Skip to main content

If a Bird Can Be a Ghost by Allison Mills

"If a Bird Can Be a Ghost" by Allison Mills 


This story came from Apex Magazine, Issue 99, August 2017.  You can read it online for free at: https://www.apex-magazine.com/if-a-bird-can-be-a-ghost/ .  You can also find an interview with the author, Allison Mills, about this story here: https://www.apex-magazine.com/interview-with-author-allison-mills/ . 

This was a charming little ghost story with a slightly dark and different twist.  Then again, what ghost story doesn't have a dark side?  To a certain extent I would classify this story as not having a true dark side.  It deals with some dark situations and emotions, but in a different approach than traditional ghost stories. 

The story is about a little girl named Shelly and her "Grandma."  Shelly's mother also played a role in this story.  Shelly's mother seemed to have a slight role in the story, but actually played quite a big role in the whole scope of the story. 

Grandma was what Shelly coined as a ghost-buster.  People came to Grandma with their ghost problems and Grandma helped get rid of the ghosts.  Grandma would catch the ghosts in her hair and then help them get to where they needed to go. 

Grandma kept Shelly close and taught her all about ghosts.  Grandma would show Shelly how to let her hair down and catch the ghosts.  Then after the ghosts were caught Grandma would show her how to release them.  Grandma was always kind with the ghosts and taught Shelly there was nothing be afraid of when it came to ghosts. 

Shelly's mother didn't agree with Grandma. She didn't like Shelly learning about ghosts and how to catch and get rid of them.  She didn't like anything about what Grandma was teaching Shelly and often voiced her opinion.  Especially when it came to how little Grandma would charge people who came to her to help rid themselves of ghosts.  Mother thought Grandma could charge much more for her services. 

Then one day Shelly's mother died.  Now Shelly was in Grandma's care.  Shelly loved her Grandma, but she was devastated about her mother.  Shelly greatly missed her mother. 

Mother's death sent Shelly on a spiral downward.  She desperately wanted to see her mother's ghost.  Shelly would let her hair down and go walking through town where she hoped that she would catch her mother's ghost.  She found many ghosts and she would question them to see if they had seen her mother anywhere.  More than anything Shelly wanted to see her mother again.  Shelly would try anything to accomplish the goal of possibly finding her mother. 

This story was multi-faceted and was a deeply touching story.  It dealt with relationships between family members and how they interact with one another.  The family bond and how deep family bonds could be.  It also explored the emotions of people and how they cope with different aspects of life and death. 

Shelly had a tight-knit relationship with her Grandma.  The relationship was expressed through the passing down of Grandma's tradition of dealing with ghosts.  Grandma helped Shelly understand that death shouldn't be something feared and life should be celebrated.  There are important lessons to learn from dealing with the dead and Grandma was trying to pass that information on to Shelly, the younger generation. 

When Shelly's mother passed away she didn't quite know what to do.  She wanted desperately to see her one last time.  She had learned that death wasn't necessarily the end of the line and went seeking her mother.  She used ghost seeking as a coping mechanism for expressing her love for her mother.  If Shelly never gave up looking for her mother then that would mean she was still out there somewhere.  She just had to find out where.  In her heart she was keeping her mother alive by never giving up. 

The story follows Shelly on her adventure of exploring her life without her mother and searching for her soul.  The interactions she has with ghosts and learning the limitations of death.   

As Shelly gathered up ghosts hoping to find her mother she started a collection.  This collection helped fill the void her mother left in her life.  There is subtle dichotomy when Shelly tried to fill the loneliness of life with the only thing she really knew well, death.  She had to learn that death could not fill the void of life. 

This was a fantastic ghost story.  There were so many different aspects to this story it was hard to cover everything I extracted from the reading.  I love the different way this story took on being a "ghost" story while not being scary, or horror-like.   

The story was beautifully written and well thought out.  So much emotion was fit into this short story I thought I had read much more than I actually had.  Definitely worth checking out if you want to read a heart-felt story that deals with you guessed it, ghosts. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Red Card" by S.L. Gilbow

"Red Card" by S.L. Gilbow
This story comes from the anothology "Brave New Worlds" edited by John Joseph Adams.
This story had an interesting concept.  A government program in Merry Valley gives anonymous and random red cards to some of the residents.  A government issued revolver is also given along with the red card.  These red cards entitle the carrier of the card to become what is known as an "enforcer." 
An enforcer gets to kill one person of their choosing for any reason.  They can kill with impunity, but must follow the laws and guidelines of the program to not get in trouble.  As long as the guidelines are followed there are no repercussions

"Shooting the Apocalypse" by Paolo Bacigalupi

"Shooting the Apocalypse" by Paolo Bacigalupi
This story comes from the anthology "Loosed Upon The World" edited by John Joseph Adams.
The end of the world?  Or maybe just the beginning to the end?  This story was definitely a wake-up call for some of the basic resources we have here on earth.  One of them in particular, water.
Texas has dried up and Phoenix is one of the few towns that still has water.  Phoenix's water supply is served by a canal that connects to the Colorado River.  The canal is called CAP, or Central Arizona Project.  The CAPis made of cementand protected by surrounding chain link fencing.  The CAP is an engineering feat of great magnitude.  The bureaucrats successfully negotiated the project before all of Texas dried up.  In the end Phoenix had better government officials.
Texans are constantly trying to breach the CAP for water.  There is a sort of civil war between Texans and the residents of Phoenix.  They hate each other to the poin…

"The Reach" by Stephen King

"The Reach" by Stephen King
This story has been published many times, originally in Yankee, under the name "Do The Dead Sing", and then later in Skeleton Crew under the name "The Reach."  I read this story in the anthology "The Dark Descent" edited by David G. Hartwell.
An old woman, Stella Flanders,contemplates her time living on an island for her entire life.  She considers things she would say to her children and her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.  She thinks about everything that has happened on the island and all the things that she has seen.  She thinks about how the island is more of a family than just a community.
Stella Flanders has seen her share of things and it all takes place around The Reach.  That space between the island and mainland.  Mainland where there is life outside of the small community.  Stella never found a need to go across the reach and was content to live right where she was on the island.
Time is…