I am. heavy. It’s hot and I’m carrying Sunday on my back like an unwanted passenger. I can feel the sun moving across the sky in my chest.
My ghost lingers just over my shoulder, just like you’d imagine in a cartoon. She’s tall with fair skin and a constellation of freckles scattered across her cheeks. Through short snippets, little previews of her, I know that she has a soft, charming voice laden with childlike innocence. She’s casually thumbing through the notifications on her phone behind me, suspended a couple inches off the ground, subtly bobbing up and down the way ghosts do. She yawns without taking her eyes off the screen. This is the worst part. My ghost, whom I spend the busiest parts of my week trying to fight, doesn’t know I exist. I’ve never met my ghost. Yet, her presence is overwhelming and colossal.
The dryer is broken (it’s been broken for months) so I’m hanging my wet clothes across a rope in the yard by the water, hypnotized by the the fabric swaying in the breeze. I want the scene to be more picturesque, as if I’m graceful with slender legs and as if my clothes look soft to the touch. They don’t. They look scratchy and faded like a sales bin at Goodwill. That goes for me as well.
I think maybe I hear my ghost sigh and it shakes me from my trance. She does this a lot, like she’s bored. I don’t blame her. She’s stuck here, encased in my jealousy and obsessive thoughts. I’m dying for another quick snapshot of her life, so that for a brief moment my ghost can become solid, walk around, dip her chin to her chest and giggle the way she does. I wonder if maybe my ghost is a cat person or if she just possesses the general qualities of a feline.
“Look, maybe I’m just upset because I used to be you.”
I say this experimentally, like I’m trying it out on my tongue to test the validity of it. “I’m trying to keep hold of who I am, but it’s like trying to hold on to a live fish. I’m going to drop it soon. I’m going to hit the ground.”
Instead, I close my eyes, turn my face towards the sky, and let the setting sun dance specks across the inside of my eyelids. My ghost doesn’t look, she doesn’t know I’m here, but maybe she feels the sun set in her stomach the same way that I do. Maybe she swallows it down her throat to pitch the world into darkness. Maybe the stars reflect her eyes and not the other way around.
My eyes fly open, I spin around on my heels. Like I’m going to catch my ghost this time. THis time. THIS time is THE time that I get better. If I can just wrap my arms around her translucent form, arms to her side, trapped in my intense love and need. I’d whisper apologies to her, for reasons I don’t entirely understand. “I’m so sorry for this. I’m so sorry I’ve made you this way.” Truth be told, she never asked to be my ghost.
She isn’t there, of course, as is the nature of my ghost. Always lingering just over my shoulder, but never quite in my line of vision. Bored. So I don’t embrace her and I definitely don’t apologize. I just stare at the yellowing grass, feeling the emptiness of the recently filled space, until a towel from the clothes line smacks me in the face. I grab it, tugging it from the line, and fling it right into the lake. My stomach tingles, but otherwise I feel nothing. I repeat the process with every single article of clothing hanging on the clothes line until the lake is decorated with my wardrobe. Old, two dollar t-shirts and shorts that don’t quite fit. The collage of clothing lingers for a while on the surface of the waves, slowly slowly transforming three shades darker as the fabric drinks in the water.
Maybe I can create, maybe I can do. My ghost sighs, doubtful.