Written under the constraints: 250 words, ghost story, must contain the word ‘escape’ and the act of whispering into an ear.

Primped, translucent and youthful, my ghost slips out the front door, and I wonder where she goes at night. Does she dissolve into starlight, or is she in my old haunts, dancing my old dances? We sometimes meet in the kitchen at 2am, drunkenly searching for food, going through the same motions but never occupying the same space.

She is my favourite of them. On better days, I can admire her joy and beauty and be grateful they were once mine. I’m scared that one night the admiration will drift from me too; will love her perfectly while I sit bitter in my chair.

The others linger nearby. The ghost who reads books. The ghost who calls her parents. The ghost who laughs. It hurt when they left me. It hurts to be apart from them, like a phantom limb. But when I grasp for them, my empty arms don’t hurt, and I wish they would.

They say ghosts are troubled souls with unfinished business. So is everyone I know. Do we all live like this? I raise an arm to wave farewell, and see another trailing faintly behind it, pulling further away until my own arm falls limp. The ghost that doesn’t hate me peels away to haunt me, and it is like I have been flayed. I can see she is relieved to escape. That hurts more than anything.

And then she leans back down, and whispers in my ear: ‘Not haunting. Waiting. We still believe in you.’

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