People don’t believe in ghosts anymore. I certainly didn’t. I lived in a place officially registered as haunted, and I lived there for four years. I never saw any bloody water. Never heard the screams of the dead and the dying.
But now… now I’m back. Only slightly older, but with different eyes. Now I see the shades of the living. I hear the waters running – running under bridges and trickling down the bluffs speaking the memories of mountains.
I spend a lot of time here. No one wanders anymore. You can’t see the ghosts if you’re busy. You can’t hear their stories. We can learn a lot from ghosts.
Walking across a busy square; people busy like bees. In each of them I see a shadow. Someone I knew, smiling at me with open arms. They miss me. But I can’t run to them. They’re gone.
I frequently wander in empty buildings. I sit in a desk in an empty classroom. Every desk is occupied. All of them young men with sparkling eyes, full of mischief and challenge. I grin back at them and accept their challenge.
At the chalkboard too, is a ghost – is it one ghost? Or several? They call on me and my heart races to impress.
One hands me a paper; it is stained with a crimson “F”.
“I swear I’ll do better!”
He laughs – it hurts, but he is kind.
As I walk into the lonely hall, one boy chases me and grabs my arm. “You lied!” He hisses. “I thought you were better” My heart breaks as he says it over and over. He haunts me more than most.
A small dark chapel is at the end of the hall. I see two ghosts, one with a bleeding heart in his hands. The other ghost has a hand on his shoulder and holds a large open book. She is naive, but she will feel the same pain.
The other chapel is full of light. I wander through it for a long time. There are many ghosts here. I share communion with each one. The old crimson carpet is gone now, but a spectre is prostrate upon it – her tears running down the steps of the altar. She pounds her fist on the floor screaming “WHY?! Why are you doing this to me? My heart can’t take any more!” I see a bright one come down and pick her up, rocking her in his arms and stroking her hair.
I stand before the altar – this time a salty river is trickling down the aisle. It is brilliant and shining. She stands there, beaming and bursting with joy – her best friend has his hands on her shoulders as a priest places a diadem of pure light on her brow. In a flash they disperse.
So many ghosts in this place – too many to tell.
October woods are so haunting. The perfect place to hear a sad song. I walk to the spot. It’s force is utterly magnetic and unavoidable. The leaves crunch under my feet. I hear it – the trickling. I see the table. I can’t get any closer. It begs me for forgiveness. It can’t leave unless I grant it. Many times I’ve walked away.
But this time – I nod.
The sun is warm now.
I wander further, to a bridge of earth. I smile fondly at the two shades, walking awkwardly – not quite hand in hand.
Then in an orchard, one of them is the same. They lay in the tall crisp grasses under the stars, dreaming dreams that would never last.
Another empty building – lonelier than the rest. My fingers brush ivory keys timidly. The ghosts appear. We sing together and they seem more real – for a moment.
Ghosts are not always sad – but if you spend too much time with them, when they leave you feel more empty. Is it better to be busy?
Sometimes I wander just to look for the ghosts. When I find them they say “We already told you our stories! Go away!” And then, sometimes they sneak up on me, and tell me the same story in a different tune. “Don’t forget us!” they say.
So I keep wandering. Back and forth, to and fro, winding my way through the hills. I always hear that trickling.