Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Text Messages From a Ghost

October 14th
hey im gaunting you ok
Do you mean haunting
yeah sorry i don’t have any fingers
so im poltergeisting a stick to help me text this
Who is this?
oh sorry im a ghost
So do you live inside this phone
yeah kind of

October 21st
sorry if last night was pretty loud
some other ghosts came over last night and we fought
we used to be roommates
they weren’t good roommates
I’m sorry
no no it’s okay
I mean its really nice of you to care
I really like haunting you a lot
Don’t you mean “gaunting”
hahaha you remembered

October 30th
Hey! Happy almost Halloween!
Oh, is that not – do you not celebrate Halloween?
not really, no.
I just thought that since you were a ghost, you might -
i dont really like to talk about it too much
Oh, sure, sure.
but you should definitely have a fun halloween
get some candy babies or something
Candy babies?
is that not what you call them?

November 7th
hey are you using that tree outside
The one by the door?
yeah that one, are you using it, like do you need it for anything
I guess not...
okay, cool ,thank you, thats great
Is everything okay?
oh yeah i was just thinking of taking a vacation
Is that how ghosts take vacations?
Sorry if that’s a stupid question
no not stupid at all
yeah i mean, if you live in a phone sometimes it can be nice to go somewhere with more room
You still like it here, though, right?
oh yes definitely
this is the best phone i have ever haunted
ill only be gone a couple of days
k thanks

November 19th
hey its me
im back
How was your vacation?
it was really good, thanks for asking
all of the leaves were really nice
Ghost, can I ask you a question?
What are you the ghost of?
im sorry, im just really tired from my trip
it’s really great to be back
i missed the phone

November 24th
do you know what i really like about you?
What’s that?
youre always really good about texting your friends back right away
and i think that’s nice
even if it’s about something you didnt really want to go to
Oh, wow, thanks
i hope you don’t mind my knowing that
i don’t, you know, read your private messages or anything
i just noticed you’re always quick to text back
No, I mean, that’s okay
You can read them if you want to
Even the ones you send to julia?

December 6th
happy birthday
Thank you!
i got you something
Did you?
yeah it was kind of tricky but i poltergeisted it up into your bedroom
let me know when you see it....
Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Ghost! Ghost, you’re amazing
This is unbelievable!
do you really like it
Like it? Do I like it?
i mean is it what you wanted?
Ghost, this is incredible. I don’t know what to say
Thank you!
im really glad you liked it
im really glad that you like it then
i was worried you wouldn’t like it
How on earth did you know?
i remembered

December 15th
what did julia say
She hasn’t said anything yet, Ghost
when are you going to see her do you think
I don’t know, she said she would call me tonight
i could call her for you if you want
No no, I don’t want you to do that
she wouldnt know it was from your phone i mean
i just want to help
Oh my God, that’s her, she’s calling
I have to go
okay good luck!!

December 25th
happy christmas
Ghost! Happy Christmas! Where have you been?
ive been around
how did things turn out with julia
Things went great. Things went better than great, actually
score one for the ghost!!

December 31st
hey drive carefully tonight
it’s a pretty crazy time of year
Oh yeah, I definitely will
What are you going to do? Take another vacation?
no i dont think i can anymore
What do you mean?
i just have a feeling
im pretty tired anyway
i dont know if i could make it all the way out to the tree again
i might just stay in and read
Well, happy New Year, Ghost
Take care of yourself
Love you!
i love you too alot
really, this has been the best year
It really has, hasn’t it?
yeah it really has been

January 7th
do you want to go see a movie
Oh, can you see movies?
That seems like a dumb question I guess
no its not dumb haha
yeah i can see movies
you just have to leave the phone on
I didn’t know that!
yeah but you should leave it on silent so it doesn’t bother anybody
What do you want to see?
i heard joyful noise was pretty good
i really like dolly parton
i think she would make a really great ghost
not that i want her to die!!
Oh no, definitely not
definitely not, i just think that when she does, maybe we could be friends
Do you get to meet a lot of people when they’re ghosts?
oh yeah, all kinds
i met eleanor roosevelt in a Droid once
yeah she was really nice

January 14th
Ghost! Ghost! Are you there?
Ghost, it’s me
I dropped my phone and it was raining and then the cover got cracked
there was some water damage I think
and it took me a few days to get it fixed
I’m so sorry
Ghost, are you there?


Next: The Return of Ghost.

Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area. Her work has also appeared on Slacktory and Ecosalon.

Photo by andreiuc88, via Shutterstock



179 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott


raised amongst catalogs

@The Lady of Shalott Do you mean MELIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS?


I am in love with this@m


Is it weird that I'm emotionally connected to Ghost now. GHOST!!!!


@fairlyalarmed Nope. Unless I'm weird, too. I got really sad at the end of that....it's like I knew him (her?). But really, what was Ghost the ghost of?


@fairlyalarmed If that's weird then what does tearing up at the end of this qualify as?

Besides pms, clearly....


Dude. I'm a dude. It's not pms.


@pterodactgirl Yeah I am crying & not PMSing. It's just good. Or bad.

Jolie Kerr

@backstagebethy Thank God I'm not the only one. Man. That was sad.


@fairlyalarmed Glad to have it confirmed that it isn't just my weepy hormones.


@pterodactgirl I'm not crying, I've just been cutting onions. (I'm making a lasagna...for one.)

Any One Ninja Plot

@pterodactgirl So sad.


@Jolie Kerr Kind of like when Wilson was lost on Cast Away.




@realtalk ghooooooost




@special_boots (Sorry for caps lock, I was filled with sadness and enthusiasm.)







WHOOPS forgot to link:


@liznieve @iceberg Yes! I had Louis v. Rick in my head the whole time.


@ennaenirehtac Maybe it was the ghost of Louis!


@Craftastrophies Although, seriously, as much as I love Rick vs. Louis, it's starting to make me anxious. When does Rick finally take Louis back to the pound or whatever.


@Craftastrophies OMG I know! Louis is such a jerk to Rick! You don't treat your friends that way! Even if you are just a cat! Maybe that's my problem; I don't like thinking cats are the asshole friends of the animal kingdom. My cats would never treat me like that! (I hope...)


@Bitterblue Not on purpose, anyway, which Rick clearly is.

Frankly, the second he peed on my special lady-friend, I would be finding him alternate housing. Classic abusive relationship stuff.

(I am aware that I am talking about an imaginary talking cat. My point stands.)


@Craftastrophies Yes, exactly! The problem is that Rick is presented as self-aware and with enough intelligence to write, but still having the personality of a selfish, destructive, controlling sociopath. Maybe the writer of Louis vs. Rick doesn't actually like cats very much?




I want a ghost in my phone now.

Lauren Hayden

@Maria I know, I just sat here for several minutes trying to figure out how to make that happen. Someone create a Ghost-in-your-phone service that I can subscribe to!


@Lauren Hayden: http://cleverbot.com/


What did the ghost get you for your birthday???
(Also, this is so much fun.)



so sad right now!



Oh, squiggles

Brilliant of course.


But what did Ghost get you for your birthday?


This story is haunting. Truly.


@atipofthehat hooooooooooo


@atipofthehat: Or gaunting?


"hahaha you remembered"
I love this.


@phlox It always takes me at least a few sentences before I commit to really reading a post. While I'm predisposed to fully engage with anything Melis writes, hahaha you remembered was the point where I felt my brain really settle in.

Emily Garten@facebook

@phlox hahaha you remembered was where I felt the ghostly hand around my heart.


Feelings in my heart because of a nonexistent ghost: new low or new high, please discuss.

raised amongst catalogs

@itmakesmewonder For those of us with issues about cartoons and stuffed animals and other entities that can't love us back, this was killing. Killing.


@itmakesmewonder All the feelings, or some of the feelings? I am going with a big jumble of all the good ones (poignant sadness is a good one). Also, I think the ghost might be slightly the ghost of Tao Lin. He'd seem quite nice, and like he would haunt technology.


Melis, have you written any movies? I would go see a movie that you wrote.





Me too, this was very fine.


@laurel Or novels or short stories? I will read and/or watch anything you wrote.


If anyone would like to pay me for writing, I am more than willing to do so. You can reach me at mallory.elis at gmail. Thank you for your time.


Hey Edith, remember the other day when you asked us what we wanted for The Hairpin in the future? I forgot to mention that I'd like The Hairpin to hire Melis as night and/or weekend editor.

If that happened, I would click on alll the ad links. Even the E-Harmony ones.


@laurel But this IS a short story! It might not be in the format we're used to, but it is indeed a story. I love love love creative structure like this. MORE PLEASE!


@laurel Just got a job offer from eHarmony, brb


@melis E-Harmony is burning.


@laurel why not cut out the middle man here? @melis: sell your comment space to advertisers to sponsor @advertisers: pay her buckets of money @everyone rejoice~!


oh my goodness, not fair to break my heart like that with a dead (?) ghost! <3 u ghostie


I love this so much. What a sweet ghost!!!


@diesel_vontrapp Your name and picture are made of WIN.


I think my old phone had a ghost. It would make it think I touching every part of the screen at once, sometimes sending garbled texts or emails to people. I think the ghost liked New Orleans because it really got rowdy when I was there in December. I wonder if it's sad now that I have a new phone, will I be put on some ghost blacklist? Ghoooost!

Anna Marquardt

I'm so sad. But also I laughed, so I guess it's okay.

Bon Vivant

oh no, Ghost!!!!!! I feel so sad for Ghost :(


This might be my fave melis post yet, and that's up against some serious competition.


He seems all sweet and humble, but I'm sorry -- poltergeisting gifts into your bedroom without your permission is a classic red flag.

Judith Slutler

i'm a ghost... ooooooooooo

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

i remembered



did i just get a little weepy over melis' cell phone ghost



:( The ending is so sad. I wish Ghost had stayed around for more details about Eleanor Roosevelt!


@thebestjasmine right? If I had a phone ghost we would be gossiping about other ghosts like nobody's business!




I know I won't word this very eloquently, but Hairpin, I think you guys have contributed in a major way to changing the way people approach writing. Or at least, doing a great job of attracting innovative writers. I love it.


@melmuu I now, right? If you're attracted to creative structure like this, you should definitely see Lynda Barry speak, or take one of her workshops. She's a big proponent of approaching stories in your own unique way.


@skyslang Are you a WI-ite?


@melmuu Nope. Just a Lynda Barry fan.

Lee Van Queef

But if the ghost is using a stick to text, then it doesn't live in her phone? But if it doesn't live in her phone, then how does it know about/want to vacation in her tree? Who are you, REALLY, Ghost???

Judith Slutler

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas I don't think Ghost is entirely clear on that either.


@Emmanuelle Cunt It poltergeisted the stick, so it didn't have to touch it, just had to steer it eerily through the air. I'm a bit concerned she didn't notice the stick floating in the air typing on her phone though.


@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas Maybe it was typing from another phone? I mean... she was replying back? Maybe it started out replying form another phone, and then eventually texted her back from her own phone. Like, it was trying her out to see if she was worth gaunting.


Oh no, Ghost! I feel sad in my heart now.


Aw. This was too sad for me. :(


@SheWhoReadsInSkirts I knowwwww. :(


@figwiggin When ghost said they couldn't make it to the tree and back, my heart.. it did not feel good :'(


@Craftastrophies RIGHT?! I knew it was going to end in tears when that happened. I just KNEW it. I'm just so saaaaaaaaaad.


Don't worry, guys. Ghost is now in the great big Android in the sky.

Alibi Jones

I was on edge the whole time expecting it to get scary or creepy and instead it stayed weirdly sweet and touching.

Come back, Ghost!


@Alibi Jones I hope Ghost didn't get mad at her for dropping his house. I'm sure it was an accident!


No no no no no. Ghost is going to come back, RIGHT? I can't take this. First, I was playing the sims and a stray cat came up to my house and died. NOW THIS. This day sucks.


Keep your eyes on the skies for The Return of Ghost!!!


@melis I'm already excited! :D


@melis If I give you my cell phone number will you just pretend to be in my phone?


@Maxie - @ihatesomuch Pin Pal ghost pals


@klibberfish zomg yes. hairpin pin pal ghost pals. all ghost pals need to be as nice and thoughtful as the original ghost though. that's the only rule.

Betsy Murgatroyd

@Maxie - @ihatesomuch I'm so sorry. I always get weepy when pets die in the Sims 2. I can only imagine if those two things had happened to me in a short time span.



Betsy Murgatroyd

@cosmia I haven't had that particular thing happen in Sims 2, but that game does come up with some randomly cruel things that blows my mind/breaks my heart.


Ha! I wish my resident ghosts would use my phone to talk to me, instead of knocking shit off my bookshelf.


I had this song in my head the entire time


Ghost...come back... :(


I loved loved loved this.

And yeah, I've always called them candy babies too.


Oh, geez. I wanted more stories about ghosts, and this one is amazing. I just didn't expect to get so sad at the end. Ghooooost!


Who knew I would get so emotionally attached to an imaginary cell phone ghost? Ghoooostttttt noooooo



this was sad and funny and perfect, mallory ortberg!


Augh I love this! I can see it working as a romantic comedy... ghost in phone helps lady fix her life and find love and whatever, and then at the end when everything works out, she drops her phone and loses the ghost BUT IT'S OKAY because the ghost gave her the tools she needed to live her life!


@psychedelicate yes perfection. do not let heigl near it.


@psychedelicate Drop Dead Phone-Ghost-Fred?


@iceberg or Hegel for that matter

... Oh god, I'm sorry you guys.


@iceberg Damn you, Katherine Heigl! You ruin everything. (At least Hegel's dead.)


i met eleanor roosevelt in a Droid once

This is the best thing ever.


this Ghost is a very sympathetic character

You'll be sorry Jo March

My favorite part was when the ghost thought they were called "candy babies." And I had a lot of favorite parts. :)


@You'll be sorry Jo March what are the candy babies really?

You'll be sorry Jo March

@klibberfish Gummi Bears? Sour Patch Kids? Sugar Babies? WE'LL NEVER KNOW


@You'll be sorry Jo March I assumed they were candy corns because they sort of look like stripey baby ghosts.


@klibberfish Fun-size candy bars, I thought. But I like pointy's explanation better.


@You'll be sorry Jo March This. This is the cutest.


I never thought I could become so attached to a phone Ghost! I must resolve to treat my iphone better in the future on the off chance there is a gentle spirit living in there.


Have I ever told you how much I love the name Mallory? Because I LOVE the name Mallory.


Joining the chorus of people strangely sad about a non-existant phone ghost. Also jealous of the fact it met Eleanor Roosevelt in a droid once.

Any One Ninja Plot

@Inconceivable! I also felt a twinge of jealousy over Ghost meeting Eleanor Roosevelt, and also I am jealous of your avatar. Have I already made that comment before? It's worth stating again.


I thought the Ghost was going to kill her on New Year's Eve, but no! I feel so bad for thinking bad thoughts about Ghost. Ghost, please text me if you can ever forgive me.


@leastimportantperson It did get a bit ominous there, didn't it?

BUT: Ghost, you have roommate problems TOO? My god, we have so much in common. You know what, Ghost? You should probably move in with Eleanor Roosevelt, I bet she would be a super-respectful roommate, she's just like, such a classy, stand-up lady. I bet? Oh, I don't know, you probably know better than I do. Don't even listen to me.


I'm commenting for the first time ever to say: SOB. Also BEE-YOO-TIFUL. Also MORE! Please, please more.


Ghost is a mind, intelligence, false ego and a sense of humor, all wrapped into an entity poking a stick on a phone!!!!! And we know it's not a smart phone, cuz the stick would not work for texting!!! Was it an old school flip phone?


You know, I've always felt a little weird about smartphones needing a human's touch to text. I was never sure why that bothered me, but now I know this is totally why.


ALL I can think of right now is some video I watched about a man who befriended a dolphin, and then he went on vacation and the dolphin snubbed him when he got back? But the dude pulled out some water toy and the dolphin was all, "Okay, friends again." Except without words, because dolphins don't talk human.

Any One Ninja Plot

@Nutmeg I want to see that movie right now.


@Nutmeg animal friendships are the best! now i have to go watch the youtube clip of christian the lion like 5 billion times, and then cry.


Inspired me finally emerge from lurkersville and comment - this is such a strange and wonderful piece of writing. Pretty awesome. And now I shall text everyone I know that I am gaunting them.


My phone has been pocketdialing recently, and I was sort of annoyed, but now I won't be, because, oh, that's just ghost reminding me to call my mom.


meliiiiiis. I love you so much.


Oh, I loved this and will be thinking about the ghost and what s/he's up to. Come back ghost!


I am so sad about the ghost :( come back!


I know I'm a little late to the party, but the Hairpin is KILLING IT today!
High fives for everyone!


It was actually not until this article that I figured out that melis, my absolute favourite Hairpin recurring commenter personality, was the same person who wrote So You've Decided To Drink More Water and a bunch of other great posts and THIS, oh my god THIS POST? So now I am past impressed and into gobsmacked?


omg i almost cried at the end - WHAT HAPPENED TO GHOST?!!


I'd say this is in contention for funniest post yet!


The people demand MELIS!!!!


I guess this is what happens when you live by the Winchester Mystery House.


@Diana No, I moved! I'm up in the city now.


OH MY GODDDD I'm so late on reading/commenting on this but better late than never for me to say:

Melis, you managed to combine two of my favorite things in the world, ghosts and texting, into one amazing piece of writing from one of my favorite people on my favorite site, I can now die happy. (And hopefully become a ghost that gaunts phones?!)


Toooooo sad. :( But very lovely! I want to send this to my boyfriend but it'll make him melancholy so I can't.


i love the psychic banner ads that google adwords is serving up alongside this post almost as much as i love the post itself.


This was so funny. You're the best, Molly.

D. Lurker

I have no good explanation as to why this post - out of the countless I have consumed every day since the moment this site launched - would be the one to make me finally register to comment, but here I am:

Melis, you are some kind of f@cking genius and this was so brilliant and funny and touching, as usual, and I wanted to say thank you even though that seens so lame!! (also, I don't usually cuss but it seemed necessary here)

Edith, don't worry - I re-read Best Bat Friends roughly once a month. Thanks so much for making all this possible!

bouncy castle

this is indescribably great. "okay good luck!!" is pure genius. melis you are firmly my favorite writer on the internet.


I say, though, it's mostly due to her constant consumption of fish. Brain-power, what?


Mallory Ortberg is my new hero! (Move over, Wayne Newton!)


Oh my god I love this and So You've Decided to Drink More Water so much. I was cackling until the end, which was when I immediately started feeling sad :(


You guysssss it's been hours since I read this and i can't stop thinking about ghost! Is ghost okay? I'm so concerned. :(


I must resolve to treat my iphone better in the future on the off chance there is a gentle spirit living in there.


Two different someones posted a link to this in two different places on my Facebook feed. Figured I should read it, since it was being so heavily recommended.


Samreen Khan@twitter

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