Alter-Egos by Brett Hackett

The orange lights are casting their ink-painting shadows. Outside the pub he keeps wandering to and from spaces, not wanting to dance, a voice in his head calls itself the ghost. He keeps trying to ignore the thought but he’s feeling like he’s forever watching from a tunnel, like the reality can’t compare to the imaginary.

He draws on a rolled cigarette. His friends are outside with him. They’re all talking about whatever it is they love, with excitement. It begins to rain and the ghost watches it, wants to be it. He stares at it’s droplets passing by the lights above him. He looks around. He has his hood up, looks up to the sign: The Cock and Sparrow. Where is this? He asks himself.

His mate, John, with the Jaegermeister hat on talking about his band. John who’s had some of the worst luck, but he keeps going, he keeps a smile, whether or not it’s different inside he manages to come up with something. Something inspiring to say . . . to keep our spirits up.

The ghost relents losing a lot of what he held dear, because before he became that he valued friendship more than his friends valued him. But then he met people like John. They’re the kind of people you don’t pay attention to until you get ghosted, and the ghost wishes he’d realised this sooner.

The ghost looks at the rain again, feels it hit his hands, his face and listens to the wind over the talking. He looks forward, sees the rain on the roads, the lamp lights lighting up the droplets, the concrete landscape and the light-polluted sky.

The ghost looks at John. The guy he’s talking to is starting to act differently, so the ghost signals to John “Put your hands up.” John nods then the guy goes to headbutt him, but gets an upper-cut and goes down.

Ghosts are still on Earth because there’s something they’ve left unfinished, he thinks. He throws the cigarette down, the flame sizzles in the wet. He starts walking away from the Cock and Sparrow, into the lights, into the rain.

Short Bio: Brett Hackett is a student of Creative Writing at Edge Hill University who thinks of himself as a professional cynic, which sometimes gets in the way of him being a full-time romantic. He is interested in writing full time.

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