ghost stories for october, pt. 1

She is haunted by the ghosts of her old friends and lovers--all the ones she didn't really like very much, but put up with because she didn't know better. They come every night at midnight, and they sit down in her living room, or around her dining room table, and they drink ghostly red wine and they talk about art and literature, with a capital A and a capital L.

They follow her to bed--one of the old lovers, usually, who has had too much ghost wine. He talks about his disdain for popular literature while she undresses, reads passages disdainfully from the latest Twilight novel while she brushes her teeth, crawls into bed with her and whispers in her ear about things he doesn't feel qualify as art. And the party downstairs continues, so loud that she can't sleep.

They don't listen when she talks back. Sometimes the ghosts will listen politely and then respond as if she has said something entirely different. Other times they will interrupt her and talk over her. On the rare occasion they do actually respond to something she says, it is never in the spirit she intended it: she is singularly incapable of convincing them that she finds all of this insufferable, tedious, pretentious, or repulsive.

She finds it slightly easier to ignore the ghost of her old lover joining her in bed, but even then the whispering, the ghostly presence, makes her uneasy. So one night she tries to tell him a story, and to her surprise she finds that he listens. It's a story about catching the train, about little coincidences, about nothing at all--certainly not the high art he is telling her about as he joins her in the shower. Then, as she finishes the story, he offers a contented sigh and disappears.

The following night he is not present, so she joins the ghostly literature club in the living room and drinks real red wine and begins telling stories. At first she tries the stories that are the closest to their vaunted literature, but these don't seem to work. So she tells stories about the trivial and the inconsequential, about stupid conversations and awkward dinner-dates, stories about the shirt she's wearing and about the first time she tried this bottle of red wine, how she'd gotten so drunk she forgot what it was called and spent the next week trying to ask fellow party guests what wine that was, and how she was never, ever sure if she actually got the right one but the label looked right so she decided it was good enough.

And each time she tells these pointless, inconsequential stories another ghost heaves relief and fades into the ether, until at last all the merrymakers are gone and she is a little drunk and in good spirits (if you'll pardon the pun). She decides to write a story that is stupid and inconsequential and dedicates it to her ghosts. And for the moment, this feels like the most important thing she has done in years.

1 comment:

Nate said...

Excellent, I love it.