A Haunting



These seats are too rough. I’ve jostled between too many human bodies and found the rear of the carriage. I’ve been watching them, and listening to their idle chatter. Friday night and it’s dark outside. The train is rocking as it takes each bend and I am feeling too keenly every click of the rickety track carrying us rumbling home to our loved ones.Then the black sky pulls me out of this metal box and up high, and I am flying above the train. And there is only the cold wind and thoughts of where she is and how much I need to get to her.

My loved one is in her house. She is cooking. The steam is rising in her kitchen as I float in. I am looking at her face, about an inch away, I am the steam. I am the vapour. I tentatively let myself rest upon her skin. She feels it. She definitely feels something. She blinks then goes back to her absent stare, waiting for the boiling pots to cook. Her hazel eyes are level with me but she doesn’t see me. And her thoughts are elsewhere: it is only her body, here in this room. The irony. My body doesn’t live here any more.

She wanders into the hallway, reaches a hand into her coat pocket, grabs her phone. I read the text message along with her: he is moments away. She smiles. A small contented smirk of a smile. Like her old smile but not so tender, I tell myself. Her old smile was like a light going on inside me. 

She carries plates into the next room, with the tan leather sofa, the rich red rug. The sofa where I lay against her shoulders playing with her toes while she watched tv, on ordinary evenings in need of nothing else beyond the moment. She was easily pleased. 

The table is laid, the lamp is on, the curtains are closed, and his dinner is waiting for him. And now he’s here, closing the front door and taking off his shoes. He looks like me: but he’s not me. I rush at him, hard, passing through his oblivious chest and out the other side of him, and I fly upstairs. I cannot watch them kiss. 

I hover above the carpet; it’s deep and soft. I remember how it felt to walk barefoot upon it, and I glide along the landing and through the closed door into the dark bedroom. Their bedroom now. She has rearranged the layout. A new bed. Smaller. Our bed was king sized. The room has been remade. All white, and neat and ornamented. Where are the jeans we left on the floor, the untidy piles of books, the wineglass rings I would never clean off the bedside table? I move to spy inside her chest of drawers. Beneath a file of bank statements a few of our old cards she’s kept despite him. Christmas and Valentines and birthdays. This is all of us that remains. 

I stay in here for hours. I hide myself inside her wardrobe, I nestle in between her shirts, her coats, her comforting hoodies and jumpers. Wrapped up in the scent of her. Her perfume and her skin. And I want to stop time forever. She comes to bed, lies down with him. They cuddle, briefly, say goodnight. I wait, then I spoon her sleeping body with my own. Holding on to her ‘til morning. 

And when the new day comes, it’s all too bright. I jump out of the window and wait for her in the street. The front door locked, she emerges in her new clothes, taking a new route to a new job, in a new part of town. I follow her. I stand in front of her; I’m saying her name and I’m taking hold of her shoulders and I’m begging her to see me. She walks right through me, again and again as I run ahead and repeat my efforts. I shout out to her as she walks on, walking away from me, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,’ I cry. ‘Please don’t leave me’. But she’s gone already and is soon so far out of view.

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