Fiction from Jill Witty

Photo: JR Korpa

Glossary: An Enlightening


When a newcomer arrives, we will all bow in reverent welcome. We will clasp our arms around her and dance a sacred circle of belonging. We will calm her fear.


We will choose a comfortable fabric that breathes and sways. We will drape a sheet over her, cut out the eyes, and fit it to her shape. In her vestments, she will feel one with our community.


We will teach her to ululate, whisper and wail. We will demonstrate the movements of flying, appearing, wandering, and vanishing. Her weightlessness will feel foreign to her. She may bump into objects. We will be ready with bandages.


We will supervise her first haunts. She will make mistakes, spooking when she wishes to comfort. She will want to visit her loved ones, to dwell with them. Her presence will remind them of her absence. She will learn to linger in shadow.


When she is ready, we will send her on her own. She will discover how to inhabit rather than torment, to awaken memories, not fears. She will find her own rhythm, the way to breathe new life into their deprivation, to color in the void.

Jill Witty is writing her first novel from Florence, Italy. Her short fiction has been published in Defenestration, Reflex, Flash Fiction, and Writer Advice. Find her online at or connect on Twitter @jwitty.

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