Derek is an empirical, sciency person who listens to only facts. But I guess death makes believers of us all. I thought he never listened to me either, yet certainly some things have gone through. How else would he remember where to hire a paranormal investigator?
Paranormal Investigator: Where do you notice the greatest level of activity?
Derek: By the closet, definitely. That’s where she kept all her paintings.
(What a smart, observant boy my husband is!)
PI: Are the paintings still in there?
PI: Do I mind if I take a look through them?
D: I don’t, but she might.
(He’s right. I don’t trust this man and his grubby little fingers near my paintings.
What kind of professional investigator keeps his hands dirty?)
D: Yikes, I’m so sorry. She slammed doors all the times when she was alive, not on fingers though. She’s gotten a lot angrier since she died.
(Oh men! Forever misinterpreting my emotions!)
PI: It’s alright, I’ve dealt with far worse in my line of work. All these paintings are of mermaids? There’s gotta be hundreds of them in here.
D: Yeah, it was her hobby.
PI: And all these -- what are they? Curtains?
D: They’re silks, like the kind you use for circus acts. You tie them to the ceiling and do tricks up in the air.
PI: Was she an acrobat too?
D: Something like that. She performed every once in a while.
PI: And all these boxes back here? Are those hers too?
D: No, those are mine. They’re binoculars, for birdwatching.
PI: Ooh, these are nice. Heavy.
(I hate those fucking binoculars. He was like a cat: a bird could be perched 30 feet away, just some sparrow in a parking lot, and his pupils would
widen, his neck would stiffen, and his attention was consumed.
It’d be useless to talk to him. I swat the binoculars, just to prove a point.)
PI: Oh no! I didn’t mean to drop them! She’s got a lot of spirit.
(He’s lying. I didn’t swat them that hard. Where did he even find this guy?)
D: It’s okay. Are they cracked?
PI: Unfortunately. My bad.
D: It’s probably for the best. I think our last argument was about those binoculars.
(Ah! He remembers!)
D: She said I loved birds more than I loved her, and I told her that’s silly, I love them both equally. I tried to get her to understand: you love birds just for what they are, whether they’re scavengers or brood parasites or predators. They can’t help being what they are! You can’t make them do anything for you! And you love people for what they do for you. I loved her because she loved me. I loved birds because they are birds. I don’t think she got what I meant.
(He’s wrong. I know exactly what he meant.)
PI: Mm. Interesting. You said the closet is where she tends to be most active? I can set the EMF detector up here.
D: EMF detector?
PI: Electromagnetic Field detector. It traces how much energy is in the room. We can track her movements, if there is in fact a presence. You’re a scientist -- I’m sure you appreciate the empirical approach.
(His “detector” is hardly more than a plastic box. How does Derek not see the
guy’s a con? I told him where to find the good paranormal investigators,
and still, he didn’t listen).
PI: Yeah, wow, look at that arrow wiggle. There’s a crazy amount of energy here. She’s moving fast.
(What’s he talking about? I’m standing perfectly still).
D: I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know if I believe you.
(There’s my serious little cynic.)
D: I just wanna know if I was a good husband. I went to all her art shows, right? And the performances, with the silks? I paid half the bills, did half the cleaning, I didn’t argue all that much. That’s enough, right? I might’ve gotten carried away with the birds sometimes, but I’m an ornithologist, that’s what I do for a living. You’re allowed to still have passions in a marriage.
PI: Of course.
D: We had our own thing going on, we came apart, we came together. Everything was understood. There’s certain things we didn’t need to say. Right?
PI: Look, look! There’s a message coming in on the EVP recorder!
PI: Electronic voice phenomena. She says, yes, you were enough, and yes you were the best husband she could’ve had and that she loves you very much.
(I didn’t say any of that).
PI: That’s what the recorder says.
D: I mean, I know she loves me. She was always kind to me. Polite. Maybe not all that warm, but gentle, for sure. She would just have these quiet moments sometimes, and she’d retreat, go paint or do whatever it was she was doing. I don’t really know.
(You never asked, darling).
PI: Can I ask how she died?
D: It was from those silks. Something went wrong during a performance, her leg got twisted, she fell and broke her neck.
PI: Oof. Horrible way to go. I’m sorry you had to see that.
D: I didn’t go. I missed that show. I had work stuff.
PI: I see. Well, let’s go to the bedroom, set up some detectors there. I’ll have your report done soon.
I let them go. Derek’s smart, he really is, the university wouldn’t fund his research if he wasn’t. But there’s so many things he misses. He really doesn’t see the new paintings piling in the closet, some of the mermaids still dripping with fresh paint. And he didn’t get to see me fly. That’s the last thing I remember thinking before I hit the ground, how I wished he were there to see me fly. Maybe then he’d finally look and love me just because I am me, soaring, silent, doing nothing for him but existing.
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When i first started, I didn't get it. Then as I read, I began to understand. I wouldn't say Derek was a bad husband but he seemed to have missed a lot before she died. All he wants is an assurance that he was somewhat good for her and I understand
Ah, this was beautiful. Too bad Derek is oblivious and ignorant and stupid. This is another great one from Masha. The formatting was clean and overall, the story was kind of funny. I can't believe this woman's ghost is still painting. It's tricky and lovely at the same time. Good job.
thanks so much 💖
I was instantly engaged at the start! The storyline was super creative
I love this one. Especially adore the parallel between the birds and the girl who “soars” before she dies. Awesome as always!!
It's a really good idea, and I think that the tone you've chosen works well. The opening paragraph may not be necessary imo. If you left both that out and the explanation that the second man is a paranormal investigator, readers would soon figure it out - and giving your readers a challenge adds to the fun. The ghost-wife's comments keep the story rolling and gradually help us realise why she's there, haunting him. If you're still working on this story (and it's got real potential I think), you may need to make it longer. You have three cha...
This was beautiful, Masha! Sad but also funny. Your writing style brings this story to life in a very unique way. I loved the way you wrote the narrative. Wonderful job!
thanks so much :)