“Can I help you?” the ghost whispered.
It drifted behind the dust-covered reference desk, an insubstantial wisp with a hint of long hair wrapped in an untidy bun and the barest glimpse of wire-rimmed spectacles. I tried not to stare. It had been decades since anyone had required corrective lenses. And, well, she was dead. She wasn’t supposed to exist at all.
I cleared my throat. The sound echoed in the library’s cavernous skeleton. “I’m, uh, looking for a book.”
I leave home without my simulator, not because I don’t like them or because it is broken; I misplaced it. News programs and neighbors tell us to keep our simulator handy, even if it isn’t playing, for the security features, but Sharon expects me at noon and I am never late. I am only going a short distance, across town to the museum. That is not to say I am not afraid.
Alone and exposed to the world, I walk to the subway.
I noticed the demon living in my right index fingernail because that nail grew ten times faster than any of the others.
My mother taught me how to walk the moon road. We find it with the tips of our toes, sliding them along the slick bottom of the river. If I close my eyes, I can feel the slightest edge. I ease the ball joint, the sole, the heel up out of the water. The foot that emerges is not human with its short dark nails and tufts of fur. My nose elongates, protrudes. Whiskers tickle my cheeks. My ears swivel, seeking the sounds of night.
It is a gentle transformation.
Mother and I walk the moon road, swishing our tails. We bound over the water, chase meteors, pounce on constellations. We grin at each other the way dogs do—it’s said they learned that from people. Maybe they learned it from people like us.