In an aging, creaking house in the middle of somewhere spooky, like a cemetery or something, America and Canada sat together at a small table. The flame of a candle quivered in the dusty, musty air.
With their hands on the planchette, they circled the board twice and recited whatever it was you’re supposed to recite so the ghosts won’t kill you.
Sucking in a breath, Canada asked, “Sprits, are you here?” Seconds crept by. Then something jolted their hands.
America’s face lit up. “Yoooo!”
“Stop. You’re breathing too close to the candle. Look, we’ve got spirits here. Is there anyone you’re looking for? Any dead countries you want to speak to?”
America hummed in thought. “Oh! Yeah. I got one. The Confederacy. Where he at? I have some words for him.” America leaned over the board. “Hahaha what’s good, bitch?”
“Stop,” North Korea said urgently when he saw his sister touch the board. “This game has rules, doesn’t it? We have to follow them exactly.” North Korea grabbed the sheet from the box, saw that the first rule was to never play alone, then tossed the paper into the air. “These rules are stupid.”
“Get over here.”
He took a seat next to her and placed two slightly shaking hands on the planchette. The siblings circled the board with the usual fanfare.After some hesitation, North Korea took a breath. “I… I want to ask Joseon something. I want to know if–if she’s proud of me.”
Both of them gasped when the planchette dragged itself over Yes. North Korea sniffled once or twice before starting to cry silently.
South Korea yelled into the air. “Why are you lying to him?”
Germany was deadpan. He drummed his fingers against the board. “Hello? Is anyone there? I’m looking for the ghost of my dignity and joy. Is my self-respect with you, too?”
“Boo,” said the shady figure emerging from behind the curtains.
Germany shouted something profane when he jumped. “Switzerland, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“By the way,” Switzerland said as he slid into a chair, “If you’re wondering where your dignity went, try asking East Germany.”
“Thank you, Switzerland.”
Then Switzerland took the planchette. “France, are you there?”
“France isn’t dead.”
“If you’re out there, say something.”
After a moment the board spoke. It spelled out bonjour. Germany looked down with surprise. “It’s… obviously just pretending to be France.”
Switzerland’s eyes darted around the cold, dark room. “Make a baguette fly at my face if it’s really you, France.” The board spelled out W-T-F. Switzerland changed up his strategy. “What did we do on the night of November 29th, 1516?”
Germany side-eyed him. “What did you do?”
“Oh, Germany, that is between me and the ghost of France.”
“Did you know,” China started, “that the ouija board has origins in my Song Dynasty?”
Japan blinked. “Who are you talking to?”
“You weren’t looking at me.”
“Yes, I was.”
Japan stole a glance at the dark corner of the room China’s eyes were fixed on. When a chill ran up her body, she looked away. “What do you want to ask the board?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Maybe you could ask Tibet’s sovereignty if it forgives you.”
“Maybe you could ask the demon inside of you to release its grip on your rotting soul and finally grant you human decency.”
Japan stared down at the floorboards uncomfortably.
Russia was the last one to use the board that night.
“Is there anyone there?” She asked. “I could use a friend right now.”
Russia’s heart raced. “Nothing! It’s just… during this time of the year, I feel more alone.”
It’s okay to feel that way.
“Are you alone, too?”
Yes. It’s cold here.
“I know what that feels like.” She smiled sadly. “I used to have a big family. They hated me because I forced most of them to be there, but I always took that as a sign that they really cared. Then they left. It hurt more than I let on. I know that I’m the greatest country to grace this planet and that I don’t need anyone else, but sometimes… sometimes I remember the good times we had–not that there were many of them. But you have to–to cherish the little things, yes?”
She sighed wistfully. “I can’t help but wonder if… if maybe it was all my fault. If I’m cursed to forever ruin everything good in my life. It scares me because I start to wonder if everything I’m living for–everything I’m fighting for and striving toward–if it’ll all turn to dust too. Am I just meant to be alone in the cold and darkness? It keeps me up at night, this fear, this regret, this uncertainty. “
The ghost in the corner of the room materialized and sucked its teeth. “Shit, girl, you have problems.”