Persephone had to turn down the lights. That was okay. Durand felt it in the dark, but the shadows echoed more personality anyway, so he let it play on. At least anything with munching clowns was likely to let most of the silences sink, so he’d have a place to focus, and let his periphery fade. She came out of the little cabin, putters in hand, looking like an awkward teen who’d grown her hair only long enough to hide half of her face. She handed him his golf ball, and he dropped it into the crosshairs of a clown’s mouth. She sat, had a soda tray full of cold popcorn and an employee cup from which they shared a whiskey Coke. He was quick to remember what it felt like to wish that you were watching. If only a man staring.

They didn’t have scorecards, and each hole was a riddle to read through the darkness. It was fun anyway, if not because of. She lined up her shot, leaned and breathed, ate some popcorn, got back in the game, falling into the girdled flow. He started glancing at the flickered outskirts as cars—which were growing more scarce—passed by. He found himself expectant, like waiting for someone to show up when you’re not sure exactly what they look like. He remembered that it would be just the two of them tonight, of course. Still, he wondered if at any moment someone else would step through the darkness of this ghosted playground. Persephone made her shot with a precision keen to one who works in mini golf.

Durand took a sip of his cocktail. “Are mini golf courses ever haunted?” he asked. “Wouldn’t that be cool?”

“Hm. I wonder.” Her stare was thoughtful.

He lined up his shot. “This one isn’t, I take it? Haunted?”

“Um, it probably is. I don’t know. Why?”

“I thought I just saw an eyeball. When I grabbed my ball out of the last hole. Must have been the lighting.”

“An eye. Huh. Could be a ghost. This place is old. My dad used to play here when he was a kid. Who knows. Could be. I feel vibes sometimes, I guess. An eye though? Gosh, I hope the ghosts here are a little more original than that. That’s not even scary.”


He imagined the ghosts dwelling here, constantly mistaken for bells and whistles. Then he decided that was too much like life. Shit, maybe mistaken intentions plagued even the dead. Poor ghosts. It drifted though. The night grew omnipotent to stretch for every obstacle, as headlights became a more and more endangered species. They thanked the streetlights when they could, and thanked the darkness of Hole 14, while the bodily tension had cascaded, light brushings of skin growing more and more common, eyes lingering and the invisibility of the night felt perfect to clothe them. They scratched flesh upon flesh, to sweat and moan against the silence.

After, as they lay to a receding warmth, he told her. Yeah, he’d seen it his whole life. Winks to wash for his nod to abhor. All of the pretty ladies in bypassing cars with popcorn smirks fashioning poison for an arch that he felt it impossible to climb up and over.

“Are all your enemies still alive?” she asked.

“As far as I know.” He settled into that one for a minute. “Yeah… I think so. Probably. Although…” He let the sentence finish itself before asking, “Does my mom count?”

“Oh shit—”

“Cause it’s been happening as long as I’ve been alive. I think. That’s why I’ve never felt… I’ve always felt like I’m floating, never secure. Never grounded.”

She looked down at her breasts, bare, a canvas for moisture, their muffled glint riding the lights that happened by. “Are we getting Freudian?”

“No,” he said. “I was actually kidding. About my mom. Weird joke I guess.”

He told her about the house he grew up in. Haunted, probably. It was moderate, but at least enough for him to wonder. There also seemed to be enough of an explanation for it to flit. Like his hallucinations. He only got those when he had a fever, so they must have been night terrors, right? Either way, they were fucked and unreal. He felt that not much of any description could capture their personalities: things getting really small, then really big. Things in front of him, as he watched, but knowing it was in the air and not in the space. Always laughter. Not heard but felt, like it was inside him. And always the same man, almost Durand, but completely different. “Not my dad though. I mean, my dad’s dead anyway.”

“So you’ve seen him?” she asked.

“I guess so. I remember seeing him but can’t quite remember him. I can only remember reflections. That’s all I can describe them as.”

“Reflections. So the ghost is you, kinda? Looks like you?”

“I guess.”

“Must be your dad. His ghost.”

“No. What? I don’t think so. My dad actually might not be dead. We’re not sure. Anyway, I think it just hides behind my own face.” Durand wasn’t scared, but angry, looking up at the trees. They whispered when the wind blew. He had always loved the fall for that, the dried leaves grasping, plummeting, a single vowel as they hit the ground. He waited between thoughts to hear their soft tempo around them. Then he described it, the terror of his childhood, at their fucked-up house, not really floating banshees, sheet-attired and pounding against his windows. It was more a resting pulse that he could sometimes smell. It almost felt like a trap, with a hair-trigger.

Anyway, as he aged, so had his ghosts. At least to an extent. He started hearing whispers, which at first felt like the static of the world, until he recognized words, then sentences. It reminded him of another mind trying to grasp his thoughts. It hadn’t been much like anything like he’d seen in horror flicks: no demands to kill himself and his family, nor bungee jump using his intestines as the cord, or wear his grandma’s sweatpants. It was more a carousel of odd remarks, each hoping to find a tract of malice. He could tell by the tone. It was like his own mind with the words grown putrid from never being let out.

But, he explained, then he moved out of his house, to college and its wherewithal’s. A wave of newborn thoughts and feelings, anxiety, discontent, careful ecstasy, and the armloads of adulthood. He’d notice the bullshit at times when he visited his mom and stepsister, but noticed he was able to muffle it behind some much louder voices.

“…until I got comfortable,” he said.

“Mm. Then… it… wait, are you one of those—?“

“No. Er, yeah. You mean like the horror movie trend lately? Where the person is haunted instead of the house?”


“No,” he said. “I think that kind of shit just got into my subconscious. To be honest. At least later—what I mean is, my childhood home was haunted as fuck, right? So, then I start seeing all these movies and thinking about how horrible that would be. Which I guess is the point of any horror story, isn’t it?”

“Not entirely.”

“But I bet I was just so scared of that being, you know, being my case. The case with me. That I thought about it enough, I started hearing voices everywhere. Even when there aren’t any.” He looked up and behind her. “What was that?” Persephone turned her head. “No, I’m just kidding. I’m just imagining it, I betcha.”

He looked deep into the woods.

“The eye,” she finally said.


“The one you saw in Hole 7.”

“I remember.”

“But…” She blinked. “Do you think…?”

“I guess maybe.” His voice was low and intentional. “The eye.” He thought for a moment. “That’s the thing. They keep getting a little more, um, tangible I guess. More than just voices and feelings. Eyeball type shit.”

She settled her head into his collarbone and they laid like that, spent bodies melting into one another, their sweat running to the autumn’s charcoal breeze. “I know someone who can help you,” she said. “Maybe.”

That night he had a dream that he was young again, bewildered by the world and noticing new angles of everything. In it he was at his memory-laden home, running around, playing with his reflection. He went into the breakfast nook and saw his mom. She was sitting beside a steaming cup, the shoulder of her dress adrift as she held a baby to her breast. She looked as young as she did in some photographs.

In the dream it made perfect sense, but then he woke up and it wouldn’t stop bothering him. There had been another smell in the air. It was death. In this dream, he had felt vertigo every time he breathed in, with a metallic taste in his mouth. It made his chest flutter to think of it. Because then he remembered having seen it in the dream. It was a corpse. And it aged before his eyes.

Durand and Persephone talked about it immediately the next time they hung out—it was like the topic had been waiting for them. She had asked her friend, the one she’d mentioned at the mini putt, and he was okay with it, with talking with Durand. And they went to his house. He was a Malcom, so Durand finally asked if this was The Malcom. “Your Ex?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said, like it was of no consequence.

“Mm. Cool,” was all Durand could think to say. Persephone seemed unfazed, so he let it ride. They knocked, guy opened (Durand was relieved to see that Malcom was kinda ugly) and they walked in. He had a studio with half of a kitchen, and it looked like an IKEA display. “I’m not here much,” Malcom said, following their eyes. “Anyway, shall we get down on it?”

They sat at his desk, which he had cleared off presumably in prep. They didn’t hold hands. Malcom just asked Durand if he could feel this presence now. “I feel it always, a little bit,” Durand said. And Malcom sat up straight, closed his eyes like he was leading a Yoga class. He didn’t assume voices or so much as hiccup, but there was an intensity to his silence. Then he came back.

“There is someone you knew.” Durand furrowed. Malcom continued. “When you were young. Very young. It’s interesting though. How old are you?”

“Jesus, Mal,” Persephone said. “Just come right out with it.”

“Seph? Please. Can you spare me your condensation?”

She closed her eyes like she was holding a door closed. Her words slipped out anyway: “I think you mean condescension.”

Malcom continued. “Durand. How old are you, roughly?”

“I’m exactly thirty-four.”

“Mm. Did you know someone who died? Someone in your family?”

“My…” Durand thought about that. “My uncle died when I was a kid.” He looked up. “My dad might be dead. We don’t really know.”

Malcom looked at him and Durand felt as though he were trying to drill his eyes through Durand’s head. Finally, Malcom said, “Listen. Your ghost—and you do have a ghost. A single spirit who has been with you. I’m not sure how long, but a long time. He—I’m almost certain he was a he when he was alive—he finds you responsible. For his death. And he has been exacting revenge. In a way.”

“My dad?” Durand whispered. “What if he died? What if he…” He thought about it. “Maybe he thinks it’s my fault. I mean, he left when I was a baby. So now he just fucks with me all the time? Because he—what? Because he thinks it’s my fault that he dipped when I was born? Or maybe he’s just an asshole. My mom was right. What a dick-nose.” He looked at the table, using every bit of his strength to hold himself together. “Fuck this,” he whispered, not even sure if he had said it out loud.

Shortly thereafter, they left in silence. The world was in a flurry. It swooned around Durand’s head and he felt like a dance of chaos was going on in every room of his life, for which he could never learn the steps.

The days passed and all he could think of was when the ghost would show itself again. He thought of the dream he’d had about his mom. He decided that he had to talk to her.

She watched her hands kneading one another after he told her about his dream. Then he said that there had always been something. He first thought this house was haunted. “I remember,” she whispered. Then he told her that it had followed him. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” she asked.

“I didn’t think it was really happening. I thought I was… I figured it was my imagination. Or that I was kinda crazy.”

He was telling her about when he and Persephone were playing mini putt when his mom stopped him. “Listen,” she said. “There’s something I need to tell you. I had always kept it a secret. Your dad knew, but that he was the only one. I made sure of that.”

“Jesus, Mom. What?”

“You weren’t alone. At first. You had a brother.” Durand held his breath. She continued. “You were going to have a brother.”

“Wait. Did you have an abortion or something? Is that why Dad bounced? Jesus ma—”

“No. You had a twin.”

His mind tumbled. “Holy fuck. When?”

“Listen, child. It wasn’t—ugh, he was never really born. Okay. It happens a lot. There will be twins in the womb, and one will… well, eat the other.”

“Shut the hell up, Mom. I’m vegetarian.”

“No, no. That was the interesting part. I don’t think many doctors had even seen it happen this late in a pregnancy. But while in utero, babies are, you know they’re like animals. If they feel there’s a way to get more food, they’ll… sometimes a twin will feel all their brother or sister is doing is eating up their food. So they’ll kill them. Eat them sometimes.”

“This isn’t real.”

“It is. But it will happen very early. So you boys were steady. Hopping along. It was fine. Until your birthday. You came out first. You looked so happy, like you’d just won a hackey sack contest or something. You didn’t even cry. It kind of freaked out your father. Then your brother came out. We were going to call him Andy. You were actually going to be called Dureau, but we combined your names when…” She looked down at her hands. Durand could feel a pulse in his fists. It seemed like the table was trembling. His mom continued. “Andy’s umbilical cord was tied around his neck. It almost looked like an actual knot. They didn’t say it at the hospital, but I could see it in your eyes when I saw you on the table. You’d strangled him.”

“Shut the—”

“Listen.” She put a hand on his shoulder. “Like I said. It’s natural. Babies do it. It was a natural thing.”

Durand could feel the table’s tremble finding volume. “How the fuck is that natural, Mom? I tied a knot around my brother’s neck, and that’s supposed to be natural? How the hell did I know how to tie a knot?”

“Well, you’ve always been a quick learner.”

“Is that supposed to be funny?” He gaped at her. Right then one of the cabinet doors swung open and a plate went sailing out. It smashed against the wall. Durand and his mom both jumped up. “Oh shit,” he said beneath his breath.

“How in the hell—” She was interrupted by a symphony of crashing coming from all around, every door in the house seemed to be opening and slamming. Again and again. “This was what it was like at first,” she yelled. “When you were a baby. That was why your father left.”

“Goddamn, Mom. Thanks. I didn’t feel bad enough already. Fuck this, he probably—I mean, you’re his mom, Mom. Fucking tell him to cool it!”

She looked at Durand with a clarity to her face that he’d rarely seen. “Wow, you’re right. Andy!” she yelled. The banging immediately stopped. “Young man, you stop that! Right! Now! This is highly inappropriate! If you continue to do this to me or your brother, you will be grounded! Do you hear me?”

After that, it stopped. The silence ticked away beneath Durand’s life. He could feel the restlessness, but its quiet blanketed nonetheless. Thereafter, every night as he was going to bed, he would say aloud, “Don’t you fucking forget what mom said, ya little asshole.”

And he was never bothered again.