My first ghost was also the most naive one. I was eleven when I found him between the drowsing hums of winter smog and the dirty window of my great-aunt's attic. His first words to me were: "Careful, you don't want to invite me in."
Pondering that warning, I felt a slight hesitation in my elbow, but only for a few seconds, after which I stretched my arm out and stepped on my tiptoes to reach him.
"Why wouldn't I want to invite you in?" I asked, to which he answered, "Because you're alive and I am no more."
We sat next to antique toys and boxes stuffed with paling photographs. Between servings of imaginary orange marmalade cookies and tea, we chatted about life and our love for dogs, till the ghost insisted on learning why I wasn't afraid. I giggled at his question. "Because people are just like ghosts, if not worse." I explained, causing the poor fellow to choke on his cookie.
"How so?" He managed to ask, having sipped on his invisible cup of lavender tea.
"We are hopelessly trapped, like ostrich heads in a fight-or-flight situation, or goldfish circling their heartbeats away in a bowl. Imagine bodiless blue eyes stupidly blinking in the Great Voids, or eye-less bodies wandering without aim, tongues stretched out to add trails of flesh on lone pavements. And because we are trapped, we are ruthless. Picture thieves combing the wind's balding head for stars and dealing them in graveyards for cigarettes. Sure, some have elegantly clogged neurons, which give them the ability to hawk cold choices at night, but to be honest, most are creaky-boned beasts, who do nothing but bathe in fable mist and soak their sins in the spring sun. "
"I see, things must have changed since I last saw a living soul." The ghost sighed, clear eyes smiling at me.
"It's not a secret my friend, people are as cold as stones." I said, pulling out an old lighter from my jeans pocket. "Yeah, deep down, we are charcoal puzzle pieces, made of ghosts burning for air." I watched him catch fire and then crumble to dusty shells. He didn't visit me again.
Ana Prundaru is a translator based in Switzerland. Her recent writing and art have appeared or are forthcoming in Souvenir Lit Journal, Up the Staircase, CutBank and Tishman Review. She can be found online at:https://posthaltelei.wordpress.com/.