Tag Archives: ghosts
Enlightenment, a very short story
He felt awake when he saw her sitting at the bar, as though all his previous life had been a slow, lazy dream. She looked like a girl from one of those sex shops in Amsterdam, wholesome and perverted at the same time. Her hair was perfectly straight and hung down her back to her waist. Her forehead was a smooth, wide dome of innocence. Her flesh was abundant, stark white and glowing, spilling slightly over the waist of her leather skirt. Baby fat. He could tell she’d outgrow it. Regeneration was her game.
She said, “I prefer to travel alone, no fluff or chatter.” She spoke of the outer and inner journey. She didn’t know which was the more important. “I am my own mysterious stranger,” she said.
When they got back to her room, he saw how her bed was opposite a huge fireplace, black; it felt like ghosts were everywhere, but especially in the fireplace, coming down the chimney. The wind made sounds around the eaves and windows, such a big wind, it was spring but the wind was fierce and strong. Her room scared him, he would rather have been anywhere else. But he couldn’t leave, the girl was already undressing on the bed. She looked at him from under her fall of hair. The now-naked girl lay back on the pillows and smiled. He felt as awake as the Buddha under the bodhi tree.
A Few of My Ghosts Comment on My Recent Behavior
Bravo! says Father. It’s about time! he says. I was beginning to
think you’d forgotten everything I shared with you.
How could you? says Grandmother. How could you betray me that
way? Everything I believed in, taught you, gone!
This is just like you, says Mother. I knew something like this
would happen eventually. I knew it was just a matter of
Grandfather just looks me in the eye and shakes his head. He
knows exactly how such a thing can happen.
I never thought you’d have the nerve, says Father. I thought I’d
lost you forever, missed my chance.
I never thought you’d do such a thing, says Grandmother. I
thought I’d taught you better manners.
I always knew you’d do something like this, says Mother. You’re
so damned stubborn.
I was just hoping you’d have more sense, says Grandfather. He
still loves me, he always will.
Live as I would have, says Father. Live for me.
No, live as I would have, says Grandmother. Live for me.
Nothing I say will make any difference with you, says Mother.
You never would agree to live for me. I only gave birth to
you. I’m not someone really important, God knows.
Please be careful, says Grandfather. Long ago, he charted the
dangerous waters, entirely alone, no one to guide him.
You must always tell the absolute truth, says Father. It is the
only thing that will save you.
You must never tell the truth, says Grandmother. It is what will
You always were a liar, says Mother. You told the truth only
when it suited you.
Tell only the necessary elements of the story, and then only to
the necessary people, says Grandfather. He is secretive by
nature, and full of legal advice.
Don’t think about things too much, says Father. Follow your
heart. You know, that ugly chunk of muscle in the center of
your chest? It keeps you going, but for what purpose?
Don’t ever stop listening to it, the way I did.
I want you to stop and think before you do anything else crazy,
I know you’ve already made up your mind, says Mother. You never
listen to a word I say. It’s pointless for me to try.
There’s no need for haste, for immediate action, says Grandfather.
Is there? He wants only to protect me, I am
his dear flesh and blood. In all the family, I am the most
You loved me more than you ever let on, says Father. I really
meant something to you. Even though you’re suffering for it
now, I’m glad of it.
You didn’t really love me at all, says Grandmother. Perhaps you
didn’t understand what I meant when I spoke of love.
You only love yourself, says Mother. You’re selfish, you’ve
always been selfish. You’ll never change.
Love is not always the most practical idea, says Grandfather.
Let’s think instead in terms of happiness. He himself was
moderately unhappy for years — though so graceful, so
appealing, so charming in his distress, and every inch a
So, what will you do now? asks Father. He tilts his head and
smiles, and the knowing look in his bright blue eyes give me
I don’t even want to know what you’ll do next, says Grandmother.
Her eyes are red, and I feel myself wanting to cry with her,
cry for her, but I can’t, and this hurts her more than
I know exactly what’s coming, says Mother. I’ve always known.
Whatever you decide, nothing will ever make you feel any worse
than you feel right now, says Grandfather, and then he puts
his arms around me and kisses me with all the feelings he
never, ever would have permitted me to see while he was