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Uncanny Magazine is a new haunt for me as far as online short stories go, and I have not chosen the word ‘haunt’ lightly, because the first work that caught my attention is indeed one about ghostly manifestations.
Leah is a researcher who collects ghost stories for her essay on folklore: her approach is quite scientific, to the point that she has created a numeric classification for any kind of materialization, like “emotional content; individual vs. communal experience; whether physical evidence of any kind was involved” and so on. Her skepticism is clear, even in the face of her one past experience about seeing a hanged man in a rented apartment, and she maintains that she’s “a folklorist, not a ghost hunter”. Still, her fascination with the eerie is clear, and it becomes more focused as Leah shares details of her story, of her life with her mother whose descent into the murky depths of Alzheimer robbed the woman of her keen intellect and of the close relationship with her daughter.
When one of the people Leah interviews to gather stories about ghostly manifestations tells her that there’s a presence beside her, and it appears to be that of her deceased mother, the scientific drive leaves some room for unwilling belief, which becomes stronger as another individual acknowledges that same presence. From that point, the story takes on a different shade, one tinged with poignant remembrance and the recognition of loss, and one that touched me deeply – not so much because of the ghost mythology, but rather because of the theme of mother/daughter relationship, and how it can endure even despite and beyond death.