A Jan Xu short: Gui Jie

I have never liked Seventh Month. Ghost Month. Gui Jie. The Lang stay indoors this month, barricading ourselves, locking ourselves in. The ghosts are out, some lost, some looking for their loved ones, mostly for blood and vengeance and hate. What frightens wolves? Hateful spirits.

I make sure I hurry home straight from school. I even stop hunting at night, with the Gang. Marianne does the same. So, two young Lang, afraid of the blood-thirsty ones, alone at home. We spin tales. Wolves love songs and stories. We spin ghost stories, real-mixed-with-fake, and scare ourselves even more. Our parents are out at a meeting, some pack thing that we aren’t even sure of. We are always glad that Seventh Month is over and the joy of the Mid-Autumn Moon fills our hearts. We hang onto the promise of the hunt and the feast. Mid-Autumn Festival is much gentler, nicer.

We spin ghost tales, layering them with truths, half-truths and out-right lies. Outside the house, the rain thunders down and I swear I can hear the cries of the lost ones. Homeless, family-less. I try to switch the talk to the hunt, mooncakes and delicious teas. But Marianne insists on the ghost tales.

“We can bare our teeth,” Marianne whispers, snug under her favorite blue blanket. Her eyes are wide, staring.

“They are not prey,” I whisper even softer. We can’t even bite back and they bite. I have seen scars.

A flash of light dazzles us, further fraying nerves. Marianne shivers as the boom shakes the house.

“Prey or not, they are not scary. We are Lang.”

“They are wild ghosts.”


“I call it ‘being smart’.”

“Shut. Up.”

Then Marianne storms up the stairs to her room. I hear the door slam. What has gotten into her? She has turned into a wild ghost herself, unpredictable. My sister. The wild ghost.

I have never liked Seventh Month. Ghost Month. Gui Jie.

Author’s Note: I wrote this short during last month (Seventh Month). So, the story’s backdrop was the Ghost Month or Hungry Ghost Month for the Chinese. Yet, the deeper story explored the prickly relationship between Jan and Marianne.

Since tomorrow will be Mid-Autumn Festival (but I celebrated today with my parents), this short is a gift story, since the Lang loves Mid-Autumn Festival and Jan Xu will love tonight’s bright moon.

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