He needs a place to be other than the underbellies of ships swollen beneath the water. He spends all day sliding along anchor chains, twisting around mossy links, and comes home glowing green; I pick the kelp from his hair but still he smells of barnacles and rust.

Please give him a job where things are seen and touched, not yawning huge, hidden in depths.

He does not need smoke breaks, sunshine, or lunch; let him sort mail under harsh fluorescent bulbs in rooms where paper peels back from the wall.

My ghost boyfriend is loyal and steadfast; he cannot bear to leave this world and for you he will work silently, carefully, and eternally.

If you are nervous about hiring a ghost, please let me lay your mind at rest. He is not transparent but translucent, gathered more thinly than you or I. When he stands against sunlight his edges burn; close your eyes before a bright light and you will see where he starts to dissolve. He cannot disappear, or walk through walls—no disembodied sounds accompany him.

In fact, he makes no sounds at all, but you will quickly learn to interpret his eager, mournful smile.

My ghost boyfriend would be an asset to your company in any role involving repetitive tasks and few words; if he would stay at home when I left, I would leave him list after list of things to do.

But when I shut the door behind me he is suddenly restless, and must ride the trains for hours, silent straphanger, until he can no longer ignore the slow-sounding dance of the chains in the harbor.

Please give him a place to be when I am not around; ghosts, you see, cannot define themselves without another. When their presence is not confirmed, and confirmed again, they must slip into the water, tangle themselves in the unseen tethers that bind the ships to shore.

Respectfully Yours,


Rebecca Orchard is a recovering classical musician and professional baker. She has an MFA from Bowling Green State University and is in the PhD program at Florida State University. Her fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Passages North, Tammy, Exposition Review, the Baltimore Review, The Pinch, and elsewhere. Her work on the Voyager Golden Record has been profiled in the Guardian, BBC World Service Newshour, and Atlas Obscura.