Every year he came. Every year he drove out and stared at the house that was falling down around us. Every year. He was as handsome as the first time that I saw him, black hair waved slightly in the sun, now that it was dry, the rain had made a delightful mess of it that night. His eyes glinting in the set of it. Every year he came, and every year I stood here, unmoving, under the old oak. The ghost of me. Every year.
Every year, Daddy had chased another. Every year the shotgun blast sounded and they might scream and then they might not. I remember the scream of the horse the night that he shot her. Tripped in the wet and broke her leg in a hole. The fabulous blood bay that had been; now lay dead in the muck.
Every year I chose another and every year they abandoned me. Every year.
And every year, about three weeks after the rain had fallen in its unrestful torrents I would let him see me. I would let him see my rain soaked ghost hanging, in the setting of the sun that peaked out from under the last of the lingering clouds. I let him see me hanging from that old oak. The sun's last light shining through the shearing cloth of my dress. No blood ever came, and I knew.
Every year I left the rotten threads of the noose to beat against the bark in the coming storm.
The town said the house was haunted and eventually tore it down, displacing my afterlife. But I didn't mind, he still came on my twentieth birthday.
I wish he could have seen the ghost of me, the blue grey hue of the daylight and the inkier blackness of white that were my worlds. Instead, all that he could see was the curl of the apple blossoms as the summer breeze whipped them through the air and caught them up in my dark hair. Everything dullen, but every contrast sharpened, like the hunger of that night.
"Her skin is white as leprosy... Nightmare, life in death was she... who thicks man's blood with cold." The school boys chanted and their girls sang as they passed me: the demon that I am. Trapped them all, I did. Trapped them all... and tossed them in the swamp.
Calling Bloody Mary... mirror mirror on the wall, in which I can seen nothing at all. Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary. Turn on the lights! Girls giggling in the harsh fluorescent lighting of the mall bathrooms. Then the screams.
Every year, and there is nothing thick about a man's blood.
I walked the streets then, the wind blowing through me, chilling my white flesh, drawing ghostly tears from my eyes. It took years to find you. A ghost has a ghost's logic.
Forty years. Forty years and you are still here. Still here waiting for me to come, praying that I'd come for you this year: that I don't make you wait another twenty. Kind old nurse flicking out the lights, watching you breath. In and out, in and out, in and out.
Soft lips brushing your old cheeks: wrinkled and dry. You stir and I hear the creek of your old bones, but I havent aged a day. I blink and you are sitting up in your little hospital bed, breathing harshly beckoning me. But I cannot come. You must come to me. Come to me. This year, this year you come to me. And you rise, ancient and gnarled hands reaching for my ghostly fine fingers. Then the shell of you falls away and you stand as you did before, as you did every time: every year.
Soul of thirty bodies laying in a swamp, soul of thirty men to make one. Welcome to my world of colorless hues, but as you envelop me the color floods back in, and the light shines through my thin dress again.
I know love. I knew it for years. I knew it every year I knew you. Every year, I knew you, but you didn't know it. Every year for years.
The nurses will find you in the morrow. In the morrow they will lift your lifeless body, shattered shell, from the cold floor and raise it high on the bed. She will be shocked amongst her sadness. Happiness for you and I as the picture falls. Joy for you and I, the couple in the faded photograph. The smiling couple; her belly swollen out to there: swollen, standing under the old oak tree where a swing now hangs from a thick cotton cord.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Natalie's Response © 2000 by Amadan
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