By Maddie Bowen-Smyth

According to her late husband, ghosts are most common in walls, hearts and bread. Niamh never held with his nonsense—“Surely spirits have better things to be doing!”—but the idea catches. She dusts flour on her apron, kneading the dough until her fingers ache.

“Just you watch,” Liam would say. “You’ll be in the bread, too.” Bilge and blarney; that was always his best and worst quality. Still, in the quiet of the warm kitchen, something about it tugs at her.

He could be in the walls, watching over. He’s certainly in her heart. The bread, too, if he’s feeling mischievous; he often was. Niamh slams the dough decisively. There’s worse things, maybe, than lingering in flour and water. Better to linger there than in dirt and bones. 

“If you are there,” Niamh tells the dough. “Don’t you dare meddle.”

The bread doesn’t rise. Somewhere, she hears Liam’s laugh.

Maddie Bowen-Smyth is perpetually, endlessly tired. She’s an avid tabletop roleplayer, spends hours hunting obscure historical facts, and all her characters wind up bi until proven otherwise. After working in Japan for several years, she now lives in Australia with her linguist wife and their growing menagerie.