Help identify this Spanish-language short story
October 5, 2017 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Ages ago in my high school Spanish class we read a short story about a ghost. The basic plot summary was that a man dies and wakes up as a ghost; nobody else can see or hear him. At the end of the story he realizes that every person enters their own plane of existence upon death and stay there forever. He's disgusted at the thought of his wife passing through a miasma of ghosts, millions of whom are probably spying on her.

The basic plot, from what I remember, is that the man thinks at first that it's good he's a ghost because he can watch over his wife and make sure she'll be ok, but then he gets bored. He wonders why he hasn't passed over to the other side, then starts roaming the earth looking for others like him. He realizes that when every person dies they end up on their own plane of existence, where they can observe the world but can't interact with it. The story closes with his growing horror at the fact that his wife is just walking through ghosts on a daily basis without realizing it, and they are probably watching her just like he is. It was a thoroughly creepy ending.

I read the story in 2004-05, so it has to be older than that. It was part of a Spanish literature unit in high school, and I definitely remember learning about magical realism as a genre. That makes me think the author might be Gabriel García Márquez, but none of my searches have turned anything up. I'm pretty sure it's not "Ghosts of August," but my teacher definitely enjoyed Márquez; we read "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" that unit as well, so is it possible that I'm misremembering the plot of another of his short stories? We also read poetry by Amado Nervo and Pablo Neruda, but my googling suggests they were strictly poets and not fiction writers.

This was many years ago and my Spanish reading comprehension was pretty average for a high school senior, so I might be misremembering the details. I do, though, vividly remember being disturbed at the end that we could just be constantly walking through this invisible slime of ghosts.

I've googled a few times over the years, but now one of my own students wants to read the story and I can't find it! Please help me track it down!
posted by lilac girl to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Maaaaybe El Fantasma by Enrique Anderson?
posted by Memo at 9:22 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]

That is exactly it! Thank you so much. The question has been haunting me for years (har har).
posted by lilac girl at 9:27 AM on October 5

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