Ghosts that I try to bury, but they disappear when I reach for them. They are tricky and fast, too fast for my clumsy hands. Every waking hour is spent in decline, in a bubble of voices only I can understand. Hear me now: I am not alone, but I wish I were.
As a child I was different. Not different as in I knew more than others, or less than others, or that I came from a cult, or was delivered by a stork. I was different as the wind is different from the sea, and yet they live in harmony. I lived in harmony. Other kids connected with me well. They would tease me and joke around with me and play with me on the swings. I wasn’t an outcast, by any means. I simply was there, biding my time, because…perhaps I did know more. Perhaps I knew something I shouldn’t.
As I drag myself up the stairs, my body nearly decayed as the dirt, I look three times my age. Knowledge ages you, I suppose, paired with apparitions and whispers than nobody else notices. Those age you more than cigarettes.
I grew up in a steady way. Born in a hospital; raised in a small house with a brother and a mother and a father. I went to school and I learned at a normal pace. But do you know what made me different? What made me different was the fact that my eyes and ears could hear and see more. I never said anything about the fingers that grabbed at the hair of my classmates, or the footsteps that echoed through the halls. At first I thought it was only at school, but the rattling in my kitchen changed that thought. Sometimes the water would run unnoticed by my family. Sometimes I would run, unnoticed by my family. Running was my safe haven. While life was going past my sight fast, I couldn’t see the things that weren’t supposed to be there, and all I could hear was the whistling of wind in my ears. Running meant freedom.
I remember when I lost it. When my head couldn’t take it anymore and I cried out to the first person I could reach. I grew angry, yelling at them, “Why can’t you see? Why can’t you see?” I was alone in the way that it matters to be alone.
When I blew I was in class. The things that I saw were going and going, around and around, all over the room. Dust was flying, dust that only I could see. I wanted to brush it away, off their sleeves and their desks, but it landed, layer by layer. Their lips moved in a fish-like motion. I couldn’t concentrate with the grit at their noses and mouths. The teacher was sucking it in like a vacuum, each word breathing in a cloud. I stood and I spoke and they looked at me as they should have: as though I was a freak, a mistake, a blip in the average human DNA. I ran.
The fear I remember. When I think of it, it consumes me. I see spots and I shake and I jump at the slightest noise. Are they coming? Have they found me after all this time? I am a stranger in the eyes of the beholder. Nobody knows me. Nobody cares to know me.
I was eighteen. I was energy, unstoppable in my descent to ruin. The city found me, with its lights and signs drawing me in like a moth. That is where I stayed, moving only to keep from being detected as an abnormality. Friendly spirits tried to guide me, but they ruined my mind, so how could I let them? Somebody knew. As I resided in a park and I spoke to the trees, I was watched. She came out of nowhere. The bushes I consider to be nowhere. Just a pale face, staring with uncertainty. I had frightened her, with my hand motions and my exasperation with the demons. She saw me look at her, and she bolted like a deer on a highway. I listened to her agitated ramblings for a while, leaning back on the bench. Eventually, though, two more forms appeared, unwittingly stumbling into an invisible web as they crashed through the foliage, demanding to know my problems, my secrets. They didn’t even notice the spider.
Why I didn’t run then, I do not know. I was tired, I guess. But I was examined, and by all accounts I was completely honest during the examination. I told them what I saw, what I heard. They looked at me with pity and a small amount of anger, for some odd reason. They entrapped me in a white jacket, even though I had never harmed myself or anyone else in my life. My parents were frantic when I was found, and even more frantic when they had to send me away to “a safer place.” I know the truth. I am not crazy.
It was my apparition that got me out of there. This particular apparition was a favorite of mine. We never raised our voices at each other, and he never appeared when I was busy. In many ways he was me: calm, friendly, curious, self-reliant. He came to my rescue after several months of torture. The torture wasn’t meant to be torture, but that is what it was, nonetheless. He came with his hands and a key. The key. And so I took off in the night, with fresh scars and newly acquired static electricity as my friend. Needless to say, the last torture session didn’t come with any miraculous breakthroughs.
Now I live in the middle of nowhere, a crippled body after my veins began to reject the poisons they had pumped into me. There was no cure; there is no cure. I see what I see and that is all I can see. There was a dark shadow looming over me in a field that night. It meant a place to rest my head and hide away from the world. I survive on nothing but rain and the animals that nest here with me. I will never be found, and they will never know. Do you want to?
My ghosts are the thing that I shouldn’t know. Nobody should know about life after death, the ultimate secret. My secret.