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Ghosts

by Calla Smith



Another pair of jeans went into the box, followed by two shirts and a jacket. It was almost full again. Genesis sighed as she unpacked the new pants that will now live in her ever-changing closet. Genesis from several boxes ago would never have worn those. Why would she, after all? She hadn’t needed to hide her legs then; she had still considered them one of her best features. But that, like everything else about her, had changed.


There were so many boxes. Each one captured a perfect photograph of a previous iteration of herself. Genesis finally single, on anti-depressants, in love, or without a care in a world.  Nineteen scared of her own shadow. Sometimes ever so close to that glittering daydream of who she wanted to see in the mirror. Other times so far away that she could never get it back.


Somehow, no matter how close she got, it was never enough. Even if it should have been, as she realized when she looked at old pictures. If she had a zipper down her back that would let her slip off the layers of skin and flesh to be Genesis at nineteen again, she would in a heartbeat.


The box was full, so she closed it and sealed it with masking tape. The plastic smell always made her cry. Later, she would drop it off at the storage unit of clothing that didn’t fit now but might again sometime in the future. It would be locked away like the others. The time would come that she would need it with the constant ebb and flow of her body shrinking and swelling. It always did.


If she didn’t have the proof of each painful in between, she would have thought that life was like a yo-yo swinging from one extreme to another over and over again, from fine to awful. Now it was awful and getting worse.


She didn’t want to see herself in the mirror; that person couldn’t possibly be her. But it was. Trying to pretend otherwise wouldn’t change it. Even trying to change it wouldn’t change it. But she still didn’t want to give up the hope that one day she would need those other sizes again.


In the meantime, time kept going by one eight-hour work day at a time. She should have been snapping back to some other previously packed moment of her life, but she wasn’t. She just kept filling up more and more boxes. At this rate, her storage unit would be busting at the seams. And then what? This had never happened to her before. She thought she should try harder.


But even as she thought this, she knew she couldn’t. And she was certain she couldn’t allow the boxes to start accumulating in her house like all the ghosts trapped in her memories. She didn’t want this collection in her life anymore. Even though there was still room, she didn’t take the latest boxes to the storage unit.


Instead, she stuffed them in her car, drove out into the desert where the stars pierce the sky, and piled them up in a pyre of her past, present, and future. The cardboard burned fast and strong, reaching for her skin, but she didn’t want to leave. She watched the flames dance, consuming the past and future versions of Genesis until there was only her: Genesis in mom jeans, eating her favorite candy one by one. That was the only Genesis that mattered, the only one that was real.



 


Calla Smith lives and writes in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She enjoys reading, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and continuing to discover all the forgotten corners of the city she has come to call home.  She has published a collection of flash fiction What Doesn’t Kill You, and her work can also be found in several literary journals such as Five on the Fifth, Comic Daffodil, and Bottled Dreams among others.


Calla can be found on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram.

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