In This House, We Don’t Burn Sage

We burn paper: loose-leaf, Monopoly money, recipe cards with hearts over each “i”. We pour circles of salt, use floured fingertips to trace her silhouette on our walls, a curl of hair, a kink of skirt. We pray to St. Peter, Hathor, Hecate. Spread honey over the step that keeps creaking, check in the morning for footprints, cold spots, a sick-sweet smell — the telltale signs of a ghost. We play Pa’s records backward, watch as he whiskeys himself to sleep. Sneak into Ma’s bedroom, slip a planchette under the pillows, our arms around each other, chant: Come home, come home.

This story won first prize and the people’s prize in the January 2023 monthly micro fiction competition.

About the author:

Jeanine Skowronski is a writer based in N.J. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Lit, Lost Balloon, Five on the Fifth, (mac)ro(mic), Complete Sentence, Crow & Cross Keys, and Tiny Molecules. She placed 2nd in Reflex Fiction’s 2021 Winter Flash Fiction competition.