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Can't Let Go

A Ghost Story (?)

By Vu PhanPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
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Outside of the farmhouse of my grandma, the Sun hung low, casting an orange hue over the landscape, no warmth. A dragonfly zipped across the Sun’s yellow surface, quicker than my eyes could caught it. The field around me extended as far as the eye could see.

“So, this is how it feels to die.” – I thought.

As a child, I’d heard plenty of ghost stories. Calling myself a man of science, I’d never believed in any of them. But now here I was, behind me the coffin I stepped out of, the altar with my black and white picture on it, and the still-burning incense Mom lighted before leaving for the farm. What should I do? Where was the black cat that jumped over my corpse and brought me back to life? I scratched my head, out of habit rather than feeling any itches. The Sun was now out of sight, sneaking below the trees, leaving only a thin band of light on the horizon.

I stepped outside, expecting/hoping to feel the wind on my skin, hoping/wishing it could clear my mind. No such luck. I could feel the rustle of leaves, and the wind’s rumbling in my ears, but its gentle caress was forever lost. Memories and people were flashing in and out of my head.

“How long do I have?”

Mom and Uncle Tam will be home soon. Is it better for everyone if I jumped back into the coffin? It might give them a fright to see the lid off, but I imagined it couldn’t be worse than seeing me walking around. Well, “walk” was an overestimation. Whoever stitched my legs back together and straightened them with metal rods was clearly prioritising aesthetic over functionality. Imagine the action figures with no articulations in their legs, or the mannequins at the stores. How did I got out of the coffin in the first place?

“Never mind.”

That was my best bet, I reckoned. Who cares how I got out, what mattered now was getting back into the coffin, never to bother anyone again. After all, my death had caused my friends and family quite a lot of distress over the past few days. Just when my mind was set, the wind picked up and a voice was coming from the trees. “Let’s bury him tonight, we have a lot of work tomorrow.” It was my mother and Uncle Tan. By the sound of it, if they knew I was alive again, they’d be furious. Although I wouldn’t feel anything, they might try killing me again, and I didn’t think I can stand another argument on how they would do it. The Moon was growing larger now.

Mom and Uncle turned right on the path leading to the house, past the yard, looked at me, and went inside. I could hear them on the phone, talking to someone. Before long, a crowd had gathered in our front yard, encircling me, some with awe on their face, others with excitement. Some brought food, others drinks. I could hear Mom and Uncle Tan somewhere in the crowd.

“Touching it is double.” – Mom said.

“For you, one free touch.” – Uncle Tan said.

Those who couldn’t pay was peering their heads out from the trees, enduring the mosquitoes and ants. After a while, a man in a yellow monk’s robe came, and everything was quiet. With every step, he hit a wooden bell. The man stopped when he was very close to me, only to pour a liquid on my head.

“Holy water!” – I heard some kid said on the trees.

I was sure I had heard all their voices somewhere before, the people from the crowd and from the trees. I was staring straight at many of them, and although at first, I couldn’t recall anything with clarity, slowly their names would come, along with their roles. Some were marked as “teacher,” some were “friends.”

“Is he a bad spirit? Is here for vengeance?” – A “friend” said.

“Against who? It was a car accident!” – Another “friend” said.

“Maybe it wasn’t.” – So said another.

“Is that right, child? Have you come back to seek vengeance against those who have wronged you?” – The monk finally spoke.

The crowd stayed awake, waiting for me. It was so embarrassing I wish I’d stayed dead. Faces in the crowd kept changing. They grew more and more expectant, and myself more and more red, and the more they pleaded for me to speak.

“Do not be afraid.”

“Tell us who did it.”

I was ready to get it over with, to say who killed me, when Uncle Tan appeared. And I was quiet. They raised me, Mom and Uncle. How could I ever think of throwing them under the bus? That was when I cried, a tearless, shameful cry.

“I’m sorry… to have been… such a bother… Mom… Uncle…” – My words came in between sobs.

“What a good kid.” – A “teacher” said.

“He couldn’t rest in the afterlife because he died so suddenly.”  - The monk said.

“He was always such a good kid.” – The same “teacher.”

“You are not to be blamed for your untimely dead, child.” – The monk said and patted my head.

I saw Mom and Uncle Tan smiled. Perhaps it was pride.

Horror
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About the Creator

Vu Phan

A Vietnamese writer. I retell Vietnamese Mythology for the global audience, or at least I am trying to. I also write down random thoughts I manage to catch during a run. I am a postmodernist, and my favourite author is Neil Gaiman.

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