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A Ghost Story

In the still quiet of the night, there is a knock. Nothing will stop it, this steady thumping. Before tonight there were only ghosts who peered into souls then vanished upon notice. But this knock is different yet not new. I have heard it somewhere some time ago.

The knocking woke me. Adrift in another dreamless sleep, the darkness cradled me in the chilly air. Comforted, I did not wish to wake until the end of October. I slept through the entire day, through the doorbells and screeches of trick-or-treaters. Intermittently I rolled over to note the sun passing through the sky. The orange glow accosted me as an unrelenting yet misunderstood spirit does a dysfunctional family in scary movies. I kept myself ignorant of the world around me until the knocks began. I ignored the first few hoping I could dismiss my haunt and continue with my life. To my dismay, I am awake.

The noise comes not from the door but rather an internal pulse. My doormat remains without visitors, but my chest quakes with the weight of multitudes. I do not desire to answer this beckoning within me, an aching of a fullness now replete with nothing. It grows in strength, and I claw and beat my chest to excise what’s inside. I scream, I rage…and it stops.

I walk to the bathroom, turn on the light, and stare at my ragged self in the abrasive fluorescence. Sweat clothes my trembling body and my hair is everywhere. I splash cold water on my face and feel nothing from within. Again, I’m at peace in the quiet. With water cupped in my hands, I sip to moisten my parched lips.

Behind me a breeze flows and the door creaks closed. The faucet gags until only a brown-black water oozes out. I turn to try the doorknob, which is locked. Above the mirror the light goes out.

One final knock thunders my chest and my heart almost explodes. Something like splintering wood cracks through my chest and I grip the sink to steady myself. With shut eyes and my jaw clenched, I taste blood and spit it in the sink.

Then it ends. When I open my eyes in the returned light, I see no blood in the sink and the water is crystalline. I feel no breeze and turn to see an open door. With my face to the mirror I note a hole in my chest the size of a small button. Surrounding it are purple veins spread like branches shooting from a tree’s trunk. The hole drips blood. I put a Band-Aid on it and return to bed. I fall asleep quickly and rest fitfully through the night.

The hole heals but a scar remains. No pulses run through me now. Sometimes, on cold, quiet nights with a slight breeze outside, I feel a brushing on my chest akin to that of leaves on a nearly bare branch caressing a wooden door of a house long ago abandoned.