ghost

His ambition was the first thing she told her parents about. Then it was just a nugget of a promise, a wink at some future time when their security would depend on hers. Fledgling though it was, oh was it precious to her. It was every disappointed sigh, shoved back down their throats. It was the exemplary report card she'd never brought home. It was her ticket away, and above - far, far above.

Satisfied with the achievement of it, she promptly retired her own.

She slipped it around her neck like an amulet, a charm against her own uselessness. When she had nothing to hold onto, when anger and envy had depleted her of everything else, she clutched it tight to her chest. It thickened and gnarled into a knot that hung heavily between them. It was everything they didn't know about one another. It was everything they didn't love about one another. But they would, right? Someday? When there was more time? 

His ambition was a placeholder.

Soon it outgrew her, and she grew scared. The knot fingered into claws, scrabbling and scratching towards someplace higher than she could ever, ever reach. She chained herself to it with prayer, then blood, then fear and guilt. It dissolved everything, like acid. She looked to him for help, for reassurance that it belonged to them - but he wasn't there.

His ambition was a ghost.