a ghost story
by Alex Reynard
He still hasn't noticed.
For weeks now I've been moving his keys, untying his shoes, leaving the fridge open, knocking over boxes, switching his game discs, unlocking his car overnight, unscrewing the mayo, unplugging his chargers, hiding his wallet, flushing the toilet, and turning off his alarm.
He still hasn't noticed me. This apartment is such a disaster area, any changes I make, he just shrugs and assumes he did it himself and forgot.
Look at him. Splayed out on the couch like a carcass. I'd think he was dead if it wasn't for the garlic-scented snoring, loud enough to drown out the TV he left on again, of course. And he's on the couch again, of course. I don't remember if I ever saw his bed not completely covered in crumbs, cereal boxes, Amibos, and Magic decks. Sleeping little angel. Deep in dreamland like this isn't a work day. How the hell does he still have a job!?
And how long have I been rooted here staring at him, wishing, not for the first time, that my hate alone could make his heart stop beating.
It takes all my energy to interact with reality anymore. I'd strangle him, but my fingers pass right through. I've slapped and kicked him... maybe a couple thousand times. He just strolls on by like I'm not there. Just keeps on streaming. Just keeps on beating off. Just keeps on folding whole pizza slices directly into his unbrushed bat cave of a mouth. I can make him drop his food sometimes, but then I have to go incorporeal for the rest of the day from the strain. Like a full-body migraine. Meanwhile he just picks it back up off the floor and eats it. Of course.
This is my hell. Nothing I do fazes him. He's the immovable object.
It was like this when I was alive too. So many arguments, trying, trying, TRYING to get him to do his half of the chores. To rinse his dishes. To not let the trash spill over. To do ANYTHING around here to make this place bearable. Most of the time, I'd bunker down in my bedroom like it was radioactive wasteland outside. His filth conquered the entire rest of the house.
I was in the bathroom one day. Taking a shower and trying not to let my body touch any surface around me. Stepping out, I slipped. I slashed my foot open on a broken tile. Any other place, it wouldn't have gotten infected. Or at least not so badly. Any other apartment, I wouldn't have had to feel my bloodstream turn into pure poison. I wouldn't have had to spend the last December of my twenties in a hospital bed, feeling my body boil itself alive with fever as my guts liquefied and drowned my heart.
I woke up back here. And I screamed.
Yet no matter how hard, nothing but silence came out. I can't even see myself. There's just my memories, and my spite.
Because I watched him go about his business as usual. Like I'd just stepped out for groceries. No tears. No grief. Just the same TV, same games, same oversleeping. The guy across the hall asked about me once.
"Oh him? He's gone."
Gone. I might as well have just moved out. And looking back, it was half my fault for not doing exactly that.
But it's too late for regret. Too late for reflection or redemption. There's not enough left of me for any of that.
There's only this endless, slow, deep, infinite, smoldering hate.
So now I have a new idea.
You see, moving smaller things is much easier than bigger things. It takes less energy, I mean. It's still difficult as hell. My fingers are like steam, and invisible anyway, so you can imagine the fun I have trying to grip something between them. But at least it doesn't incapacitate me with exhaustion.
Of course he'd never notice an uncapped medicine bottle or two. I can do about one pill every three hours.
I think by tomorrow, I'll have all of his antidepressants replaced with Tylenols.
Then I wait.
Look at him sleeping. I hope it's another nightmare. From the looks on his face, he's been having them more often than normal.
I can wait.
I can leave the sleeping pill bottle by his bed. And the box cutter.
And then we can finally be reunited again, face to face.
I can wait as long as it takes.