As Corinne reached for the glue stick, she suddenly got the feeling she was being watched. Her skin prickled, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on edge. Looking up, she spotted the source of the feeling standing in the doorway.
“Ah,” she said, smiling. “Good morning, Gary. I didn’t hear you come in.”
Gary didn’t answer. He just looked at her, unblinking and still.
“Did you have a good day?”
More silence. It had unnerved it at first, that and his eyes like black holes. She was used to ghosts, but Gary wasn’t like most ghosts she’d dealt with in the time since she’d moved into the bed-and-breakfast. He’d been there for almost six months now, and she was mostly used to it. He didn’t look as frightening now as he had that first night, when she’d come downstairs to make a cup of coffee and found him at the bottom of the stairs, just standing.
“Did you do any good deeds today?” she asked.
“Atone,” he said, his voice creaking. She braced herself for that sound he made when he was upset, that deep, unearthly groaning that went on and on, boring into her mind and making the walls vibrate... That part still unnerved her, but it didn’t happen very often. When a moment passed with no further sound, Corinne relaxed.
“Yeah, atone. Any progress on that front?” she asked lightly, taking the top off of the glue stick. Some days, Gary just didn’t talk. Other days, if you kept talking to him, you’d coax words and sentences out, even entire conversations, like the person he had once been was waking back up from the sound of your voice. Today didn’t seem to be one of those days. “I’m just adding some things to my recipe book. You can join me, if you’d like, until the sun comes up.” She began applying the glue to the back of the banana bread recipe she’d cut out of a magazine the night before. She’d already tried it once, and it had been delicious.
“All right, Gary,” she responded and looked up to give him another smile. “Love the bowtie by the way. New? Great color on you.”
“Verdigris,” Gary creaked and turned to leave.