Outside my window, there is a ghost.
It only shows up at nighttime and I never know why it’s there, staring down at me.
“What do you want?” I ask the ghost.
The ghost does not respond.
I walk up to the window and press my hand against it. The ghost copies my movements. We hold them there for a while, then I lower my hand. The ghost does the same.
We stare at my handprint on the glass. Our eyes don’t move from it as it begins to fade.
“Why are you here?” I ask the ghost again. The ghost still does not answer.
I shut the curtains, turn off the lights, and head to bed. The ghost is still outside my window, waiting.
In the morning, I open the curtains. The ghost is gone and there is no trace of it having ever been there. The only thing outside is the graveyard.
It is a relatively small graveyard. There are broken headstones and most of the graves have been left unattended for years. It is a sad thing and makes me think of my grandparents.
I push the windows open to air out the room. I leave the house to go on a walk, heading down the street that I have become familiar with in the past year.
There isn’t much going on in this town, so I ask a friend to come down and watch the waves with me.
“Some wind, huh?” she says.
“Yes,” I reply. “It’s very windy.”
“I think we’re catching the tail end of some storm,” my friend says. “That’s why it’s so windy.”
“That’s good to know,” I say. “It’s very cold,” I say.
“Do you believe in ghosts?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” she says. “At any given moment I may or may not believe in ghosts. It depends on the moment I am in. Why?”
“I don’t believe in ghosts,” I say. “All the supernatural stuff, it’s all crazy talk.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” she says. “Some people really do think they have experienced a haunting.”
“Sure,” I say.
We leave the pier when the wind gets strong. It is too cold to stay outside. We head inside a cafe and order coffees and some food.
“It’s better inside,” I say.
“It sure is,” she replies.
We eat our food and drink our coffees.
“What would you do if you see a ghost,” I say, “standing right in front of you?”
She takes a sip of her latte and gives me a look. “I don’t know,” she says. “Why?”
“Just wondering,” I say. “I wouldn’t know what to do either.”
She makes another face and shakes her head.
“I think my house is haunted,” I tell her.
“I don’t know what you want me to do,” she says.
“I don’t know what to do,” I say. “I just wanted to say something about it. I feel like I should.”
“Do you want some professional help?”
“Is that how it’s done?”
“An exorcist, or something,” she says. She takes a sip.
“I don’t think I need that,” I say. “I think I need something else.”
“Okay,” she says. “What does the ghost do?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said your house is haunted,” she says, “so what is the haunting like? Arranged chairs, flickering lights, or open cabinets?”
“There is just a ghost,” I say, “that stands outside my window.”
“Yes,” I say. “It doesn’t really do anything and it’s pretty boring, it just stands outside my window and I don’t like it.”
She makes a face and says, “Were you, well, haunted before you came here?”
“No,” I say. “I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“Then why say you’re haunted if you don’t think they’re real? You can’t be haunted if they’re not real to you.”
“I don’t know,” I say. “Maybe it’s always been there and I’ve just never noticed until now.”
She gives me a look. She doesn’t believe me or that the ghost exists. I purse my lips and finish my coffee and my toastie.
“Well,” I say, “it’s time for me to go. I have something that I need to do.”
“Okay,” she says, “I need to head off too.” She grabs my coat and hands it to me. I take it from her. “I need to buy a gift for my friend,” she says. “You see, her birthday is coming up soon and I think I should get her an amber. Her name is Amber, you know, so I thought it would be a good idea. Do you think it’s a good idea?”
“Yes,” I lie. “It’s very original.”
I leave the coffee shop and wave her goodbye. She heads down the street to the shop and I turn to go the opposite way. There’s nothing in that part of town – a few restaurants, another cafe, and a very small supermarket for the other residents.
People don’t come to this place for the food or the work – it’s too small for something like that. People here either haven’t moved out yet since birth or have retired and decided to live the rest of their lives in this picturesque seaside town.
I stand outside some shops and pretend to be interested in their knives or their surfboards. I head to the other pier and pretend to enjoy the sea wind and watch the moored boats.
I turn and then stop at the carpark, watching as tourists come and go, heading to bars and other restaurants that are too expensive for me to eat in. I watch them until the sun begins to set and the world goes blue. Then I head home.
The cemetary is the fastest way to head back to the house. On the way there, no one passes by me. There aren’t even cars. I head into the cemetery and the sky darkens some more.
The windchimes that I only hear when the night is quiet rings loud beside me. I look and see my window.
The ghost isn’t there because I hear it behind me.
I don’t greet it. I keep walking and it continues to follow me. It’s not from this graveyard, not any of the dead that are buried here. I don’t believe in the supernatural. The ghost keeps following me.
I don’t know if I said it or if the ghost did. I brush it aside and keep heading up the road, soon I reach the house.
I pull out my keys and walk into the house. The ghost doesn’t follow me in. I go to the kitchen and play some music and make myself dinner. I try to be as noisy as possible. I can’t hear anything else than the boiling water and the electronic song.
Still, midnight comes quickly and I begin to feel tired. When I turn on the light in my room the ghost is back at the window, staring me down.
“Why are you doing this?” I ask it. It does not speak this time.
“Stop doing this,” I say. I kneel down in the middle of the room. “Just leave me alone.”
But I know I will never get rid of it. It will always be there. I can ignore it, hide it behind the curtains, talk about it, not talk about it… But it will always be the same. It will always be there. Nothing will ever change.
I wipe my face from my tears and close the curtains and turn off the light and go to bed. I stare up at the ceiling and I know, no matter what I do, outside my window, there will always be a ghost.
Categories: fiction, realistic fiction, short stories
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