Word Ghost January 1, 2022 on Kenneth Dodrill's blog

There once was a ghost that could speak. Many in the town called him the Word Ghost. He would often frequent haunts familiar to teenage boys, like the arcade, various alleys, and sometimes the graveyard. The latter was special to him as it was his home. Rarely would he find someone there that was not sad, so the squish of the boys shoes on the ground and their occasional sudden hushed silence reminded him of his own youth. The boys would sometimes pass by Word Ghost without noticing him, but typically they would throw their greetings his way.

You see, Word Ghost was an active spirit in the town, well-known by all. He had many stories to tell and people would listen and learn. He had all kinds of tales, from accurate descriptions of battles to how best to cook beans and rice. The townspeople would have regular meetings in the square with Word Ghost to discuss and share opinions on current politics, the war, science, and religion. Sometimes they would all play music together afterwards, especially if debate got heated. See, despite the townspeople agreeing that the meeting was for everyone to learn and grow, there would occasionally be someone or multiple someones who got a little hot. Music and time brought them back together by providing something to do whilst also giving them time to think. After apologies were given, everyone dispersed.

Word Ghost, trapped in a spiritual form for all of eternity, noticed something over many years. More apologies were given out after each meeting. Then less apologies. Then less people dispersed because less people came. Then no people. So many years had passed without any word from the townspeople that Word Ghost started to fade away. He felt his color change and he felt that his body was losing it’s distinct tunnel-like shape. He often had trouble remembering things and could usually be found stumbling and shifting around his usual haunts that had once belonged to teenage boys. I’m sorry to imply that he would be found because there was no-one that would be caught in the act of trying to find him.

Word Ghost’s stories died. A young boy may listen for half of a second to his grandpa talk about Word Ghost, but would rarely listen longer, nor could he entertain the idea of learning from it (as if that was his choice!). A grandpa may apply a certain monetary value to their words, only in the hopes of a single word getting through, begrudgingly handing over the payment (or, perhaps, fine) for listening. A young girl may partially listen with her only intention to receive the usual gain of five dollars, then discarding or overwriting any information received. A parent may try and use grandpa’s words in a story to make a lot more than five dollars.

Word Ghost’s stories died. He still lives on, but you can’t see him. I would like to say that a courageous young boy, shaking and fumbling with his flashlight, would hear Word Ghost whisper something and promptly exit the graveyard…but that would imply that a young boy at that time was courageous enough to enter the graveyard, had an actual flashlight, and would be listening hard enough to hear a whisper.