Flash Fiction – Cyber Ghosts

Kaitlyn made up her mind to tell her mom they needed to hack Ellen’s computer. It had been a few weeks and things were starting to get weird now. She couldn’t stand seeing the updates, the posts. Ellen had never told her what her passwords were but Kaitlyn had never had trouble guessing. She had been monitoring things for a while and she’d had enough. Still, she wanted to make sure their mother knew what she was planning to do.

Nora was in the kitchen watching a pot of water. A box of pasta was on the counter next to an unopened jar of sauce. She heard Kaitlyn’s foot hit the squeaky board but she didn’t turn around.

“You know, my mom once told me a watched pot never boils,” Kaitlyn said. She took a place beside her catatonic mother. “Especially if you don’t turn the burner on.” Kaitlyn turned the knob on the stovetop and, after a hiss and two clicks, flames broke out beneath the pot of water.

“Thank you,” Nora said. She opened the box of pasta and dumped it all in the still-warming water.

“Mum.” Kaitlyn’s voice was different. It was somber and serious. It wasn’t trying to provoke a smile anymore. “I think it’s time I took Ellen’s stuff down from the computer.”

Nora turned suddenly and viciously to glare at Kaitlyn.

“I’ve told you before, not yet.”

“It’s been six weeks. It was fine at first but now it’s just morbid. You know she’s still getting friend requests and invites to groups and things.” Kaitlyn looked at the grimy grout of the tiled floor.

Nora paused and turned back to the pot of water that had finally started to boil.

“Maybe you’re right.” She picked up the spoon and stirred the cloudy water. “Go ahead.”

Kaitlyn stayed put for a few minutes and watched Nora take the lid off the sauce jar, stick it in the microwave and punch a few buttons to heat it up. Then she moved to the cabinet and took out two plates, fingering a third before closing the door and setting the table.

With her mother occupied, Kaitlyn went back to the bedroom and pulled up Ellen’s pages one by one, canceling them, deleting them, erasing what she could of Ellen’s cyber ghost.

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