I asked Dragon for a prompt. She wanted a story about a ghost that was on fire.
In a realm of magic, in a time of heroes; there was an empty house with a lonely ghost. What felt like ages to the little ghost was only a few months and eventually the house was bought and another family moved in.
The little ghost was young and didn’t appreciate the new owners, especially the little girl who moved into his room. She changed the colour of the walls and added stickers of dragons, princesses, and flowers.
“Stop changing my room,” he said to her.
Now, some people would be scarred of a ghost suddenly appearing, but not this little girl. She simply shrugged and replied, “No. It’s my room now.”
“No, it’s mine,” he said.
“Mine,” she replied.
They went on like this for a long time until the little girl became angry and stomped her foot saying, “Listen here. This isn’t your room anymore, this is mine. You’re a ghost. You’re dead.” He deflated, quite literally, and hovered on the bed crying. He cried and he cried and after that, he cried some more. Feeling guilty, the little girl added, “I’m sorry I yelled. Maybe we can share the room?”
“No. You’re right. I’m dead.”
“Shouldn’t you move on then?” It’s common knowledge, or at least it was to the little girl who loved reading ghost stories, that ghosts move on after they’ve accepted their death, unless they have unfinished business.
“I can’t, I’m too cold.”
That must have been his unfinished business. She decided to help him and find a way to make him warm again. But how?
The first thing she tried was to wrap him in her warmest blanket; it fell right through him. She made it into a little tent and he said it didn’t make a difference.
The second attempt was based off what she used to warm up her feet. There was a small heating vent behind her father’s desk. When her feet were cold, she’d stand on the vent and let the hot air warm her up.
She brought him downstairs and he positioned himself over the vent. They waited for the hot air. She was about to go try and reach the thermostat when the air turned on. The little ghost hovered in place for a few seconds and then was pushed by the air higher and higher until he was squished on the ceiling. The sight made the little girl giggle and giggle until she was flat on the floor.
When they had both peeled themselves off their respective surfaces, the little girl had an idea.
“We need something hotter. Something really hot.” She knew she shouldn’t play with matches or lighters, but since no one could see the ghost, she didn’t need to light anything.
They waited until just before dinner and when her father lit up the barbeque, she said, “Now go in there.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” he asked.
“Yes, but you’re a ghost remember.”
“Okay.” With that, he flew at the barbeque and bounced off of it into the snow.
“Iron,” she said and smacked her forehead. “Ghost don’t like iron.” She’d learnt from her ghost stories that salt and iron kept ghosts out of places.
“Wait until he opens it!” she ordered.
The little ghost shook himself off and waited for the barbeque to open. He flew inside and when the lid closed, he was trapped.
When the lid was opened again the ghost flew out screaming, “Ow ow ow.” Inside his translucent skin were embers from the fire. He flew around in circles and finally dove into the snowbank again. Little spots of embers melted the snow in an odd pattern.
Back inside, in her room, she watched as the ghost shivered, still hovering over her bed.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“It’s okay. You tried your best.” The little ghost’s words were punctuated by shivers.
They stayed where they were for a few long quiet moments and the little girl started to cry. The ghost’s whole situation seemed hopeless. Between sobs, she said, “Maybe you could stay here and we could be friends?”
“You want to be my friend?” The surprise in his voice made her giggle through her tears. Giggling and crying are closer than most people want to admit.
“Of course I do… Hug?”
In response he nodded and she wrapped him in a big warm hug. It wasn’t until after she was holding him in a hug that she was surprised she could feel him.
Slowly, his shivering stopped and he gave a big sigh. “Thank you. I needed a friend. I think I can move on now.”
They both said goodbye at the same time and he slowly faded away, moving on to the next great adventure.
The moral of this story is simple: A warm, consensual hug can make everything better.
Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities are the expanded versions of stories I’ve told my children at night before bed. They’re short, silly, and were completely improvised in the telling.