A ghost story

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There is one real girl in a town of ghosts, but she does not believe in ghosts.

There is a grocery store on the rich side of town and a grocery store on the poor side of town. Both fill up with ghosts on Sunday evening but their pretty shoes don’t even touch the tile floor.

A ghost picks up a grapefruit to weigh in her hands, out of habit, but she can’t feel its heft. She picks out yellow flowers for the table but she can’t smell their clean, sour scent. Tonight another will turn down the sheets, remove the shams, and float in the cold air above the bed.

The ghosts give off a small light in the dark.

The real girl watches empty cars drive down the street, dresses disappear from the department store. She watches babies roll down the path through the park in their strollers, alone. She watches little boys grow strong and tall and bold.

Tonight the real girl gets ready for a party. She sits in front of the mirror and does her hair into a braid. She says goodbye to her father eating a TV dinner and then drives to the party, heart in a knot.

The door to the hotel is wooden and wide and heavy as it opens. She walks past the bar to the dance floor, through the thin empty bodies of a small crowd. They are gathered around a teenage girl in the corner. She is singing.

The real girl looks for someone she has missed, who has been on her mind too much. She is glad to see him and admires his soft blue jacket, the way he steps happily into the room. When she is finally close to him she is relieved and he talks too much.

A ghost waves to her from the corner. She does not turn her head but stands near the man and listens well. She nods when he glances her way. Her little thoughts drift about, invisible. Inside of her body, her secret messages wave to the ghosts, like a handful of ribbons thrown in the breeze.

El Fin.