Ghost log

by Amandeep Jutla

The one time she mentioned to her father that a ghost whispered a word into her ear every night, the big man laughed. “What a coincidence,” he said. “Me too.”

When she was a few years older, she realized he’d been joking. Nobody, except for her, ever heard the ghost. This seemed significant. Perhaps the ghost’s whispers were a message, and perhaps it was her duty to record it. She started keeping a log.

Every night she waited for the whisper. Always a single word, often one that was unfamiliar to her. “Viscid.” “Gangrenous.” “Fissured.” “Mutagen.” “Excoriation.”

There was a deep dread in her that kept her from consciously stringing the words together and reading them. She didn’t want to look at them in sequence, didn’t want to puzzle them out into sentences. She thought only in single words, one after another, night after night.

She took the log camping. She took it to sleepovers. When she went off to college, it traveled with her. It was always a part of her ritual, until she lost it. After that, the words stopped. She still listened for the ghost, out of habit, but it had nothing to say.

One night she watched the moon lose its shape and trickle down the sky. The stars went dark. She felt the ground beneath her shake, and watched as pillars of flame rose in the distance.

Someone had found her ghost log.