The Ghost: A Short Story

The man was snoring now. The woman raised herself on one elbow, propped up her pillow, and rested her head on it. Their holiday was over. They were flying home in the morning.

Any moment now, the ghost would arrive. The ghost never came so late, but tonight the man had thwarted their plan. She had been talking to the ghost in the hotel lawn when the man had called her to the restaurant. And then he had not let her out of sight. When he went to the men’s room, she had turned around and pleaded with the ghost to stay.

She feared the man because he heard everything she said to the ghost. What she said behind his back and when he was asleep also reached him somehow. But they had slept together for 15 years and the woman knew when the man was really asleep. He had eaten too much to fake the snoring tonight.

She didn’t care what he would find out tomorrow. For now, she was the ghost’s and the ghost hers. If, the ghost came.

“I can’t see you,” said the ghost.

“That’s good,” she replied with a start. “Love is blind.”

She felt him stroke her hair, although it could have been the breeze from the open window.

“If only I could see you now,” said the ghost.

“Me too,” she said.

She was feeling light as the breeze. She kept her feet on top of the cool cotton cover and noticed how deeply and slowly she was breathing.

“Is this a dream?” she said.

“What else can it be between us?” he replied.

“Wake me up,” she said.

“Can’t. I can’t even see you,” he reminded her.

“Why must you be a ghost?” she said ruefully.

He didn’t answer, and the man’s snoring filled the night.

“Follow me to the bathroom,” she said.

“Gladly,” he chuckled, and she turned red with pleasure.

She turned on the light and shut the door behind her softly.

“Now?” she said smoothing her short black chemise, but without waiting for his answer turned to look at herself in the large mirror.

“Do you see me,” she asked again, brushing her curly hair.

When he did not reply, she worried whether she had locked him outside.

“Are you here?”

“Yes,” he said gravely.

“And?” she said uncertainly, not taking her eyes off herself in the mirror. She touched her slim, naked shoulders and slid her hands slowly down her sides. How could it be that he found her after all these years, and could come to her every night, and follow her into the bathroom, but not see her?

She looked self-consciously at her greying hair, and reassured herself by pressing on her firm dancer’s thighs.

“Do I look old,” she asked, playing with a ringlet of hair.

“No,” he said promptly.

“Is it the chemise? You find it improper?”

“No-no,” he said, “it’s gorgeous.”

She breathed again. “And me?” she said it coyly this time, her heart racing.

“I don’t see you,” he said, suppressing a sob. “I see everything. I see parts but not the whole. I don’t see YOU.”

She didn’t hear him cry, but he saw her hunched shoulders shake and swirl like an image in a pond stirred by the wind.

***

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