Face, Meet Sidewalk


Posted on: June 11, 2011

Violet settled herself into bed and clicked off the light. As usual, she sensed Ethel close by.

Ethel was a ghost. Or something, Violet was not entirely sure what. She had always pictured ghosts as floating, transparent sources of terror, but Ethel was nothing like that. She was comforting. And totally invisible. Didn’t slam doors or exert wrath or rattle chains. Not very ghostly at all, actually.

Violet first noticed Ethel (if that was her real name) just after she and Frank had moved in.  She only showed up at night. Frank never sensed her at all. When she’d brought up the surprisingly un-scary idea that there was a ghost in the house, Frank pooh-poohed her like she was a silly little woman. Of course it was the last time he ever did that. Furious, she sneaked a half a bottle of hot sauce into his dinner the next night, and watched, dainty and comfortable, as he sweated through his chicken, trying not to look like he was having any more trouble tolerating the heat than she was. He never again doubted a word that passed her lips, a state of affairs which came in very handy the few times she really needed to call on it.

Violet had no particular reason, other than a vague sense of gender, to think that the ghost was a woman. She even searched the city’s tax rolls to see who had owned the house before she and Frank bought it. There had been only a half-dozen previous owners. Ethel Sylvester was one, a single woman’s name on the deed in a time when women did not usually own property. It pleased Violet to think that a spinster librarian or teacher had once owned her house, and she quickly came to think of her ghost as Ethel.

Since Frank had been gone, Violet felt Ethel even more acutely. Many nights, missing Frank so fiercely she could almost smell his aftershave, she would feel Ethel’s warm presence nearby and feel suddenly less alone. It did not escape her notice that Frank never came to visit from the other side; she wondered more than once if things like the hot sauce incident had made Frank pleased to be rid of her. Still, Ethel helped her get through those first awful months, a close, silent friend in Violet’s time of need.

As she usually did at this time of night, Violet reassured Ethel that she would never sell the house as long as she lived. She had no intention of putting herself in a position where she might have to answer pointed questions about any “problems” with the house from some cockalorum real estate agent. She could only imagine what prospective buyers would say. Let them find out themselves, she thought, after they take me out feet first.

Violet harboured a thin hope that she might join Ethel in haunting those who would come later. And she had to admit that even though she had no intention of it being any time soon, it was heartening to think that Ethel would be there ready to greet her on the other side. Even if Frank was off gallivanting around elsewhere.

Violet flipped the pillow over to the cool side one last time and pulled the blanket up to her chin. “Good night, Ethel,” she said, and drifted promptly off to sleep.


3 Responses to "Ethel"

cockalorum?? lol

It was the word of the day on Wordsmith.com. Sometimes when I need inspiration, I use the word of the day. It was a good word and it sounded like a certain type of real estate agent.

Yup definetly a real estate agent word…

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