This week’s InMon prompts are extra exciting because I think one of them will meld well with the Friday Fictioneers prompt for tomorrow. Check back then to see if I manage to fit both in. For now, however, I’m going with the prompt Haunted Word.
There’s a ghost in our family. You can’t see it, it doesn’t throw crockery and, unlike whatever presence lingers over our stairs, it doesn’t spook the cat. But it’s there nevertheless. It’s in a look that crosses Jerry’s face, a knot in my stomach, tears in our sons’ eyes. It hides for days on end, leaving us to pretend we live a normal life, then it jumps out and catches us unawares.
There’s a van I’ve seen in town sometimes. It’s black, with white writing and symbols etched on the side: “Paranormal investigators”. I looked them up online once, just to see. They specialise in haunted houses and in removing the ghosts of former occupants who died there. It’s not right for us, of course, because it isn’t the house that’s haunted. I almost feel as though it could be sometimes – I catch myself seeing a flash of dark ponytail out of the corner of my eye, or I go into her old room and think for a moment I can smell those awful concoctions she used to make by adding dried petals to my shampoo. My little chemist.
But she isn’t there – in human or in spirit form. The house isn’t haunted, though I sometimes wish it was. Our family is haunted, by memories, and by a word. Her name. Emily.