Empty House

by Chris Buchanan
Flash fiction, 2012

The ghost looked more like a drawing of a woman; not a breathing body but just a collection of dry ink lines or etched cuts, setting into the walls and furniture. Everything she touched was marked with her thin, sharp lines. Everything became part of her.

The walls and the floor seemed as though they were tilting upwards, like a silent and gentle earth-quake, like someone was holding the house very carefully between finger and thumb and watching through the window. The ghost, even blacker as the light sled away from her and into the corners, the ghost stretched. The movement of what she had marked gave the illusion that she was coming to me, and a shadow made it look as though her eyes were moving.

More than anything I had ever wanted, I wanted to get out of the house. I chastised myself, the way my mother used to do, for ever wanting anything else. For ever worrying or being afraid, when this was the only moment that would actually require these emotions, these wishes. I felt as though I had nothing left now, that I had wasted my life.

The ghost seemed to shriek, like a mad animal who thought it was marking its territory. The mouth gaped unnaturally downwards as the house kept tilting. The spidery mass that looked like the trunk of her body grew longer and blacker. There was a bitter taste in the air, like rust and water.

I wanted to get out of the house. I didn’t want to believe it was real. And I wanted so badly to forget this.

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