BOO HOO, YOU BASTARDS • by Jedediah Smith

Against the wishes of his family, a man married a ghost. He threw a great reception in a ballroom left pitch black. His new bride twirled and swirled upon the dance floor in her gown of spiderwebs, glowing slightly and weaving among the guests’ tables. She wore a string of pearls that once were eyes.

Oh, this will never do, wept the groom’s mother.

It won’t last, it simply won’t, said the groom’s father.

The door was barred with all inside by the bride’s Maw and Paw, those grim grinning hosts intent to see that all would socialize. While the party swayed to Lady Day, skeletons toned their ringing ribs, and witches’ cauldrons brewed storms until lightning struck the crown from the tiptop ziggurat of the ten tier wedding cake. Bridely bats chased the holy white dove as it blundered blind. Down from their lightning-shattered castles, mad scientists, wise in their generation, made plans to rule the world by splitting atoms from their eves.

A Romani fortuned from a well-marked deck. Here, said she, is your card, My Lady of the Tower. Barefoot she follows the devil who’s spiking the punchbowl and making forest angels weep.

The groom’s brother and sister politely attempted to dance in the dark, but they poked and bumped into one another. They tried to drink the wine, but it kept turning into blood.

Why must it be so dark? asked his brother.

Oh, her family is Apparition Orthodox, sneered his sister.

The man himself sat smiling below the unlit chandelier, humming to no one, eyes closed as his wife danced through him, back and forth, he in she and she in him. She had stepped outside of time, and he was glad he’d been born in time to meet her. He felt ghost children flit beside and above him, and he hummed to the melody of their passing.

I wonder, he wondered, what will we have first: a ghost boy or a ghost girl?

Jedediah Smith teaches literature, mythology, and composition at City College of San Francisco. His most recent publications have been in California Quarterly, Ekphrastic Review, Alba, Mojave River Review, and Hoot Review.

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