The Memory Ghosts
It was the fourth day in the lonely house since she had gone away. She had taken the kids with her. There was a calmness to a place that was once chaos. There was a stillness to the place that we once called home. It was getting to the end of the day and the sun was just going down. It was a place that seemed empty when you walked in it, but at this point, he could be at a crowded train station and feel alone. I didn’t really see it coming, but now that I look back on it, I can see the signs. A move here, a prep here. Many different things led up to this feeling, and the feeling of neglect was thick in the air. Neglect of ourselves, neglect of the relationship, neglect of the children, and neglect of the animals. There was a peacefulness in the air that was completely and totally interrupted by the sounds of laughter. The sounds of kids playing in the backyard. The sounds of life happening around you. It was the anxiety that made him withdraw into his electronic devices. There he felt safe and sound. Ever since she had left the picture, he felt like he was using the devices way too much. He remembered back to where he was always trying to take a picture of everything and trying to capture life rather than live life. He wanted to capture hold it. All of it. He thought at that time that this was important.
He felt truly and completely alone in the house. The fear set in. So he said he would create a routine. Something to do to calm the idea or irrational fear that someone was going to break in. That someone was going to come in and kill him. It was a fear that plagued him all the time. And it was the reason that he was so adamant about locking the doors. This was the fourth day and he was not sure he would ever get used to not having them around in his life. But he knew that if he was ever going to get to a place of peace he would have to move on. He wasn’t quite sure what the definition of moving on was, but he knew that it would come and something would eventually present itself if he listened to his instincts. These instinctual feelings were swept aside while he was trying to save the life that he thought he had with his wife, and he thought that he had to fight for that life all the time or someone would take it away from him. His worst fears were now his reality.
A very weird phenomenon would happen every once in a while. While he got to see his kids daily, their loss had created something that was not really them, but was them. He was sitting in his living room drinking some green tea when he began to stare blankly at his television set. He remembered that they would run back and forth to the television set and place their hands on the screen. It was an attempt, he always believed, to actually touch the characters and the things they saw. At that very moment, when he was looking at the smudges on the screen, a very small figure ran past the doorway in their house. He wasn’t sure if he saw it or if it was just a memory, so out of curiosity, he followed it into the room. As he walked into the room, he saw that the figure was sitting in the corner balled up. The room has pieces of paper and various things in it that had been left from when his family moved out and he could see that the memory was crying in the corner of the room. I quickly went to the corner to see if I could console the child and asked, “What is wrong?” and she said, “Daddy mad.” I quickly remembered to when I had sent my daughter back to time out and she had said the same thing. I said to her, “No, Daddy’s not mad. Daddy’s here. Daddy misses you very much.” This child sat there and cried and I went to hug her. As I did, she vanished.
I went back into the room and continued to have my green tea, looking at the smudges on the television. After I finished, I went into the kitchen to return the glass to the sink. In the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out what I had just seen. As I went to the kitchen cupboard, I heard words and saw another little girl run around the corner, this was my youngest. She had the palest grey skin, and came up to the cupboard and reached out to me. I bent down and said, “What can I get you?” Another grunt, I reached up to the cupboard and got a spoon of peanut butter and gave it to her. She ate it and vanished.
I must be going insane. It’s something like that. I’m sure of it. I need some rest or something. I really don’t know what I need. I’m so lost right now. I need to just figure out that first step. That first step. That’s all.
I moved to the living room, and sat down on the couch. I could immediately hear cooking in the kitchen, and I could hear “Breakfast is Ready. Come on, Daddy, Breakfast.” As I rounded the corner and saw the three apparitions, grey in complexion, I sat down with them. This being the third instance of this, I could see that it seemed to be playing out in my mind at this moment. I could say anything, and they seemed to be going through this routine that seemed to have played out a million times in my mind, and I seemed to always be sitting back and looking at what was happening. My daughter wasn’t eating, my wife was running around and could never seem to sit down first and just eat. My little was throwing her food on the floor. This was our routine. And it was beautiful. My oldest daughter asked if we could go outside. “Please, Dad! I want to go outside.” I said, “Yes, absolutely. I have all the time in the world.” and I walked outside and I was by myself. I walked outside to the sprinkler that we would run through. It was dark and there was only the moon outside to light the area. There was only the moon. I went outside and sat in the middle of the yard next to the sprinkler. Just then, the apparition of my oldest daughter came up and around me and grabbed my face and said, “Want to play? Want to play, Daddy?” I said, “Yes, I came out here for you.” I turned on the sprinkler and began to run through it with her. I began to run through the sprinkler with the apparition just like I had ran with my daughter. She looked up at me and said, “Let’s play Cowboys.” and I said, sure. I picked her up and put her on my shoulders. And then we ran through the sprinklers. I placed her down. She looked at me. I looked at her. We sat down about four yards from the sprinkler and talked.
“You know Daddy loves you, right?” I said.
“I know, Daddy.” she said.
“I want to hug you.” I said.
“No Daddy, you have to let me go.” she said.
Just then, the little walked up and waived.
“Sissy says you have to let her go too.” she said.
“I don’t want to let you go.” I said.
“We’re not here anymore, and you have to tell mommy goodbye.” she said.
And with that, they vanished. A plume of vapor came out from around the corner of the building and humming. I walked around the corner and there was the apparition of my wife. She looked at me and said, “You look terrible. Come, sit down.”
“You’re not here anymore. I get that. But why are you hear?” I said.
“We’re not. That’s the point, Sean. We’re the memories of the people you loved most in the world. We’re fragments of them. We’re like echos, reverberating through the corners of the world. We’re energy, basically. Left over energy that is still here with you.” she said.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” I said.
“It’s okay honey, things are always good when you remember them. They get in the way of the things that actually matter. I’m actually hurting and I need your help more than ever now. But I can’t really tell you that, well, because I need to do what I need to do.” she said. “We’re the memories that are left over, and you have to let us go, because we basically don’t exist anymore. You have to let me go so you can go inside and see the final thing that you were meant to see.”
“What is that? I’m scared.” I said.
“Don’t worry. You can handle this.” she said. “Goodbye, Sean.”
He walked in, and heard someone eating and a fork scraping across a plate. He walked around the corner and there, sitting in a chair was a very tired grey version of himself. He was staring at his phone. He was not saying anything and was silent.
“Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” the apparition said.
“There’s really nothing left to say!” Sean said.
“Why? Don’t you like looking at this? At yourself?” the apparition said.
“No, I have nothing to say to you.” Sean said.
“You have nothing to say because when you truly look at yourself you don’t like what you see.” the apparition said.
“I don’t care what you have to say.” Sean said.
“You don’t care? Why don’t you care? What did you do today? Did you sit around the house all day? Clean it up. Pick it up. Do it. What are you waiting for? You asked for this. You chose this life. Pick yourself up. Do it. What the hell are you waiting for?” the apparition badgered him until he had finally had enough.
“Shut up, shut up, shut up! I know who you are. I know what you are. You’re that part of me that made me into who I am and I thank you for getting me through a lot of stuff. I thank you very much for all that you have done for me. All that you were abale to do for me. But you’re a jerk. You’re the part of me that is basically a drill sergeant. A damn drill sergeant every day making sure that I continue to do what I do. You’re the controlling part of myself. And I’ve had enough beating. I’ve had enough.” the apparition.
“You need me. You would be no where without me. You would be in that little town with no money and no food. I brought you to where you are. I made you. You would be nothing without me.” the apparition said.
“You have no power over me. Get out of my sight. I’m going to put myself back together bigger and better than ever.” I said “And you have no power over me. I don’t need you anymore. You are basically overblown survival instinct and I am going to live. I’m going to make it and do just fine.”
“It’s only just begun and I’m going to be with you for a long time. Get used to me, roomy, because we’re all we got. And I’m planning to haunt you for the rest of your life.” the apparition said.
The apparition sat down at his seat and motioned for Sean to sit down next to him. Sean obliged. They sat quietly and ate dinner as the two realized that they had a lot to talk about.