That morning Charlene Whitcomb sat down after breakfast to peruse the obituaries, just as she did every day.
"Hmm, hmm, let's see," she muttered to herself, pulling her chair up to the old card table that her computer sat on. She set her mug of coffee down beside the keyboard long enough to sign on, then had a drink as the modem issued its regular set of beeps and screeches. At last it finished, and she was online.
"Let's see," she said again. "'Ilsa D. Jackman, age 83, of Beetown, died peacefully surrounded by her loving family...' ah, that's good, that's good..." She scrolled down a bit. "'Leonard E Brouillette, age 60, of Fitchburg, crossed over to his eternal world'... how sweet!"
She reached out for her coffee mug with one hand, and continued scrolling with the other. Her eyes flitted back and forth over the top of the mug as she drank, reading one obituary after another... and then pausing.
"'Charlene Whitcomb,' she read aloud. "'Age 58, passed away at her apartment home in Black Earth on Tuesday, October... nineteenth...'" Abruptly she lowered her coffee mug back to the table. Some of the coffee slopped over the edge onto her hand, but she paid this no particular mind. "But... that's today," she whispered.
Charlene looked blankly around the room for a week, as though expecting to see some sort of explanation there. "This must be a joke," she muttered to herself. "I'm obviously not dead, so..."
She turned back to the computer, except it wasn't there. Neither was the card table; she was standing in the middle of what should have been her living room, except there wasn't a stick of furniture in it. Her curtains were gone, too, which meant any old lookie-loo could see through the windows, and... was that new paint on the walls...?
The front door opened suddenly, admitting the landlord and a young couple Charlene didn't recognize. "...since last month," the landlord was saying, "ever since the last occupant passed away."
"Mr. Ewers?" Charlene called to him. "I don't -- "
"This is a nice living room," the strange woman interrupted. "I love these huge windows -- they let in so much light."
"I'm -- " Charlene started again.
"Oh, and check out the skylights," the strange man said, pointing up.
"Nice!" replied the woman.
"Excuse me -- "
"You said the last tenant died, though?" the strange man asked Mr. Ewers. Charlene was right in front of him, waving her hands wildly before his eyes, but it was like he didn't even see her -- just looked right past her at the landlord.
"Y... es," Ewers replied hesitantly, "that's true." Charlene whirled about and stalked up to him, repeating the hand-waving experiment on him. "She was an older lady," Ewers went on, "and, well. She just passed away one night in October."
Charlene hauled off and slapped him.
And her hand passed right through his face.
"Oh," she said softly. "I see." She looked over at the young couple -- who were talking together now, obviously discussing the apartment -- and sighed. "Well, I do hope they'll at least put up some nice curtains in here. I don't want to have to haunt a place that looks slutty."