A young man was out picking mushrooms when he ate a toadstool he knew he shouldn’t have. Immediately his stomach was twisted in knots.
First he thought of visiting the doctor. He started to walk toward the village, but then he imagined the man’s scowling face. “You fool!” the doctor would say. “Don’t you know not to eat strange things? Maybe this will teach you. Instead of saving your life, I should help someone who deserves it.”
The young man’s throat got thick.
Next he thought of his true love. He started to walk the other way, but then he imagined her face in tears. “I'll be all alone!” his true love would say. “I will spend all of my days childless — or else I’ll marry anyone who will have me. I've wasted my potential on you.”
The young man’s vision blurred.
Finally he thought of his father. The old man had been dead a year — his spirit felt distant, even if his memory remained. “I had such high hopes for you!” the young man’s father would’ve said. “I thought you would accomplish such amazing things. But now I see you are ordinary.”
The young man doubled over.
The ghost of his father howled. “That is not my voice!” the ghost said, shaking the trees with his tumult. “Those are not my words!” he insisted, startling the birds. “I love you, you moron! You idiot! My beautiful son! I love you, I love you! In death, as in life, I love you!”
The ghost stuck a spectral limb down the young man’s throat until he vomited up the poison. But not the vitriol.