Every day I wake up, and it’s the same. No matter the weather, the time, the temperature, I can see your ghost. Usually sitting in the corner, on that cheap white bar stool that serves as nothing except something to pile my clothes when I run out of room on the ironing board. Your bloodless, pale skin almost seems to glow, but it’s not that healthy glow that you once had. This is the glow of the dead. Not exactly a name I would choose for a new color for the foundation you used to put on your once beautiful face.
And your face, that was once beautiful, is wrecked. Your jaw is misshapen, clearly broken, and even if your ghost wanted to smile, I don’t think you could with that jaw. You sit on that stool, naked, but this is one time, that I don’t care to look at your body. I just wish you would go away, when before, when I first saw you, all of you, I couldn’t get enough.
I remember the first time I saw the ghost of you. I woke gently, natural light greeting me. I was in no rush, and I lazed in my bed for at least half an hour. The bed I would send you pictures of, telling you that soon you will be in it. It never happened, you in my bed, of course. Our love was only from a distance, but that made it truer we said, with each of us promising we will see each other soon in real life. I think we both thought It would never really happen, we just didn’t know how to tell each other that we loved the virtual of each other, where our flaws weren’t so immediate, so flagrant. In some ways, I was OK with that, it seemed perfect. We didn’t have real life to intrude on our love for each other and it made it somehow pure. But that morning I will never forget. I lay there, and figured I left the window open and the temperature must have dropped overnight as it was so cold. So I pulled the comforter on me fully, enjoying the way it felt as it slid over my skin, foot to neck.
“I’ll just lay here until I warm up” I thought
“Five more minutes.”
“Five more minutes, I can skip shaving today.”
And Finally “Fuck” as I creak and lumber out of bed.
I had woken with a smile on my face. We had our usual Tuesday night Facetime, where we talked about anything that popped up. The minutiae of our days, a funny joke, a not-funny joke, world events, politics, everything. And this night was the same until we were about to say goodnight. You were smiling and I knew something was up, and that’s when you stood up, backed away and slipped the shirt you were wearing, over your head. You stood there smiling, fully nude and me, simply agape, marveling at the body you had never shown me before. Stunned wasn’t a good enough word. And finally, in that lilting English of yours that I loved, you said “Well, say something…or should I get dressed again?”
I said plenty, wanting you more than ever, and you languishing in my lust/love, and returning the same. In fact, you made me do the same for you. Clothes off, on video. You moved almost on top of the camera, until I could only see your mouth and you whispered “If we can’t be together, then this is the next best thing” before shutting our connection. I started at a blank screen and my open mouthed reflection for an eternity before going to bed, frustrated, happy, hard, horny.
I got out of bed finally, the cold air sticking to my skin. I thought of “Seinfeld” and the shrinkage episode and laughed and made a mental note to pass on my morning experience, since we shared everything.. And that’s when you caught my eye. I screamed. And could only hope that my basement dweller was already awake. It was that loud. You sat on that stool like a knife-edge accusation. Your eyes, no longer cobalt blue but washed out grey and deep black stared at me. And at first I thought your fine blonde hair had changed color, but then I saw clumps of soil in your hair, and in some places, a few patches of hair missing, more evidence of the violence done to you. And that vision, of violence to you, made me weep. But you, you just stared, like the ghost of you always does now, silent. But somehow, beyond normal hearing, I could still hear the hate coming from you, almost like the low urgent buzz of a hornets nest.
Mentally I quickly counter attacked with Occam’s Razor and ran down the list
1. I’m crazy and I’m seeing things.
2. I’m still sleeping and having a fucked up dream.
3. I’m seeing a ghost.
Normally, I would say that it was a dream. But I never experienced what some call Lucid dreaming. (And now, months later, we know it’s not dreaming.) So I threw that theory out the window of discarded ideas. I also decided I’d rather not be crazy for the moment, and came to the conclusion that I must be seeing a ghost. Of you. Which meant…panic, for you.
I grabbed my phone and texted you quickly. “You ok?”
I surge of relief came over me. You weren’t dead! Premonitions hell! But how to tell you I thought you were dead? I just texted back “Just wanted to make sure you were OK with last night, I loved it”
Back to Occam ’s razor. Scratch Sleeping. Now scratch ghost. Stomach flip. That means crazy. Or wait…4. Brain Tumor!!! I had never been so happy as that moment when I self-diagnosed myself with a malignant brain tumor (well other than the night before of course). Brain tumors are better than Crazy I thought. And then I said it out loud “Brain Tumors are Better than CRAZY!!”, while you balefully stared at me and slowly raised your hands together in prayer. Or so I thought, until I saw them bound with yellow nylon rope. Bound so tight I could see where they cut into you and some dark stains around the rope.
I walked over to you, and as I did, it got colder and colder and you stared at me with those hateful dead eyes. I put my hand in you, through you, exploring and then I felt the cold make my fingers ache. Suddenly you were gone, a silent scream coming out of the black hole of your misshapen mouth.
I called in sick that day and made an emergency appointment with my doctor. I explained to him in general I was seeing “ghosts” and we did a battery of tests. Nothing. And that left me with nothing I could tell anyone. How could I explain a ghost that was haunting me, when the person the ghost should be was living and was the very woman I loved?
That night, I walked into my room, but there was nothing. A small relief poured over me, and I facetimed you for our daily recap. You soon could tell something was off. I had little to say, and my eyes kept drifting to the corner. You tried building up on the previous night, and I tried to pretend I wanted more, but in the end we both knew the night fell flat and we called it a day earlier than we had in months.
The next morning, I had almost forgot, until I felt the chill again, and now, that I was aware, the feeling of being watched from that corner. There you were, pale, bruised, broken and baleful. And the same angry glare that hated me as much as the electric ghost of you loved me at night.
I tried everything. I put clothes piled on the stool. I woke up with clothes on the floor and your grey ghost on the stool. I moved the stool to another room and yet when I woke, there you were perched on the stool. I stayed awake late, yet invariably, even if for an hour, I slept deep and hard, and when I work, I would see you there. Feel you there. Staring. And every time I wanted you to go away, all I had to do was touch and the ephemeral you would pop like the most delicate soap-bubble. But it wore on me.
“No Dreams. No Tumor. Crazy or Ghost. Pick.” I decided to be haunted by the ghost of you. Living you. Loving you. Far Away You.
It didn’t matter. I slept less. Rested less. Ate less. And our relationship suffered. I talked less, laughed less, and you tried to carry the day every time. Sometimes it worked, and there were moments that flashed all to quickly that seemed like the times before. To sleep, I tried moving rooms. The stool and the hate moved rooms too. The only thing that worked, was to keep the room dark. I could feel you. I could feel the wasps. But keeping the room dark, I didn’t have to look at you and I could quickly walk over and dissipate you dispassionately.
But how, day after day, for weeks, and months, can this not affect anyone? I lay awake thinking…A time-travelling ghost. And that’s when I finally figured out the solution. It came to me, fittingly, early morning. My eyes popped open and I jumped out of bed with renewed hope that, God-willing, tomorrow I would sleep well. I was so engrossed I didn’t even make you leave. I started packing. First in my room and then down stairs, grabbing everything I need and throwing it madly in the trunk of my car.
And then I paused and did a visual inventory of everything in trunk to make sure I didn’t forget the important items:
• Yellow Rope.
I have a long drive so pop a few extra Adderall. I should get there just before our usual electronic meetup for a true surprise Facetime. I start the car, Waze says 12 ½ hours with traffic. I put my iTunes on Repeat for one song and play Golden Earrings “Radar Love” all the way up to eleven on the stereo. I’m coming to see you baby.