The ghosts inside her head were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ again. They were always at it, singing and talking amongst themselves. ‘Happy Birthday’ was a new one to add to their repertoire; quite often they just said ‘don’t worry about it Camellia’. Annie’s name wasn’t Camellia, so she assumed they weren’t talking to her.
Maybe they were singing inside everyone’s heads but they were all too worried about sounding like they’d lost touch with reality to mention it to anyone else.
Annie was pretty sure they were ghosts and not just voices, since they never seemed to take much notice of her, apart from being inside her head. They mainly talked amongst themselves, like someone had left the radio on next door and she couldn’t turn it off.
‘Happy Birthday’ was like their final hurrah, their encore, or like they’d been cut off from using the speaker system. As soon as they’d sung the final ‘to youuu’ it went silent. Then, all Annie could hear was the constant stream of her own thoughts wondering whether her toast was burning or if she was having a stroke.
She found that she missed their ‘don’t worry about it Camellia’ and ‘isn’t that my pen?’ and all the rest of their ghostly conversations.
The morning after the voices went silent, Annie took a shower. Just in case the mailman was secretly in love with her.
She was dodging to avoid the freezing spray toward the back when she saw the scars. They hadn’t been there yesterday, or the last time she took a shower – whenever that was.
The skin on her arms was covered in angry red-white scratches. And the closer she looked, the clearer she could see that they were words, scarred into her skin. It was as though someone was trying to tell her something. As she tried to look closer to read what they said, the letters faded, leaving a vague blemish.
As she was towelling herself dry, the doorbell rang. She was too busy opening the door to notice a new ugly red scratch forming as a scar across her arm.
She’d even put on eyeliner – just on the off chance the mailman was in love with her. And she really wouldn’t have bothered if she’d known he was going to try and stab her with a corkscrew as soon as she opened the door.
It turned out that it wasn’t the mailman and he wasn’t in love with her. In fact, whoever was at the door was trying to kill her.
Somehow he’d missed, or she’d ducked. Either way the corkscrew had wound up stuck firmly into her arm, not far from the now fading scar that spelled ‘Get Out’.
Ghosts were like that, always telling you to get out.
Want to find out what happens next? You can read part 2 here.
A few minutes to spare?
If you’re interested in reading more flash or short fiction:
5 minutes short stories
The Virtual Body knows everything that’s on the internet: it’s a science exhibit that can’t feel. That is until a visit from a mysterious stranger changes all that.
“Once, we walked on the land with them, treated almost as equals. That ‘almost’ gave a fierce sting. When the time came, we chose the Dolphins… ” The Mermaid’s Tale.
Immortal You: A grieving mother’s struggle between the past and the future.
10 minute stories
Clarice is trapped inside a garden party, when all she wants to do is escape from this life and become a bloodthirsty pirate. That’s until a murder gets in the way of her plans.
A little longer
A three part urban fantasy romance about a werewolf and water-nymph in “The Woman By The Lake”:
Geraint is miserable, until one day when the mysterious Lila comes into his life, with her beautiful brown eyes and the faint aroma of wet dog. But is she all that she seems? And will embroiling himself in her life introduce him to a whole new, dangerous world.