“Unsettled Cemetery Dust” by Em Dietrich

In a house, in a heart, a demon lurked. 

The girl found it in her dead brother’s skull buried in the backyard. She looked into its hollow sockets and thought she saw her brother’s soul staring back at her, grinning without teeth, no tongue to speak, no eyes to see. Stalking her thoughts, the demon fed on her guilt and hid in her pockets filled with apologies. 

She let him climb into her bones. A common mistake: to believe ghosts only haunt those who’ve done them wrong. It was her fault, after all. The shallow grave, her blistered palms from digging, the body concealed underneath the wet earth and dandelion petals. Unsettled cemetery dust on her hands, they called it, but not her own—a demon’s, looking on with demon eyes and a twisted demon’s smile. She wanted her brother back.

She got me instead.


Em Dietrich is a genderqueer author represented by the Belcastro Agency. They have been published in numerous literary magazines. Currently, they split their time between Ohio and New York City, where there are far fewer cornfields but many more haunted coffee shops. You can find them on twitter @EmDietrichWrite.

Photo by Micha Frank on Unsplash