by Brian K. Lowe

She has come looking for me again, just as she always does at this time. No matter where I hide in the house

(and it is a large,dark, Victorian mansion with deep closets and a long, low attic full of black corners and the undergrowth of generations)

Attic by stengchen


she seeks me.

Eventually, she will find me.

I hear her now,



the stairs

softly creaking

with her passage.

(But they are solid, for all their age.)

Shadows flee from the candle she carries, a silent but glowing harbinger of her—and  then I see her.


Pale. She has never had much color in her, her eyes the grey of the morning before it snows, her cheeks more like the fallen snow itself than the sleeping rose beneath; but in the candlelight she seems to glide over the worn carpet like a fog, never adding her mark to the long shiny trails that I and my mother and her mother before her blazed on our knees when we escaped the watchful governess’s eye and embarked upon perilous explorations down the hallway where she now stands, fearful of losing me, of having lost me.

“John?” The echoes, like little messengers sent to do her bidding, search me out. But the old wood and the carpet, they are my friends; she will not hear her echoes’ return.

Perhaps they could not return in any event, for how do I know what I hear, what I think I hear? How do I know she can make a noise that I can hear? Or is it merely my imagination that peoples these rooms and halls with the unwonted, unwanted presence of alien voices and creaking footfalls where none can truly be?

vision of a fay peterle

“John? Please come out. I know you are here.” Does she? Or do I hear in her tone that hopeful, hopeless note, verging on despair, that betrays her fear that this time she has lost me forever, that her nightly visitations must end? Because she does not belong here, and I have long believed that if I could escape her notice for but a single night, I could be free of her, that somehow she would be sucked back into that abyss (is it so dark a pit for her to bear?) that claims all of her kind as its inhabitants.

One night, and I would be free. But not tonight.

Her strong hand (for do not let her complexion fool you; she is strong) throws wide the doors of my armoire fortress, and her candle spears me in my place, revealing me to her, binding me to her by dint of her persistence. For while I am so spotlighted, she will not release me. Though I run shrieking, she will follow, will o’ the wisp pursuing banshee, until I collapse in a corner, trapped, and she importunes me until dawn.

And so I surrender, as she knows I must. She shields the light, because it dazzles me. She is kind, I must admit, after her fashion (and so should she be, for we were lovers once). Is it that kindness that forbids me to seek help, restrains me when I should cast her out? For though I pray for her leave-taking, never once have I sought to force her eviction from my home.

She weeps, the same teardrop, crystal on velvet, that she always keeps for me. I loathe it, for to love it would be to reject all that has gone before and to embrace that dead and dusty past in memory’s moldering arms. She is removed from me now; our love has run its course, like the tear I cannot, will not, brush from her lovely, untouchable cheek.

“You should not do this,” she says, her voice trembling now not with trepidation but with sadness, as if she seeks to sway me from what I know to be right. But even were I to accept her view, it would be for less than naught. “It is unworthy of you.”

So seldom do I use my voice that even to me it sounds harsher and more hollow than I would have it, despite the knowledge that my tone will make no difference, that the words themselves will not float like dust motes on the air but fall heavily to the once-bright carpeting, there to crawl to her feet and beg to be picked up, held, assimilated, fulfilled. And she will ignore them, as she does everything that does not suit her. Who am I to sway her feelings? I lower my head as I speak. “I wish you would leave me alone.”

She is startled, but her walls are raised and no cool reasoning or impassioned plea will move her. Now or ever.

“You are being cruel.” The cycle begins anew. I cannot watch it again. Is it truly cruelty, or pity, that moves me? “You do not belong here. Your place is out there, with the rest of your kind, not here, hunting me down night after night, chasing me from room to room in my own house, cornering me in a closet like a boy caught in his parents’ bedchamber.”

“Do not be afraid of me. I love you. I always have.” Her candle flickers. Her eyes break from mine as she reaches into her pocket and produces another. She lights it off of the first and for a few moments the twin spotlights, faint as distant watch fires but bright nonetheless, blind me. I flinch. A puff and one is gone, but one remains, steady and unwinking and inevitable as the chariot of Apollo, to which I, like Icarus, have come too close.

“I am not afraid of you. Why should I be? You cannot harm me. But what you represent, that frightens me more than you can know. Your being here portends an entire world that is alien to me and what I am. I have no wish to enter that world. I want to stay here, in my house, in my world, where I can forget all others. And where they, if God is good, will forget me. Where you will forget me.”

I regret the words even as I speak them, for in me still there lingers a bit of the dust of human compassion. She whirls to leave, though it is far from dawn. This time I have succeeded in hurting her, but to no avail. She will return. I cannot doubt that now, for I see her curse as clearly as I see my own:


artifact of a ghost peterleSometimes,


it is the living


who must haunt


the dead.














Tryst © Brian K. Lowe

Brian K. Lowe has been writing since magazines were printed on paper. Although a proud member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, he still acts as though he lives in the 20th century, and he has the cellphone to prove it. An avid reader of pulp magazines and watcher of Godzilla movies, he has self-published four books. His thoughts on writing and the universe (in that order) can be found at


house interior shots ©


photos of woman © Peter Allert

Peter Allert — working professionally since 1989, and member of the German Association of Freelance Photo Designers since 1998. He first did science photography before acquiring a passion for art and advertising  photography.   Among his motivations are: Hope in this time! Hope for more humanity around us, and against racism, intolerance, especially violence against women! His clients include Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, Ballantines, Bosch, Deutsche Bahn AG, Logitech, Microsoft, and Greenpeace.

background candle photo © Jeet Sen 2007

Jeet Sen, Bangalore, India, got bitten by the shutter bug when he inherited his uncle’s old Pentax SLR film camera kit. Being a student, he couldn’t afford much experimentation, so before pressing the shutter he had to be sure he was taking a perfect shot. That helped a lot in learning.
Now he uses a D-SLR, and shooting has become much more fun.  Flickr has provided a whole new platform for connecting and sharing!! This encourages him to create more.  Still an amateur free style photographer wishing see his work go places. Email:  jeet_sen [at]


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