Sue thought about the Coffee House on her way home. She and the owner, Kyung Tak, had talked for hours about absolutely nothing. School had long since ended, and her Grandpa would be expecting her home. Now, it was late, the streets were dry, and she walked home, not quite alone.
“Why are you following me?” she asked the ghost, confronting him suddenly and loudly.
He had followed her from the coffee house, and she was fairly certain he had been lurking in the walls during her whole visit. It was a wonder Kyung Tak hadn’t noticed her glaring at him. The ghost was old, his face wrinkled past recognition, and he spoke with a raspy voice. “So you can see me,” he said. “The others were right.”
She halted under the streetlight. “Who told you that? What do you know about me?”
He shook his head and smiled toothily. “Nothing.”
“Mister,” she said flatly, “Don’t hang around me and go find inner peace. Make an effort to move on,”
As she walked away, the ghost called after her, “Goodnight, Sam Soon!”
Sue had meant to spend her Saturday watching sappy Asian dramas, eating ice cream, and ignoring the gym pass her Grandpa had given her for her birthday. Instead, the weekend began with a ghost wandering into her shower.
“Oh, God,” she groaned. The ghost smiled, her long hair falling into her eyes.
“Oh, my,” she whispered. “Excuse me.”
“Just get out,” Sue sighed.
The female ghost grinned. “Oh my.”
A week later, the shower ghost still hadn’t left the security of her bathroom, so Sue set out for the market to avoid her. Running into her every time she needed to go or brush her teeth was starting to get annoying, and Sue was surprised her brother hadn’t come to complain to her, yet.
Her fridge, which was completely out of Kimchi, was the perfect excuse to escape her house. As she left, the Shower Ghost giggled and waved good bye from the living room, and then retreated to the bathroom. Once she reached the market she realized that she was being followed again.
Catching a glimpse of the old ghost from the week before, she decided to shake him. He tailed after her to the checkout, across the street, and up the hill. Even after making several very unnecessary turns, he stayed in her wake. Finally, she turned to face him. “Are you sure you don’t want anything?” she asked.
The old ghost smiled at her. “You remind me of my granddaughter,” he answered cryptically. “So rude.”
She frowned. “Go follow her then,” she said.
“She can’t see me,” he argued, nodding in emphasis. “But you can.”
“Is she the reason you haven’t moved on?” Sue asked. “Can’t you see her and go to heaven like a good ghost? Why do you have to bother me? I’m not your granddaughter!”
His happy face darkened sadly, and just as Sue realized they were near the Coffee House, it started to rain.
By the time Kyung Tak Coffee House was in sight, she was soaked through. The old ghost hummed pleasantly, zipping between the raindrops and chuckling as they fell right through him.
“Come in if you want,” Sue said, “but you have to promise not to follow me home.”
He nodded and giggled. “Okay, Sam Soon.”
“It’s Sue. And,” she sighed, “I can’t talk to you inside. The owner doesn’t know that I can see you. Don’t distract me.”
The bell chimed joyfully and the door opened. Once again, Sue was impressed by the strangeness of the house –trinkets hung from the ceiling; glass, beads, fabrics, jewelry, all artfully placed. The architecture looked modern, but the building itself seemed to be falling apart. She wondered why. “Hello?”
Within a heartbeat, the paper door to the kitchen slid open forcefully, and Kyung Tak filled the empty frame. He seemed surprised to see her. “Oh, hello, Sue,” he said. “Come to escape the rain again?”
She couldn’t resist a glance over her shoulder to see if the old man was still behind her. He was, and grinning toothily at the section of brightly colored glass bottles on the ceiling. She hid her glance by turning to shut the door. “Thought I’d do that,” she agreed. “If I walk home like this I’ll probably die.”
Suddenly, the old man squealed in delight, his eyes locked onto the ceiling. Sue jumped, and for a single moment, she was certain that the Barista’s eyes shifted toward the ghost.
Then, he pointed at the paper sack in her hands. “Grocery shopping?”
Her heart slowed down. “The closest market is a mile away from my house, and now it’s raining…”
He tilted his head to the side, and the beads hanging in a loop from his hat chinked together, blue against red. “You could put your groceries in the fridge, if you’d like.”
Her head snapped up. “Can I?”
He nodded, a thin smile stretched across his lips. “I’ll make you some coffee while you wait.” He also added after seeing her suspicious glare, “Free of charge.”