A Ghost in October This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 14, 2013
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I wish I could say that the smell of fall leaves and pumpkin spice lattes that occurs in October is a scent like no other. But to say that I’d have to be able to smell at all. Or to speak at all, even. No, being a ghost in October means missing out on the comfort of a warm sweater and the taste of pumpkin flavored everything. Being a ghost in October also means rolling your eyes at the sight of humans wearing sheets and wailing loudly.

If I could, I would tell them to rip their costumes off and just be themselves for the day. No one should ever want to be a ghost. It isn’t fun or amusing or stylishly spooky; it’s as dreary and depressing as being a sheet: you are something that’s merely there that no one truly pays any notice too. And besides, all these children in all these costumes fail to represent the most important part of who a ghost is: their past self.

I had a life before this. I was not always a shadow walking through buildings and around cities silently. I was a girl, maybe an insignificant one, but I was still a living breathing thing back when I could breathe. I had been sixteen when the car accident on the evening news announced my loss of life. I had been sixteen and stood over my body while the coroners filed their reports and said medical terms I would never learn the meanings of.

That was twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, and when I look down at my just slightly less than transparent self, I see the jeans and Converse I died in. Clothes that I should have by now outgrown. The truly scary thing about me may be that the band shirt I had been wearing holds that name of then stars that today’s teens have forgotten.

Oh, today’s teens. Do they even appreciate the things they have that I will never hold? I am jealous of their phones, and the way their music can follow them everywhere, and even how coffee is available on nearly every street corner. I would have loved to go online and see pictures of anywhere in the world, but this generation seems to use the internet for nothing other than discussing themselves, showing off their pictures, and praising their own talents.

All things that I can never do. But would I? If I had continued living, would I be an older version of them? Or would I have held my old values, my belief that a hundred dollars was better spent on ten concert tickets than one purse, no matter what label was printed on its side.

Maybe I left just in time. Maybe the world wanted me gone before I could turn into something that I wouldn’t have been proud of. But still, sixteen was too young. I was so cheerful then, and now I am hundreds of years past that. Time goes slowly when you watch other people experiencing it. When you learn all life’s lessons by watching stranger’s mistakes.

Walking through a city as vast as this one, I have seen fathers yelling at sons and mothers begging their daughters to let them in. I have seen families sit down to dinner together and starving men walking these dark streets alone. I have seen more good and more bad than I had while living, more betrayal and sacrifice than a teenager can even begin to understand.

I have certainly learned a lot in my time. But I still cannot fathom why I cannot pass on. I have tried to cry out to every deity known to man and spirit, yet someone is keeping me here. Someone still wants me to learn.

And so, while everyone else puts up their Halloween decorations and mocks the creatures they’ll never know are really there, I retreat further into the shadows. Tonight I walk the city to find somewhere quiet to stay this month, somewhere as silent as I am forced to be in this form. Maybe by next Halloween, I’ll have finally moved on.

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