needed my help with our parents and with Excel spreadsheets. With handling mean girls and mean boys and nice girls, too. She needed my help with implementing her plan to save the world and with choosing the perfect dress for the Homecoming dance. She was going with Jake, of whom I disapproved.
For a while, I set my hopes on the spark to jolt me back into Violet’s world.
Even though I was afraid, I climbed back into my killer socket. The vibrations inside of it were pleasant, like someone tickling you. But I only caused the circuits to break in the house. Violet was too busy stalking Jake on Facebook to even notice.
I caught four lightenings during a thunderstorm, then spent a week inside NASA’s cold fusion reactor. I raged around our house, almost setting my old room on fire. The room Violet had not entered since my death.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t bear listening yet again to Napoleon’s account of his victory at Austerlitz. Jeez, we get it already.
Then, one day, I met Nino. He was not capital-G great, like Peter the Great or Alexander. He was just a regular guy from sixteenth century Italy who had drowned. Something about him made my charred nerves tingle, but he also enveloped me in watery coolness so sweetly. With him, I took the first deep breath since my death.
It’s then that Violet finally reached me, and made me feel alive and also ashamed for doubting her. I cried and cried, setting off sparks around me, until Nino’s hair—which was always a little damp—stood on ends.
Nino and I floated on a mandarin slice in the fruit punch at the Homecoming dance. Violet’s thoughts—which, all along, had just needed a better conductor—flowed to me through the charged atmosphere of the school cafeteria. She danced with Jake, but I beat in her heart, always.
Nino put his arm around me, and chills ran down my spine. I didn’t know what would happen next.