Inktober 22/10/19: Ghost

OK PEOPLE THIS ONE COMES WITH A FREAKING GREAT BIG NEON LIGHT CW FOR THE GRIEFHAMMERS. The deaded person here is also a child. Don’t read this if that sounds too painful, k?
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K.

There were those times when you’d wake from nightmares, and I would tell you that ghosts aren’t real. That is a dressing gown, sweetie. That is a fold in the curtain.

Since I am speaking to you, did you want to know the truth? Real ghosts do not haunt with their presence. They haunt with their absence. The space where you should be is rendered as nothing. Not even dust motes glide where you are not. And in our minds? My darling, each thought in our minds is a rollercoaster thundering along from scene to scene. Now the track is broken, because there are too many places where the track was you, and those are no more. Now the carriages have flown off and I am standing at the kitchen sink, trying to remember what I was doing with this coffee cup just before that happened.

Am I afraid of ghosts? I am, but not of the type from stories. It does not frighten me that I hear the thud of your footprints upstairs when I am marking homework. It frightens me that I don’t. More un-sound where they should be: a lack of clamour and argument with siblings. Not that your place is empty at the table, but that there is no place for you there, because I haven’t set one. Broken as I am, I’m not an idiot. I know you don’t love pizza enough to come back to life.

Is it a betrayal to smile again? Who do I even ask? Your ghost, if it were here, but there it isn’t. It isn’t, with the clash and scream that also isn’t. The world goes on, as though it doesn’t know, and eventually I go on as well, through a long stream of things that should exist but don’t, and the occasional one that does exist but shouldn’t. I stare at the little card from the dentist for so long that when I snap out of it I look around to see if anyone noticed me.

Do I call them and set them straight, tell them that your teeth… aren’t? It’s a peculiar thing. The fact of your non-existence is so patently absurd that it puts a reversal on everything. Over and over I inform strangers of the worst thing that has happened in my life, as though it were a minor administrative detail. Over and over the overwhelming absence of you sucks the words out of their minds and they are rendered mute. It’s then fifty-fifty whether they’ll return to businesslike formality, or become distraught and I will somehow end up trying to comfort them.

Is the reminder something of you? I ponder this and then throw it away. No, it wasn’t. Perhaps I will find those things when the dust settles in the wake of this silent tornado. It has taken jokes; songs; life from where they were in total abundance. It has replaced them with something that isn’t there.

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