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I would like someone to haunt my house and simulate some of my deceased husband’s habits, so I can get some sleep. These include:

  • Walking into the bathroom. Leaving the door open with the bathroom light shining in my face. Urinating loudly.
  • Opening the refrigerator door so hard the ketchup bottle clangs against the pickle jar.
  • Television blaring the Yankees game in the living room and loud snoring.
  • Night hauntings only. Money negotiable.
  • No Contact! Correspondence and payment through email and PayPal. I don’t want to see you as it will ruin the illusion.

A week after coming to terms with the only respondent to her online ad, the ghost made his first appearance. Olivia lay in bed with the latest Stephen King novel, and maybe not the best choice of book, but she hoped a bit of light reading would provide her some relief from insomnia. She opened the book and hissed when she realized she forgot her glasses on the kitchen table. The familiar urge to call out to Tully to come to bed and bring her glasses had not died along with him. She stayed to her side of the bed, her body falling into the dip in the mattress, but without her husband’s chest to stop her, she rolled into the valley. A sob welled in her throat when a blurry shape, a ghost if you will, entered the ensuite bathroom. The light on, the door open. A man peeing, a hard stream, not the staccato of Tully’s cancerous prostate, yet it brought tears to her eyes. A toilet flush. The light clicked off. Olivia whispered thank you. She slept almost forty-five minutes straight.

A few days passed before the ghost returned. Once again, Olivia lay in bed, this time with her glasses properly fixed over her eyes as she read a few chapters of her book by the light of the bedside lamp. She couldn’t get comfortable. Fidgety, as if she were caffeinated. From the living room came the familiar sound of the television turning on. Snatches of programs as channels flipped. A crowd cheers, followed by excited commentary. Difficult to make out the words. Spanish? A sporting event of some sort, but definitely not Tully’s beloved Yankees.


Soccer? Tully hated soccer. And yet, the Spanish announcers, the rhythm and joy in which they called the action, lulled Olivia into a tranquil space she hadn’t known existed. A space outside her grief. The ghost made the odd snoring noise, obviously fake, and, intentionally or not, ridiculously over the top. Olivia giggled. Was that the ghost laughing as well? She put her book down and removed her glasses. She turned the bedside lamp off. An hour of uninterrupted sleep until she awoke in silence. Unable to quell her curiosity, she searched the house but found everything as she had left it. As if her visitor were really a ghost.

Weeks passed, and the hauntings occurred more frequently. Olivia always in bed. When the ghost made itself known, she would take her glasses off if she hadn’t already. Blurry glimpses as the ghost moved about the house, Tully on her mind. She’d listen to the sound of the refrigerator door opening, the condiments shifting on shelves, their satisfying clink. The microwave door opening and the beeping timer. The smell of food, a spicy aroma the house had never known in the time prior to Tully’s passing. Sleep would take her gently. The noise of the television still on sometimes after she woke from an hour or two of rest. No longer soccer, but movies, Spanish musicals filled with incredible scores. The instruments swept her along, and the ballads, while she could not understand the words, she understood their meaning. Occasionally, the ghost sang along, his voice high, a little pitchy, but tender.

Si tengo que volver a amar, elijo amar solo a tu fantasma.”

The ghost visited every night and every morning, leaving no trace. The bathroom, the peeing, the refrigerator, and the microwave. One night she heard him cracking and stirring eggs. The smell of onions and peppers. Frying bacon. The ghost sang along to his musicals, and that night Olivia slept three full hours, waking when she rolled into the bed’s valley, expecting Tully’s chest to hold her up, only to be reminded he was gone.

In the morning, as she poured a cup of orange juice in the kitchen, she discovered a covered dish and a yellow Post-It note on the counter. Beautiful looping cursive. Please eat something. Beneath the cover, a flour tortilla stuffed with green and red peppers, onions, and scrambled eggs. Crispy bits of bacon. She hadn’t been eating, but now she was ravenous.

That night, she kept her glasses on when she went to bed. Only her bedside lamp issued light. She wanted to see the ghost. It didn’t matter what he looked like, but she could no longer imagine him as Tully. She listened to the creaks and groans of the house settling. She waited. The taste of the breakfast burrito from that morning lingered on her tongue. She read her book until it became obvious the ghost would not be making an appearance. Disappointed, she turned off the lamp and placed her glasses atop her book. She rolled back, and something prevented her from continuing into the mattress’s dip. The warmth of a chest pressed to her back. His knees tucked into the backs of her knees, legs filling the shape her legs left. Breath on her neck. A hand reached for hers, fingers trembling. She closed her eyes. She slept the night through.

Mario Aliberto III is a Pushcart-nominated writer whose work is forthcoming or published in The Sonora Review, Rejection Letters, Tahoma Literary Review, and others. He lives in Tampa Bay with his wife and daughters, and yet the dog still runs the house. Twitter: @marioaliberto3

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