Milk Like a Melted Ghost

Eric Beeny

In the morning Clarabelle went down to the kitchen, found a puddle of milk on the kitchen floor, the way a ghost would've melted there.

She stood there in her pajamas, rubbing her eyes, made a goopy sound, the telephone ringing a little earlier.

She answered the telephone, thought it was herself who called, she said Hello and no one said anything, so Clarabelle never answered the telephone and hung up.

She'd built a snowman in the kitchen the night before, after she went to sleep — built there still, an unmelted ghost of itself.

The snowman looked at her, top hat cocked, plaid scarf choking its coal teeth into a smile she almost identified with, as she had so many times built across her own face, without scaffolding.

The snowman fell off itself, its pile of big snowballs shrinking and rolling around the melted ghost of milk — its hat, its black eyes and coal-teeth smile fallen to the floor, all made a clacking sound, plastic teeth, the scarf crushed into a mountain range around the melted ghost of milk's lake.

Clarabelle's eyes got wet, the snowballs hatching like eggs.

Little yellow birds flew out of their shells, she fell to her knees, the birds flying around her head, a locked cage.

The cracked shells of the snowballs melted into the melted ghost of milk, froze again into snowballs, the milk frozen within them.

The snowballs hopped up onto each other into a pile, leaks streaming from the snowman's body, freezing into icicles, into legs, icicle antennas wiggling on its head, the little yellow birds landing there.

The snowman got up on its legs, an albino ant, crawling toward Clarabelle without a face, blindly, without a face, or any other faces that didn't have eyes, even accidentally.

Clarabelle screamed, the sound of birds.

She ran to the living room closet, got the harpoon.

She hurled it into the snowman's thorax.

The little yellow birds flew away into the house somewhere.

The snowman melted into the melted ghost, the harpoon falling heavy to the kitchen floor, scratching a small canyon into the tile, milk like a melted ghost flooding the canyon as it opened.

Clarabelle tried taking the ghost's pulse, putting her finger to the puddle's neck.

She felt a pulse, wasn't sure if it was her own, as she was alive, with a pulse, taking a pulse.

Eric Beeny's poems and stories have appeared in The 2nd Hand, 5AM, 32 Poems, Corduroy Mtn., Elimae, HazMat Review, Main Street Rag, Quercus Review, and others. Several e-chaps of his poetry have been published by Gold Wake Press, for which he's recently become a contributing editor. His blog is Dead End on Progressive Ave. He lives in Buffalo, NY. He's 28.