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Haunted Houses

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Charlotte’s house is haunted.

It wasn’t always like that. It used to be filled with life and love and laughter. Now it’s cold and filled with ghosts. They’re everywhere. The entrance, the bedroom, the balcony. Even the bathroom has its ghosts.

She had moved in here with Sam when they’d been young and in love, and now neither of them were young and only Charlotte was in love. Or maybe she isn’t. She wants to be, though. There’s nothing she wants to be more than in love and free of ghosts.

None of the ghosts are scary, but they’re sad and their presence constantly make her sad as well, because she can recognize each and every ghost in her house.

There’s bad ghosts and there’s good ghosts, and they’re everywhere. They upset her no matter what.

The bathroom’s good ghosts, for instance, are two shapes getting ready together in the morning: They brush their teeth next to each other and she sometimes swears she sees them grabbing a shower together.

The bad ghost is the message that keeps appearing in the bathroom mirror. It’s addressed to Sam and it’s written in lipstick, and when Charlotte goes to wipe it down, it disappears on its own. Not that it matters much. She can remember every single word of it.

***

Ted’s house should be haunted.

It isn’t, but it should be. So many men and women have come and gone to his bed, but he can barely remember half of them, so they don’t haunt him.

Charlotte talks about how her house is haunted from time to time. She’s convinced that every house is haunted and Ted has listened to her theories on it countless of times. And maybe she’s right, but he can’t see his ghosts himself.

No. If there’s even a single ghost in Ted’s life, he’s convinced that the ghost must be himself. And while he isn’t sure exactly how it would work, he thinks he might be haunting himself.

He’s stuck in an endless routine and it isn’t good for him, Paul says. Charlotte says the same thing. But it’s hard to break out of old habits, especially when you can see the light but it’s just out of reach and guarded by a broken marriage and a ton of ghosts.

***

There is nothing worse than being alone with the ghosts.

Charlotte has never been a brave soul and she’s never been afraid to admit that. Things aren’t great with Sam and having him home isn’t much better than being alone, but it’s better and prefers it to complete solitude. He’s a distraction, at the very least.

A ghost who hasn’t died yet and a memory in the making is better than a ghost, she decides, because it can’t haunt her. Not yet, at least.

 

But Charlotte’s house is haunted and sometimes, she can’t escape being alone with them. This Thursday, for instance, Sam is going to visit some old friends and he’s not going to be home until Sunday evening.

So when Charlotte comes home from work, she’s greeted by the ghosts.

She makes it through the first night alone, but by Friday morning she feels alone and haunted, and she doesn’t want to feel like that anymore. So she calls up Ted, and he comes over and kisses her good morning and drives her to work.

And after work, he comes home with her and cooks her dinner, and he stays with her until Sunday afternoon.

Charlotte doesn’t love Ted. Charlotte loves Sam, but Sam can’t make the ghosts go away. Ted can.

***

Being alone with himself, his own ghost, isn’t all that bad.

Ted’s used to it and it’s not hard ignoring feeling haunted, because he lives by himself and can do what he wants to to distract himself from it. He’s not lonely, because he doesn’t mind being by himself in his apartment.

It’s when he’s out, he feels most like a ghost. Everyone’s living their lives and they’re living it more than he is, better than he is. They’re getting married and falling in love and having kids, and he’s doing nothing. He’s stuck.

It’s hard to feel alive and real when everyone else seems so much more alive and so much more real.

 

Ted’s house eventually becomes haunted.

Sam is out of town for a week and Ted offers Charlotte to come stay with him for a week. She’s never been to his apartment, but she says yes anyway. They co-exist and it’s nice, and Ted realizes that he’s never felt more alive than he does when he’s with her.

It feels so real and so raw, and when the week is over, Ted is sure he never wants her to leave again. He wants her to stick around and keep him real, and he wants to continue keeping her away from her ghosts and her unhappiness.

And she doesn’t leave. Not really, anyway. Her ghost sticks around. It’s not the real thing, but it’s okay because he’s not real either.