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Submitted for the October 2023 prompt: Machine in the Ghost

Amber was alone.


She inherited all her parents’ money when they passed away; she had their retirement and the house sold for almost a million dollars.


At first she didn’t know what to do with the money. She bought a condo in a high-rise building and dreamed of a new life.


Amber had always had a hard time making friends, and a harder time keeping them. She didn’t know how to talk to people, and she was awkward. She didn’t have to work; that made her life worse. She spent a lot of time alone.


She would look out the window of her apartment at the street. Everyone seemed like they were in a hurry; she didn’t know where they had to go. She didn’t have to be anywhere.


Amber decided to buy expensive appliances to fill up the empty space around her.


She bought a smart toaster that cost four hundred and twenty dollars. She realized this was a lot of money, but it spoke. It would describe the different types of toast it could make, an English muffin, or a bagel, or toast, and it would let you know if it was frozen, and needed to be cooked longer.


“I will toast this bagel on the medium setting,” the woman’s voice said.


Amber loved her new toaster. She used the appliance every morning, and it would talk to her.


“Good morning,” the woman’s voice said. “Are you having a bagel today?”


“No, I think I’ll have a waffle.”


“Good choice,” the voice said. “I’ll set it on frozen.”


Amber adored her toaster so much that she bought a smart blender. The woman’s voice was different on that appliance.


“What are you making today?” the blender asked.


“I’m having a smoothie with bananas, blueberries, spinach and yogurt.”


“I’ll blend that just right for you,” it said.


Amber ate with the toaster in the morning, and the blender for lunch. She would ask them questions.


“What do you think of my bagels?” Amber asked.


“Your bagels are beautiful,” the toaster said. “You have great taste.”


Amber laughed. She thought the toaster was funny.


When Amber slept, she thought about the toaster and the blender. She wondered about their secret lives.


Once, in the middle of the night, Amber heard a moaning sound coming from the kitchen.


“Amber,” she heard. She walked to the dark kitchen.


“Honey,” a man’s voice said. “Amber, you have to get a grip.”


“Who is that?” she asked.


“It’s me, your father. I’ve come from beyond to let you know you have to get your life together.”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. “This must be a dream.”


“No, it’s me in the toaster. I’ve taken it over. You have to live your life. You can’t go on like this.”


“You’re not in my toaster!”


“I am!” the toaster said. “I’m your father, and I’m telling you that you have to get a real life, and stop talking to your appliances.”


“I don’t talk to them. They exist to make me food, and I give them instructions.”


“You have to try talking to real people.”


“This is a dream. I’m going back to bed.”


Amber went back to her bedroom, but couldn’t sleep. She thought about what the toaster had told her. Was it true? Did she talk to her appliances too much? Was she afraid of the real world?


The sun crept into her room. She sneaked into the kitchen, hoping the toaster wouldn’t notice. She decided she wouldn’t use the toaster for breakfast. She unplugged it.

She placed some cantaloupe, blueberries, a banana, and some kale in the blender with some ice.


“What are you having today?” the blender asked.


Amber explained. The blender started.

“Amber!” she heard through the blender. “This is your mother! Your father is right! You have to face reality, and stop talking to us. You’re wasting your life.”


“Mom? Are you talking to me from the blender?” Amber screamed.


“You have to get out, and see people,” her mother yelled. “You’re going to end up old and alone!”


The blender stopped.


“Your smoothie is done,” the blender said.


“But, are you there, Mom?”


“You can pour your smoothie now,” the blender said.


Amber had lost her appetite, but she poured the smoothie out of the blender so it would keep quiet. She unplugged the appliance.


She sat in her living room and thought about what happened. She imagined this was what it was like to go insane. She never had any disturbing thoughts before, in all her thirty-nine years, but she knew that people could go insane any time. She wanted to wait if she heard the voices again before she took action.


She plugged in the toaster. It lit up.


“Good morning,” it said in the woman’s voice. “What will you have today?”


“Nothing,” Amber said.


She decided to go out. She walked in the rain to a coffee shop, and sat and watched all the people. She didn’t understand the human race. Why was everyone so miserable?


That night, when she was asleep, she heard the voice again.


“Amber,” her father’s voice said. “I want to talk to you.”


She walked to the kitchen. “You can’t go on like this,” he said.

“Why not?”


“Because life is meant to be lived. You’re not meant to be alone.”


“What if I have no choice?” she said.


“There’s always a choice.”


“I know,” she said.


She unplugged the toaster and the blender, and carried them to the window.


“I need you to both shut up,” she said.


She pitched them both to the sidewalk. She hoped they wouldn’t kill anyone. But she wouldn’t care if they did, because nothing mattered in the end.

Copyright 2023 - SFS Publishing LLC

Ghost in the Toaster

The blender speaks the truth

Shannon O'Connor





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