Haunted

I grew up in a haunted house.

There were corpses of a marriage hidden in the walls.

An imprint where a fist fight had taken place.

Old papers from lawyers of a forgotten court case.

One summer, a new bride moved in to take the place of the old.

And a few summers later, she was in the ground cold.

But the cops were invited to the funeral, and so the truth was never told.

The first bride of the house escaped. And the other never got to grow old.

You can find her at the end of Bridge St.

She’d love flowers by her grave.

A Summers Day

It was a hot, summers day. She went out to the field. It was filled with flowers, floral, and fragrant. She had a book in her hand and a basket for a picnic complete with a blanket that she’d grabbed from the attic. It was in one of the old trunks that no one did anything with so she didn’t think anyone would miss it.

She’d cut her hair short for the summer. It was too hot for it to be long. Her mother had been furious, but she’d felt lighter when she’d chopped it all into a brown bob.

Millie finished setting up her picnic, read, and ate, taking bites of the sandwich she’d prepared for herself. As she was in the middle of a particularly good part, a shadow fell over her.

Reluctantly, Millie looked up from her reading. She found herself staring into a pair of emerald, green eyes. “Charlie!” she gushed, dropping her book and getting up to hug him tightly. “When did you get home?”

“Just this morning,” he said, “walked all day from the train.”

Millie pulled herself away. He might have been a soldier, but he was still the butler’s son. Even if they had grown up together. She might have been the fifth youngest in a family of five, but she still had responsibilities, didn’t she?

She smiled. “Oh. Well, I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me, too.” He took his cap off.

“How’d you know I’d be here?”

“I simply had an inkling,” he said, with a grin. “Anyway, your father was kind enough to keep tabs on me the whole time. Always sent me stuff if I needed it and….”

“And what?”

He pulled something from his pocket. It was a velvet box, and inside was a ring Millie recognized. Her mothers engagement ring. Millie’s brows furrowed together. “He did say once I made something of myself, I could marry you. That is if you’ll have me. Will you?”

Millie smiled at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, and kissing him deeply. “Of course, Charlie. Of course.”

Endings

We are sitting in your dining room. The table is the same one you’ve had since college, a cheap wooden thing bought at an Ikea. The tea kettle is on, bubbling and boiling. While your Amazon Alexa is softly playing an old song, the title of which I can’t remember. It will bug me for weeks, until in the middle of the night, I’ll wake up with the title in my head.

“What are we?” I ask, softly, so soft I am not sure that you even hear it.

“I don’t know that we’re anything anymore,” you said.

And I grabbed my things, and left, as the tea kettle whistled. Like it was announcing the end of a relationship.

Old Gods

The old gods are pacing in their ruined temples, waiting to be unleashed. While some of them flicker faintly, ghosts of themselves, in and out of peoples memories.

“Remember when we were something?”

“Remember when you worshipped us from everything to death and grain?”

“Remember when you once feared our names?”

We are still here. Still waiting.

Fairytales are gone

There are no fairytales anymore. All that remains are relics, buildings covered in cobwebs, with carpets covered in glass and blood stains of revolutions. Shells of bullets left from battles fought long ago. And lonely ghosts wandering the halls and ballroom floors. Kings and Queens put to the grave, in the ground, where they should be. With a different kind of fairytale to take their place.

One without crowns and dynasties.

The Internet looks for scarlet letters

When people talk about Hawthorne, they talk about him like he’s this dusty, out of touch author. And sometimes I wonder if that’s because people miss the point of one of his most famous works and that’s why we’re where we are at now.

Hester Prynne gets put with a big, bold Scarlett A on her clothing. For a mistake that wasn’t hers alone to make. Marked forever.

And isn’t that what the internet does? It looks for scarlet letters. Sometimes deserved. Sometimes not. And so we’re all Hester Prynne.

Living with mistakes. Sometimes not even ours.

Cinema is a church

I’m not religious. Maybe because I never had any faith I could tie myself to. Maybe because organized religion has hurt too many souls for me to feel anything but apathy towards it. Still, every once and a while when I’m seeking something, I go to the movies.

The cinema. The multiplex. Whatever you want to call it.

I sit in those plush, leather chairs. Or velvet depending on which theater you are in. In total darkness. Sometimes with a friend, mostly by myself these days. And I watch the images dance across the screen. Light and sound moving together, capturing something that never was and never will be again. Introducing me to people and places that have never existed.

Delighting me, thrilling me, saddening me.

I experience the whole spectrum of human emotions in the span of two hours. For two hours, I feel something that I’ve never felt in any kind of church or temple. The feeling of, “Oh, there’s something bigger out there. And someone understands.”

But maybe I’m just sentimental. I am Californian after all. We make movies there. I think it’s in my blood to love them. Anything else would be blasphemy.

Two tales of one marriage

When I ask my father about being married to my mother, he talks about it like it’s a faded memory. Like he doesn’t know what was real or what wasn’t. Or maybe he’s hiding something.

And I know he’s hiding something.

Because the memories my mother has told me bleak, desolate nightmares. But if he told me the truth, that would mean ruining the fiction—the love story—he’s invented in his head. And I, meanwhile, am left haunted by the ghosts from the horror story I know it was.