The dead love cellphones. They love burritos, and pot dispensaries and condoms. Show them a light for the first time, and they clap. They don’t think there are tiny people in the television. They marvel less at skyscrapers than they do at grocery stores.
“So many different types of soup! People must really love soup in this time,” Clara exclaims.
She’s my foster resurrected. Seventeen years old when she died of an ailment. Undiagnosed at the time, and she doesn’t like to talk about it.
“Sick is sick. Dead is dead. Alive is alive,” she says when I ask.
I buy her Twinkies, and Oreos, and some sort of energy drink that she was entranced by. I buy us chicken, and vegetables. She finds the choices amazing and ridiculous.
She’s never had a room of her own before. Not that it’s entirely her own room. It is already decorated, filled with another teenager’s memories, though I’ve done my best to clear out the most personal items. Lizzie was younger, but Clara is so slight, that the clothes fit fine. Clara likes the hoodies best.
“Is she coming back?” she asks, “I came back.”
I don’t know. Nobody knows how any of it works. Are the resurrected good people, or bad people? Are they dangerous? Are they still citizens? I’m hoping that by the time she’s 18, Clara will fit in well enough, that we can lose her paperwork, and let her just be a normal person. I’ve been trying to keep her from other resurrected to prevent her from living in the past. The present is very present. It is frankly a lot, and I passed through time the normal way. So, I understand the desire to reject modernity, but I want Clara to find her own balance.
“You keep changing the subject. Is she coming back?”
What if she already has? What if she’s in a camp? What if somebody else is fostering her like I foster Clara?
“Do I have to leave if she does? Please, let me stay. I can sleep on the couch. Or the floor. It’s a fine floor. Don’t make me go back to my husband. Don’t find me a new husband. Let me stay, let me be her sister.”
I hold her as she starts to cry. This poor child from out of time. A girl discovering sugar, and pop songs, and softness. Our world will fail her. The resurrected will be deemed a threat when somebody realizes they are less conservative than we imagined. I can’t keep her safe, just like I couldn’t keep Lizzie safe. But I’ll try. I’ll die trying. Then I’ll come back again, and keep trying. The road is long, but now I know that we have time.