Most fairy tales have always begun and will probably always begin once upon a time in a land far, far away, but no one is really sure when or where this story began. I am a ghost, but, unlike most ghosts, I do not know when my life as a human ended and my life as a ghost began. Sometimes I think that my story never truly began, that I just appeared one day, meant to haunt the world. I cannot remember a time when I did anything else.

I have haunted many people since my mysterious beginning, but I remember few of my victims as clearly as I do the family of two most sinful adults and the most innocent child I have ever seen. But whether anyone can really be that innocent and naïve, I do not know.

This story is a much easier to tell than most. Their names have escaped me, but I remember exactly how this story began, so I can start right at the beginning.

It remains a mystery to me, and probably to others, why I became so obsessed with this particular family. When the parents weren't absorbed in their work they were bickering with each other over the most trivial things. But I continued watching them, for some unexplainable reason. Day after day, I put up with their fighting, waiting for a reward that would never come.

My first victim was the father. His ideas, the things he muttered under his breath while working and tried to push into his daughter, I found so strange and corrupt. Yet these ideas were not new to me. I had both seen and felt these things before.

What I did to him was seemed simple and innocent at the time. Not that I ever did something with the intention of being simple and innocent then, but it certainly wasn't meant to turn into what it did. All that I really planned to do was make it harder for him to finish the school when he needed to. Things just sped up a bit, and all he was supposed to do was swear and scream and panic for a few weeks. And since I watched few people besides him during that those weeks, I can say for sure that that did happen.

Eventually, though, I got bored with that game and decided that I was ready to move on. It was rare that I victimized an entire family, but for reasons I could not figure out, much less understand, I felt compelled to keep watching this one. Of course, at the time I thought little of it past that. There was nothing new about the silent, horrible way I went about affecting the people's lives, so there was nothing for me to think about.

I focused on the mother for a few days, watching her as she went about her daily activities. She spent most of her time caring for her daughter. She worked on the castle but at around the same times every day she would slip away quietly to prepare meals for herself and her daughter. During those times they were together, they seemed to talk a lot, or maybe play a short game if the mother felt brave enough to risk making her husband unhappy. I'll never know what they were talking about, though, for I cannot hear anything. I have been surprised to learn that I am the only one of my kind who wonders what it would be like to hear what their voices sound like, what the 'music' I have learned so much about is like.

On what should have been the most normal of days, I learned why. It began like all their other days did. I watched the three of them wake up in the morning and the mother prepare breakfast. The mother took her time making the meal, and the father was clearly unhappy with this. I watched him as he quickly grew impatient. It wasn't long before he began screaming something, and it wasn't hard to see that he was more than ready to begin working on the castle again.

That short fight ended when the father took his food as soon as it was ready and left the room so that he could eat while he worked.

Judging by the morning's events, I assumed that the rest of the day would be just as exciting. I was wrong, at least for a while. I watched them carefully, like always, but it wasn't the same as usual. For the most part, the father had caught up on his work, which meant that my work with him was done.

I still wasn't sure what to do to the mother at that time. In a way, I had already affected her through my games with the father. But I wasn't satisfied with that, so for the rest of the day, I watched as they trudged through their daily activities, waiting for something, ianything/i, that would probably never come.

I couldn't help but feel giddy when I saw the mother and father screaming halfway through the day. It meant that I was doing my job, after all. I paid close attention.

I had learned enough about them over the few weeks leading up to that event, so it was easy to assume that the pressure to finish the castle on time had gotten the best of both of them.

I watched everything. I eagerly lingered above them as their faces grew redder and their patience thinner. There were two other adults I had seen before. They interrupted occasionally, but much more kindly. They probably had more to say, though; they usually spoke much more when I saw them. But I don't think they wanted to become part of such a heated debate.

The argument only got worse when the other two left the room. I didn't want it to, but my excitement faded. I had never seen fighting this bad, and I knew that it would only be worse if I could hear them. My friends were right.

That was painful enough for me, but it only got worse and I felt as though I had to keep watching, so I did. It finally ended when the mother stormed off and ran towards her daughter. The tiny girl was in the small, dusty room where the family slept. She was curled up in her bed, though her eyes were open.

The mother sat beside her and began speaking as she stroked the daughter's hair. It was obvious that her tone was much kinder than when she was talking to the father, and I was glad to see that.

The daughter sat up in the bed when her mother finished speaking. After a few seconds, she jumped off of the bed and ran to find her father. When she found him, she grabbed his legs and began crying.

This continued for several days. I watched, and I was entranced but at the same time I found myself wishing every minute for it to end. It was in those days that I felt something that I had never felt before, and that was guilt. I had only heard of it, not aware that it could happen to my kind. I was no longer comfortable in my own mind, with my own heart or soul or whatever may or may not be left of me.

This is what forced me to make a horrible confession to myself. I do not exist. I was created to help others, but they were left with a monster that has harmed them more than hurt them. I am completely artificial, yet completely transparent.

The daughter was also relying on something man-made to aid her in the few short days she had left with her father, but what she was feeling was real. It is only the name that is artificial. That ghost is a magic within everyone's heart, one that I have just recently discovered in the remnants of my life, or perhaps it is my death.

I do not know when or where this story ends. I have haunted few since those most horrible and wonderful days. I do not know what happened to the daughter since I last saw her, although I have looked for her. I do not know what will happen to me, or what may have already passed me by.

I never would have thought that I would end up feeling the way I do now. I hope that the little girl is doing well. I don't expect to live happily ever after, or even live. But I hope she does.