I have always been a fan of the Christmas ghost story. I think more so since moving to the northern hemisphere. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, the dark nights draw in, and we get more of those chilly days with that strange pale light that never really blooms into full sunlight. It’s a time of year that makes it easy to hide away indoors, near fireplaces or heaters, and reflect, or wonder…
So, as a special wintertime treat (for me) I let myself slide into this slightly darker place and tried my hand at a short winter tale for the 2020 academic.
They sit down in the twilight. Again. Face lit by the dull glow of their computer screen. Wonder when last it had been truly bright. When last the lamp on their desk had been allowed to rest. Wondering when their internal monologue had become so dramatic. Perhaps since the first lockdown when it started getting so much more stage time. There was a time when internal voices were washed over by external ones. When the loudness of life balanced those quiet whispers. Now though…
The walls in the closet room feel closer than usual. They stand abruptly and move the short distance to the window. Click. Stretching and closing their eyes. Clack. Imagining summer. Click. Opening their eyes. Clack. Watching a bus pass below. Click. Hearing the sound of their keyboard still tapping behind them like an echo. Clack. Trying to remember the sound of bird song instead. Click. Instead of sirens. Clack. Instead of silence. Click. Instead of this endless sound of typing.
With a sigh, they turn and cover the distance to the desk. Half expect to see the ghost of themselves lit by the dim screen glow. They take the space the ghost should occupy. Rub their eyes and let the real sound take over from echoes. Words flash on the screen. Maybe this time they’ll be the right ones, the ones that make it off this page and into the world. It’s dark next time they pause. Sigh. Go downstairs. It’s important to eat.
Still the sound of typing echoes. They reach for Spotify to banish it. Cook. Click. TV. Clack. Wash-up. Click. Read. Clack. Tea. Click. Lights off. Clack. Upstairs. CLICK. Clean teeth. CLACK. Pausing outside the door of the small room they call a study. CLICK. Dim light showing under the door. CLACK.
A shadow briefly sweeps the light. They glance to their left. Look out the window. A bus passes on the street below. Sigh. They turn and cover the distance to the place where the desk sits on the other side of the wall. The shadow under the door follows. Pause. The dim screen light settles under the door once more. They continue to the bedroom. Climb into bed. Turn off the lights.
We all live with ghosts
At least this one helps finish that damn paper.