For Carl, it was love at first sight. He knew immediately that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Danielle. She had a wonderful glow about her that never seemed to dim. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He watched her as she stared at the lifeless body on the table, tears and shock in her eyes. The moment she showed up, he had forgotten all about the other body lying there. For Danielle, it took a while longer to come around.
They both ended up at the morgue at about the same time, and everyone else around them seemed to only notice the bodies. Even when he spoke, no one seemed to pay him any attention. For someone like him, who had never seen a dead body before, he could understand the fixation on the bodies. But these were people who worked here so he couldn't figure out why they just ignored him. And then Danielle spoke and everything began to make sense to him.
"What happened? Why am I staring at a body that looks just like me? Is this a sick joke?" Sobs started to take over Danielle as she glanced around at those around her body. Yet no one looked up at the sound of her voice, except for Carl.
Carl glanced between Danielle and the body on the table next to him, and it dawned on him. The body before him looked like a mangled version of himself. No one else was listening to them because they couldn't see them!
"Hello?!? Someone answer me!" Danielle screamed at the morgue staff.
"It's no use. They can't hear you," Carl said.
Danielle jumped when he spoke. In her panic, she hadn't seen him standing off to the side. "What do you mean they can't hear me?"
"They can't see you either. We are dead."
"What do you mean we are dead? Who put you up to this? This is just sick! How could-" Danielle broke off mid-sentence when she looked up and saw Carl for the first time. "My God, what happened to you?!"
"You look like someone fed you to a shredder." She wrinkled her nose at the way he looked. "Just like the body next to..." Danielle realized what he had said must be true. He looked just like the body on the second table. A look of shock crossed her face.
As Carl moved to comfort her, he saw the faintest line between himself and his body on the table. He tugged on it a bit and the cord tethering himself to the body expanded. "It looks as though we can't wander too far away from our bodies. I wonder how long this cord stretches."
"Try to walk across the room."
Carl did as she suggested and was able to make it almost to the other side of the large room before the cord didn't have any more give in it. "Guess that means we are stuck here for the time being."
"I wonder how long we will be attached to our bodies. Forever? And whatever happened to going to Heaven after you die?"
"Maybe when they do our autopsies they somehow sever the cord? If not, life as a ghost is going to be pretty boring. We'll be stuck in the cemetery forever." Carl glanced back at his body. "But what I want to know is why do we have to look like our bodies? I mean, look at me. I get stuck like this forever?"
"Aww, it's not that bad," Danielle replied. She couldn't remember how she ended up here and was curious if Carl knew about his death. "Do you remember what happened?"
"Not at all. Last thing I remember was walking down Main Street. I came up to a corner and then I was here. You?"
"Me either. I had a terrible headache so I took a nap and when I woke up, I was here." Danielle glanced around the room and realized that while they were talking the room had emptied out. "Hey, where did all the workers go?"
Carl glanced up at the clock, it was close to 7pm. "I guess they left for the day. To them it must seem as though everything is normal. They get bodies in here all the time. I wonder how many others have been where we are, staring at their bodies, confused and asking themselves if this is all there is when we die."
"Do you think everyone who dies ends up like us? Or is there a reason we are both still here?"
"I guess if another body shows up here tomorrow we'll find out."
The two spent the long hours of the night chatting about the lives they left behind and where they might end up once the morgue was done with them. Hour after hour ticked by, slowly at first, but as they got to know each other they became wrapped up in their conversations. Soon the sun was rising in the small windows along the edge of the far wall, signalling a new day. Not long after the workers filed back into the room, one or two at a time. Though the two were hoping for a different outcome, it quickly became clear that they were still invisible to the living.
When the time came for her autopsy to be performed, Danielle was glad to have Carl by her side. She couldn't imagine watching someone do the things they did to her body alone. She tried not to watch at all, but curiosity eventually got the better of her. At least she'll finally find out how she had died she told herself. Maybe then she could find peace.
"I just had an idea. Maybe we are stuck here because we don't know why we died! What if we get to move on after we find out? We both were confused on how we got here, maybe that is why we are ghosts."
"Maybe so! I guess we'll find out soon enough," Carl said as he nodded his head to her body, where one of the workers had begun sewing her back up.
Danielle rushed over to where the examiner was writing his notes. She peeked over his shoulder, almost afraid of what she would find out. Brain aneurysm. Well that explained her massive headache. She closed her eyes tight, waiting to disappear or move on, or whatever the heck was suppose to happen. The seconds slipped by and nothing. She glanced down and the tether was still there.
Disappointed she wandered back over to Carl, who was watching intently as another examiner was going over his body. The man started talking into a voice recorder, taking notes as he went along.
"The death was caused by blunt force trauma as a result of the bus first hitting him and then rolling over the body."
"Wow, that explains why you look so awful," Danielle said as she looked at Carl.
Carl looked perplexed, "But that doesn't explain why we are still here. There has to be something we are missing."
They both turned and looked as another table was rolled in, this one had a body as well. It confirmed their suspicions, there was no ghost attached to this body.
"Looks like it's just you and me then," Danielle said.
Carl and Danielle spent several more nights in the morgue. They continued to pass the time by talking or playing little games like twenty questions. They wondered aloud to each other what would happen when their bodies were claimed by family for burial. Would they be left alone, stuck as they were now? As the days past, Danielle felt a pang of fear that she would be left without Carl very soon. She had grown to love him in such a short time, which baffled her.
Finally the time had come. Her family had come to pick up her body and bury it. She reached out towards Carl and grasped his hand as she was being pulled away by the tether. Danielle cried out that she loved him, no matter where they ended up. Soon they were too far apart to hold hands, both at the end of their tethers, stretching as far as they could.
Carl realized it was no use and stopped struggling against the cord. He placed his hand on his heart as tears streamed down their faces. At a loss for what to do next he quoted Shakespeare,
"I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."
And with that, they both became un-tethered before disappearing altogether. They had finally found true love. That was what was keeping them bound to the Earth, a soul hasn't finished it's life, until it has loved completely.