There’s no such thing as ghosts. The shadows I saw in the windows were just that, shadows – or so everyone promised. Figments of my imagination that jumped from the pages of a picture book I read before bedtime. But the shadows didn’t know that, so they followed me. They followed me through the flickering fluorescent lights of my high school auditorium during a pep rally, past the fraternity house where I cried for hours after losing my mom’s favorite ring, the jeweled silver band my father bought her for the holidays years earlier. They snorted as I bought my first apartment, far over my budget for too little space. They snickered from the sidelines as I set my microwave on fire or left the dryer on for slightly too long, smirking as I cursed the supernatural force that made the printer run out of ink. They lingered in the cracks of every corner of my life, down the alleyway late at night among the broken glass or in the flicker of the fire on Christmas eve in my parents’ new house. Their gaze was piercing as I stumbled through the bushes outside a friend’s apartment when I was just miserable and drunk enough to believe ghosts might be real. I felt them staring over my shoulder when I humiliated myself asking out the same guy for the millionth time. But when he finally said yes, when we moved in, when we built the nursery, they slunk back into the shadows, and I wondered if they were ever really there in the first place. The sky had no more shadows for years. It was only the sun that lit up the bright blue sky. Inevitably they came back, in the hospital room, then the drive back, invading my once beautiful home with grey tendrils. They didn’t leave as I fell into bed and then a polished wood coffin to rest, until I decided to join them. Now, we follow whatever child is naive enough to believe that ghosts aren’t real.

Kathryn “Kalli” Azad is a high school student from New York City. She is a graduate of the Adroit Mentorship Program and Kenyon Young Writers Program. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming in magazines like Cathartic Lit or Outlander.