“You have a ghost,” she told him, and they both paused to peer up at his ceiling, as if they could see it there.
“It’s an old house.” He said. He had only moved in a few months ago and hadn’t fully unpacked. He couldn’t be blamed. He could be blamed, however, for bringing her here. At the bookstore where they met he had touched her shoulder because he was sure she was someone he knew, and later after the cafe, when he smiled and tilted up her face it was the fleeting memory of someone else he kissed.
She sighed and burrowed close to him. “It doesn’t seem malicious.”
“How do you know?” He asked, his hand automatically reaching to hold her.
“We had a ghost in the apartment where I grew up. He lived in the attic, most of the time, though some late nights he got lonely and clanked the pans in the kitchen downstairs. He was a sad ghost, but not unkind. He jumped out the window when he was very young, eighteen, nineteen, maybe. He was sick and lonely and couldn’t speak well. He thought nobody loved him. But after he died he learned how wrong he was.” Her eyes were closed, her expression content yet serious. “I looked for him years later, in the local newspaper archives. I’m sure it was the same boy. Even his name matched how the ghost felt. He loved it when I played music. That was when I felt him the most, sometimes stirring by the window. Especially when I was sad. I think he didn’t want me to do what he did.”
“What do you know about the ghost here?” He asked.
She was quiet. The playlist he put on had reached its last song. He toyed with her hair, the familiar, tangled curls. “I don’t know yet.” She said, finally. “You should recognize it better. It’s not very hard. You just have to pay attention.”
He tried to pay attention but mostly he felt the other kind of ghost. Her scent and touch and the melody of the way she laughed haunted his head, while the real girl laid her head against his chest, and heard the steady rhythm of his uncertain heart.
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