A ghost in the morning

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story in which the same line recurs three times.... view prompt


Friendship Fiction Teens & Young Adult

Most people hate mornings. And I like most people have began to feel the angst of the morning. Daybreak used to be fully of light hope and possibilities but not lately. A slow spiral of confusion and madness has started to envelope me. Each day, it grows bigger. 

I remember my father once said be young is to be happy, to grow old is to learn unhappiness. Although, I do not completely believe in what he said I think there is some truth to aging and despair. I believe youthfulness is filled with so much distractions and enthusiasm to life that old age can only relive in memory.

I have grown to be much timid and much patient with things. The immediate seems more of a bother nowadays. However some things keep eating me up and remain a displeasure.

Like for instant a line of light. A slither of light. I thought I fixed it last night. That narrow line of light running by the side of the window keeps bothering me. It is very annoying at the moment. 

In my youth I would seek a bigger place but now I seek a quiet place. I want a peaceful night and a timid environment. Everything that used to annoy me still does but I pay less attention to it. The small two bedroom apartment I live in, the creaking floors, the tiny single bathroom. Not to mention the stairs. I have about two flights of steps just to get to my front door. Too much, too much to think about this early. I am getting aggravated just by thinking about it.  

I press on the side of my sleep tracker and the clock lights up. 4:58 am.

Maybe I should wake up and start writing. My writing needs a lot of work too. This is one of those things you wished you had started early in life but for no apparent reason it does not bother you. It is okay to start when you are ready.

I stretch my hand to grab my phone. A sharp pain pulls on my latissimus dorsi (I know I know the word stuck with me from watching too much medical shows with my wife). I am still able to get my phone not sure about the damage that has occurred. I will do minor stretches when I am fully up to feel out the pain. This is why I feel like I am getting old nowadays. I feel weird pains from just waking up. 

 What they assassinated the Haitian president! What is going on? Apple news this is too early for me. Too too early for news. I need to focus. What is the weather forecast today? Okay some rain at 9 am, so I can still go for an early walk around the park. I will do the smaller three mile loop today. Maybe Doris will come. I just need a good sweat. And maybe not to feel too out of shape than I already am. 

Another part of aging is getting off the bed. I wonder if I should get out of bed now. That weird back light pouring through the side of the window keeps irritating me. We should definitely get some black out curtains for the room, maybe I will sleep a little more with them. What am I saying, knowing myself I doubt they will change anything.

The traces of time are hard to get read off. They teach you about yourself. In the many morning hours that I lay here awake, unable to sleep I have grown accustomed to old friends. Some may call them ghosts of the past, visitors of beyond and the regrets of old age. They roam around my head, singing dancing and even arguing with each other.

It was frightening at first and it almost drove me insane. But as I got to know them I understood what they signified and the meaning of having unfinished business. And this morning we have one new guest.

Charlie is here. It has been over forty years since I saw Charlie last. We were inseparable. 

I met Charlie when I was about nine years old. My family lived in the same community with his family. I think it started with a bicycle race in the neighborhood. I remember Corny was there, Elma, Anthony, Cathy, Christian and Thomas. Memory is quiet a fascinating thing. If you asked me the names of all these people ten minutes ago I would not be able to recall any, but now their names just flow out effortlessly like running water.

I remember the least when I try and the most when I do not want to.

One thing I have learned is letting go of a thought especially when I suffer a memory loss. I have tried many techniques to sleep better, recall events and sometimes even writing them down. In some instances they worked but for most they did not. 

Charlie had a way with people, he knew how to sweet talk anyone. Although he was two years older than I am we became good friends. Best friends. And he seemed to be in rush to adulthood. I think we were all in a rush to grow up. 

We went everywhere together. We went to the same school, same church and played on the same soccer team. Charlie even joked once that I should marry his younger sister so we can be complete blood brothers.

Time is a cruel God. It takes people’s wishes and dreams and gives back what it wants. 

In those days we had a lot of time especially to dream. When the teenage years kicked in a lot started to change. Charlie started smoking. We had our first cigarette behind my house. It was the nastiest thing you could think of. I coughed uncontrollably but Charlie did not. I think this was when we first started drifting apart. 

Parents in those days strongly believed in an independent life. We were both sent to boarding school. Now that I think about it they realized we were bad influences for each other. We were separated for the first time. 

Boys are unusual and very different in an awkward way.

I do not know why we did not write to each other but we still hanged out during holidays and summer breaks. It was two years later after we went our separate ways that we had our first and only fight. The fight was quite silly when we later discovered. It all started when Charlie took a video game from my house that Thomas had left. I later found out that Thomas had borrowed another video game from Charlie, so he was taking this one as payback. 

A lot was said that day. A few punches were thrown and we both lost. And as we did not know it but time does not stop even when you not talking. Three years of silence passed by. 

I have replayed that day in my memory a thousand times but I believe things happen because they need to happen. I do not know how I could have acted better. Maybe this was the part we changed destiny.

One summer afternoon I was invited to a house party. I was going to be a senior the following year and I just navigated towards the misfits of school. And on this day one of the misfits was throwing a party. When I first entered the house I did not recognize him. I had grown taller and much broader than him. But he turned around and shouted my name. And I knew this was a Charlie greeting. He had not changed a bit with exception of all the tattoos that covered his body.

He had dropped out of college and was working on his music career. He had released two songs in the radio and things were looking good. He was also an upcoming tattoo artist. He had a small shop where he worked. 

I was amazed at how he was independent and living alone, I was still at my parent’s house. He believed in himself, confident and all the girls liked him. He had figured out his path while I was just a high school kid. My path was set for me. My parents wanted me to go to college and get a job at an engineering firm working nine to five for medical benefits and a 401k. Just to disappear in the mundane of society.

To me Charlie was on the path to greatness. I was not so much as envious I wished I could find my own thing. He gave me his card and told me we should hang out more and I should come by his shop sometime.

A year later I gave him a call and we met again. I went by his shop and got my first and last tattoo. A gift from Charlie. He wanted to smoke and asked if I would mind. We smoked a joint and laughed at the fight we had when we were much younger. 

We started hanging out more and partied more. He introduced me to characters and characteristics. Habitants and habituals. Everyone knew Charlie. We would get into high class clubs and not pay a dime. And we would meet beautiful women and beautiful men likewise. He was already living the dream.

He called me once and told me to write a verse for his new song. We recorded the song and it was a feeling I can never explain. At the same time I had noticed Charlie was not only smoking pot like I did. He was doing some other things, much stronger things. 

It was not until the end of my freshman year that he offered me something to try.

This was one of those moments when one’s path is usually altered in life. Like in the matrix or at a crossroads, I saw two different choices that day. I remember saying to Charlie

“I’m better sticking to pot, the white stuff will kill me or drive me insane”.

 And just like that the blue pill activated and I slowly returned to my boring classes. It was not a sad ending nor a permanent one. It was however a separation from what I wanted to be to who I had become. I clearly wanted to keep enjoying in the life of parties and fun times but I had slowly become my parents and my inner self could not picture the path of the red pill. 

We hanged out less and less until I finally graduated and got a job at a popular engineering firm. We hanged out even lesser now and Charlie slowly faded to a memory. 

I was on a job site about two years after my graduation when I noticed Charlie sitting at a nearby car service center. He was pleased to see me as much as I was to see him. We chatted for a little bit and I told him I had to get back to work. He looked at me and smiled. His face had grown thinner and his eyes darker. 

It appeared like he was shrinking or maybe I was growing bigger. He stood up and followed me to my car and just before parting ways again he asked for a twenty. 

I immediately felt a heaviness in my heart and a lump in my throat. If I feel this way I can not imagine how he must felt to ask for that. I reached out to my back pocket and grabbed my wallet and produced three bills of twenty and handed them over. 

He lighted up a little bit. He said he will pay me once things are stable but I told him to just taking it easy and not be stranger .Deep down I knew my good intentions may have dire consequences. It is funny how moments can seem heavy as if they are trying to tell you something. But that was the last time I would ever see Charlie.

I just can not stop looking at that light now. It is driving me crazy. I think I need to fix that again. I should probably get out of bed before I become more irritated. 

 I have lost things in my life but losing Charlie was a little difficult. It was Monday morning when my phone rang. It was Janelle, Charlie's little sister. We had dated at some point and nothing serious came out of it but we stayed in touch. I knew something was wrong because she never calls me and her voice was sobbing. When she finally spoke she said 

“Charlie died last night in the ambulance on his way to the hospital”

Time is a cruel God. It takes people’s wishes and dreams and gives back what it wants. 

 I was speechless. It was about a year since I had last seen him. I was two thousand miles away and the only thing I could do is cry my feelings in the shower. I sometimes think maybe I should have gone to the funeral maybe the ghost would stop hunting my memories. But with old age you learn to enjoy the company of ghosts.

You learn to be okay with regrets and the company of old friends. So you can talk to them in the early hours of the day.

I do not feel like getting off the bed now. I have spent too much time conversing with the memories of old. I will sleep a little more maybe thirty minutes or an hour. 

 That cursed light again, I really need to fix that.

July 09, 2021 21:19

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Tânia Dias
13:00 Jul 15, 2021

Hi! It was a pleasure to read your story :) I'm one of your critic partners this week! I loved the concept of your story. It was a breath of fresh air from everything I've been reading. ''Time is a cruel God' such a good phrase. If you would accept advise I'd say to be careful with the way you structure sentences, some of them came out sounding a bit off and natural. Also, a story should normally start with a good sentence that pulls the reader in, try to revise your first paragraph so that you have a sentence. I would also advise to be ca...


Lunny Muffin
17:22 Jul 17, 2021

Thank you so much for the input it's always hard to tell how your story sounds especially as a beginner I'll try to improve on those aspects. Thanks again


Tânia Dias
11:41 Jul 19, 2021

The only way to improve is to keep writing and keep noticing the things that aren't quite write. No writer is perfect. So keep going!


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Alex Sultan
10:08 Jul 13, 2021

Interesting story and take on the prompt. 'Time is a cruel God. It takes people’s wishes and dreams and gives back what it wants.' As someone who loves writing of time, I like this line a lot. Very impactful at the end of your story - in fact, I think the strongest part of your story is the end, you really bring it home with your writing style. For feedback, I'd recommend using italics to display a character's inner thought process. The line 'What, they assassinated the Haitian president! What is going on?' You could use italics on that and...


Lunny Muffin
03:33 Jul 14, 2021

Thank you so much this helps a lot. I appreciate the feedback it helps me learn about how the story sounds to the reader.


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Lunny Muffin
03:33 Jul 14, 2021

Thank you so much this helps a lot. I appreciate the feedback it helps me learn about how the story sounds to the reader.


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