The Ghosts in the Empty Hallways
When was the last time you felt alone? Think about it for moment. I mean really alone. Like each beat of your heart was the only heart beat in existence. A moment when you felt, beyond all doubt, your thought was the only thought in the entire universe, ever. I bet you can’t remember can you. Of course you can’t but I bet you’re telling yourself right now how certain you are that you have been that alone, only you can’t quite recall when. Do you know why you can’t remember? Do you want me to tell you? I will tell you, if that’s what you want. Although, you would be a fool to want it. You are much better off not knowing. Of course, you can’t know for sure if it is foolish or not unless I tell you but if I tell you then it will be too late. It’s catch-22 my friend. Hobson’s choice. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but only I know for sure. Still don’t get it? Still not twigged what I’m getting at? If I was you, I would leave this page now, before it’s too late. What I tell you next cannot be unlearned no matter how much you end up wishing otherwise.
Ah! You’re still here. Of course you are. You are only human after all. Human and something else. Do you remember that time when you think you almost felt alone? When was it? Was it when you you stood in the hallway of an empty house, the furniture van outside waiting to be on it’s way. Do you remember the silence? Only it wasn’t silent was it. You heard the echoes? The laughter, the shouting, the music and voices from all the years you were about to leave behind. They rang as clear as a bell didn’t they.
Or was it when realised you had shared your last moments with your lover, only you had not realised that at the time. Think about those moments now. You thought you felt so alone when you realised the truth of it all. Of that I’m sure, but go on, think harder. Has the exact timbre of their voice and the smell of their skin suddenly returned. Can you feel the comforting weight and warmth of their body leaning in to yours. Has that forgotten longing been rekindled. You can remember every last they said can’t you. You are back there with them.
Or was it the dying relative whose last breath took you back to earlier times, when you could hear them singing as they pottered around in the garden beneath a blazing summer sun, or their soothing voice that once helped to dry your tears when you’d scraped your knees. You almost felt alone when they passed didn’t you. Almost.
Now here is the truth. You can’t remember any moment when you were totally alone, because there never was such a moment. You have never been alone because something else has always been there with you. My friend, we travel with our ghosts. There is never a time they are not there. They cannot abandon us, nor we them. They accompany us everywhere and at that moment when we expect emptiness, they take control, at least for a little while. In itself, you might not think of that as a problem. A wise soul, you think, will make friends with these ghosts and accept there is nothing to fear from them. After all, what harm can they do. Only, it doesn’t work like that.
None of us are saints. Sometimes, we do bad things. We say bad things. We think bad thoughts. In doing so we create bad ghosts: ghosts with whom you will never be able to make friends. Which means, you can never be sure of being alone, especially in the night. For these are the ghosts that will come in the darkness. These are the ghosts with claw hands to thrust into the fabric of your conscience like white hot skewers. These are the ghosts that will not let you sleep, that will torture your mind until daylight and even beyond that. These are the ghosts that make you wish with all your heart you had never done the things you did. Well my friend, you can wish all you like. Those deeds cannot be undone and there is no outrunning their ghosts. Maybe they’ll torment you every day for the rest of your life. Maybe they’ll just creep up on you when you least expect them, at you daughters wedding, or your anniversary, or the school reunion. So heed this, you will never be alone. Your ghosts can always find you and they can sooth away your pain or they can make you beg for a forgiveness that will never be forthcoming.
So now you know. You are not alone and you never have been.