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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-three HARVEY THE GHOST

by
SAMANTHA DAHL
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I

t was a lonely life Harvey lived.



To the new day, Harvey would open his eyes. The blue window would wave its same hello, sing its same song. Bare ceiling, rope gone, would grin its same grin. Empty space of bed, blanket of his wife, would hold out its same arms.



Oh, how Harvey loved them. Loved the morning. Loved the beginning.



Every day, every day, he would wake with a sit, eager and smiling, looking to his lonely world with dancing recognition. “Today, today,” he would say. “Oh, how I love today.” And, with a gentle grace, he would swing his body forward and off the bed. With bare feet gripped to the hardwood of the floor, he would stretch his arms up into the air, way up high, way up high, in a plea for applause from the new day. For every day, Harvey would be the star of the same show.



The same show.



Whistling some made-up tune, Harvey would slide open his closet door and push aside the same hangers to find a white-collared top, a red and black striped tie, and a pair of fitted grey slacks. The same white-collared top, red and black striped tie, and pair of fitted grey slacks he had worn the day before.



Of course, Harvey wouldn’t remember.



Lips still singing like the invisible birds outside his blue window, Harvey would strip from his matching plaid pajamas he had worn the morning before, and would shimmy into his daily attire. Standing before his full length mirror, he would tuck his white-collared shirt into his fitted grey slacks, and twist his grey and black striped tie into the same effortless knot. Would yank it hard.



Pull it just a little too tight.



With triumph, his quiet hands would slap against his thighs, and Harvey’s whistling would stop so he could smile.



“A new today is today,” he would say. “Oh, how I love today.” And would then skip from the room with his arms held out wide.



Down the hall, Harvey would glide, head tilting back and forth, back and forth in his waves of ditzy delight. He would glide past the empty bathroom, past the empty guest room.



Past the baby’s empty room.



And would glide down the grand staircase of his grand home. Up above him the crystals of his chandelier would wink, and Harvey would wink back. Beneath him the red wine of his carpet would reach out tiny hands to touch his still bare feet, and Harvey would wave a naughty finger, and the hands would giggle.



“Oh, how I love my home,” Harvey would say.



And oh, how Harvey’s home loved him.



Across the empty kitchen, Harvey’s smile somehow would grow wider.



“My beautiful wife,” he would say to nothing, and hold out his arms to the air in which he would embrace. “Every day, I swear you become more and more breath-taking. One of these days, you might just take every last one of my breaths,” he would hold out a hand, “and kill me.” Harvey would stroke the faceless face of his wife.



“You’re too kind, Harvey,” Harvey would say.



“Only the kindest words for my love,” Harvey would say, hand still holding the air. Strings still holding Harvey’s smile. Just barely.



Then Harvey’s head would turn to a wooden highchair, pretending he heard the laugh of his child. His hand would fall from the glass skin of his wife, and he’d take to his baby. Lifting nothing from the highchair, Harvey would hold it above him, grinning to tiny eyeless eyes. “My baby, my wonderful baby,” he would say, planting a kiss on the forehead of nothing. “So happy, you are. Such a gift, you are.”



Tears would fight Harvey.



Because



In some way



Some very small way



Harvey knew.



Arms filled by the lifeless life, Harvey would sit at the table, patting a backless back. “What would you like for breakfast, Harvey?” Harvey would ask, head tilted, his eyebrows raised.



“Give me the eggs, the bacon, and the toast,” Harvey would respond, holding the tiny heartless heart closer to his own.



“You got it, dear.”



As nothing made his breakfast, Harvey would hum, hum, hum to his empty arms. Would stare forward as he did.



Would search



Frantically



For the past.



“Here you are,” Harvey would suddenly say, still staring. Failing to properly mimic his wife.



“Why thank you, honey,” Harvey would say as he imagined his wife picking up the child from his arms.



On the empty table, Harvey would grab a transparent fork and dig into transparent eggs, shoveling nothing into him. He would eat nothing until his stomach could take no more, his pants becoming tight in the waist.



“How was it?” Harvey would ask.



“Perfect. Perfect as you,” Harvey would say, smile still there, voice quieter.



Every day, Harvey would spend it praising his wife, complimenting her for everything she did. He would honor her like it was his last moment. Like it was her last. He would love her, and she would love him. He would love her. Swear he loved her. Swear to the stars he loved her to no end, just as he would swear he loved his child.



Every day, Harvey would chisel into stone for kindness.



But every night, Harvey would forget just what that was.



In the empty living room, the windows would become black, and rather than sing with the birds, they’d cry with the wind. Harvey would sit there listening to the window’s weeping in his brown leather loveseat. Black and white would flash across his face from the television he wasn’t actually watching, and he’d reach. He’d reach beneath him.



Under the chair.



To grab a flask of warm whisky.



And Harvey would drink



Would drink



Would drink till Harvey slid between black and white



Till Harvey became grey.



He would stand, television buzzing with static, the storm outside having knocked its satellite. He would stand, mind gone like the television’s, and would numbly walk to the kitchen. With a wipe of the mouth, he would open a drawer and pull from it a knife. Wouldn’t recognize his own reflection in its thick silver.



Slow and strained, Harvey would take heavy feet up his grand staircase, knife held weakly ahead.



One, two,



Five, six,



Twelve, thirteen,



Harvey would count the up and down of his feet.



Sixteen, seventeen,



Twenty-one, twenty-two.



Harvey would stop, and look up to find himself standing outside the child’s empty bedroom. Looking between the knife and the doorknob, Harvey failed to ask for his sanity. To ask for his legs, his arms, his heart from his brain.



And he would open the door.



There, Harvey’s wifeless wife would stand over a crib, tucking in a childless child. She would sing a quiet lullaby, and the baby would doze. She would sing, and Harvey would come closer.



And put a hand on his wife’s shoulder.



Harvey would turn with a flinch, just like his wife had. “Harvey, what are you doing with that?” he would say in a gasp that sounded just as hers had.



And just like he had, Harvey would say nothing. Just would lift the knife with an empty stare.



“Harvey, why are you drunk?”



“Harvey, wake up.”



“Harvey, don’t do this.”



“Harvey, please.”



And he would mimic her screams as he dove into her throat. Drove the blade through nothing. Dug deeper, deeper, deeper, his screams fading, like his wife’s had, until there was a silent thud of her falling to the floor.



Harvey would then pretend to hear the cries of his child and would reach into the crib. Picking up a fussy nothing, he would hold it close to him, patting its back, gently bouncing it up and down, up and down. He would sing a lullaby to it, whispering into its earless ears.



“Today, today,” Harvey would sing with a broken voice and the chorus of a pitter-pattering of his tears. “Oh, how I love today.” And, with the quickest jerk, Harvey would break nothing’s neck.



He would pretend he could no longer hear its crying.



Looking only ahead, Harvey would set the baby in the crib. Would tuck it in. Would lean down to give it a kiss. And he would turn to step over the invisible mess of his wife on the floor of red wine.



Limp limbs hung and dragged as Harvey would walk from the baby’s room down to his own, his tongue still clicking the lullaby.



“Today, today,” Harvey would sing as he stepped into his room and to his closet. He would open its door and push aside his clothes, just as he had the night before. He would push them aside to find a rope he had hidden.



“Today, today,” Harvey would sing as he took out the rope and climbed atop his bed. His hands would shiver and shake as he’d tie the end of the rope into a noose. Would yank it hard. Reaching up, he would attach it to the ceiling fan and, taking the loop; he’d wrap it around his neck.



And pull it just a little too tight.



Standing at the edge of the bed, Harvey would wipe away his drunken tears. “Today, today,” he would sing, looking to the black window. “Oh, how I love today.” And he would fall.



Every starless night, Harvey would die.



And every sunless morning, Harvey would wake to the same empty world.



   
   

 

endmark



Samantha Dahl lives in the vibrant world of Portland, OR, where she spends her time reading, writing, and enjoying the rainy weather of Oregon.



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