Magical Flash Fiction – Farah’s Ghost by Amelia Cotter
Farah came to housesit at the strange old house. On the third day, a man came to clean. “People say this place is haunted,” he told her. “The little boy, he disappeared. Strange child.”
That night, there were footsteps in the attic. The next morning, Farah found an old family photo outside her bedroom door. She recognized the homeowners, but there was a boy in the photo, too. Written under his face: “Jesse.”
The next night, there were footsteps again. Too loud, too deep, too intentional to be a child’s ghost. The next morning, Farah found a paper flower outside her bedroom door. “Jesse,” she said, and decided to explore the house.
She found a staircase leading to the attic. It was dark and gloomy, as attics are. At the end of the attic was an open door—someone’s room, with a bed and desk and desk light and things.
Children’s toys. Literature, classics. An odor. Men’s clothes. A sound behind her. She turned and saw the dark silhouette of a man half-hidden behind a wooden beam. She approached, and he revealed himself.
He was tall, thin, and pale, with sad, blue eyes. Unmistakably the boy, grown. “Are you a ghost?” Farah asked. He shook his head no. “Are you the boy in the photo? Jesse?” He nodded. “You live up here?”
“Sometimes I hurt people,” he answered.
“What about me?” she asked. He looked deep into her dark eyes and shook his head no. “Then come down,” she said. He followed without hesitation, to the bathroom for a bath and to the kitchen for dinner.
The next morning, she told him, “Today, we will go for a walk.”
“…To the end of the drive, to get the mail.”
“We’ll drive to the mall, to buy you new clothes.”
“Jesse, I must leave and go to the store.”
“No,” he growled, and when she tried to leave anyway, he slammed the front door using only his mind.
Farah reeled. “Is this how you hurt people?”
He shook his head no. “Much worse.”
“But you won’t?”
“Not you,” he promised. “Not if you promise to stay.”
Two more days passed, and he forced the door closed again. “Jesse, I have to go to the store!” Farah cried.
Jesse cried, too. He couldn’t bear to let her go. But she escaped, out a back door. She returned safely a few hours later, and spent the rest of the day quieting him.
Time passed and, one day, the cleaning man fled the house in terror. Time passed and the homeowners returned, and Jesse transformed into something else, killed them, and consumed their bodies before Farah returned from this place that she called “the store.”
But, of course, she knew.
Time passed and people drove by the house to stare. Time passed and Farah stayed, and she even became pregnant. “Soon you must take me to the hospital,” she told him.
“How?” he begged.
When the day came, Jesse suffered the cars and the traffic and the buildings. He suffered the doctors touching her, and their daughter was born.
“Someday, she, too, will go to the store!” he declared as he held her for the very first time.
Jesse would sit anxiously by their window and watch them come and go. Farah and their daughter, dearly as they had learned to love him, also learned how to see him—and never to stare.