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She moves through the corridors of the hospital on soft shoes, quiet and almost unnoticeable.

She’s used to being invisible. It comes with the territory. She’s just the cleaner, they think, as they push past her to get to the canteen first, pull into the more convenient parking spots first, jump ahead of her to get into the crowded lift.

She pushes her cleaning cart into the next room. The patients on this ward are all seriously ill; in danger of dying. She can feel their ghosts sometimes, drifting up, ready to leave.

She knows the man in this room. He’s her landlord. For the time being, anyway. Either he will die here, and she’ll have a new landlord, or he’ll recover and she’ll be evicted. He put the rent up last month, and even with shifts at three hospitals she can’t make enough to cover it.

He’s hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Like the doctors and nurses, she’s surprised he managed to hold out this long; impatient as always, he jumped a red light and came off second best to a big delivery truck. Now he’s lying there, battered, bloody, and broken. There’s barely an inch that hasn’t been bandaged. His breathing is ragged, sustained only by the life support system.

She looks around. The medical staff are all elsewhere, tending to other patients.

She leaves the cleaning cart to stand by his bed. His ghost hovers above him already, even as the machines beep and whir to keep him alive. She looks up for a moment, preparing herself for what she’s about to do.

With a deep breath, she lays her hands on his chest and feels the energy flow through her fingers. There’s a brief moment of resistance, then she feels his ghost slide back down into his body.

Not too much, she reminds herself, pulling her hands away before the broken bones mend and the cuts seal up as if they were never there. Never do anything they can’t explain.

She cleans his room to the sound of his steady breathing, then moves on to the next room.

© Kari Fay

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