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            A soufflé is wholly unnecessary. Cupcakes will feed an army, but you only need to satisfy one. When in doubt, pie is always best. Remember your first slice of pie. (You can’t?) Pie is an always food. It comes to every party where you’ll find family, and any ghost that haunts you is as good as family. Even if you are not blood relatives, a ghost will come to visit and end up staying awhile, will live with you and use up all the fancy guest soap and leave the bathmat down though you ask it not to. Yes, pie is the perfect food for a ghost.

            Remember that ghosts love sweets. If you do not have time for pie – and who does? who has the time to wait for the fruit to ripen and the butter to grow soft on the counter? – slice-and-bake sugar cookies are enough. Don’t slave – just set the timer. This way, there is no mixing bowl to clean. Use the cook-time to put away old photographs. The first day of school, posed in the driveway with lunchbox and backpack. And here, one of the few from her eleventh birthday: the cake frosting dotted with pools of wax because she couldn’t stand to make the wrong wish. The holiday portraits taken in front of the fireplace where no one is quite smiling, and certainly no one looks like themselves. Leave out the plate of sugar cookies as if it’s Christmas Eve. It may not be from the chimney, and there may not be gifts, but your ghost is coming and it is hungry.

            If you can’t bear turning on the oven, try pudding. The instant kind in the palm-sized box. Nothing too fancy – ghosts are known to be partial to butterscotch, but chocolate is also better than acceptable. If you are feeling clever, make a bowl of “dirt”: two boxes chocolate pudding, one tub Cool Whip. Top the mixture with crumbled Oreo cookies and gummi worms. Make burial into dessert; your ghost will laugh. You are so witty for making a joke about being dead with someone who is already dead.

            Your ghost will never deny that death is something to be laughed at, because it is. Death is as funny as the word “meringue,” or how bittersweet morsels aren’t really sweet at all. Death is funny because everyone assumes it must be a relief; few ghosts are relieved to be dead. There are still aches and pains and sleepless nights. Your ghost will wake up to a growling stomach because ghost stomachs stay empty. Your ghost will stand in front of the refrigerator with the door ajar, and will continue letting all the frosty air spill past in translucent clouds all night long if you have nothing prepared. The house will grow cold. You, in bed, will grow cold. There will never be enough blankets to slake the chill.

            Do not disinvite your ghost from the table by denying it something sweet in the middle of the night. At the very least, leave a Jell-O cup on the top shelf. Make some whipped cream from scratch. Just a few minutes of attention, that’s all this requires.

            Remember, you have been here before. Treat your ghost like a child, forever afraid of blowing out the candles too soon.