In Another Castle

“Is he going to keep doing that?” asked Brad, referring to the way Jin wandered through his apartment, humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

From the loveseat, Susan shrugged. “Just let him do his thing.

Jin paid extra attention to the boxes half full of bras, blouses, and dresses, but something about the canvas bag full of textbooks made him wince just a little. He left the bedroom and continued on.

Brad paced. “I didn’t ask you to come here to listen to him doing his thing.”

Jin lost his place in the song as soon as he entered the bathroom. Decorating the shower was a wall of bottles, including three shampoos, four conditioners, two lotions, and two body washes, along with a crusted can of shaving cream for sensitive skin and a loofah. More lotion, hand cream, and nail-polish remover lined the sink. There were two toothbrushes, one slightly damp, and one very dry. He took a deep breath and resumed whistling, this time a mournful song of his own.

“I asked you to bring that weird person you hang with who’s into all the spooky shit,” Brad continued.

“Yo,” Susan growled, “you want to be talking about my girl Gina, you best be addressing her like she’s in the room.”

“Susan,” Regina said calmly from beside her, “I’m willing to accept a certain amount of rudeness, given the amount of grief and confusion Brad must be feeling, given the circumstances.”

“That’s not Brad,” Jin told them as he reentered the living room.

With the grin of a child receiving a present, Regina sprang to her feet. “Is that right?”

Susan turned to him. “What do you mean, that’s not Brad?”

“I mean,” Jin clarified, “whoever is talking to you doesn’t quite fit into that body.”

“That’s why I called you, Susan,” said whatever was speaking with Brad’s voice. “I need to get out of here.”

Regina grabbed Brad’s face in her hands and examined his eyes. “To whom do I speak?”

“Jennifer,” Brad’s voice replied.

Susan sat up straight. “Jennifer Jennifer? For reals?”

“I’m new at this.” Jin shrugged. “I just see a sparkly blob that doesn’t quite belong.”

Regina blew on Brad’s lips. “O vento dos meus pulmões demandas somente a verdade. Am I truly addressing Jennifer?”

Jennifer nodded Brad’s head.

“That spell is 77 percent effective,” Regina assured the room, “so I’m confident this is indeed Jennifer.”

“Damn,” Susan muttered, “this is some spooky shit.”

“If we continue this friendship,” Regina told her, “such ‘spooky shit’ will become quite mundane.”

Susan relaxed to enjoy the show. “I hope not.”

Regina said to Jennifer, “A human vessel can only be occupied if it’s empty, and a ghost such as yourself–especially one so recently deceased–lacks the strength to force another out. A cursory glance at your belongings reveals no magical proclivity, thus leading to the only logical conclusion: you’ve been invited in. I’m curious as to why.”

“I wasn’t invited,” Jennifer told her.

Regina frowned. “Then you have me at a loss.”

“There’s a first time for everything,” Susan whispered to Jin, who shushed her.

“This is going to sound crazy,” Jennifer sighed.

“This is making me crazy,” Regina said.

“Brad sneezed,” Jennifer told her.

Regina smacked her head. “Of course!”

“Oh my God,” Susan squealed, “are you shitting me?”

“There is some truth to the old wives tale about the soul temporarily evacuating the body during a sneeze,” Regina admitted.

“Yo,” Susan asked Jin, “is she shitting me?”

“I saw it once when I was in marching band,” Jin told her. “It’s… bizarre. Kind of awesome.”

Regina turned her attention to the matter at hand. “Possession doesn’t occur by accident, Jennifer.”

Jennifer sat Brad’s body next to Susan, who scooted away slightly. “The night that I drowned, I’d been planning on telling Brad something very important. I can’t seem to leave unless I do, so I jumped in here so I could, like, write a note or make a video or something. But it didn’t work.”

“Have you tried addressing him directly?” Regina asked.

“I don’t even know if here’s here in the room or not,” she replied.

Regina turned to Jin. “Is he?”

“Bradley, Bradley, where have you gone?” he crooned; “The love of your life, she wants to move on.”

“That was weird,” Jennifer whispered.

“It gets all mundane and shit after a while,” Susan whispered back.

“There’s a sparkly blob that kind of… fits… Brad’s body,” Jin said. “That’s all I can tell you.”

“That’s all I need to be told.” Regina asked, “Jennifer, would an actual conversation with Brad satisfy you?”

“I think so.”

“Susan,” Regina said, “I require your assistance.”

Susan sat up again. “Hold up, sister. I’m here as an audience, and that’s all.”

“You don’t even know what I’m about to ask.”

“You’re going to ask me to let Brad take over my body.”

Regina smiled a little. “Have I ever told you how exceptionally clever you are?”

“You have,” Susan replied, “but buttering my ass don’t work.”

“I thought you’d want to help your friends.”

“Let Jin help my friends.”

“Jin’s musicianship is necessary to the success of this endeavor,” she told her, “and I’m the only person in the room qualified for what we’re about to do. I’ve had over five years of experience with this.”

“Five years ago, you were, like, what, thirteen?”

“I was.”

“Come on,” Susan begged, “it’s one thing to watch.”

Regina crouched in front of her and looked deep into her eyes. “Susan, I need you.”

“Gina, I’m scared.”

She stroked Susan’s cheek. “I swear on my honor that you will be safe. Please trust me.”

Susan gritted her teeth. “Okay.”

“Thank you,” she whispered. “Essência da Susan Young, sono.”

Susan went limp.

“Jin,” Regina said quickly, “invite Brad in, right now!”

“Bradley, Bradley, don’t be weak,” Jin sang; “Stand up, sit down, it’s time to speak.”

Susan’s eyes closed, and Brad’s opened. “Holy shit!” Susan’s voice yelped.

“Baby?” Jennifer asked, “is it really you?”

A tear scurried down Susan’s face. “Jen? It’s really you! Oh, God, Honey, I’ve missed you so much!”

“Baby,” Jennifer whispered, “I need to tell you something.”

Regina bit her lip and tapped her feet.

“I never thought I’d talk to you again!” Brad cried. “There’s so much I need to say!”

Regina began to drum her fingers on her thigh.

“Baby,” Jennifer sighed, “we’ve been together for a long time, and I’ve needed to say this, but I didn’t know how, and it was the last thing on my mind, and I couldn’t move on until–”

“Hurry this along, please!” Regina snapped.

Jennifer cleared Brad’s throat. “Look, Baby, it’s not you, it’s me…”

“What?” Brad gasped.

“Oh, come on,” Jin groaned. “Are you serious?”

Regina leaned toward him. “I’m not sure I grasp the significance of that phrase.”

Jin asked her, “Are you serious?

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