WIP: Last Week’s Ghost

Picture of a coffee cupI’ve written two stories so far this week, but I think this is the one that will be the next Patreon story. Here’s how it begins.

The ghost had chosen the apartment because it was as good a place as any. His body had died in the hospital, but that place was odd and unsettling, seething with the ghosts of things other than human: bacteria and viruses and parasites. Those filled the corridors along with all the childrens’ ghosts, which he found most troubling of all.

He had spent five years altogether in the apartment, the longest he had ever lived anywhere other than his childhood home, which had been torn down decades ago. So he chose it, and furthermore chose the final week of each year, rather than enduring throughout the full 365 days.

There was something about that last week of the year, the stretch between Christmas day and New Year’s eve, that drew him. His wife lived in the apartment for a year after his death, and he stayed a great deal of time in the week, watching her write out overdue Christmas cards, her eyes red rimmed, her jaw set to avoid thinking about the thing that had devastated her.

He was sad for her in the way that ghosts are sad, an abstract and gray sympathy. Ghosts choose this state deliberately. Otherwise they can be torn apart by the grief of their loved ones. It is a choice that shames them, although all of them make it, and so he hid from her, even knowing that she could not see him.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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