by Christamar Varicella
Dinosaur Ghost is now available for free as a pdf!
Helen tossed her keys on the kitchen counter and stared down at a stack of mail. One letter in particular stood above the rest--the top one.
“That you, Babe?” her boyfriend James asked from the living room. He was sitting on the couch watching a football game.
“Um,” Helen mumbled. She honed in on the letter. She picked it up, studied the return address: Harlington University. This is it, she thought. I’ll finally learn whether or not I’m going to become a paleontologist.
Her mind traveled back in time to the interview. That was the hardest part of the whole application process. That and shaking the $25 application fee out of James. She never understood why she did so poorly in interviews. Maybe it had something to do with the way she nervously smacked her gums when questioned, or how she called everyone, “Bubba.” She got along fine with people when she avoided talking to them, but whenever she was put in the same room with other human beings, her intelligence and poise seemed to slip away.
She waited through the awkward silence as Dr. Bellingham studied her application.
“It says here that you already have an advanced degree.”
Helen smacked her gums and smiled. “You got that right, Bubba.”
“According to your transcript, you have a masters degree in something called paranormal psychology.”
“Yep.” She smacked her gums again. So far, this was going pretty well.
“And did you get your degree from watching the movie Ghostbusters?”
Helen thought she detected a hint of sarcasm in Dr. Bellingham’s voice. “Um no, it was a standard matriculation.”
Dr. Bellingham put down the transcript and peered at Helen over the top of her glasses. “Ms. Fonzarelli, why do you want to study paleontology?”
Helen thought about the question. “Well, I guess I want to know why the dinosaurs went extinct.”
“But you are aware of existing evidence suggesting an asteroid, or perhaps even a comet, crashed into the Earth, sending up a cloud of dust that...”
“I just don’t think an asteroid would be big enough to squash all those dinosaurs. It must have been something else.”
“I think you misunderstand. The asteroid did not crush the dinosaurs. It sent up a massive cloud of dust that blocked out the sun and made life impossible. That is the likeliest cause of extinction.”
But Helen wasn’t listening. She waited until Dr. Bellingham finished talking and then responded, “I just don’t believe it.”
This is going great, she told herself.
Back in the present (which has since passed), she ripped open the letter.
“Dang it,” she said, balling up the paper and throwing it into the trash can. “It’s just another ‘Cease and Desist’ order. I don’t know why they won’t tell me whether I made it into the program. Maybe I should write them another email... or call them again. Honey, what do you think?”
James took a sip of his beer and continued watching the game. “I don’t know why you want to get some liberal education when you can sit around here looking pretty.” He let out a gigantic belch and then added, “and working full-time.”
“We will be together forever, won’t we?” Helen said. She was so happy to have James in her life, even if he was a republican.
“Either that, or until one of us dies, or you get fat, or I get bored of you,” he said. He crushed the empty can on his forehead and fired it across the room, where it bounced off the trash can and landed on the floor. “Two points,” he said.
“Oh James,” she said, jumping into his lap.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” James said. Without taking his eyes off of the game, he reached around her body with both hands and squeezed her butt cheeks.
I don’t care if I don’t get into that stupid old program, Helen thought. My life is still perfect.