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Bunch

as I grew older. When I was twelve he first announced himself by banging into a dresser, as if he had accidentally stumbled against it. My antique dresser shuddered slightly with the impact. Bottles of Youth Dew and White Shoulders clinked against a pink china box of my grandmother's displaying a Victorian couple under a spreading willow. Sometimes he did it hard enough he knocked a bottle over. I was usually reading. I would look up at the noise and realize who it was just as the hair on the back of my neck did, a hazy mirror reflected only myself in an empty, iron bed in the lamplight. He liked to sit at the foot of the bed. The presence of him causing the steel springs to creak as a strange weight came over me. He sighed a lot. His sighs heavy and sad as his invisible density. Deep and breathy. However, beyond whatever terror I felt at his presence, there was one thing I always thought. Asshole. "I love you," he said to me once. I was sixteen. His voice was clear and calm, almost kind. A man's voice, loud, directly by my right ear. I leapt from bed, ripped my door open, and stood in the hall debating who I should wake first. Come quick, a ghost is in love with me! This didn't seem like a feasible option, not because no one else would believe me, but because I was embarrassed by what the ghost had said, something no living male had ever told me. The imposition made me angry, and what's more, I didn't believe in the sincerity of his declaration. To my sister Sarah he said, "I can see you but you can't see me," as he hovered in a dark lump at the foot of her bed, outlined against the moonlit window. She awoke from a bad nightmare and groped for her glasses. The thing was still there. It repeated itself slowly to make certain she heard him, the mass of it blocking the glow from the moonlight. Twenty-one years later she still has difficulty speaking about it. To my mother he would do the sighing routine as he sat on the bed, or whisper the same word into her ear over and over again. "Prepare," he liked to tell her. My father is completely deaf in one ear and he wears a hearing aid in the other. He has never heard the ghost, but he does see the lights. "What do you think it wants?" I asked my mother. Although she didn't have a theory, she liked to associate the ghost with her religious beliefs, thinking maybe it was some kind of angel come to tell her to ready herself for a great undertaking or impending tragedy. "That's no angel," I said. "Look what it did to Sarah." I didn't tell her the ghost made me feel dirty, like an old man was sitting in the corner every night playing with himself while I got undressed. Whatever it wanted from me didn't feel clean. Plus, its approach with each of us was entirely different, like it had been watching us trying to figure out which routine would have the greatest impact upon whom. Its motivations seemed to be to toy with us individually and throw in an occasional light display for a group show. The ghost really needed, wanted, 32

Fugue 31 - Summer/Fall 2006 (No. 31)  

The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho

Fugue 31 - Summer/Fall 2006 (No. 31)  

The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho