by Ashley Cline.
CW: postpartum depression
What does it mean to be haunted; to be made to disappear—into a new life, a new home, a new anything at all, really—like magic?
"And what you see here is an ordinary brown moving box. When you put all your clothes and dishes and photos and vases and toothbrushes and toys inside, poof!, nothing changes. Ah, but look again. Everything changes. You are no longer here. And you are no longer you.”
In “A Nursery Tale,” Emily delaCruz considers the ways in which we find ourselves as ghosts, whether of ourselves, our own minds or, perhaps, something more sinister still:
“…I felt fine. My brain cogs may have been slipping, but they slipped so gradually that I barely even noticed…the thing about slipping into postpartum depression is that it is very slow, very gentle.”
Gripping, in both narrative and its lush, haunting imagery—from the towering pine trees our narrator hates and the stream that runs beneath them like “a black crack in the clean woods,” to the small gravestones covered in “a handful of snow, like wedding white roses”—“A Nursery Tale” doesn’t hide its teeth, but rather, delights in showing the reader its slow, deliberate smile.
Sometimes the best ghost stories haven’t any ghosts at all.