Hey Little Olives!
You guys may have noticed by now that I LOVE GHOSTS.
I love ghosts so much that Rooms, my first adult book coming out this September, is actually my third published book on the subject.
In fact, in honor of Rooms, I’ll be tweeting out an original ghost story under the…
YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! Keep unlocking the story by adding Rooms to your to-read shelf on Goodreads! :)
Haunted houses were supposed to be remote, old, and sinister, maybe located on the edge of a bog or a mist-enshrouded forest. But this one, homey and filled with natural light, stood in the middle of a street with excellent plantings, In Westchester of all places. It even had a living resident. May had lived in the house since she was a new bride, and she wasn’t going to stop just because her husband had died. Especially since, as she found out a year after his death, he wasn’t planning on leaving either. If death didn’t stop him, his ghost wouldn’t stop her. She’d always known love was forever. This just confirmed it.
Together they adjusted to his afterlife. It was no more difficult than it had been just after he’d retired. Just a change. They settled on a new routine fairly quickly. May would wake up in the morning alone, eat her breakfast tea and toast. At eight she would go into the library where she still worked in the children’s section. She came home at six every night. By this time her dead husband, Phillip, would begin to stir. At first it would just be little things: her wine bottle would uncork itself, her freshly pan-fried steak would go suddenly ice cold, the TV channel would change. Sometimes the lights would flicker, but the wiring was old and erratic, so that may have not been the ghost. Phillip would start to manifest midway through dinner, sometimes a little earlier if there was a sitcom on TV. They would sit in silence as he solidified on the couch or at the kitchen table, watching TV together as he became again.
When his transparent body was solid enough to make a dent in the couch, May would turn off the TV and talk to him. She worried sometimes that they would run of out of things to say, since her life was small and he couldn’t or wouldn’t say anything about the afterlife, but if anything he seemed more interested in the details of her day than he ever had. He’d ask so many questions that she started paying more attention so she could report back to him with accuracy. He wanted to know what flowers had come out, the price of milk, and if Betty Price’s boy had learned his alphabet yet.
Sometimes she would touch his hand, or squeeze one of his feet on the couch next to her, and he would smile his old smile. He felt cold but never unpleasant, like a sip of cool mountain water, refreshing no matter the weather. They went up to bed together, and he’d sing to himself in the bedroom while she brushed her teeth and hair. He was a better singer now than he had been before. His voice always echoed like he was in a shower stall. He kissed her goodnight, just once on the lips, and she fell asleep with just their toe-tips touching under the covers.
She always woke up alone.
One day in early October a nice looking man named Marvin walked into the library. He had a bright smile and freckles. Marvin liked mysteries, but he was getting tired of the British ones he’d grown up reading. He wanted something with grit. He’d never read any of the classic hard-boiled detective fiction. May found this unacceptable and steered him towards the Hammett and Chandler. He said his favorite detective story was The Murders in the Rue Morgue. She didn’t read much of Poe anymore. There was too much death, and too much that came after it. No happy ghosts for Poe.
Marvin left that day with a smile, a handshake, and a promise to report back on the Maltese Falcon. HIs hand was warm. May thought about him all day, but somehow she forgot to mention his visit to Phillip during their chat that evening. She held his hand for as long as she could, but after ten minutes the cold started to bother her and she had to let go.
The next morning she woke up alone.
Marvin came back to the library the next week. He’d finished reading The Maltese Falcon. She gave him The Big Sleep. In return, he made her promise to try Elmore Leonard. As soon as she got home she tore into Out Of Sight. She stood at the kitchen counter reading until Phillip had half-materialized and she realized she hadn’t made dinner. She put the book down next to the toaster and hurriedly put some fruit and yoghurt in a bowl. A new medical drama was on TV that night, but May’s head was filled with bank robbers, marshals, and freckled smiles. She was so distracted by her thoughts, she missed Phillips first question completely.
"What?" She said.
His face broke apart temporarily, like mist on a wind. May mentally scolded herself, and resolved to pay better attention. That night she dreamed of holding hands in the sunshine.
The next morning she read at breakfast, and all day behind her desk at work. A few weeks before Halloween Marvin asked her if she was able to get away from work to go have a cup of coffee with him.They drank chai and pumpkin lattes. The conversation was easy, even when they moved away from books on to other topics. They even talked about Phillip, (although not his current state of in-between). Marvin was sensitive, and interested. After an hour May had to go back to the Library. Marvin came with her, and lingered at her desk, making her laugh.
He might have stayed with her when it was time for her to go home, but she said a firm good-by. He asked for coffee again. She said yes, and then regretted it every night that week. Still, she never called to cancel. Instead, she started looking through the occult and religious sections of the library. Looking up ghosts.
She couldn’t consciously admit to what she was looking for, but she found herself lingering over stories of exorcism. She read about cold iron, spirt houses, and curved walkways. She read about burning sage, and more dangerous rituals.