Meet Cute #3: Ghost Bill and Ghost Rachel

When I met Rachel — well, officially, at least — I’d been haunting the house much longer than she had.

Almost two decades, in fact. I had died in 1970, the year before Rachel was born. My neighbor murdered me when I was a young man of 29.

I suppose that’s why I ended up a ghost: no goodbyes, no resolutions. No angels murmuring in my ears.

Just like in life, I wasn’t the most outgoing ghost. Mostly I stayed in the attic, meditating or writing a history of the world on ghostly manuscript paper.

One morning, I was coming back from an evening of haunting the graveyard when I saw an ambulance pulling out of the driveway. Rachel’s parents were standing on the front porch with their fists to their mouths.

I flitted inside and eavesdropped long enough to learn Rachel had died that morning after slipping in the shower. She was 18, a senior in high school.

I retreated to my attic. Usually I’d sit quietly in the corner during the day, writing or meditating. But today the house felt dipped in sadness. The atmosphere reminded me of when I had died: the shattered, black cloud of grief that hung over the house, except more sad and less angry because in this case there was no one to blame.

I paced, wondering if in some way I could help. I’d grown fond of the family after so many years coexisting with them. But what would I do? Ghost-moan or ghost-rattle to let her family know that there was in fact an after-life? That wouldn’t be any comfort. And anyway, I’d never been any good at moaning, even on the few occasions I’d experimented with my friends. Only ghosts who’d actually been screaming while they died could work up a good wail.

I was in the middle of this agonizing when Rachel appeared. She stood right in front of me, unblinking. I hadn’t heard her coming — but then I wouldn’t.

“Hello,” she said.

I gasped. At some point over the last few years, when I hadn’t noticed, she’d become beautiful. Her hair was full and black and grazing the tops of her shoulders. Her eyes were melty brown and steady.

She wore only two towels: One around her body and the other twisted around her head. Her skin was glowing, dewy with moisture.

“I — I’m so sorry,” I finally managed.

“About what?”

“That you died.”

“Did I? I thought maybe I had.” She looked down at herself and blinked. “Is this what I’ll be wearing forever?”

“It is.”

“Good God. As if the guys weren’t bad enough already.”

“Well, but don’t worry. Ghost men don’t have bodies, so we’re all basically neutered.”

“Oh. Well, good. What’s your name?”


We regarded each other for a few moments. I still couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. I trembled with anticipation. Maybe this could be something, in its chaste, ghostly way. Rachel and I, in the attic, forevermore…

“You know,” she said, “I always knew you were up here.”

“You did?”

“Oh yeah. It was a feeling I always had. I mean, I never saw you. But I knew.”

“I tried to be unobtrusive.”

“Oh, you were! You always made it so, like, if we wanted to be scared? Come on up to the attic. Otherwise you let us be.”

“Well — good. I’m glad.”

“Did you also watch Poltergeist with me and my friends that one time? When we snuck it into the house?”

I stared. “You could tell?”

“It just seemed a lot less scary the second time I watched it. A few years later at a friend’s house.”

“I’m not like that,” I said. “You know, with the pink ectoplasm and all.”

She smiled. “Yeah. I figured that, Bill. So — what do you do all day?”

“I work on my history of the world. And meditate.”

“How boring. When can we go haunting?”

“I only do that at night. At the graveyard.”

“At night at the graveyard! Good God, Bill. If we’re going to be ghosts, we might as well have some fun. Here — grab one of those old chains from the corner. Let’s head over to the high school. I’ve got plenty of people I want to torment there.”

She took my hand and we were off.

I was glad to have the day off from my meditations and rewrites.

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