By Esme Bell
She was in bed when it started: already tumbling over the edge into dreams when, suddenly, she felt – something.
Something not right: something actively becoming very wrong, tracing like a chilly finger down her spine, creeping like misgiving through her hair. But she was in her room, in her bed; surely safe, warmly swaddled, and – uneasy.
The unease grew in her like a shout or a moan, and she opened one eye: watched the room grow suddenly, hungrily, black: gaping darkness that bloomed and bubbled-
Shut your eyes then. Screw them tight, tighter…
Who had said that?
Who was it who whispered – so softly, so gently – in her bed where she lay, alone: where she lay, stricken and terror-blind; where she now screamed and flailed and suddenly sprang up like a puppet released, and what she now abandoned as she tore down the stairs and out of the door and across the street, and away.
And through the window, under the yellow streetlight, the ghost watched.
He hoped that she could hear him as he was explaining – and it was a bit embarrassing, really – that he was just afraid of the dark. They could talk about it together; she seemed like she was the sort of person who would understand about these things; she might get a nightlight, maybe.
Hopefully, she would be back soon, though.
It was such a long time until dawn.
Photography: Muna Mir