Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flash Fiction by Cathy Ulrich


The Ghost Haunting You
 
The ghost is only a little boy. He’s told you he was hit by a car while running across the street after his ball.
 
Statistically speaking, do you know how many children are killed chasing after balls? you say, while I rinse leftover oatmeal from my breakfast dishes. It’s more than you’d think.
 
Before we moved here, you never really thought about ghosts. All your family was long-lived and died without regrets. You hadn’t even seen Poltergeist.
 
Didn’t the little girl die of cancer? you asked me after we watched it. I heard she died of cancer.
 
You thought how tragic it was for someone to die like that, unfulfilled, young. You began setting goals. We’d be married by the end of the year. In our own house by spring. You’d cut your hair. You’d get a promotion. We’d have a nice car.
 
Still, you didn’t think about ghosts until we came here.
 
Now you think about them all the time.
 
The creaking on the stairs is the little boy going up and down, you tell me. He had a happy childhood, just like you did. Death came for him so quickly, a blue sedan’s brakes squealing, his head striking the pavement, his ball rolling into the gutter.
 
You have conversations with the ghost of the little boy while I brush my teeth for bed.
 
Oh, I see, you say. Oh, I see.
 
The ghost of the little boy never speaks to me. You say it’s because I don’t believe in him. It’s true that I’ve asked around the neighborhood and nobody’s ever heard of any little boys getting hit by cars and dying.
 
People don’t talk about that sort of thing, is all, you say. No one wants to talk about a little boy who got hit by a car and died.
 
Except you. You want to talk about him all the time. That’s all you ever talk about anymore.
 
Don’t you believe in ghosts? you say, and I roll away from the cold space beside me, where you used to sleep.
 
 
 
Cathy Ulrich writes when she can and works at a funeral home. There are no ghosts there, but she always says good night to the dead people, so they don't feel lonely.

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