My Great Grandmother’s Ghost Welcomes My Ghost Into the World of the Dead | Rebecca Turkewitz

3 mins read

My dear, I think you’ll make a fine Attic Ghost. You seem destined for the slow creak of floorboards in a sleeping house. Just imagine: your silhouette framed in the window of a room that’s supposed to be dark. Imagine: your footprints in a corner’s gathered dust. 

But anywhere you care about will do. I know how drawn you are to trains. There’re plenty of possibilities if you feel the pull of the tracks: a tired commuter catching a flash of you as the train streaks by, your arm pointing back and back into the lonely woods; a frantic conductor trying to warn you off the tracks during a dark winter run; a little girl appreciating how you sit, back straight as an arrow, watching the sun set over the saltmarshes. You don’t strike me as silly enough for nostalgia, so I won’t insult you by suggesting the crooked halls of your college dormitory or the ancient swing set in your elementary schoolyard. But you might consider the basement apartment on Elm Street where you learned how much you liked living alone. Perhaps that would do nicely.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, you’ll need to learn to let your anger spread like a thick, creeping fog. You’ll need to learn to change the air in a room, the feel of the night, the mood of a storm. You’ll need to learn to stroke wrists and the backs of necks in pitch-black rooms. You’ll need to forget about apologies. You’ll need to forget how to appease anyone but yourself. 

How pleased I am for you to finally meet me, my darling girl. Such lovely, thick curls you have. You get them from my side of the family.

Look at me. You’re done with lowered eyes. Every room you enter is yours now. 

Rebecca Turkewitz holds an MFA in fiction from The Ohio State University. Her short stories and humor writing have appeared in The Normal School, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Masters Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, New South, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and elsewhere.