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Article

Give Up, the Ghost

“A move from the first house to the twelfth.” He paused to read. “If you acquiesce, you’ll have strange times.”

Creative
A person with long hair and a dress reaches towards a childlike creature in an oversized jacket.

Content warning: sexual assault in graphic detail; descriptions reminiscent of animal abuse; alcohol

 

The apartment gets very warm, and when we are hungover it gets very still. Daylight filters through the blinds, and Mimi grinds her teeth while I watch TV. Mimi likes doing this. She likes it even more if I let her sit next to me. If the smell gets to be too much I give her a kick so that she falls to the floor. She likes this less, and starts up an unearthly howling. I ignore her; she gives up the act and goes back to grinding her teeth.

Mimi. She is too young to have teeth, but she has them anyway. She is too young to walk, but she follows me everywhere.

I shift around on the couch, hoping that the neighbours haven’t heard Mimi’s cries. She can be quite the banshee. They have come around before to remind me that we can’t keep pets in the building. A little red-faced man and his wife. I invite them in for coffee, and reassure them that there are no pets in the flat. Their eyes roll slimily around my living room, lingering on the empty bottles of alcohol. Of course, they can’t see Mimi.

She appeared two years ago, and has shown no intention of going away.

***

I was at Ty’s last night. His house was all smoky and Mimi kept tugging at the hem of my dress. She wanted to go outside. For a creature that doesn’t need to breathe, Mimi sure hates smog. Ty was busy. He had recently stolen a bunch of bamboo from a rental property, and claimed to be able to divine the future by casting the sticks.

“Wren.”

“Yeah?”

“Come over, I want to read your fortune.” I rolled my eyes. I had come over for the free alcohol, and wasn’t enthused by Ty’s latest mania.

“Come on…” he ran his hands over the bamboo enticingly. “You of all people could do with a little… direction.”

I relented. Ty jumped up and ordered the sticks in a line.

“So, what’s your question?” His eyes were very bright.

“My question?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Oh…” I looked around the room. Mimi was desperately trying to grab the tail of Ty’s ginger cat. The cat was desperately trying to get away.

“I guess… I want to know if I’ll live a good life.”

“‘A good life… a-good-life.” Ty repeated my words. Then he got down to business, shuffling around the bamboo and arranging it in complex patterns. He threw one stick over his shoulder and handed me another. Ty counted the piles he’d made, checking them twice over. He then consulted a grubby book on the floor.

“A move from the first house to the twelfth.” He paused to read. “If you acquiesce, you’ll have strange times.”

“Ac-qui-esce”, I sounded out the word. “I don’t know about that, Ty. ‘Strange’ isn’t the same as ‘good’.”

“Nah, it’s better!” He laughed and put away the sticks.

“So… are you gonna?”

“Going to do what, Ty?”

He squirmed. “I dunno, give in I guess. Acquiesce.”

“I don’t know, I don’t even know what that means.” I wrinkle my nose, Ty is silent. I look over at Mimi. She is picking at her skin.

***

The apartment is almost humid. I am sitting on the carpet now; Mimi has claimed the couch. I tickle her with my foot. She wriggles around, grinding her teeth happily. I get bored and leave her for the bathroom. It’s hellish. Hotter than the rest of the flat, and filled with steaming piles of clothes. I stand in front of the vanity and inspect my face.

I am pale. I have long dark hair and high cheekbones. I am vaguely attractive, though my features are blurred like a child’s. I make a face at myself. Maybe I want to look different.

Ty is always going on about wanting things. He gets in these ‘spiritual moods’, dragging out the Bhagavad Gita and delivering sermons from his couch. “Want,” he says, “is the root of all suffering.” Of course, Ty wants all sorts of things. I feel his eyes linger on me, whenever he thinks I’m not watching. Ty is one of those men that gets pathetic with love. He says that I’m the most spiritual person he knows, because I don’t want for anything. I am not sure about this.

I finish putting on my makeup. I’ve already decided that I’m going to Trick, a club where I used to sell drinks. Regulars sometimes still tip me if I hang around, and I sense that I shouldn’t rely on Ty for too much longer. I head for the door, Mimi scrambles after me. Mimi’s easy. All she wants is to follow me around like a dog.

 

Trick isn’t a very nice club, but it is very alive. The lights pulse and businessmen smoke in the bathroom. The girls wear very tight clothes and someone is always screaming. Tonight, the club is blue. The people look like ghouls in the light.

“Wren!”

I look around. A small man waves from behind the bar.

“Hey, Toka.”

He grins, ignoring the customers milling around in front of him.

“You still work here?”

“Nah.”

“I see.” He starts darting about behind the bar, expertly cutting up limes and pouring shots.

“Well, your ‘friends’ are over there if you want to see them.” I look to where he’s gesturing. A gaggle of men are standing around drinking beer. Their faces are very red.

Toka smirks.

“I’m sure you’ve been missed.”

I hold his gaze.

“Yes, I’m sure I have.”

Toka blushes, and offers me a shot. I down it, then walk in the direction of the men he’s gestured to. I stand very close to them without speaking. One of the men stumbles backwards, bumping into me.

“Hey, watch the lady!”

A balding man chastises his friend. I look up at him.

“You look familiar,” the balding man slurs. His friend moves behind him, looking wounded.

“I get that sometimes,” I say. The man smiles. I’m a good talker, when I want to be. The club pulses blue and I suddenly feel very small and very lost, like I always do in a crowd of men.

“Want a drink?” the man asks. I nod.

“My wallet’s in the cloakroom. Keep me company?” I nod again and trail after him. He leads me into a small, dark room.

“My bag’s just over here.”

“Sure.” The room smells like stale tobacco. Mimi crawls under the coat rack and begins to tug at anything furry. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, trying to ignore her. A hand touches my waist. I wriggle away.

“Don’t be like that.”

The man is very close to me now, I can feel his breath on my neck.

“Why don’t we go back to your friends?” I say, moving towards the door. His lip curls. The man pulls my hair, hard. I scream, scratching at him like a mad thing. His face reddens and he pushes me onto the floor, among the bags and the dust. There is a dull, alien pain.

Mimi scrabbles wildly about the room, flinging handbags and furs. My breath is very shallow. I feel like an animal; all pulse and fear and the old pain of the hunt. Eventually the man coughs, and leaves without saying a word. I wipe myself down and grab for my heels. Mimi follows me back into the club. She is crying and crying and I can barely look at her. I move through the club-rats and make my way down the street. I am walking very fast; Mimi totters behind. The night is wide and dim, and the faster I walk the giddier I feel. I pause to dry retch. Mimi clutches my hand with what I take to be worry. I shake my head and lie down on the sidewalk. She scrambles up onto my chest.

“Please leave me, Mimi.”

She titters sadly.

“Please, leave me be.”

The weight, a constant on my chest, grows lighter. I’m underneath. I am free, I am free, I am free.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Five 2022

EDITION SIX 'RETROFUTURISM' AVAILABLE NOW!

Our last print edition of 2022 is here! This wild, visionary edition is filled with burning nostalgia, glittering hope, and tantalising visions of the future, past, and present.

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