Fiction

Haunted by You

Every love story is a ghost story.

I spent five hours reading through the boxes—seven, in total—of letters by and newspaper articles about Augustine and Peter. The articles gave away the ending: “Stricken by grief, Miss Roberts plunged to her death yesterday evening. Her father claims that the lovers had a pact; should Capt. Abbott be killed in battle, Miss Roberts would join him in death, so that they would not have to bear the burden of being apart.”

But the letters told the story:

Darling Peter,
It has been three weeks since I heard from you last. Please know that, should this be the end of you, it will be the end of me as well. I will wait for you in my room, wearing your favorite dress. Promise me you won’t forget.
Yours ever,
Augustine.

I left the library feeling broken. On my way home I passed the Allen Memorial Cemetery, and three rows back, to the left, was the stone for Capt. Peter Abbott, born 1925, died 1943. Someone had stuck an American flag by the stone.

“You were supposed to show up,” I said to the dirt. “She’s haunting my room, waiting for you, you creep.” The dirt did not talk back.

When I got home that night I cried and cried. Augustine didn’t appear, and stayed away for another six months.

***

When we were loading our van to move down here, my father asked me to double-check my room, to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I opened drawers, checked the closet, and peeked under the bed. There was a lot of space, but not much else.

“I’m leaving,” I said to the room. I said it again, louder. “I AM LEAVING NOW.”

She appeared by the window, same sad smile, same sad dress.

“Where have you been?” I asked.

“Here,” she said.

“I don’t think your boyfriend is coming,” I said.

“I know,” she said.

“Well then why are you still here? Why don’t you just go?”

“Do you know how Peter died?”

“World War II,” I said, as if that was what was on his death certificate.

“He was shot in the stomach,” she said. “He showed me the scars.”

“When?”

“The day he died. He came to my window to tell me before anyone else could.” She turned to face the window. “Then he said I had to stay, that it was important that one of us got to live, but I couldn’t bear it. He told me he loved me, then started disappearing in front of me, so I grabbed his arm to pull him into the room and now he’s gone and I’m still here.”

“Did you jump, or did you fall?” I had gone way past the point of determining or observing any boundaries of politeness with Augustine.

“I fell. And on the way down Peter flew next to me and told me he was sorry, and I said the same, and I promised that I’d keep living, for both of us, until I’d lived enough to move on.”

“But you’re not really living,” I said. “I mean, you can’t even eat a Snickers.”

“Yes, but Peter never knew that. All he knew was that I was here and he was there. And as long as I was here, he went on thinking that I was alive.”

“That’s so effing depressing.”

“But it’s not completely untrue,” she said, smiling. “I’ve seen thousands of lives come in and out of this inn over the past however many years. I’ve seen parties and plays and romances and happy children and I’ve even managed to make a very nosy, very vocal friend.”

“Oh gawd. And now I’m leaving, too.”

“We’re both leaving,” she said, looking toward the window. A specter in a navy blue coat appeared beyond the glass, twirling about with an invisible dance partner. Augustine giggled. “I can’t believe you called him a creep,” she said. “At his own grave!”

“I blew your secret! And I insulted your ghost war-hero boyfriend! I am the worst.”

“You didn’t blow anything. You were the only one who wasn’t afraid. You lived, like real people live, and reminded me of how lovely that feels. And now I’m ready to go.”

“Snickers are a very powerful candy,” I said.

“You’re a very strange girl,” she said. “And I’m saying this as someone who is about to go fly off with her ghost boyfriend.”

“I’m going to miss you,” I said.

And then we both left the inn, forever. The end.

(Well I didn’t leave forever, we still go back there in the summer to visit my parents’ friends. But she’s gone. The room is always warm, even in the dead of winter.)

***

Ugh, I’m so bad at this. I’m so bad at this because this is supposed to be a love letter, and I’ve never even written a love letter before. I’ve tried 38 drafts and all I could come up with was the story of a ghost who couldn’t eat candy bars.

What I am trying to tell you, in my own way, is this: when you said you loved me and I said “OK!” and like, ran to my car, it was not because I do not love you back. I love you too much, I think. That is the problem. I love you so much that I worry that I’ll fall out of a window trying to follow you wherever you go. I love you so much that I’d haunt a crummy inn for 70 years, watching other people live, if you didn’t get the chance to, so that I could tell you decades’ worth of stories whenever we ended up together again. I love you so much that I’d consider giving my Snickers to a ghost, but I’d probably eat them—get real, you know me too well so whatever.

I mean, I love you.

Why do I write about dead people? Sometimes I think they are better at recognizing the value of living. And they are always able to say pretty things about it, because they’re already dead, and therefore can’t die of embarrassment or shame when trying to compose a sonnet. A sonnet! I almost wrote you a sonnet! Ugh, Owen, you are the worst.

And I would haunt the universe for you.

Love,
Moira ♦

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27 Comments

  • GabbyCat February 8th, 2013 7:17 PM

    Pixie, you’re writing is so beautiful and amazing and heartbreaking. I loved this.

  • Bananaskid February 8th, 2013 7:40 PM

    That was like really long.
    Is she like trying to ruin her friendship or something?
    Aside from all that, it was weird and interesting all at the same time.
    Well, to be honest, anyway.
    Ugh, it was just really really weird.
    It’s almost like you didn’t even know what was going on compared to how the letter was written.
    It mentioned a lot of different things in certain perspectives.
    Overall greatness, I’d say I liked it.

  • gr-ass February 8th, 2013 7:59 PM

    this was amazing! i enjoyed it alot, youre quite wonderful

  • poetess February 8th, 2013 8:40 PM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS.

  • Paint By Numbers February 8th, 2013 9:37 PM

    That was just amazing Pixie. I understand exactly what you mean, you know, when someone’s dead maybe then they can value the time that they were alive. It’s just a shame it takes death for people to realise their life was important.

    I wouldn’t give up a snickers for anyone either.

    http://paint-numbers.blogspot.com.au

  • MeredithCWS February 8th, 2013 9:41 PM

    This story is so lovely/well-written/good that I’m sort of crying, kind of smiling, and generally turning into a ball of emotion over it…

  • Fen February 8th, 2013 10:20 PM

    I LOVED this story :D

  • InProgress February 8th, 2013 10:43 PM

    I really, really liked this. Looking forward to seeing more by you, Pixie /Moira!

  • Yazmine February 9th, 2013 12:29 AM

    I kinda want to print this entire story out and stick it on my wall. Or write it out in my journal and add pictures. Basically it’s perfect

    http://www.fashionandfringes.blogspot.com.au

  • unicornconnect February 9th, 2013 1:34 AM

    This is so beautiful, I love it, especially the last paragraph or so!!!!! Pixie, you are amazing!!! And you have a wicked name;)

  • Isabelle97 February 9th, 2013 5:10 AM

    beautiful :)

  • dragonfly February 9th, 2013 6:29 AM

    I love this. AMAZING. :)

  • llamalina February 9th, 2013 2:44 PM

    i adore this story. pixie, you’re a beautiful writer.

    http://llamalina.blogspot.com

  • Smriti February 9th, 2013 2:51 PM

    This was the best story …. I loved every bit of it.. Reminded me of times when I wanted to tell someone how much i loved him and yet could never explain the depth..

  • alyup86 February 9th, 2013 3:00 PM

    I loved the stuff about your family and how they only believe in fate as a cop out! Hilarious! Great character development!

  • emine February 9th, 2013 3:07 PM

    The last paragraph was golden.

  • chloegrey February 9th, 2013 3:24 PM

    ohh this is SO CUTE SO AAAH I just love the way you wrote it ok? It was great.

  • LightDarkPheonix February 9th, 2013 9:21 PM

    I really love this. I like how you’ve written this as a letter-in-a-story. This is the first story I’ve read on Rookie so far, and I’m really glad I found this place, if any of the other stories are as good as this one. Also, you’re frank. I like this. The only types of stories I can write to are about ghosts. Usually ghosts of past lives of people, who watch them silently and help, sometimes.
    LDP

  • Nitya February 10th, 2013 8:14 AM

    This is so NICE.

  • lipstik February 11th, 2013 3:11 AM

    Omg, this story is PERFECT. So perfect. And cute. And funny. And I want to print it out and put it on my wall, too. Good work, Pixie.

  • raggedyanarchy February 11th, 2013 10:40 AM

    Pixie, this is great!
    Ha, I always write about dead people and children. I guess all writers have a sort of trend in what they write.
    This is so beautiful. Good job!

  • LolaNolan February 12th, 2013 3:10 PM

    This story is the most beautiful thing I have read it a long time. <3

  • LolaNolan February 12th, 2013 4:12 PM

    Would love more stories like this! <3

  • Laryssa March 3rd, 2013 6:54 PM

    This was great to read! I thought it was an odd mix of love and horror. It’s very cute. I feel like those who aren’t able to show their romantic side (but still have the feelings) can really relate to this :)

  • orthopedicsaddleshoes May 27th, 2013 8:15 PM

    This is the most beautiful thing ever.

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica June 8th, 2013 10:16 AM

    What a delightful story. I’m so glad I read this. <3 <3 <3

    • Cutesycreator aka Monica June 8th, 2013 10:16 AM

      PS I also adore the illustration!