By: Catherine Lynch
Genre: Flash Fiction, Supernatural Romance
Maddie Alsamt was thirteen-years-old when she met her first ghost, and she’s been in love with him ever since. Now nineteen-years-old, Maddie has been silently dating Callum Morris for three years and tomorrow marks the day she will overtake him in age.
Maddie hung her head as she made coffee the morning before the dreaded day. The smell of hazelnut wafted around the small kitchen, enticing her father to enter the room.
Her father was young, with dark hair and even darker eyes. Although his jaw was sharp enough to rival a knife, his manner was much gentler. Maddie loved her father…even though he was particular about certain things.
Maddie fixed the black hijab on her head. Her father never liked when it was out of place. That being said, her hajib was one of the only traditions her father staunchly held onto.
While they followed the Islamic religion, her father was very progressive in his thoughts about women in the workplace. To prove it, the night prior, he had been chiding Maddie on her school work and how she needed to finish her senior year with the highest grades she could achieve in order to get into a good college and secure a nice paying job.
Maddie poured a portion of the coffee into a mug beside the coffee maker and gave it to her father. He didn’t like drinking it with milk and sugar, and Maddie had made his coffee enough times to know that.
As her father walked over to the marble island countertop that Maddie had placed the mug down on, Callum strolled into the kitchen and leaned against the doorframe. He winked at her and straightened the buttons on his dark blue jacket then fiddled with his kepi.
Maddie blushed but continued to stare at the hat atop Callum’s head, unable to meet his light blue eyes. Her gaze snagged on the golden pin that was set at the center of his kepi—two crossing, golden rifles.
Maddie must’ve stared too long because her father looked back at the doorway, following her line of sight. His brows furrowed when he didn’t see the man that Maddie stared at. He then picked up the morning paper from the countertop and walked out the doorway to the living room muttering something about how Maddie “daydreamed too often.”
Callum disappeared momentarily when Maddie’s father passed through him, and when he appeared again, he held his stomach looking ill. “I hate when that happens.” The years haunting the Victorian house in Pennsylvania had taken away most of Callum’s Boston accent, but Maddie had known him long enough to detect the slightest difference in his voice.
Callum walked over to Maddie, not quite touching the floor, and brushed a cool hand along her cheek. Her eyes fluttered shut as she embraced the feeling. Her hijab moved off center on her head, but Maddie didn’t bother to fix it. She lived with Callum, so he had seen her many times with her hair down. He said it reminded him of the Charles River as it ebbed in the nighttime.
Maddie lifted her hand, fingers pulled apart and waited for Callum to put his ghostly fingers around hers. She felt only the slightest breeze when he touched her, and it made her wish more than ever that he could be with her physically.
“I suppose it’s better this way. Your father wouldn’t like it if I was actually here.” His lips tipped up in what Maddie could only describe as a breath of a smile. Callum knew that Maddie’s father expected her to marry a Muslim man, and the crucifix around Callum’s neck was explanation enough of his religion.
As they gazed at each other, the top button on Callum’s jacket slipped open to reveal the top of the gunshot wound that had killed him. He dropped her hand and fixed the jacket quickly. Callum hated Maddie seeing his death wound. He didn’t like to remind her of how he had suffered when he had died.
When Maddie first met Callum, she became so obsessed with discovering what gun caused the gaping hole in Callum’s chest that her father put her through counseling when he noticed her research. Despite the failed counseling attempt, Maddie had given up the research after she had found her answer.
It was a Springfield Model 1861 that caught him in the chest, killing him at the young age of nineteen. When he died, Callum had been only one day away from his twentieth birthday. He often joked about how he was “stuck in his teenage years.”
Maddie lifted her fingers and brushed them over the gunshot wound his jacket covered. She felt nothing but air.
Callum, however, shivered and brushed at the single piece of hair that had escaped her hijab.
Maddie wished she could place into words how her heart felt like Callum’s did—how much it hurt to imagine a day where she might grow old and have to leave the house, leave Callum, behind.
She would have written letters and poems to him if she could have, but Callum had never learned how to read. Maddie had so much feeling inside of her chest sometimes she wished it would burst. She wanted more than anything to explain to her parents that she was already in love and to describe Callum to them so that he could understand the depth of her emotions, but she couldn’t.
Because Maddie Alsamt was mute.
Edited by Emily Chance