Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Open Letter

"AN OPEN LETTER" - Z. J. Woods

It's the smell of your hair: soap, weak coffee with too much sugar, damp earth and crushed flowers. I spent the night at a breakfast place, once, to get away from it. It followed me, or the memory of it did, which is the same.

Maybe it's selfish to wish you were a poltergeist.

Remember – we met in line at the little burrito shop on the corner, mutually hungry. I liked your cold-weather hat with the little mammal ears. You went all red and redder until you glowed. You were sick; you hurt.

You said, “Kill me” – you said, “bury me under the violets out front.”

They would know; they wouldn't understand; they'd pull you up by the roots and punish me.

You said, “It doesn't matter anymore.”

So I put you under the flowerbed. I took care not to kill the violets, as you would've liked. I more than half expected them to go red and black as they ate you. They didn't.

Once I plucked a violet petal, set it on my tongue, chewed and swallowed. It tasted like a violet petal. Maybe that's what did it.

It's the smell of your hair, and it fills the place at night. As if there were ten or a hundred of you here all scratching at their scalps. Why don't you move things? Turn lights off and on? Open and close doors? Come at midnight and leave long ragged scratches across my back? Why don't you appear? It's the smell of your hair and it's my favorite thing about you and I can't endure it.

BIO: Z. J. Woods writes stories instead of working on his M.A. thesis. He fails to maintain a preliminary web presence here.


  1. A great treatment of the spiralling decay of insanity. I love this because it touches on themes that interest me and which I'm also exploring. Themes that question if the supernatural is real or a poisoned and magnified extension of our own personality.

    This short tale took us on a journey through the narrators own detachment and his struggle to understand the ghosts he's created.

    It deals well with the existentialist ideas that all ghosts are really fragments of ourselves in some way and it's how we deal with these preternatural episodes that creates the haunting.

    Dark, eerie and dragging us into the insanity of it al. Well written and highly enjoyable.

  2. Thanks -- lately I've been attached to the idea that it really doesn't matter whether the ghost is real or not, scientifically speaking. I watch those ghost-hunting shows on TV not because I think anyone will catch a ghost on film, but because, for those people, there are, for all intents and purposes, ghosts, and I'm fascinated by that.

    Enough rambling from me, though. I was looking through your blog earlier, and I like your visceral, perception-oriented stuff especially, so I'm happy to hear your thoughts on this.

  3. Thanks ZJW. I agree so much with what you said. I'm one of those people who watches shows on Living TV (is that channel name meant to be ironic?) shouting how stupid the ghost hunters are, yet at the same time feeling drawn into why people need to believe in it.

    As writers we are always being told our duty is to ask the questions that lead others to unveil the truth. But the truth in supernatural or paranormal fiction we try to uncover is what makes people believe? What makes them have faith and what makes them create the world they perceive around them? Indeed is the world the same for all of us or have we made individual structures with unique sets of rules?

    That's why I love stories about shifted perception. Because to me they dig deeper into what we really are and what we really believe is the truth. If a ghost is real or in our mind, if it is a memory or an unborn child then how is that different than a spirit floating across the bedroom in a white sheet or rising from the grave?

    Sorry I went on a bit there but I love this subject and could make new ghosts by boring people to death with my babbling.

  4. A unsettling read - which I'm sure was your intention.

  5. Wow! That was a great read, ZJW. Favourite line:
    "...they'd pull you up by the roots and punish me." Loved the whole thing from start to finish.

  6. imaginative and vivid, a chilling and thoughtful read all at the same time.

  7. Thanks for the comments -- glad the story was sufficiently creepy.

  8. Hi ZJW

    Really creepy is thi,s I thank you ;-D

    Great piece Thumbs Up.

  9. Ooops apologies ZJW

    Is this,I thank you ;-D.