The Love-Struck Ghost and Madeline

Dead of Winter ~ Second Place
Mona Awad


If the ghost had had a heart he would have given it to Madeline. Madeline who was always scowling. Madeline who would not play with the other girls and boys. Madeline whose mouth was always blue from eating Freezies. Madeline who hated everyone. Oh Madeline, thought he, as he watched her watch everyone with disgust. How I love you.

When the ghost was feeling romantic he lived in Madeline’s hair. When he was feeling lusty he rolled around in Madeline’s blue mouth. And sometimes, when he was feeling miserable, he buried himself in the catacombs of Madeline’s bittersweet soul and wept.

But mostly he just followed her around.

The ghost followed Madeline wherever she went except when she went to the washroom. He followed Madeline when she walked to school. He followed Madeline from classroom to classroom. He danced alongside Madeline in her tap dancing class. He sat with Madeline while she did not eat dinner. He stood in the corner of her room while Madeline slept the fitful sleep of those who are not loved. Oh, Madeline, thought he as he watched her dream her colourless dreams. How I love you. And he cried all night into his see-through hands.

For months now Madeline had the feeling that she was being haunted or, at the very least, she began to suspect that she was not alone. Day after day she saw strange shadows dash in and out of the corner of her eye. Day after day she walked and sat and stood and slept in a whirlpool of sighs which were not her own. Her hair levitated and her mouth felt like it was being licked from the inside. Fingers like clouds touched her tenderly in the dark. Most of Madeline hoped it would go away whatever it was. But some of Madeline wanted it stay whatever it was. So when Madeline said “Go away and don’t come back,” to the black of her room one night, she only mostly meant it.

Well, if the ghost had had a heart, Madeline had just broken it, for he believed she had meant every word she said. So he took his little mist of sighs and with a howl of unspeakable grief disappeared quick into the night. He lived his eternity out in the various countries of the world, half-heartedly rustling the skirts of women he did not love.

Nobody ever licked the insides of Madeline’s blue mouth again. She didn’t know that was going to be the case. But now that she’s beginning to suspect it is, sometimes Madeline wishes she would’ve said something else to whatever it was that lived briefly inside and around her in her youth. She thinks about this from time to time, when she can’t sleep in the unenchanted and eyeless dark.
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Mona Awad was born in Montreal, Canada. She mambos on Mondays and tangos on Tuesdays. A selection of her short stories, the legend of men and women, is being released by Fooliar Press the summer of 04 in Toronto. Her poem ‘Zoology’ has appeared in the Canadian poetry anthology, The Anthology of Begin, published in the fall of 03. She foxtrots on Fridays, sambas on Saturdays. E-mail: ledaswanned[at]aol.com.

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