Deborah's Ghost by Rachel Smith

Billy smirked as Deborah grabbed a fistful of her thick auburn hair, fighting to keep her voice steady. “I’m not imagining things.” 

“I didn’t say you were.” 

She pointed again at the glass vase full of wilting tulips on the windowsill. “I’m telling you it’s been moved.” 

Billy gave her a flat stare, but said nothing. He didn’t need to. 

He turned away from her and glanced up the staircase, at the photo of her late husband, which she would eventually take down. He sighed; it couldn’t happen too soon. That’s when he would know she’d been broken. 

Later that night, once Deborah’s breathing deepened, Billy slid out of the bedsheets and slunk downstairs. He left the vase alone this time, opting instead to shift a couple of her porcelain dancing girls, facing them backwards. 

A few more months should do it. She was weak, but devastatingly beautiful; a promising combination, but he had to keep her off balance. Keep her second-guessing herself lest she think herself above him. 

Satisfied with his work, he mounted the stairs, careful to avoid those that creaked. At the top, he looked into the glossy blue eyes of the dead husband and winked. 

Suddenly, a high-pitched noise scraped against his eardrums and the picture fell. Billy jumped backwards, flailing his arms, but it was too late. 

His body slammed into the stairs and he rolled, one arm folding awkwardly beneath him. He screamed as it snapped. 

No one came. 

He hit the hardwood floor, pain and panic surging within. His skull was bleeding; the warm liquid making a pool before his very eyes. He lay there with one arm splayed out at a crooked angle, his vision fading. 

Again, he tried to cry out, but all he managed was a low, ghostly moan. 

Published in Issue #23

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