We recently published Ellen Rhudy’s stunning “We Are Not a Ghost Story.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) I love this haunting that is not a haunting — the connection between the ghost and the narrator is so poignant here. I love that they both insist they are not a ghost story (though they know they are). Why do you think the ghost has chosen this person (not) to haunt?
I’m so happy that sense of connection came through, because one of the things I most wanted in this piece was to explore that link between a ghost and the person they’re haunting. At first my idea was just that the narrator was present at the ghost’s death, but as I spent more time with the story this other idea also came up, that the ghost feels there’s some aspect of themselves that only this one person has seen. But I think just as much of the haunting comes from the narrator–as you note, there’s this insistence from both characters that they aren’t a ghost story, and I wonder if that insistence doesn’t in some way cement that they are in just that type of story.
2) This line: “I am nothing but a collection of places I will not go and words I will not say.” Damn. If the ghost ever leaves, do you think the narrator will go to those places? Speak those words? Or is the ghost only an excuse they are using?
Oh, this is such a good question. I think you may have hit it there, that the ghost is in part an excuse the narrator is using to remain in place. As much as they claim to want to be released from this haunting, I wonder if the narrator isn’t also holding on to this ghost, not wanting to let go of the last threads of this person they’ve lost, because then they would have to find their answers to these questions of who they are without the ghost.