She comes in the night, after all the others are sleeping. I hear her slip past my door, climb the stairs over my room to the attic. The hollow boards creak under her weight. She doesn’t make much noise. None of the others have ever heard her, but I hear her every night. Sometimes, I can’t get to sleep until I’ve seen her.

I push the covers off my bed and slide out of my room. The corridor is cold, so cold that I can see my own breath hanging in their air, like the breath of a ghost. My feet are heavier than hers, and I make more noise. I’ve never learned to be quiet the way she has, to glide along the halls like a phantom. My footsteps are always loud. She’s never scolded me for coming, nor for being out of bed, not like the matrons do. I think she’s just as lonely as I am.

She’s waiting by the window when I open the door. The moonlight is spilling through the glass, soft as spun silver on the floor, and it shines on her hair and her white hands. I’ve missed her. It’s been almost two days since I saw her last. She didn’t come last night.

I think she missed me too, although she doesn’t say so. The nurses have told us a hundred times that she’s infected, that we ought to stay away from her. I meant to, in the beginning, but she found me up here one night when I came to be alone and to cry. She held me until the ache in my heart softened, and now I don’t care whether she’s sick or not. I need a friend. So does she. We are the same, she and I. A ghost and a girl without a soul. It hardly matters to either of us any more.

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