Flash Fiction: Ghosts Of The Past

Drawing by Emily Tupper, Age 8

To celebrate Halloween, I wrote some flash fiction!

In the past month, I wrote one story with a vampire, and another with a zombie, so here’s one with a ghost.

*****

GHOSTS OF THE PAST

He would never be rid of her.

It was all he could do not to grind the enamel right of the tops of his capped teeth. Jenny appeared any time she wanted. He’d get home from work, grab a beer, and turn the television on for a little r&r after dealing with bullshit at the office all day and the next thing Hunter knew, there’d be Jenny on the couch beside him yammering about something or other.

Today she’d surprised him in the kitchen when he was warming up leftover pizza. Naturally, she’d offered her unwanted opinion about the pizza. It would make Hunter fat. It would make Hunter sick. Hadn’t Hunter heard about carbs? Everyone these days was skipping them. It was enough to make him want to get a restraining order but what the hell good would that do with a ghost? It’s not like the ghost police would come and drag her away. She wasn’t eating the carbs, couldn’t she leave his damn well enough alone? He had to settle for the strategy that got him through his marriage while it lasted: a few “uh-huhs”, “nopes”, and “wows” strategically placed.

If only he could go back and undo any number of bad choices. In the first damn place, the cockamamie idea to get married. Then to marry her of all people. To not adopt children. To not get divorced sooner. Stupid lawyer.

The money. That’s where he’d really screwed up. It took Jenny all of ten seconds to plunk down a cool hundred grand of his money for the new fountain of youth, Eternavitas. Sure, Jenny recovered that rockin’ bod she used to have before she crawled into a giant potato chip bag with a tub of chocolate frosting. But who cared if those perfect lips were exactly the shade of a luscious red apple when they wouldn’t ever close. Hunter couldn’t even make jokes about taking a breath like he used to when he still looked forward to seeing her. Near as he could figure out that was over a decade ago – long before her death.

He’d considered suicide. About half an hour into plotting a painless death, it hit him. What would happen when he died? Would he be trapped in Hell with her for eternity? Hunter couldn’t take the risk.

Early into her visits, Hunter stayed away once. Drove to a bar and threw back a few. He commiserated with some sap next to him about being unable to tell the difference between an actual twenty year old and someone who’d lived through World War II. The pill had amazing results, no question. Certainly added a new level of risk to dating. But Hunter forgot about all of that when he walked out of the bar to drive himself home. There she was, waiting by the car. She frowned. It was not a pleasant ride home. That was when Hunter stopped thinking about running. Stopped thinking about anything really.

The government pulled the drug almost immediately. There were whispers on the nets. That your body wasn’t the only thing it changed. You really would look your best forever. But it was too late by then. Jenny came over to cry on his shoulder when the official statement was made. He should have moved to Alaska the next day.

Funny thing then that he would run into Sarah at the pizza place. Sarah, his fifth grade girlfriend. What could he say, he was advanced for his age. Picking up a piping hot pie, he recognized her on the bench out front. What luck, Sarah remembered him! It didn’t take long for Hunter to realize the cold breath as she whispered in his ear was the answer to his problem.

A week later, Hunter followed his usual routine. A crappy day at work, take-out bought on the way home, his favorite spot on the couch with a beer in front of the TV. For the first time in months, he smiled. When Jenny materialized and saw Sarah sitting next to him on the couch, she lost it. It made Hunter wish he’d thought far enough ahead to make a bowl of popcorn. It took some persuasion on Sarah’s part but by the time the ghost of his fifth grade girlfriend, she of the championship high school lacrosse team, got through with Jenny, he knew she wouldn’t be coming back. Honestly, he’d never been happier.

In return for the favor, Hunter promised to stop by Sarah’s Halloween party. Seriously, what was the worst that could happen at a party with a bunch of ghosts? As long as Jenny wasn’t there, he was game. Surely, that rumor on the nets about the Eternavitas ghosts keeping humans as slaves wasn’t true?

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