Ghost

by Jack Wildern

As a child I was always trying to escape. I asked my brother to tie me up just so that I could wriggle free. As a teenager I broke curfews, wondering what it was that awaited in hours hidden to me by my parents. Never wanting to fit in, always looking for a way out.

You didn’t fit in either and I liked that. It was fun, escaping together. We found parts of the city that offered us a doorway out of our world and into other dimensions. Underground landscapes of noise and adrenaline that got into our veins and defined us as outsiders. We slept under the stars and laughed at those in their department store beds. While everyone else took shelter we embraced the rain, letting it run down our faces and into our mouths, tasting what the sky had to offer and wanting more of it.

But it got cold outside and you grew tired of being exposed. You tried to build a life for us and the more you created, the more I knocked down. To escape the comfort, reject life found outside of a bottle or a line. And then in the blink of an eye I was old and there were things that I could not get away from.

So now I walk and walk and walk. The more I do this, the more I become an outline. An image pushed to the back of the minds of people that see me. I go there to be forgotten. Replaced by day dreams carried on the breeze or trodden into pavements. Sometimes I remember faces or the sounds of names that were familiar to me. Sometimes I read the badges pinned on aprons and work shirts and imagine what it would be like to hear them say my name. I listen for the sound of passing cars. For songs that I once loved being played out of open windows or the wind as it pushes its way through alleyways and restaurant tables.

There are more like me of course. We search the streets, the houses and dark corners, looking for the things that we left. We scream from the shadows at the faces that should recognize us,

I’m sorry.
You have no idea what pain is.
Don’t cry.
I can’t give it up.
It hurts.
I’ve tried.
It’s just not working.
I need more.

Sometimes I sit on the hill and watch the sun bleed out over the horizon. I imagine the people below wrapped in neon and exhaust fumes, weighted down, fixed to the things that they want to leave behind. While above, the stars emerge through a curtain of purple, fading to black. The constellations hide in the light given off by buildings and headlights trying to escape the city. And when I’m here, your name comes to me. I say it out loud in the failing light and I wonder if you like sunsets. I never asked, as you walked away and the last light of the day cast your face in shadow.

 

Artist: Kids (1995) 

Jack Wildern writes short fiction. He lives with his wife and two children in Hampshire UK. You can read more of Jack’s work in Parhelion, Rue Scribe and The Book Smugglers Den.

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