Memory and Grief by Edward Vitasek


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SUMMARY: For Expendable's little unofficial Ghost story flash fiction writing contest, because it's fun.

"Michael?"

I'm here. Can you see me? Despite the dark? Can you feel me prickling in your spine? I'm here. You are grief, I am memory. Where else would I be? Mom's released me, asleep with the help of pills, now. Ghosts, it appears to me, acquire substance at night, when they're not drawn assunder by pockets of emotion across the cityscape.

I assembled at my funeral. Awareness came in degrees. I could not tell you who attendended, or how many. Coherence does not come easy to the dead. Only after the ceremony, the crowd dispersing and I with it, only then did I learn: I am what is left when attention withdraws.

Passion runs cold. No blood flows through me, I have no heart. I feel the lack, as I watch you. There you sit, upright in your bed. Darkness is no obstacle to the eyeless. Your eyes hold tears, but you don't shed them. You hug your blanket, rocking back and forth. The t-shirt you are wearing, is this mine? Did I give it you?

You blink the tears from your eyes. "Michael?"

Hush, I'm here.

"I'm going mad, Micheal, I'm going mad!"

No! I'm here, it's okay. Don't... don't...

"Why?"

Why? What do you mean?

"You bloody bastard! Why?"

And the tears come boiling from your eyes, and you heave and sob. I look down my makebelief body. Across my wrist three scars appear, two short and superficial, one long and deep. What have I done to you?

"You coward!"

And then you lie down on your side, bury yourself in your blanket. Your voice grows soft. "You coward..."


And as I watch, you are crying yourself to sleep. I cannot comfort you, I cannot leave. I'm afraid you will dream. I'm afraid you will ask me. Why? And then I will remember. Please... Anything but that.

Anything but that!