my teacher said to us that if it tells you not to be afraid then you would be more afraid, that its better when a ghost doesn’t say anything at all. but i spoke to my ghosts. i held their hands and asked them about what things had been like when they were alive. and i wasn’t ever really afraid of them.
maybe that’s where i differed from other people. it is normal for a little girl to be afraid of the dark. and while i was afraid of what lurked underneath my bed or behind closet doors when i was younger, as i grew older i became more afraid of the blindness darkness brought, not what was concealed by the darkness. i was paranoid that even when the sun rose again, i would still be overcome by the darkness and remain blind forever.
my ghosts were never the same as other peoples’, either. they weren’t the fear of death or the haunting of a past love. mine were different, scarier even. i grew to be petrified of myself, of the abyss of my mind that sucked up any trace of hope like a vaccuum. i guess i feared one day it would suck my soul into it entirely. i was scared of the future, of being unfulfilled, of being perpetually alone, of being nothing. while i always enjoyed the independence of solitude, i was entirely overcome of my fear of being eternally alone. not alone in my house, or alone in a crowd, but of being so set on my indepence i so easily clung to that i pushed any and everyone out of my heart and didn’t allow anyone to make their way back in. i loved my mother, my brother, my best friend. but never too much, because my self-doubt always sat on my shoulder reminding me that they likely did not love me as much as they let on. i feared my own assumptions, my misconceptions, my lack of understanding. maybe everyone was not really what i thought them to be; what if i was not at all what i thought myself to be? what if this was all a dream, what if i was crazy and had made up an entire world and a life for myself in it but none of it actually existed? what if my real self, my real world, was so horrid that my mind and body shut down with only enough capacity to dream up another life? what if one day i woke up in a hospital bed, or in an insane asylum plugged up with tubes, in a hospital gown, with handcuffs to pin me down and matted hair? what if none if it is real at all? what if i’m already dead, and this is my hell? what if hell didn’t really exist after all?
all these questions are my ghosts. they follow me, crammed in the crevises and lowest shelves in the depths of my mind, waiting to be dug up by a nightmare or expository writing. not all my ghosts were bad, though. some of them lovely, hopeful even. they are questions of what lay in the farthest corners of the universe, or in the next galaxies, the next universe. what things would have been like if i was not the same as i really am, what i would have been like if i had been born a boy or in india or to a teenage mother. what if i had been a twin, or if i liked folk music or ballet or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? but they are still all apparitions. good or bad, they are all still my ghosts. they are not tangible, not solid, not anywhere near real or warm or actual. but they are real to me. they ring in my ears, they run in my blood, they flash behind my eyes. they occupy as much space as i let them, which is probably more than i should. they fill my dreams, my solitary thoughts, the words i type, the figures i sketch, the music i sing or play or write in my mind. they occupy the holes in the knit of my sweaters, the space inbetween the keys of my laptop, the air blowing through the vents of my car. they fill me, more than the water that makes up 75% of me, more than blood that runs thick in my viens or the skin cells that cover my body. but sometimes i wonder if maybe my ghosts are more real than the water, the blood, the skin. after all, an inch of the water that makes up most of my body can drown my in a minute or two, and my blood wants nothing more than to escape the tight graps of my skin and when my skin breaks, it does. they don’t belong on me and in me, they don’t want to be. but my ghosts do, they love me, the want me and need me the way i want and need them. we give eachother life, we give eachother thoughts and ideas and hold in the universe and in life itself. without eachother we would be nothing, we would be nonexistent. and that’s what has brought me to the conclusion that my ghosts are real, they are tangible, they are actual and warm and alive. not on their own, or of their own accord, but because they make up me.
they are me.