A book cover, showing a man wearing a hoodie. The title is
Ashtar Deza
by Ashtar Deza
9 min read


  • Fiction


  • Ghost story
  • Horror
Content warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Self-harm, Death, Rape, Suicide Attempts, Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism, Trauma

This is a ghost story. This means it’s a story about bitterness, regret and loss. A story about how sometimes our mistakes come back to haunt us.

This is chapter 2 out of 21. - I post a chapter per week.

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Previous Chapter


My job was shitty, but the one thing that made it all worthwhile was Suzie.

I met her on my second day of working there, and we immediately hit it off. We’d push carts around collecting orders, and every time our paths crossed, she’d smile at me. We’d joke about how shitty this job was and speculate about which boxes contained sex toys. I liked Suzie.

At night in bed, I’d slip my hand inside my boxer shorts and think of her. I’d picture her sweet smile and full breasts. I imagined us kissing in the dark corners of the warehouse, her kneeling down to unbutton my pants. I hardly ever got beyond this point in the fantasy before blowing my load.

A few weeks in, we were having one of the hottest days so far. I was sweating my ass off, pushing my cart around the warehouse, willing the clock to move faster, so I could get out of there.

Suzie passed me going in the opposite direction, and she just looked… stunning. She was wearing short shorts and a top that showed off her spectacular cleavage to great effect. Her hair was tucked into a practical ponytail, but it kept trying to escape. She was a vision.

She grinned at me and made a show of fanning herself.

“You’d think that the assholes that own this place would spring for air-conditioning. I swear I just saw a melted dildo on Isle 5.”

“Yeah, can’t wait to get out of here. The water at the lake is pretty iffy, but I’d rather die of cyanobacteria than of heatstroke at this point. As soon as this shift is over, I’m heading over there.”

She looked down, and for a moment, I wondered if I’d upset her. Then, she spoke.

“So ehm, would it be cool if I came along? I’ve been dying to swim, but there are always a bunch of creepy old dudes hanging around there. They usually don’t say much, but I can tell that they’re ogling my tits.”

I grinned at her, completely unable to believe my luck.

“Yeah, definitely!”

When our shift finally ended, we headed to the lake together. John was waiting for us there, and with a flourish, he pulled out the case of beer he had brought. A look of surprise crossed his face for a second when he saw Suzie, but then he winked at me and gave her a big hug. It turned out that they used to be in the same tennis club as kids, but hadn’t seen each other in years.

That afternoon was amazing. It all felt so natural. We laughed, and we had fun, and in many ways, it felt like Suzie had been part of this all along. I was surprised at how easily the conversation flowed, as if it had always been the three of us hanging out, instead of just John and me. Every now and then, Suzie would smile at me, and those smiles would make me feel anxious and excited at the same time.

After a while, John suggested we go cool off, so we got into the water. It was surprisingly cold for how shallow it was, and the lake floor was slimy with rotting vegetation. I’ve always hated those first few steps, that moment when the water hits your balls. I was trying to slowly ease my way in when I got hit by a wave of icy water. I looked around and found Suzie grinning impishly at me.

In a sudden wave of courage, I grabbed her and scooped her up in my arms. I’d been meaning to dunk her into the cold water, but instead, she wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me a deep look that I hadn’t seen before. I could see her make up her mind, a split second before she reached up and planted a kiss on my lips.

Suddenly shy, she giggled, jumped down from my arms, and ran away.

As the sun went down, we made a campfire and drank beers. We played weird songs on John’s old portable stereo, and at one point, Suzie put her head on my shoulder. I put my arm around her and was struck by how right it felt.

For the rest of the summer, Suzie and I were a couple. We hung out after work, kissing and exploring. We had slow sex on Sunday afternoons, with lots of giggling and long, deep conversations. Both of us carefully avoided talking about the future beyond the summer. Neither of us had the courage.

Eventually, summer came to an end, and Suzie wasn’t going to stay in our little Shithole of a town. She was moving to the city, getting a degree in psychology. And of course, John was leaving too. He was going to law school, hoping to become a lawyer. They were moving to the same city, but different schools.

I didn’t have much of a plan for the future. I’d made the mistake of bringing up college to my old man once. Exactly once. Let’s just say he wasn’t amenable to the idea. I got a job working nights at a factory. The job was a total fucking joke. It was me and this one old guy who had obviously mentally checked out years ago. I’d spend the whole night at the same machine, punching shapes out of cheap faux leather. The whole thing must have been some kind of tax scam since I never saw the leather parts I stamped being used to actually make anything. At one point I found a whole bag filled with them in the garbage, but I just shrugged. I was getting paid, so I really didn’t care.

At first, Suzie and John both came home every weekend. Suzie was full of stories about the friends she’d made, the classes she took. I tried to smile and show that I was happy for her.

John would try to hold back on the stories, sensing how it made me feel. He’d ask me how I was doing, and I’d lie and say everything was great. I didn’t mention how I’d found that a beer or two made the hours more tolerable, and the old fart couldn’t give a damn if I was sober or not, anyway. Another few beers helped me sleep in the morning. It got me through the nights.

We fell into a rhythm where the three of us would hang out on Saturdays, and Suzie and I would catch a few hours of alone time whenever we could. Her mum made a point of playing loud music when I was over there. If she did have to come up to Suzie’s room, she made as much noise as she could, stomping on the stairs in an almost theatrical way.

As weeks stretched into months, it became harder and harder for me to hear about all the things they’d done, the parties they’d been to. My nights consisted of stamping leather, and my days were a mix of sleeping late and hanging out online.

One weekend, Suzie and I were in her bed. She was telling me about a party she’d been to, and in passing, mentioned a guy that had hit on her. I felt my stomach contract into a tight little ball.

“Did you fuck him?”

“What the hell are you talking about? Of course, I didn’t fuck him!”

It felt like I was seeing myself from a distance, hands balled up into fists, the jealousy making me unable to stop. I asked her if she had wanted to fuck him, if she thought of him now when she masturbated.

She turned icy cold.

“You should leave. Right now.”

I stomped out and slammed the door behind me. I didn’t talk to her again until she came home two weeks later.

I made an awkward apology and tried to fix things… but I could tell something had been broken. She started skipping more weekends and took longer and longer to text me back.

In the end, we fizzled out. No big fights, we just sort of ended. When she did finally tell me that she’d met someone local, all I could do was nod. I felt numb.

As the year progressed, both of them started skipping more and more weekends, saying how they didn’t have time to travel. Finals were coming up, and they were stressed out. The few times that they did come, I pretended to either be sick or busy.

On their first summer break, both Suzie and John came home. John called me to hang out at the lake. Initially, I tried to make excuses, saying that they may be off for the summer, but I wasn’t. He insisted, saying we hadn’t seen each other in months. Finally, I relented, and we ended up spending several sun filled days at the lake.

Being around Suzie felt awkward at first, but we both did our best to make the friendship thing work. She never talked about who she was dating, and by an unspoken agreement, neither did John or I. Not that I would have had much to tell, besides the occasional drunken hookup. We existed in our own little bubble.

When that summer ended, I didn’t see either of them again until the next summer break. John would text me, and occasionally, he called, but we mostly lived our separate lives.

This pattern repeated for the next three years. They worked towards their degrees, I had a succession of more or less tolerable jobs, and each summer, we’d meet up and hang out at the lake. It became a tradition, a ritual. A little island of stability in an ocean of change.

When the summer of their final year came, John took me aside. I could tell by his face that he was struggling with something. When I asked what was up, he told me how he and Suzie had gotten closer since she’d broken up with her last boyfriend. He wanted to ask her out on a date, but not before talking to me.

I made a big show of giving them my blessing. Said that I just wanted the both of them to be happy. That’s what you’re supposed to say, right. John was visibly relieved and pulled me into one of his bear hugs.

He didn’t actually ask her out until summer had ended, not wanting to break the bubble, but I could feel the change.

I saw the way she looked at him. How he looked at her. How his voice changed when he talked to her.

The writing was on the fucking wall.

It didn’t take long for them to get together. They were a couple for all of their senior year, and soon after graduation, they moved in together.

I wasn’t surprised at all when the wedding invitation came, and when John asked me to be his best man, I accepted.

Next Chapter

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