free hit counter

Dear XXXXX,

I saw your ghost the other day. It was floating at the corner of River and Main. I didn't expect to see it, of course. I didn't go looking for it. I didn't want it. But there it was, so I took it in because what else was I going to do? I'm not a monster, whatever else you might think.

It followed me all the way back home, past Homer Park where we would spend those Saturday nights staring up at the black hole in the sky and wondering about how long it would take for everyone else but us to die. It drifted over still dewy grass and tried to kiss me by the swings like a bad memory. I fended it off. Don't worry, I didn't take advantage of you.

I cut through the trail over the river, past all the tidy suburban houses, the ones we populated with make believe children who then tried to tear down society and create an anarcho-commune. We were so proud. Do you even remember that?

And then we were home. It didn't seem to know what to do about the door, so I grabbed it around the wrist. Just as helpless as you. Its skin was cold and clammy, unlike the fever you always had burning. But it still felt like you. I pulled and pulled and finally it tipped over and let me drag it into the house. I don't think your ghost wanted to come with me but I wasn't giving it too much choice. I wouldn't let it just sit out there waiting for a storm to come along and drown it.

Inside the house I made it undress. I looked away, even if we'd spent long hours together on the bed, naked and staring at the shadows on the walls and making up our stories. I think that was all we did. Make up stories. All of our relationship was just us making up stories to then tell each other.

Then I led your ghost up the stairs to our bedroom. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and your ghost was shivering, teeth clacking with a machine racket from the cold breeze we never could keep out of the house. I pushed aside the blankets and patted your missing spot on the bed. Your ghost climbed in and then I climbed in after it. The blankets came up around us. I held the ghost tight to me, held on to it through its bucking and quaking, until its skin warmed to match my skin. We lay there like that for a long time. It was nice. It was nice to hold someone.

***

I put down your letter. No point in reading on anymore. What my ghost gets up to really doesn't matter. If it wants to hang around that old washed-out town and haunt you, it has my blessings. Either way, I’m still gone and that is that. You two can get married for all I care.

The plate of apple slices next to the letter has browned. I push the remains into the drain and turn on the garbage disposal. As those whirring metal teeth do their work, I stare out the window. In the back garden stands your ghost. Its hair hangs around its head and it wobbles back and forth down the path between the vines of tomatoes dangling from posts like compact red suns. It’s raining and your ghost is drenched. I watch for a while, the slow hypnotic movements, the wavering. Your ghost never looks up at me. I tug the curtains across the window and that is that and that.