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SARAH W. by T.S.J. Harling

There is not yet a ghost in this place, but there will be.  

A long time ago there was a school, then another school, and then different offices. I lived in a house with an upstairs and a downstairs, a basement and an attic. We were a family. I was a girl. This is what I remember, not what I imagine. Although nothing can be verified without a living body, here with me, to speak and either object or affirm.

Then, I was always in an act. Of laughing, talking, dancing. There were others around me, other girls, and we made up our own music. One of us was often upset about something. I was there, I was real, I was one of them. We drew breath. 

Then I became someone else. I live here now. The other girls live in their own houses. We can only communicate telepathically and in silence. I listen not to their voices but to the drumbeats of my neighbours around me on each side, which both hem me in and keep me alive. I think I would stop breathing if they quietly left, one by one. For now, each day and night they come and go; footsteps back and forth, submerged voices, TVs going on and off, doors opening and closing. Meanwhile I cling to the floor for dear life. Don’t leave me, I say. Don’t leave me. I am still here. I live. 

Feels like I can feel the circulation of the earth, a slowed sensation, ever turning away. Gravity isn’t strong enough. Not like it used to be. 

While they sleep or when they go out I have to listen for other noises to keep me in the room. The low hum of the fridge. The click of the boiler resetting. Air moving in and out of my nose. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the rain falls against the window, or a dog will bark. 

I am in all parts of this home. In the corners of the ceiling, when I can’t get back down, scratching the walls. Behind the door. In the corridor. Standing on the rug in the centre of the room, smiling as you walk in. I’m here, I know I am, don’t say I am not. 

I have opened the doors of the cupboards in the kitchen. I have pulled the chair up to eat at the table. I have slept on the sofa. I have run the taps in the bathroom. I have looked out of the window, waiting for him to come home. I have tidied, cleaned and put away. I have hung my coat on the hooks by the front door. 

You don’t believe in ghosts. You will be ok.

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