The ghosts are very slippery and wet, like silvery over-cooked spaghetti, surprising and disgusting in equal parts. Marnie can’t seem to stop coming across them: two in her sock drawer; three hanging grimly from the shower curtain; a very small, greyish ghost that curls up next to the milk in the fridge; one big one that keeps hogging the remote control.
‘Just how long,’ Marnie says hotly, after missing the documentary she’d been looking forward to, ‘are you planning on being here?’
The big ghost blinks its wet eyes and hugs the remote closer. That’s another thing that pisses her off- they never say anything.
The ghost turns up the volume on some evening soap and Marnie throws up her hands. She stomps out of the front room and the ghost leaks all over the settee.
There’s a ghost on the toilet, three more in the sink, and five sitting in the bath all in a row like they’re in a log flume. Marnie bites her lip so hard it starts to bleed. Maybe this is why they’re all so wet all the time; they can’t keep away from the plumbing.
‘Fine,’ she whispers, ‘fine, I don’t need to shower, or clean my teeth, and,’ she aims this at the toilet ghost, ‘I’ll HOLD IT!’ Then she slams out of the bathroom and climbs straight into bed.
Her bedroom is very dark and quiet, and ghost-less for once. She stares at the ceiling. There’s a dip in the mattress beside her that should be filled with someone, but isn’t, and that’s fine too. It is. Absolutely.
She starts to cry, silently, and her tears soak into the pillow making it as cold and wet as the ghosts.
In the morning there’s a ghost the size of a cat curled around Marnie’s head. She tries to shoo it away and it skids down to the bottom of the bed like a naughty bar of soap. Groaning, she fumbles to throw it out and winds up further tangling it in the bed covers. It stares up at her balefully, with its big splishy splashy eyes.
‘Ok,’ she grumbles, ‘just live there then.’
It carries on: ghosts hanging in his wardrobe, making everything wet until, instead of smelling like him, all his clothes smell of is salt water. Two ghosts follow her to work and try to hold her hand when she’s in meetings. Teeny tiny ghosts the size of her fingernails splash around in coffee shops where she meets her friends.
But a year later there are hardly any. Just one in the shower, one in the bedroom, and some wafer thin ghosts, like slices of cucumber, sandwiched inside photo albums and books.
Then the shower ghost disappears, down the drain. The book ghosts go. The last ghost squishes down until it fits into her palm.
One unremarkable night, the last ghost slides wetly onto Marnie’s chest. It sinks down into her heart and disappears.
She doesn’t miss them.
About the Contributor
White is for Witching - Helen Oyeyemi
This is a strange and haunting read - part fairy-tale, part ghost story - but most of all it is a study of loss, and the devastating affect it can have.
More from Issue Six:
- Give Sorrow Words by Anna Vaught
- Pull me in by Melissa Fu
- Variations on Girl with a Red Balloon by Tessa Torgeson
- Written in Advance by Nathan Fidler
- Mrs Fox by Marian Womack
- Tomorrow by Vivienne Burgess
- The Kulaks Of Chelsea by Tadhg Muller
- Some Kind Of Happiness by Heidi James
- Dust Covers and Margins by Jennie E. Owen
- Sitting, Standing, Mending by Alison Jean Lester
- Ghosts by Catherine Mitchell
- And I was filled with such delight by Catherine Edmunds