The office bathroom
Picture this: you’re in the bathroom, trying to rinse off your hands, but the automatic faucet won’t acknowledge your existence.
Can you imagine being stuck in a public bathroom for all of eternity, overhearing tears and inconsiderate conversations and other private moments we all pretend not to hear for all of eternity? Awful, right?
But what if you instead were stuck in line at the DMV,
Or the bank? Or a car wash or the post office or your commute or
The grocery store?
You know, all those places where the minutes last an eternity, but an hour disappears forever in the blink of an eye? A chill in the bread aisle instead of frozen foods? A malfunctioning vegetable sprayer? The options are endless.
Unlike in your hometown
You know where.
Let me elaborate: that diner you spent almost every weekend at in high school, drinking weak lukewarm coffee and thinking you were tipping well but really you probably weren’t
Is it really the thought that counts? I guess it might be. After all, what is a ghost but a memory, and what is a memory but a thought?
Don’t feel too bad, kid. You were calculating off the total, not the time. The young ones always think that’s an endless supply, or at least long enough that it may as well be.
Or that defunct website that you wasted way too much time on from the ages 12 to 15
Don’t think about the mechanics of it. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
You’d come home from school and check to make sure your mom wasn’t on the phone and she never was, which you realize now must have been intentional, like she knew you needed it, needed time to be away from the real world, to be someone else, to be away from the yourself you put on every day, and then you’d wait for the computer to start up because your dad was a stickler for turning it off every night, just like the lights, because you’re not paying to light up the neighborhood even though it was just the dining room, and then you’d wait for the dial-up to screech its song and then you’d make sure no one else was around, even though you weren’t doing anything wrong but the hiding made it better, and you’d put up your carefully crafted away message and sit back and wait to see if anyone knew enough to message you despite it.
Even more specifically, the stop sign near the corner where you had your first kiss or, alternately, first big fight with a friend
You don’t even remember what the fight was about anymore. You barely knew at the time. It was really about feeling jealous, too young, left behind. You were growing up and growing apart and it hurt. And you didn’t have the words to explain it, so you had loud words about something else, something stupid, and you made up but things were never really the same again.
Oh yeah, this is supposed to be about ghosts, isn’t it? Maybe once you saw a shadowy figure by the stop sign out of the corner of your eye. Or maybe you felt a chill under the streetlight in the middle of summer.
Or maybe when you were young, you were just always bumping up against all the ghosts of people you used to be, and the ghosts of people you wished you were, and what no one tells you is that life is about figuring out just how to live with all those different ghosts.