Peer Review by Century Friend (United States)

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Ouija Board

By: A Certain Type of Decisive


To the Ghost that Lives in my House:

    Though, on a normal occasion, I might greet you, the two of us have spent enough time together that I somehow doubt there is much I could say that might make our correspondence less awkward. You've also probably figured that there's not much I can do or say to anyone to make situations less awkward- I like to think it's my signature move. I'm sure you're aware of the situations at hand- I'm not quite sure what it's like to be dead, but I try not to assume it makes one unfeeling and unknowing for two reasons: the first being that if there is nothing but an inky blackness, an endless dark of the universe, you won't be reading this letter. The second being that it makes a boring story-- and you know me well enough to know that's all I've ever really cared about.

    We've been spending a lot of time together-- I didn't realize it at first, but I've shown you a side of me that no one else has ever seen. I know the way the curtains move in the loft, I know you were there when I was crying over an instructional dance video series, over Dungeons and Dragons, and everything else. I heard whispers and creaking floorboards, shadows out of the corner of my eye as I sent email, after email, after email (I know she'll respond eventually, I'm sure of it). I assume you’ve seen all the drafts of every piece I don’t have the courage to publish. You're the only one who knows that I'm re-listening to my favorite podcast season instead of listening to the next (though, my sister is the only one who cares, and she will see this soon enough). I've read enough of my private writing out loud when home alone for you to know things about me that no one else does. No one, not my best friend, not my siblings, not my parents, no one as seen me dump a bag of Cheez-Its in my mouth and do fake Tik-Tok dances from end of my house to the other. You've seen my days of bad hygiene, of numbness, of late nights, of weirdness, workouts, zoom calls, tears- you’ve seen far more than I am comfortable publishing as a piece- I hope you don't mind the open nature of this letter, by the way. A copy is being submitted online- you know the writing community I'm a part of? It's a wonder that they were having a contest about this very thing. 

    I might've never written this letter at all- I could just talk to you as usual. But, as you know, I've been away over the holiday. You've no doubt seen my grandfather tending to the dog, seen the dust settle, and heard the conspicuous lack of conversation and shouting children. If I hadn't left, I don't think I would've written to you. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I suppose- I didn't think I was going to miss you. I get surprised by emotion sometimes. It's like a butterfly garden in a distant town, you aren't even quite sure what kind you will see, where they are, or even if you'll see them at all. But when you do, you are always amazed at how complex it is. Also I'm scared of butterflies. But that's beside the point- the point is that I'm lonely.

    I'm lucky- thousands of universes at my fingertips and a big family. I'm not lonely in the way that I know so many people are, isolated and touch-starved. I can only imagine this is what it feels like to be dead- to be surrounded by so many familiar things, yet alone. I'm lucky, but lonely. I've already told you that I prefer talking to people about mundane things. I can only tell my parents that I'm learning about video games, about fantasy writing, about things I learn from info-graphics on the web, so many times. I love the people I have and the life I have, but that doesn't mean I'm not wishing for something new. 

    I used to think that friendship required a certain number of hours to be legitimate. In order to be considered more than acquaintances, you need to know a specific number of facts about a person. You have to have lied awake a night, thinking about them, you had to go through some kind of trouble together, you have to accidentally say "I love you" when you end a call with them. It was always different, but there was a threshold you could cross just by reaching a number. It was a Pokemon you could level up to evolve from friend to best friend to soulmate--

    I've changed my mind.
    
    I've decided friendship is just a choice, nothing else. If two people choose to be friends, nothing can stop them. There are no qualifiers, milestones, prerequisites. They just exist. Labels are man-made and therefore, you can decide how, when, or why you apply them. There's not much you can control in this universe- but you'd probably know that better than anyone. People always say ghosts are just the wind and some part of my brain started taking that literally. Are you moved from place to place by the whims of mother nature? Is a ghost so light that they cannot choose where they go? In a much more metaphorical sense, I can't choose where I go. I am still so young- we make an odd pair, don't you think? 

    I'd like to choose you as a friend. I haven't been scared of ghosts since I was pretty young- I was two busy being scared of the Vashta Nerada to give the un-dead much thought. Now I'm scared of long hallways and the theme music from Unsolved Mysteries (and also the Vasta Nerada because it's still scary as hell), but ghosts? Maybe this is insulting-- I don't want to be rude, I just have to clarify. I'm not befriending you in the hope of becoming less scared of you- though perhaps that is more noble a reason, than out of loneliness. We always love each other for selfish reasons, don't we? I'm tired-- I just want something new. I want to decide that today is different from yesterday. I want to be better.
    
    And I want to be friends with you.

    I'll have finished this letter over the holiday, but I'll wait until I get home to send it out. You'll be the first to see it in its entirety. I've left this copy on my desk in hopes that you'll read it, but if you don't, that's alright. Perhaps death is more busy than I anticipated, maybe it is less lonely than I am. But if it isn't, if you find the time and something that you want to make official, I'll look around for messages written in dust and whispers through the air conditioner. I can't wait to be home again.


See you soon,

Gecko

The instructional dance video series was called "Dances Moving" and it broke my heart. If anyone wants to know what I consider true art, you can take a look, there's only seven episodes or something, they're only about two minutes each. There's a crazy underlying metaphor in the music writing, alongside the more obvious metaphors-- hmu if you watch it, I'll tell you all about it.
Also, Gecko is a name I use on a certain, unnamed writing website with a shorter username space. 

Message to Readers

There are things that exist that can't be perceived in any way-- don't be prejudiced. Maybe they can't perceive you, would you say you don't exist? Exactly. Now stop whining and jump into this bottomless pit with me.


Peer Review

For one thing, I haven't seen a single other letter addressed to a ghost. And a glance through the first paragraph dispelled my initial expectation that you were writing out of fear. I love that you can see right away the nature of your relationship with the ghost.


You talk a lot about how well the ghost knows you, but not how well you know the ghost. Maybe go into who the ghost is a bit more, or the fact that you're unable to find out, if that's the case.


1. How/when did you first meet the ghost?
2. How is it you're the only one who's seen it? Are you?
3. Is this ghost real or did you come up with the idea? Just curious. It's amazing either way.


This is such an interesting point of view. Go with your gut, the final draft will be amazing, I'm sure.


Reviewer Comments

I really enjoyed reading this. Props to you, keep it up!