by Caitlin Leong
Art by Advait Patil
Issue: Paracosm (Winter 2017)

Every so often, they rise from their graves and come back in ghost-form, on nights when it’s just the right balance between cold and too cold.

They’re coming tonight. Faint humming sounds wind their way through the streets, in the watery light of the streetlamps that flickers as it spills through the open window. As I reach outside to test the air, tingles go up my spine.

The ones that belonged to this city come first, returning to their old homes.

I’m sitting at my desk when something rushes past my window. It becomes visible as it seeps through the screen door. I smile as it enters, and it stays there, silent and staring, before making its way around the room, brushing the furniture enthusiastically.

What can you give a ghost?

I take out bundles of blankets and make hot tea. It doesn’t touch. It doesn’t drink. But it twines around the steam that rises from the cup to show its thanks.

I watch it, but something about its presence tugs at my consciousness. When I wake up bleary-eyed the next morning, it’s already slipped out, back through the crack in the window, leaving a pile of blankets and a cup of cold, untouched tea.

Without thinking, I pour the tea into the flowerbed on my windowsill. The next day, I notice that the blossoms have bloomed a little brighter.

A cup of tea is shrouded in darkness, though it is lit red by a light within.