When dealing with a ghost, doubting yourself becomes second nature. Intuition is never home when a chill answers the door. Instead, you’ll admonish yourself for running up the electric bill and work on being more mindful. Even after the A/C reads 78, you’ll make an appointment to get your eyes checked before bundling your bones in blankets. Anything to keep from acknowledging the icy presence lurking in your periphery.
Denial becomes your burial ground where you type emails on top of tombstones to maintenance. Only for men dressed in ghostbuster jumpsuits to confirm what you already know. This is your opportunity to face reality, but there has to be a better explanation for the cold shoulder you felt pressed against your spine. It must’ve been the wind in your windowless apartment.
They’ll check the ducts to placate you, but keep the bedroom door locked. You don’t want them to find the skeleton in your closet. Make them exhaust all possible causes before you stop sleeping with your gaslight. That’s when you’ll notice the smell of Acqua Di Gio cologne slithering into your sheets at 3 a.m., always telegraphing its arrival with the static of slurred apologies, a mumbling of sweet words that arrived much too late. You can make them stop by leaving a blanket on the couch, but this is not a long-term fix.
For that, you’ll have to perform a séance.
Begin the ceremony with a list of things lost. This far into a haunting, it’s rare not to have items moving around the room, some vanishing all together like conversation around the dinner table, the benefit of the doubt, a first trimester pregnancy. Do you remember him growing more translucent as you chronicle the past, passing through walls at every mention of we need to talk? Forget these courtesies when you take your seat at the summoning circle. They are only necessary to bring you to the table. What really needs to be uncovered is what keeps him suspended between earth and the hereafter.
It’s common knowledge spirits only haunt your halls when they have unfinished business to attend to. Find the answer in the gold glinting off that promised finger, a bond made before he left his body to grow cold in a bed turned unfulfilled promise when life never fostered in its sheets.
Place this grief in the center of your circle. You’ll know he’s near when that familiar chill forces the candles to flicker. Unable to offer him the life he so desires, you’re only left with what exists after he’s abandoned his own, but you will not find instructions here on how to put him back into his body, only how to let him go.
Finish the ritual by handing him the box you filled with his bones to bury in another graveyard. Make your parting words a blessing to haunt someone else’s home.
Najla Brown is a Lubbock native who now calls Houston home. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M in English and Political Science, and she spends her time writing, reading, and watching scary movies through her fingers.