The grounds of what used to be Chapel Hill Prep School were empty of any activity except for the tan van that seemed to creep up the gravel driveway. The place was open to the public, and there was now a thrift shop in what was once a dormitory. But it was too early in the day for it to be opened, just as it was too early to know if the morning frost would give way to nicer weather.
Arriving early was part of Dave’s plan. He wanted to be alone, or rather, he did not want any observers to the meeting he was hoping to have.
Dave parked near the thrift shop and walked towards the unused church that sat across from it. He didn’t know why, but he felt that it was the most likely place to find Johnny. Well, not Johnny, really. Although he looked and sounded like Johnny, it was merely a memory of him Dave hoped to encounter. Still, Dave hoped there was something to be gained by the meeting.
The door was not locked. Whoever owned the premises either trusted people or else realized stained glass windows could be broken as easily from the outside as from within. Dave entered and stood still for a moment while his eyes adjusted to the darkness.
Attempts were being made to repair the church, to bring it back to life as a place of worship. Its former glory had faded, the attempts at restoration so far resulting in nothing more than making things worse. Tarps covered all save the first two rows of pews.
As if he knew what he were doing, Dave went to the second pew, genuflected, and knelt down to prayer.
He had learned to pray of late. Where before prayer had consisted of recitations of prayers without any real connection, he now felt some actual communication was taking place, if only between his heart and mind. Something had opened up within him, some barrier had been removed. He was awakened, to whatever spiritual power existed in the universe, Dave was reluctant to use the name God. He was reluctant to put a name to it at all, more concerned with the actual experience. He closed his eyes and opened himself up to a reality in him that was normally quiet enough to be ignored, but never absent. It was like encountering a spring within him, that lightly bubbled, poured forth its waters endlessly. It was the source, the explanation and reason for everything. And it was so inconspicuous one had to silence all else for it to appear.
This was prayer, the realization that such a spring existed. Here was vitality, the life-giving water that poured through his soul, was his soul. It bubbled gladness in him, flowing, always flowing, carrying with it an endless supply of inspiration, eternal, everlasting. Like music that was constantly changing and neverending, it flowed, subtle yet powerful. Dave quieted all else until it bubbled up and poured throughout his body. He felt happy, felt as though he were home, or at least where he was meant to be.
Through shut eyelids, Dave slowly became aware of a blue aura emanating from his right. He slowly opened his eyes, as though slowing the transition from his interior reality to the outside world, smoothing the gap between the two.
Kneeling next to him was the blue aura of the ghost of a man he used to know.
“Johnny,” said Dave.
“No, Dave, simply his ghost. A greeting card written by someone who no longer is.”