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<When I Was A Ghost>
I stumble a little. Do you ever get a shiver from your head to your toes, for no particular reason? Am I the only one that knows this feeling?
Couldn’t be. Couldn’t be.
Regardless of existential musings, a series of shivers run through me. Only this time, there’s a reason.
Imagine, spending eight months with someone you think you love. Was it love if it was all based on a lie, loving an imaginary man, whose every word was untrue? A “me and you”, confined to my head. I guess my love was real, regardless of “you”.
He was a trickster, he said that no matter what happened in life, he wanted to see me at least once a month. And for eight months, we slept in the same bed, one reaching for the other, like lovers do. But every word that I can recall coming out of his lips held no seed of truth, whether he was fucking me or throwing me down – hardwood floors, broken doors.
All the places that you can’t go back to. All the places that you can’t go back to.
My whole consciousness, every moment of thought, was based on an illusion. I must feel kind of like a woman that finds out her husband lives a second life with another wife and another family in another state, on his business trips. The feeling of realizing that you were just a pawn, in a game you don’t understand, but you know it’s not right. No woman wants to think about that happening to anyone. So when it happens to you, you look away. You blame yourself for the problems. You look away and let it grow so big that it colors your world. Who can see a bruise in a world that’s yellow, black, and blue?
Blue balloons for a blue woman sweeping up blue every day, every night, and it doesn’t stop, you float in the dark, then one day, out of nowhere, you hear the world pop.
Gravity cannot be beat.
Walking with glass in my feet. Running with glass in my feet.
Certain things were very real. They are all that remain. The bruises, the hand slammed in the door, the black eye. The permanent damage to my nose that aches when I wake morning and aches as I sleep, a constant reminder of the night he stuck his fingers up my nose as far as they would go and pulled until drops of blood fell on the floor. The dirt that lingers under my fingernails no matter now hard I scrub, from the twelve hour days spent digging every weed out of his yard by hand. His whole yard was one big weed farm, and now the weeds have left and there are flowers. The flowers are probably dying.
“What the neighbors must be thinking!” You wonder as you feel the ship sinking.
I get it now. Why most people in the neighborhood would not speak to him, but spoke of him.
“That’s the house where everyone’s crazy.”
I get it and I feel strange for not getting it much sooner. I defended him. I told him what they said because he wanted to know. “Just tell me.” I was angry at them for talking about the man I was in love with that way. Then he would get angry at me, and I would sob, locked in the bedroom, sometimes the tears fell for hours. We would “make up” within a few days. That was one of several games, or part of one big game. But I did not know I was playing.
It’s amazing, the power that the word “doctor” in front of one’s name has.
It’s amazing how much trust we place in a person with a certain title, certain academic accomplishments, certain acquaintances.
Doctor knows best!
I will start eating an apple each day. Please, please, please – go away.
But I can’t stop thinking about how I allowed myself to be drugged. Klonopin and Xanax, and a handful of Neurontin. For insomnia. And handfuls of lithium when I misbehaved, when I said a wrong word, when I spoke out of turn. Then Zyprexa to sleep, to sleep for days at a time.
That is not me. That is not me.
But who else could it be?
A past life, I suppose, when I was a prisoner of war. Stalinist Russia. A slave and a whore.
I try to erase myself from the photographs, the endless photographs. I can’t keep up. I must block it out of my mind. I must stop and stop pressing ‘rewind’. I must accept that there are things that were lost that I will never find.
Such is life.
Traveling from unreality into reality. An unexpected sonic boom. It feels strange not to be cowering somewhere, not being that unhappy for a hope that you can make him happy. Not everyone wants to be happy.
I don’t quite know what it means to be happy, now.
I don’t quite know how to be, happy or free.
I don’t quite know how to be.
For a week I thought the crickets were crying babies, and the ducks wailed at the moon. Everything turned upside down, luggage flying out of the overhead bins, 121 gasping strangers.
Sometimes you buy a ticket, and other times you just find yourself midair, with no choice but to crash.
The chapters of my life end and begin with packing. I guess that’s just who I am. I stare at the two plastic bins that hold my entire being. I cried my soul out for one final day, tears for the garden and a polyethylene love. Love for the birds, love for the victims, 122 souls, all of them lying, dying, and flying.
Laughing when we should be crying. Laughing when we should be crying.
Was my love just a fiction, like the chapter in which I traded all my gold for monopoly money, to a smooth politician. I was the bait and you were the switch. One last look back at the room, then I turn the lights off. He fades in the dark, and I remember my spark.
There are moments of happy and free.
I wish I could forget, but that isn’t the way that it works. So I highlight the words that look pretty, painted sadness is pretty, like the girl that they say stood staring at the gravestones behind the houses, danced in the moonlight, in the shadows of spring. So sad and so pretty, just like her love. She bathed in the rain, she washed off the pain, and left like she came.
Fear is a strange creature, a monster under the bed. I let him out, I let him play doctor, I let him into my head. I let him lay beside me, I offered my heart. He offered to break it, with a hand on my throat – he promised to kill me, he promised to stop, he promised a future. But he only knew breaking, every word was a lie.
Life is too short for faking, so I took back my heart, bruised but not broke. I cannot help but wonder if I will ever be able to love like that again. I should have been scared of the monster, but he wore his mask well, he told me I was special.
We all want to be special, to believe that it’s true. So we lie beside liars, scared to let go of the painting, the Lady in Blue. Instead of fearing the monster, I feared not being blue.
But I’m smarter than you. But I’m smarter than you.
And I must turn the page, no matter how much the blank pages ahead scare me; blinding bright write. A story yet to be written, a story in which I imagined there would be a you. Why fear the future, why fear stepping forward, moving on from the beatings and bruises and blue? The monster is back under the bed, the monster that haunts childhood make-believe thoughts. He can have his make-believe back. He can keep what I forgot to pack.
The story must go on. I have not changed, but I’m not quite the same. Now that I know I was “the girl in the middle room”.
A girl with no name. A girl with no name.
One day I’ll look back, I’ll flip through my book.
I will be happy, and I’ll smile at the story of the summer. The summer of silence. The summer of screaming.
When I was a painting
When I was his plaything.
When I was a ghost.