Number Eighteen

February 18, 2008

Mr. Magori lived in a creaking, weathered house with seventeen ghosts.

They were not malevolent spirits, mind you. They were mischievious, certainly. They were irritating, undeniably. Above all else, they were awkward and uncomfortable to be around.

And that was what bothered him. If they were dangerous, if they were genuinely frightening… well, then it would be an easy choice to pack up and leave.

But as it was, the housing market was not doing all that great. And moving was such a hassle, and did it really matter if the saltshaker was in a different cabinet each morning? Was it that big a deal that the lights flickered once an hour, and he had to put up with a few seconds of darkness each day?

Petty annoyances, and nothing more. No worse than a noisy neighbor or any number of other myriad irritations any given house could have. So his stairs creaked because of a ghost hiding beneath them, instead of the wood having dried out over the years. So what?

And so Mr. Magori put up with the poltergeist pests year after year. And he grew slightly more stooped, slightly more wrinkled, after one day after another of petty hauntings and ghostly annoyances.

But it still wasn’t enough to drive him out. He eventually said to himself – “One more ghost. If one more ghost shows up, then I’ll move. But I can put up with seventeen. I can!”

And so he did. Seventeen ghosts wouldn’t drive him out, and he kept on waiting – almost anticipating – number eighteen.

He grew old. He grew weary. One day he realized that even if number eighteen came along, he didn’t know if there would be anywhere else for him to go. But it didn’t matter, he also realized – there would be an eighteenth ghost, but it would be too late for him to do anything about it.

The eighteenth ghost would be him.