“You’re what?” Valerie spluttered, almost dropping the white china teacup cradled in her hands.
“I’m a ghost?” It came out as less of a statement of fact and more of a question, and Danny peered at Val over the rim of his coffee. “I have been since freshman year of high school.”
Val set her hot chocolate down. “You’re messing with me.”
The hum of a winter afternoon in the small coffee shop buzzed pleasantly. A couple of baristas chatted behind the counter as the hot milk steamed, and the clacking of keyboards drifted from the armchairs at the corner of the room. It was an incredibly public place, and Val was half-convinced that Sam and Tucker were going to pop up from behind the counter any second, revealing that this was all some kind of crazy practical joke. But Sam and Tucker were off at college by now. She glanced back at Danny, who seemed to be studying her very carefully.
“I’m not pulling your leg.” He took another cautious sip of his sugary drink. “Unfortunately. Or, I guess, fortunately. Depends on where you’re sitting.”
Val shook her head. “Okay. So let’s pretend that I believe that you’re a ghost, which you’re obviously not.”
“How? If you’re a ghost, why don’t you look like a ghost? And how did you even die in the first place?” Danny’s body posture changed and he straightened, looking directly into Val’s eyes.
“Lab accident.” He said, and in that moment, sincere and sad look in his eyes, Val believed him. She broke eye contact and looked back down at her hot chocolate. The two sat in silence for a moment, contemplating the other and the weight of their own conversation.
“Well,” Danny finally broke the silence, “mostly.”
“What?” Val started, looking up.
“I mostly died in a lab accident, almost, not quite, uh… half. Whatever you want to call it.”
“That’s absurd.” She scoffed. “How do you–” But she knew. That girl, the one from their sophomore year of high school, the one that she’d seen hanging around with Phantom a couple of times since. “Like the ghost girl.” She breathed, and the full force of Danny’s admission came crashing down on her, shoulders slumping with the weight. “You’re a half-ghost.”
Danny simply leaned back in his chair and stared out the window as snow swirled through the air.
Word Count: 380