by Rowan Marie
A woman attempting to cope with a loss, and the experience of losing yourself to grief
We're all Ghosts Here
I've been avoiding her room for days. I keep pacing up and down the halls, wandering from room to room aimlessly. Maybe I'm the ghost, waiting to realize that my time has come, and gone. Drifting through the beams of light through the windows, just another dust particle floating without purpose.
I haven't seen or spoken to anyone since the day she left; or I left. I still can't be sure. If I just spoke to someone, then I'd know. I could be certain that she was the one in the ground, and that I was still here. An empty eggshell, waiting to crack into a hundred pieces.
If I speak to someone though, she's really gone. I'll have to acknowledge that I'm still here, and she is not. The woman who showed me love, and wonder, and gave me this life, had lost hers. If I even open my mouth and say a single word; let any sound at all cross my lips, then she's really gone.
After she...left...I put all of the evidence she was ever here in her room, and I've been pretending it doesn't exist since. There is no room at the end of the hall. When I look ahead as I walk down towards my own room, I only see a wall just beyond my door frame. I can feel the cold, rough plaster, and the sturdy wood pushing against my hand, if I reach out. My mind shielding me from the tidal wave of hurt and anger that lives in that room.
I walk, and I walk, and I walk. Through the kitchen, with the sink still full of a week's worth of dirty dishes. I can't bring myself to touch those dishes. I walk past the grandfather clock from my childhood that dutifully chimed every hour, on the hour. It hasn't done that for some time though. No one is there to pull the chains and lift the weights up to their rightful place. Passing by windows shut tight, so as to deceive myself into the notion that there is no life outside. That it hasn't gone on without me. Without her.
I walk, and I wander pointlessly, because if I stop moving for even a moment, I remember that I'm alone. The house is empty, and no longer feels like my home. I am a ghost, and she is a ghost. No one lives here anymore.
If I can just bury her memories, and hide her things behind a wall, maybe I'll be alive again. Maybe I can return to the land of the living, if I just pretend for a little while that she was never here. If I could only step out the door, and use my voice, time would move forward again.
I walk through the living room, by the old dingy recliner. The passage of time shown in the small tears at the corners, and the stains on the arms. The shabby state of it makes us kindred spirits, this chair and I. I feel myself slump into the chair, allowing a rare moment of respite. A small stabbing feeling in my back surprised, and pleased me. It was the first thing I'd felt in what seemed like a lifetime of numbness.
I reached behind me, and underneath the cushion, wrapping my hand around the offending object. The handle was long, and smooth, with soft black bristles attached to the rounded end. I pulled the brush out from the cushion and stared at it for a moment. Lifting the brush to my own unwashed, tangled mass, I began to stroke. The tears came, and slid down silently.
"Mama", I whispered.