When we first had the October online issue a year ago, it made sense to make the theme “Ghost Stories” to celebrate one of our favorite holidays of all time: Halloween. Last year, our managing editor, Keaton Tennant, decorated the office with tons of crafting pumpkins, bats, spiders, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night. He even kept several secret stashes of candy hidden around the office.
We were ecstatic to open up submissions, awaiting the avalanche of spooky tales we would read wide-eyed. What we got was something different. While some stories were traditional ghost stories, others were more introspective and struck our soul with melancholy. They delved deep into the human experience in response to subjects like the death of a family member or the ghosts of war. For this year, we wrote it into our submission guidelines that when we said “ghost stories” we wanted to know what haunts you.
For fiction, our traditional ghost story comes from Eric Maroney’s “Reuven’s Vow.” “This ghost story has been told from various Jewish sources,” Eric told us. “This is my version.” Matthew Harrison’s Kafkaesque “Induction” details the violent yet mysterious orientation potential employees must face in order to work at a company. Two more stories that struck a chord with our editors were “Filthy” by Hannah Kludy and “Forever Now” by Max Talley. Both stories exemplify the main theme of “What haunts you?” “Filthy” follows the life of a young woman struggling to find a purpose in her life. “Forever Now is not a ghost story, but a haunting story about the human condition, buried emotions, and ghosts of the mind,” Max stated so perfectly in his cover letter.
For creative nonfiction, we have “The Three of Us” by Diane Payne, and “Loose-Leaf” by Toti O’Brien. Payne’s essay details the inner mechanisms and complexity of the relationships within her family and the emotional hurricane that erupted as a result. O’Brien’s essay recounts her meditative and self-reflective journey of writing her memoir through mind-capturing and bewitching language.
These pieces were chosen because the stories they told continued to haunt us after reading. Each of our editors can pinpoint the page, the sentence, or the word that made us feel the arrow shot through our hearts. After all, nothing haunts more than the darkest secrets in our souls.
The Windmill Team