I spend altogether too much time with my ghosts. Back home, they find that spooky is far more marketable than historic. The bed and breakfast is billed as being “southern”, “quaint”, and “haunted”. You can eat your muffins in the morning with the other folks and discuss any strange sounds from last night. I wasn’t in the mood. No, I don’t see them hovering in hallways or doing anything cinematic. They just kind of linger in the air like oily cooking smells. They are far too shiftless to show themselves. They know everything about me, and I know most of their tired old tricks. So, that makes them irritated. I feel them there, tightly squeezing into triangles in the corners. I know the girl who wears lacy things is fading a bit. She’d prefer to be on a balcony somewhere in New Orleans, but she’s made her mistakes. She ended up with me. Sometimes I can hear a grinding sound. There is one that grits his teeth in his sleep. And there isn’t much action for them to comment on in my daily life. Driving to work, a small boy sits in the back kicking at my seat. At work they hide in my coat pockets and grumble about the air conditioning vent directly above them. They are bored. They hate the middle of the day when the hours stretch. They like nights better when they tend to have more energy. At night some try to ridicule me. Others prompt me with advice. A few of them are drunk and lonely. They want to go out to the bar. Sometimes I let them convince me to go. I never feel alone with my invisible entourage. These good for nothing ghosts. My friend went to another city and toured a haunted cemetery. I’m afraid I didn’t have much to say. My ghosts are always with me. At breakfast in a city diner. At the forest preserve on a windy day. At Andrew Jackson’s grave. As I weep for all the things I wish I had told my mother. Please ghosts, help me! But they can’t. They follow along. They watch and wait. They judge. They are mine and they are me.
This piece is part of the #52essays2017 challenge where I will share one essay a week in 2017. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out writer Vanessa Martir’s website and post about it.