Honorable Mention – Flash 405, April 2019: “Magic & Myths”
The worst part about dating Andrew was the ghost of his ex-girlfriend, who kept hanging around.
“He murdered me,” the ghost wailed. She was draped all over in silver chains, which she rattled. The cat hated her.
“I most certainly did not,” Andrew said. Andrew was tall and handsome and rich and gave Sarah jewelry. Sarah decided to believe Andrew.
Andrew collected jewelry, which he liked to see Sarah wear. He brought her diamonds with platinum backings, opals set in gold, antique watches, tennis bracelets, little dangling charms carved from coral. Often he liked to see her wear the jewelry and nothing else, so Sarah would lie naked on the bed, weighed down and glittering. The ghost stood in the corner and howled.
Sarah was in love with Andrew. Sarah was in love with Andrew’s jewelry. Sarah was in love with the way Andrew’s hands twitched to her throat when they had sex, fingers caressing an emerald choker, a cascade of Burma rubies.
“He killed me! I’m dead!” moaned the ghost.
“Oh, shut up,” Sarah said.
The ghost lay around on the sofa in the afternoons. She liked Maury. Sarah left the TV on for her, like the neighbors did for their anxious parrot. At night Andrew changed the channel to a program about commercial fishing, sleek shining bodies flopped on the deck, opening and closing their mouths. The cat batted at the screen, claws to the buzzing glass.
There were bangles crusted in garnets. There were rings studded with sapphires. There were brooches of gold so pure she could crush them under her thumb.
And of course there came a day when Andrew’s hands tightened in the strands of deep-sea pearls around Sarah’s neck, pulling tight, tighter, too tight. Sarah emerged from her body draped in a mesh of silver chains: gleaming, brilliant, sparking in the sun. She shook them. They rattled. The cat yowled.
“He murdered me,” Sarah told the ghost of Andrew’s ex-girlfriend.
“I know,” the ghost said, and then she faded away and Sarah never saw her again.
I love the dark humor of this piece; it reminds me very much of Cathy, which we published in Vol. II: “Surface” (and which I recommended as one of my favorites in our 2017 Expo Recommends: Editor’s Picks – so kudos to the author for knowing your judge!) Like the main character, Sarah, Pyrite is dripping with gems of detail, which contrasts nicely with the overall stark writing style. It gives the piece energy and a fast pace, glossing over the absurdity of the “ghost of ex-girlfriends past” like Sarah glosses over the danger she so obviously faces: because it’s convenient, because it’s human nature, because no one is easier to fool than yourself.
Maria Zoccola is a Southern writer currently working in nonprofit. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Emory University and an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University. She has been published in Luna Station Quarterly.