Ghost, But Not the One With Patrick Swayze


by Alyssa Bersine

Lydia would be hard pressed to admit she was anything but alive.

Every morning, her head buzzed and colors flashed in successive patterns before her eyes. Red, blue and yellow. Her eyes had gone all wrong, but she never voiced this out loud, fearful the man and the woman in their respective rooms would hear. He in his room of red, and she in a room that had been blue when Lydia had occupied it, now yellow.

They kept saying things were not permanent, anyway, but she had forgotten the meaning of the word and didn't own a dictionary.

So she stayed in the living room, where all the furniture loomed like the Ku Klux Klan. And in the day she examined the people walking below on the street. She was good at finding flaws. Bad teeth. Bad hair. Stupid shoes. Probably watches kiddie porn.

Sometimes she counted the toothbrushes in the little plastic duck holder. One, two, three. Red, blue and yellow. Lydia took hers out and stuck it behind her ear for safe keeping, because duck holders were for togetherness and she was alone.

At night, when the apartment stood still, she dreamt of cats. Red, blue and yellow cats, hiding under sheets, mewling and pawing at her, tangling her hair. One night they left a cherry colored pistol under her pillow. It was filled with stagnant water, and she shoved it in the waist of her jeans.

When she couldn't sleep, she played an old video game on the boxy TV. This is what it was about: A space pirate, who must fight a space whale who is eating all the stars. Her spaceship is run by cats. The stars have faces and they cry out when they are chomped into bits by the whale.

When she reached the last level, and finally faced the whale once and for all, she hesitated and it swallowed her whole.

She did not press "A" to continue. She just sat in front of the blaring blue screen, transfixed.

The next day, the woman said, "Did you leave the TV on?"

"No," the man said and turned it off.

"I don't like this place," she said. "It gives me the creeps."

"You're imaging things," he said.

"Mrs. Miller down the hall told me the girl who used to live here killed herself," the woman said. "They didn't find her body for a week. I guess she didn't have any friends or family. Mrs. Miller said the girl had a bunch of cats, and they ate her."

"And what did they do with the cats?" the man asked.

The woman hesitated. "I don't know. Probably put them down, I'd guess."

Lydia, cherry pistol in hand, sat on the couch. "Cats don't eat people, you know."

The man rolled his eyes. "She's just trying to scare you. No one died here."

Lydia pointed the pistol at the woman's head. The woman shook.

"I hate this place," she said.

"You'll get used to it," the man said. "Just wait until we've settled in."

"I don't want to wait," the woman said. The man rolled his eyes.

"Look, you're the one who wanted to live in the city," the man said. "And we're here now.  I've already put money down on this place and we've signed the lease. We're going to be here for a while."

Lydia smiled. She steadied the pistol and pulled the plastic trigger.




BIO: Alyssa Bersine lives in a place called Cornell, which is probably about as close to Nowhere, USA you can get. During the day she's a student at Northern Michigan University. She can neither confirm or deny she's a superhero by night.