THE GHOSTS

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It’s a squarish room, plain by day, and nothing to speak of. But after dark, when the lamps are lit and the candles positioned, the room takes on an inviting glow, and were you to walk inside from the chill of a wintry evening, throwing off your coat and rubbing your hands together, you’d think it had the air of an old-fashioned club. A suggestion of wood-panelled age, perhaps; of capacious leather armchairs, and small low tables ready for heavy tumblers of whisky. You might describe it as a pleasant room, a cheery welcoming place. A place where a roaring fire and reliable grandfather clock wouldn’t be unexpected.

But that isn’t the real room. Often he keeps his head still, feigning sleep, then rolls his eyes gently to the side, and he can make out the profile of a face, or the line of a limb. And sometimes, if he concentrates, he hears whispers and breathing. But whenever he moves his head to probe the deep corners, there’s no longer anything certain to observe. But he knows his eyes and ears aren’t the only arbiters of all that happens in the room.

He has no friends. To have friends might create a need to explain himself. Why is it, they might ask, that your life is one way and not another? And eventually he’d have to tell them about the company he keeps. It’s the ghosts, he’d say.

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