Her voice echoed off the staircase towards the glass dome forty feet above her head. The ghost took a deep breath, or what it remembered as breathing, and moaned loud enough to shake the antique picture frame off the wall.
The girl jumped. But, after a moment, she pushed back her shoulders and stopped her quivering lips. She finally took a step towards the formal dining room, still set with the family’s final dinner.
The ghost had to think fast. She was getting away. With a whirl wind of ether, he made all the glass in the china cabinet shatter and reign down in the little girl’s hair. She ducked, tightening her shaking arms around her head until the tremors stopped.
Again, she stood, squared her shoulders, and kept moving towards the forgotten door at the back of the house. A voice only she could hear called to her.
The ghost was running out of time. He stretched his mind back into a different life, found the right words, and scrawled them on the window pane above the kitchen sink. A warning to go no further.
The girl was not quite at the age of being able to read such words, or to understand their meaning. She shrugged her shoulders, took the key off the hook by the door, turned it in the lock, and tip-toed down the cellar stairs.
The door creaked shut behind her.
The ghost hung his head in shame. He had failed. Again.
It looks like the place had been abandoned only yesterday. Everything still. Waiting. Silent. No popcorn can be heard popping. No children screeching as they get spun around on the tilt-o-whirl. No sticky fingers from too much cotton candy.
The child went missing almost 20 years ago. The last sighting of her was of a wide, happy grin and her parents shooing her toward some game or another. Just hoping for a few minutes of peace from their daughter’s endless energy. How could they know they’d never see her again? Of the news coverage and cameras that would follow them around for weeks? Of the devastating heartbreak, anger, and loneliness as one of them abandons the other to their grief?
The leaves being blown along the boardwalk sound like the pitter-patter of children’s feet as they run through the carnival games. I kick aside a hot dog wrapper and wonder how long they searched before they stopped looking for me. When did my stuffed animals get put into storage and then eventual thrown out? How long before their hearts stopped breaking every time they caught a glimpse of another happy child in her parent’s arms?
The memories distract me from my true purpose here. I make my way to the park across the street. So many families. So many little girls. I straighten with purpose as I scan the crowd searching for the perfect one.
they whisper past rustling a dream forgotten by morning
Memories are a funny thing. Our brains take bits and pieces of events from our past, splice them together and call it a memory. They are more feelings rather than concrete images. I don’t remember kindergarten but some flashes of being misunderstood and alone. I don’t remember my best friend’s face but the feeling of shock standing at her funeral.
Past memories shape our future reality. We take all those bits and pieces of our past selves, add some water, and hope that we can shape the clay into something we recognize and can relate to. Maybe it will even be good enough to show other people.
I think the worst of all are all the things I do remember that I wish I didn’t. The embarrassing mistakes. The lies I didn’t get away with telling. The anger over a trivial slight. We seem always to remember the bad while the good slips by us like a gentle breeze through the trees. We know we felt it, we just can’t remember.
embellished. exaggerated. told over and over so someone else remembers
before i could release the weight of my sadness and pain, i first had to honor its existence
We are living through a pandemic. It’s not a productivity contest. I see so many articles giving advise on how to be more productive working from home. How to finally start that creative project you’ve been putting off. Learn a new language. Read through that list of classics you’ve put off since high school.
I think they are all forgetting we are just trying to survive.
It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be sad and angry. It’s okay to just sit and stare out your living room window for a few hours, watching the birds or maybe nothing at all. That’s okay.
The only thing our brains are worried about right now is survival. All of our energy is going into preparing for the next news briefing or conference call that changes everything, again.
We have to honor our pain. We have to honor our exhaustion. We have to honor our tears. We especially have to honor those feelings in others. We all react differently to trauma. Yes, some of us may be able to sit down and write the next great American novel. Some of us can barely get out of bed in the morning.
Honor however you are feeling, right now, in this moment. It’s okay.