What are ghosts? Things we are afraid of? Maybe. Things we avoid? Hardly.
I’ll tell you what ghosts are – they are something you don’t bother noticing. Like the person at the bus stop. Yes, that same person you’ve been going to work with for the past five years. Think about them. Not what kind of shoes they wear or what is the colour of their coat. I mean, have you noticed the way they smile? Or how they talk when they are sad but trying to hide it? No, right? Because they are ghosts.
I am a ghost too. By professional description, I mean. My job is to be no-one. Like the people who are in the end titles of a movie. There is a myriad of people there – cameramen, make-up artists, stunts, dressers. They could fill a football field if they come together. But do you remember them after you’ve watched the movie? No. You’ll probably never even bother to read their names. I am just like them with the only exception my name is not written anywhere. It shouldn’t be. By NDA.
I have never regretted my choice in life. Till that day in November when I saw the Amazon ranking list. I have this habit of getting around the ranking list and monitoring which books sell well. That morning was no exception. I turned the laptop on and boom! It was there. My book. The one I had spent so many nights writing to meet that hell of a deadline. It was there! In the top onefuckinghundred. I let out a cry that must have startled the deaf Mrs. Evans on the third floor and ran around the kitchen table with glee. Then I stopped in my tracks. Wait. It was not my book. I am a ghost writer.
I sat at the table and stared at the screen. Top one hundred on Amazon. That was something. So I was not that bad, after all. But wait, it was not my name there. It said ‘Jane Bricks’, not ‘Jim Bennet’. I am that Jim Bennet, by the way. A 43-year-old, divorced balding man. My main occupation – writing for money. My past time? Hmm, reading so that I could write better. Not that it always works but I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years so it must do the trick just right.
I closed the laptop. The machine protested as if I have done something wrong to it. It had a point – on it was on its worn down keyboard that I wrote the novel. The letters are so worn down that I write on it by intuition – my hands just know where to hit for the right letter. I got up and made myself a coffee. It wasn’t the first time some of mine has hit the charts and made profit for the one who paid me. But this book. It was a part of me. I couldn’t let it go. I simply couldn’t. Damn those 11 cents a word! I needed to try.
I left the coffee at the table and opened the laptop again. I opened the email application and wrote a long, lengthy email to my employer, the ‘WriteCraft-OR’ agency demanding a percent of the sales income. That was the right thing to do. I wrote it, yes, I was paid, yes. But it was not right to throw some breadcrumbs my way while a person who has no clue on how to write a novel herself gorge in the feast. I loved writing, that was true. But it was a matter of money I could not neglect.
My hand hovered over the ‘send’ button. What if I lose my job because of this? I had no other source of income anyway. What kind of income could a fired teacher of English have? I could go round and give private lessons to immigrants, that was true, but I didn’t have the nerves for it. All I wanted was a quiet room, a laptop and some time to write down whatever was going on in my head.
But now. This thing was more than just paying the bills. It was my brainchild and I felt I deserve credit for what I have done. My hand hovered for yet another moment and then hit the damn button. There. Finito. It was done. Now I needed to wait for my rightful acknowledgement.
From time to time even ghosts come back to the world of living.