When I was a little girl, I used to watch ghost stories on the TV. I would sit with my eyes glazed over, mouth agape and a bit terrified as the eerie tales were regaled to the audience. There would be stories of ghosts appearing in bedroom doors, or in beds and then they would vanish in the blink of an eye. I used to be terrified of this type of ghost. To think of them being there when I wake up, only to inexplicably vanish when I rub my eyes without cause or explanation, well, it used to give me chills.
Now, I am afraid of another type of ghost. A wholly different kind but that has similar attributes. This is the type of ghost that appears in my life and vanishes without a trace with no explainable reason or rhyme. Then I am left alone in the dark, where he used to be, blinking wildly and out of breath.
It is the modern ghost, the one that haunts your texts messages for months at a time, that fills your bed for as long as they want, who whispers sweet nothings in your ear of being together with you, how they have searched and longed for you, how they want you and then in a blink of an eye, they are gone.
These are the ghosts I am scared of.
The paranormal ghosts no longer bother me.
They do not leave me in tears wondering why they haven’t spoken to me in two months, but instead are happily living their lives. Their voices do not echo inside my head nor do their words play over and over in my memory. I would be scared momentarily then it would be gone. The modern ghosts, they linger.
You linger. It is in the old places that still pull at wonderful and now sad memories. I have to watch you move on, quietly. That is the worst aspect of social media, I can see what is going on in your life. You are ever present yet ever evading. As you no longer think of me, I am ripped open again by seeing your updates and photos with other girls. She gets to spend the time that I so desperately wanted to spend with you.
Was I not good enough? Was it the distance? Why did you just stop? Why didn’t you want me anymore? Why? Why? Why? When I think I am getting over you, your appear for a flash in my newsfeed or on my photo accounts. Then it’s like all the months of painstakingly putting my heart back together are for nothing. It shatters again and I am left picking up the shards, piece by piece.
You are a ghost to me now. Someone who was once very much flesh and blood in my bed to being some image on my screen. A forgotten memory, a blurry recollection. Yet, I still remember it all. You appear to me in dreams and while I walk the winding streets of Madrid. You keep slipping in and out my life, whether I will it or no. Sometimes I reach out and hope you are there, only to find an empty side of my bed. Being haunted is no easy feat.
But the thing about ghosts is, I can get rid of you. I can choose not to have you in my life. I can purge you out, just like in the movies. I can refuse to think of your name or your eyes. I can take you off my digital world and let my wounds heal. That is what I am doing now. It took bravery to face it, as with any ghost. Exorcising you from my existence has been tedious and I am reluctant to do so. I want to hold on to you, even when you are no longer there.
It is the memories and the ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’ that haunt me. What if you had never moved away? What if we had met a year before? Would you be in my arms now? Would you be mine? What would have happened? But…you chose. I have to remind myself of this. You came into my life suddenly and just as suddenly, left. I fought to keep you, even as you vanished beneath my fingertips. I tried everything but you chose to slip away into deafening silence.
So, here I am. I am alive. I am trying to be happy. I am slowly moving on. I am picking up the mess you left behind. When I think I have all the pieces, semitogether, I walk past the Opera Metro and realize I have left a sliver on the floor. The ghost of you hugging me and kissing me the very first time we met plays behind my eyelids. I breathe in and out. It hurts. I walk on. I wonder if I will be my old self again? I have my doubts because once you have had an encounter with a ghost, you are never quite the same after.