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My Own Haunted Apartment

By Jade Braden

When we moved in we both got the feel that something was there, something rather than somebody, which was an important distinction because we were used to living with somebody and weren’t as sure what to do with something, especially when we couldn’t pin down exactly what that something was because there are so many options when you move to this part of town (like demons or land spirits who were never human) but now that I’ve had some time, I think I have it figured out: somewhere between the ever present hum of power lines and chemicals in the water putting us on edge, foreshadowing snuck in and warned us that we wouldn’t live alone long if we ever did, and you know I don’t think we did, because there was always something crawling in (fat spiders through the door jam and stink bugs through the windows) and we hoped that nothing bigger would come along, but of course that’s when the first mouse showed up, and then the second, and the others, and we got so tired of calling the landlord each time that we started buying our own traps and snapping their little necks in them, which I haven’t stopped feeling guilty about even though I gave them fair warning—as if they speak English and as if I don’t entice them with name brand peanut butter (because I refuse to let them die with any less dignity than that)—and either way they kept coming and we kept killing them and then I’d have to dispose of their cold tender bodies so I could make my breakfast or dinner—we were always waking up or coming home to death—and I sort of got good at it, taking them away with latex gloves (while praying), didn’t have to cry every time, but still that ball of guilt welled up in my heart and hasn’t yet receded because I know I’ll do it again if I have to and that I’ll have to (because who are they to resist a hole in the wall that leads to warmth and sweetness) until someone comes to patch those holes up and that in the meantime our sanity will be steadily chiseled away because the kitchen is now a live-in jumpscare, a full-on stop-in-the-doorway-hair-raised-slowly-checking-each-trap-before-proceeding movie moment, bated-breath, hoping that nothing is waiting, hoping that nothing will jump out of the toaster (again), and honestly, maybe I feel better that I’m suffering because I know the mice are having their revenge; in fact, when the closet door started swinging open at random I surpassed the logical answer that the weather was making the house shift, and straight to the conclusion that the ghost mice were opening it (and somehow maybe there’s more comfort in that thought than fear), saying “we’ll never be gone” and “check the trap in here, we’re waiting” which would be a good ploy if they were dealing with an amateur, but I’ve watched too many horror movies so I just close the door five times a day and don’t look in, hell, I wrote papers on The Tell Tale Heart, so I know how it all goes, but that doesn’t stop me from being a heroine on the brink of madness, it doesn’t stop me from knowing that ghosts, guilt, and grief are so often the same thing, doesn’t stop me from knowing that one of these days I’ll have to look inside the door and face the fact that what I abhor most here, waiting with death and rot and severance and sadness, reflected in their big dead eyes, is me.

Jade Braden is an author and artist based in Columbus, Ohio and can be found on Twitter @jadewcb, online at, or buried underneath a mountain of guilt for all the mice she’s had to kill in the past few months.

Art by Jade Braden.

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