October Fiction: “Double Exposure” by Megan Giddings
Today, we are pleased to present “Double Exposure” by the wonderful Megan Giddings. In this story, two recent college grads move into a new apartment. The landlady is required to disclose one crucial fact: the downstairs neighbors are ghosts. In the world of this story, the lines between the living and the dead are constantly blurred. Trust us, you’ve never read a ghost story like this one before.
We were young and poor and the apartment was six hundred and fifty-five dollars a month with heat included. Yeah, the refrigerator and oven were small and outdated. But there was a large window made for growing plants and looking out into the park across the street when feeling wistful. I could already see myself holding a cup of hot chocolate and watching gray sky and snowfall on a January afternoon. I would have deep thoughts about light and color and be inspired.
“I do have to disclose the following as per state regulation 970,” our potential landlady said.
Anna and I exchanged a glance, wondering if the other knew what state regulation 970 was. I lifted a shoulder, made a huh face. She smirked.
“About ten years ago we had an old woman die on the grounds. She slipped on the ice and fell. It happens.” She spoke with her hands as if she were a magician trying to distract us from the true mechanics of the trick happening around us. “No one’s seen her or anything. There’s a ghost cat or two wandering the hallways. I also have to disclose the apartment below you is occupied by at least two ghosts. But they’re great tenants. And they might even offer to split internet with you.”
The landlady’s eyes were on the park. I turned. A pack of young men were throwing around a yellow Frisbee and trying to tackle the person holding it. One leapt over a black bench in an attempt to get the Frisbee. He fell and the landlady and I laughed.
“Ghosts are fresh. Very right now,” Anna said. She had the smile of someone who was considering whether her bedroom would look better with swimming pool blue or pistachio ice cream green walls.
“Are they? The ghosts. Are they?” I paused trying to think of a way to make the question reasonable, but not rude.
“Have they ever hurt anybody?” Anna blurted out. She wasn’t embarrassed by the question like I was.
“Well, honestly I don’t know. I mean the most we’ve ever heard them doing is making the cable go out or making objects float.” The landlady’s wrinkles reminded me of a colander full of spaghetti. “But I have to admit we don’t watch the news much anymore. Too depressing.”
If she had watched or read the news, the landlady would’ve known ghosts can cause someone serious harm by materializing in a person’s vital organs. She would’ve learned about how some are repulsed by the living and have moved to Antarctica to create a new ghost country. That’s why so few were actually around. And she would’ve known some ghosts are attracted to the essences of young people. The smell of fresh organs is like a perfume to them. They feel more alive than ever after contact with the young. She would’ve known scientists are still studying who gets to return and who remains dead forever.