Flash Fiction: How to Teach the Ghost in Your House to Sing by Noa Covo

Try to pinpoint her pitch. Listen to her shriek in the empty hallway and sigh every time you turn a corner. Record her if you can. Spend lonely nights with a single burning candle, listening to the smallest sounds, in the mornings, speak to your toaster to show you are willing to converse, in the afternoons, sing your favorite songs and try to get her to join in.

Show her she is wanted. An unhappy ghost will not sing, and ghosts tend to be unhappy. Dedicate part of the sofa for her, leave a spare set of slippers out, and buy her a mug with GHOST written on it. Don’t be too discouraged if she rips up the first couple pages of sheet music you give her. Learning takes time. Anger is part of passion. You know that to be true, because sometimes when you lie awake thinking about someone else, formerly of this apartment and now in another state, you are full of anger, too.

Make room for her in your life. Clean out the things the woman from another state never bothered to take with her, sweep the dust bunnies of your entangled hairs from under the bed, open a window. You spend your time in bed awake anyway, so slide over to make some room. It isn’t comfortable to sleep in the air, even for a ghost.

Don’t panic when you feel her for the first time. She will be cool beside you, she will smell of peaches and forgotten things, her hair will be impossibly long and spread across the bed like ivy. Don’t flinch. She is tired of people flinching, she doesn’t want to spend her time wailing anymore, she wants to be embraced.

When she appears to you as you walk into the kitchen one morning, smile. Tell her good morning, pay no attention to the scarlet mark on her neck, after all, she has seen your broken heart for months and never mentioned it. Tell her that her white nightgown is beautiful, offer her a cup of coffee she will have to dramatically decline. As you eat, bring up the sheet music. Tell her you could bring her a copy, that you could play something on the piano tonight. Do not seem too eager. That’s when they leave you.

After you get home, change into your nicest dress and prop the sheet music on the piano. Wash your hands, sit down. She will feel cool on your lap, and you will mumble something about the bench being too small, even though it isn’t. Start playing. You have never played piano with someone sitting in your lap, but then again you have never played piano with someone transparent. Let her voice waver as you play, let the harmony fill the house, let the two of you haunt this world together.

Noa Covo is a teenage writer. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Reckoning, Waxwing, and Jellyfish Review. Her microchapbook, Bouquet of Fears, will be published by Nightingale and Sparrow this July. She can be found on Twitter @covo_noa.

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