Sign in

Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.


In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

She doesn’t pay rent, but we’re doing okay

My dead roommate broke a dish the other day, so we had to have a talk. I’ll call her Annie, since she’s a ghost and can’t consent to being included in this essay. I like to ask permission for things like that. But I will tell you about our chat.

Annie decorated this home, when she was alive. She was the original owner and purchased the place about 30 years ago when this suburban New Jersey development was built. It’s a very nice apartment with a soaring three-story great room, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and one half-bath. It’s got…

As the youngest in a family of witches, I interpret the world my own way

I call it “spook.” To get technical, spook is a sixth sense, but they don’t treat it with any kind of reverence. It’s not special. To hear them talk about it, spook is as unremarkable as a lazy eye or the state of your digestion. It’s just part of who you are. Spook isn’t a mystical female thing, either. Anyone can get spook, and no one makes fun of it. Spook does demand a healthy dose of respect, however.

My mother has it, and so does her sister. People call them le streghette, the witches. Their childhood stories include late-night…

The end of life as a universal horror show

One night when I was in high school, maybe even middle school, I was working in the study when my mother came in and asked me whether I’d been playing the piano. Only the two of us were home; my father and sister were both out. I did often play the piano in the “music room” (really just a hallway) adjacent to the study, or listen to classical music while I worked, but I hadn’t been that night, and said so. Mom appeared to me to be weirded out. “I could’ve sworn I heard piano music,” she said, with that…

Nightmare Fuel

“Once, we were playing hide-and-seek, and I could not find her. I was just starting to panic when she appeared at the back door.”

Well, however long ago it was, it feels even longer. It was the year that your father was on sabbatical. One of his collaborators, affiliated with Saint Hilda’s, had put together a grant to work on a Rameau opera, Castor and Pollux. It had long been your father’s dream to do something like this as Rameau was out of favor in the U.S., if he’d ever been in favor, and no one seemed to care about the Baroque. He found us a house — actually part of a refurbished barn — that he selected on account of its high ceilings…

Planet Soul

The more I listen to my ghostly impulses, the more sensible my decisions become

I met my first ghost when I was eight years old. She was hiding under the porch at my aunt’s house, stuffing handfuls of tart purple mulberries into her pockets. “For my rabbit,” she told me. “I only eat cookies and apples.” She was loud and funny and knew some bad words, and I thought she might be Pippi Longstocking come to life. Only black, like me.

Pip, as I came to call her, had deep gashes on her legs and a misshapen foot from being run over by a streetcar, but she said they didn’t hurt, and they sure…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store