Ghost Town

You are coming home to a ghost town. It’s a place you used to live. You can drive on your streets and walk the aisles of your grocery store, and stand on a porch you've stood on a hundred times. And all the places are filled with your ghosts. 

You begin to vanish yourself. Everything you’ve built starts to crumble—you’re living a half-life—a ghost life. You would float away if you weren’t so heavily saturated with your ghostly memories. 

Sometimes the ghosts seem so solid. 

Is there anything more simultaneously familiar and foreign as a ghost life? For a second you stand on the porch looking down into the overgrown grass and up into the sky and you feel like you could just walk right into a ghost and curl up and live there. It’s not that you want your old life back, no—it’s that you want to live with that heavy knowledge of the future. 

When you think back to what it was like to wake up in your old bed, with the pale dawn light crawling into the window, it was as if your future self was already there inside you. As if you were weighted down by those ghost memories already. Maybe that's why you moved around the bedroom every morning in the half-light, getting ready for school with such a heavy weight on your chest. It's hard to have a ghost inside you. You want to escape and you want to remember. You want to forget and you want to stay. 

But no matter how good it feels to imagine you always knew, you can't pretend for long that you weren't just as shocked as anyone to come home to an empty town full of the past. 

Ghost towns crumble forever and ever but they never change. They are perfectly the same every time you visit them. It only hurts so much because you are so different. Your skin isn't the same temperature anymore and every time you step foot in your ghost town all of your exposed skin shrinks and covers in goose bumps and revolts against the pure fact that here you are: your hometown.

It's only when you leave, on a plane or a car speeding away, forward motion into the real world, that you realize the ghost town isn't a real place at all. It's a bubble you hold within yourself. Your chest contracts as if it's suddenly aware of the entire crumbling mess inside of you. You realize, the speedometer climbing to eighty, that instead of inhabiting the ghosts, they have inhabited you. They've climbed inside, somewhere in your chest cavity, and they intend to stay there. 

August 2013

by Brittany Chavez