1. In the thirteen minutes it takes you to make coffee, you feel the hundreds of spaces he is not. They say that this is how you sense a ghost, by passing through the cold patches and feeling your hair prickle; you say his side of the bed gets colder every day.Zetetic scene separator blank
  2. You find a forgotten postcard behind your desk, dry and smudged, and the words fill the room with her presence. You wonder if you feel her spirit or your own; you wonder if you are more ghostly than before.Zetetic scene separator blank
  3. Old habits cling to your skin. Old memories cling to your eyes. You notice that even your speech is altered, his phrasing falling from your lips. You wish you could be shadowed by other apparitions.Zetetic scene separator blank
  4. The more you move, the more you collect places to miss under your feet, under your skin; the more you stay, the more you are impressed upon by the places you have not seen.Zetetic scene separator blank
  5. It takes a funeral to realize that a ghost is not the company of the dead.Zetetic scene separator blank
  6. You miss them.Zetetic scene separator blank
  7. “Is a ghost a presence or an absence?” you ask your brother. “Neither,” he says. “It is the image you are left with when you finally look away.”Zetetic scene separator blank
  8. The curve of his palm, the line of his collarbone, the recess of his voice, the pull of his eyes. Sometimes, when you look at him, you swear you can see the parts that will not fade.Zetetic scene separator blank
  9. You pass a collection of faded trinkets on the road: a single gray shoe with dirty laces, a plastic bag catching the wind with a printed THANK YOU, a decrepit wooden chair with broken dowels. You wonder who they belonged to, when their absence was sharply and suddenly felt; you wonder what the other drivers are reminded of.Zetetic scene separator blank
  10. When you return to the house, you want it to be haunted, but it is empty, and the emptiness unnerves you most. You want to sense a presence, hear a door slam or a floorboard creak, but the only movement is the whisper of dust that stirs itself into the air as you pass. You realize that these spaces are not ghostly; you realize that, in ghosts, you are looking for a sign that something is still alive. You sit in her bedroom, willing her into the air, but you are alone. You do not sense her.  There is only a void, and that is not the terror of ghosts.Zetetic scene separator blank
  11. You close your eyes in the darkness, neither a presence nor an absence. You wonder if you have finally become the thing you seek. The room floods with light, and you breathe in sharply.  By definition, you will never catch what you are chasing; your fingers will brush the thin fabric of memory.  A breath will slip past your grasp.Zetetic separator

—Kristen O’Neal is currently inhabiting that empty space between graduation and the unknown (see: liminality). She harbors a love for the weird, the kind, and the biblical. You can find her on her blog (paradigm shifts) or on Twitter (@Kristen_ONeal).

One Response

  1. blog’s not dead « paradigm shifts
    at ·

    […] My prose poem, “Ghost Stories,” got picked up by Zetetic! Read it (here). I finished my full-length play, Kairos, which was accepted into the Hotchner Festival – read […]

Leave a Reply