But here it is, December's White Rabbit Story. I hope it was worth the wait.
Last night I saw the ghost again.
I was coming down the stairs and he appeared in the hallway, as bold as brass. Startled, I took a step backwards, stumbling slightly on the worn carpet, and yelled “get out!”
The ghost looked at me with bagful eyes. “No. You get out. This is my house.”
“Why are you haunting me?” I said, feeling bolder.
The ghost looked confused. “But it’s you that’s haunting me.”
Neither of us moved. A phantom stand-off. One of us was lying, but both of us was convinced that we were the one telling the truth.
“Just leave,” I said.
“I was here first,” he replied.
There was no wriggle room here, no space for discussion. I wasn’t going to back down, but nor was he. We had reached an impasse.
“I’m alive,” I said. “I know I’m alive.”
He smiled. “As do I.”
“So where do we go from here?”
He paused, blinked. He looked solid enough, but when I looked down at my body, so did I.
“I have no idea. We need something to help us get past this – something to tell, once and for all, who’s the ghost.”
The rest of the house was silent. Outside, it was dark and cold. Rain began to fall against the windows, but I could not hear it, only see it on the glass.
“I’m cold,” he said.
“I’m not. The dead are always cold.”
He grinned. “Oh, it isn’t going to be that easy.”
“How about an arm-wrestle,” I said, jokingly.
He nodded. “That sounds as good as anything, I suppose.”
I followed him back down the stairs and into the living room. The lamps were on, providing some mood lighting. The television was off. He sat down at the small dining table near the window and rested an elbow on the table top, flexing his fist. I sat down opposite and did the same.
I nodded. “I guess so.”
We both leaned in, ready to take the strain, and clasped hands. Or tried to. Our hands passed through one another, not making contact.
“Interesting,” he said.
“What does it mean?”
He had no answer. Neither did I.
Outside, the rain continued. There was no sound. Not the house creaking, the wind blowing, or the rain falling. I could not even hear myself breathing. Or him. I could remember nothing before coming down the stairs: everything prior to that moment was lost in a mental fog. It was if I only came to exist in that moment.
I wondered if he felt the same.
Silence filled the house.
And we wait still, sitting together at this table, searching for feelings that we cannot experience, emotions that will never come to fill us, lost memories that cannot be found.
We are both the ghosts of this place, and yet neither of us can remember dying. If we’re honest, we cannot recall ever living either. It is as if we have always been here, in the house, in the silence.
The rain continues. It never stops.
I do not believe it ever will.
©Gary McMahon 2019