DONT FORGET YOU HAVE A DOCTOR APPOINTMENT AT 2 say the fridge magnets
Then they wiggle and slide around
ALSO YOURE ALMOST OUT OF ICE CREAM YOU SHOULD PICK UP SOME TODAY
YOU WERE SLEEPING POORLY SO I TURNED DOWN THE TEMPERATURE SOME
ALSO I STARTED YOUR COFFEE
DONT FORGET TO HAVE SOME WATER TODAY
AND DONT WORK SO LATE THIS EVENING
I DONT LIKE HIM HE KEPT INTERRUPTING YOU
ALSO WHEN YOU WERE OUT OF THE ROOM HE MADE A MEAN FACE AT THE CAT
I AM GOING TO DELETE TWITTER OFF YOUR PHONE SOON IT'S MAKING YOU SAD
I LOADED UP A CARTOON ON NETFLIX AND BROUGHT DOWN THE FUZZY BLANKET FROM UPSTAIRS
then the letters move slowly, hesitantly
I SAW YOU LOOKING AT DRESSES ONLINE AND CRYING LAST NIGHT
another slow rearrangement
I THINK YOU WOULD BE PRETTY IN THE BLUE ONE
Eventually the package is moved to the top of your dresser, still sealed.
THE CAT WAS CHEWING ON IT says the fridge
TAKE YOUR TIME
I THOUGHT YOU LOOKED NICE
IM SORRY IT HURTS
I NOTICED YOU HAVENT SEEN YOUR THERAPIST LATELY
MAYBE THAT WOULD HELP?
You don't hear from the ghost.
You put the magnets up before bed.
The next morning they say IM SORRY I MADE YOU MAD
because the world is scary and hard.
because you want things that are impossible.
NOT IMPOSSIBLE. JUST HARD.
You change the subject. You ask where the ghost went.
YOU SEEMED TO WANT SPACE
you did. Or, you thought you did. But it ended up just making it hurt more.
thanks, you say.
After a moment you ask WHERE they went
I CANT LEAVE THE HOUSE. I WENT TO THE ATTIC.
YOU DONT GO THERE. I DIDNT WANT TO SPY.
I CANT TELL YOU
what would you do, then
I DONT KNOW
ITS NOT THE SAME
IM NOT LIKE YOU
like me how?
but you were once
I DONT REMEMBER
TIME WORKS WEIRD LIKE THIS
why are you here?
BECAUSE I CARE
that if I change things will be hard
The letters hesitate for a moment. Then they slowly slide into place
IT SEEMS LIKE THINGS ARE ALREADY HARD
you start crying again
What? you ask
I DONT KNOW WHO I AM
I DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MYSELF
that is sad, you agree
I FEEL THINGS SOMETIMES BUT IT ISNT THE SAME
I DONT WANT THINGS
I DONT HAVE A SENSE OF ME
I DONT KNOW WHAT IS LIKE ME OR NOT LIKE ME
I DONT HAVE A STYLE OR A PERSONALITY OR A STORY TO TELL ABOUT MYSELF
the letters stop
you feel a ball of anxiety in your gut. Its been there for months. It feels like it is pulsing there, like a second heartbeat.
You know the feeling, you say quietly
ITS NOT A GOOD FEELING
no, it isn't
I HAVE TO BE THIS WAY
you don't respond. Tears are threatening again and you can't bring yourself to speak.
Another long silence. You wonder if the ghost has left.
A minute later a white hanger with a blue dress floats into the kitchen, hooking onto the door to rest.
The letters rearrange again
YOU DONT HAVE TO BE A GHOST
You ask how you look.
good? You snort. You look like a cried-out, awkward mess.
YOU LOOK ALIVE
WELCOME HOME, the magnets say
you're being really nice lately, you reply
you snort quietly.
DID THERAPY HELP
some, you say. they gave you some resources, at least.
IM PROUD OF YOU
thanks, you say quietly.
The kettle whistles
You left out a list of names you got from baby name websites.
Every morning the fridge greets you with a GOOD MORNING and one of the names from the list so you can see how it feels.
Do that one again, you whispered.
Every morning since then, the name hasn't changed. It feels weird. But good.
The ghost doesn't leave.
When you get dressed and prepped for the day, you always stop in the kitchen. You do a slow turn, a complete rotation, arms spread wide.
YOU LOOK ALIVE, the ghost always replies.
Day by day, you realize that you feel it, too.
It's good to be alive.