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Ghosts Like Us

“Can I see you?” He asks, breathless, chest tight as he sits in the oppressive silence of the living room. Eyes shut tight as instructed as he breathes deeply, candle smoke burning his nostrils, wondering for a moment if doing this on a highly flammable carpet was a good idea. If doing any of this is a good idea.

But he’s already lit the candles, already drawn the symbols in sickening red paint, already committed himself by saying the words. He’s never summoned a ghost before, doesn’t even know if he believes it possible. Though google was surprisingly and disturbingly helpful, and supposedly it’s easier with someone who was close to the deceased, especially if you can conduct it in the last place they’d lived in.

Good thing he still had access to their apartment.

The young man coughs. He always hated the smell and taste of smoke, and sitting cross legged  in the same spot, at night, in a place he really shouldn’t be in, for hours on end with nothing to show for his efforts, except maybe lung problems later on, makes him question once again, if any of this was worth it. If calling up his dead lover to apologize is even going to work. Or if he’s gonna fall asleep and wake tomorrow, tired and sore, just as broken and disappointed as he is now.

He gets his answer a moment later when a chill sweeps over him; prickling the skin of his hands and forearms and frigidly burning his nose and cheeks. His eyelashes flutter but do not raise. Deep in his twisted core, sickening belief swells, and he knows what he will find, knows looking will only cement the horrible truth. Will only shatter his tittering mind.

Still. Still he asks the question, expects an answer from one who no longer owes him anything. Who owed him less than nothing in life.

“Can I see you?” He begs again, throat tight, a headache growing behind his closed eyes. “Please, say something. I’m sorry.” He chokes, swallowing dryly as the remembered echo of her screams sound in his ears. “I’m sorry.”

What the young man doesn’t see, is a young woman with long dark hair and ashen skin kneeling before him. A burst of crimson staining the front of her shirt, dripping down to spread across her jeaned thighs. He doesn’t see the dark frigid madness in her glazed eyes, mouth pressed in a thin line with frost gathering around her knees. Water drips from her hair, clothes sticking to her thin pale body, a pink puddle taking form under her.

“What do you want?” He pleads, eyes still shut tight. “What do you need me to do?” He rasps, leaning forward unconsciously into her cold and burning aura. His heart aching for her touch, for the sweet sound of her voice. For her to forgive him, to tell him she was fine, that she wasn’t mad at all for him killing her.

He hadn’t meant to strike her with a knife, he couldn’t remember why it had been in his hand to start with. All he could remember were her screams, and the horror of the aftermath. Of sobbing and clutching and painting his skin in spilled red before the fists began pounding on the door. His neighbors calling, questioning, before their voice was overrun by the sound of sirens. He’d panicked then, had ran out the back with her corpse in his arms, had run all the way to the bridge several blocks away. He’d stopped halfway across, shaking and terrified, remembering her love of water before slowly walking over to the edge and throwing her over before taking off once more.

(After all, you hadn’t meant it. His mind whispers, sickeningly sweet. It was an accident. She’d understand. No one else would, but she was different. She’d understand. You’d loved each other. She’d understand.)

Her answer is spoken from frozen lips still dripping with a pink slowly darkening to red with every heavy breath. From a voice once so soft and lovely, now only a choking rasp with barely a fraction of its previous musical tone. His former love says;

“Open up your eyes and see.”

He obeys without hesitation, and his eyes widen and water, fisted hands curling even tighter against the carpet, knuckles white, palms prickling with crescents of pain.

“Now you’ve seen me,” The ghost whispers, cocking her head to the side, long tangled hair drip, drip, dripping onto the carpet, a growing puddle of red rising, reaching towards him with clawing fingers. He trembles, lips parting, but no sound comes. He can’t move.

“Now you cannot unsee.” She grins, it is not a happy image, and then he is swallowed by cold wet darkness.

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