Good gravy, Simon. Why did we have to do those things. Those things back then that ruin every single blasted thing right now. Like all those songs. Like the hours in your room picking out guitar chords and humming every single song we knew and having them amalgamate with the days of our breathing. Of our growing. Of our loving. So inextricable. Like the late night walks through Amos’ field and all the stars. Like dancing on the porch all those nights to the music that played from your grandmother’s records. Like all my favorite clothes, the wild outfits we would get at the basement store, the one where you paid by the pound, that have the ghostly scent of you clinging to their every hem and button. Like the books. The pages on pages on pages, the ink and glue and dust that was our world entire. Like the truck. Like how every time I drive it I find myself looking over expecting to see you shotgun with your arm out the window and your hat pushed back, that way you used to do. Like Ketchum’s and The Spider and Evanrude’s and the dad-blamed grocery store. Like how I can’t go to one damned spot in this whole town without being snagged, cobweb-style on some armed phalanx of memories of you.
You’re the ghost, Simon. The ghost we used to always be so afraid of. The ghost of regret. You’re this smoky phantom that shrouds every one of the two hundred million things I do each day. Yet you’re such a real ghost. Such a palpable spirit. You’re the ghost who brings me coffee on Saturday mornings when we happen to meet up at the dock. The ghost I played chess with last night as your wife read a deposition and we talked together of chocolate turtle brownies and planetary motion and the aces of diamonds. The ghost who still tucks my hair behind my ear when I want to hide behind it.
And somebody had better explain to me why I do this. Why I stay. Why I keep up residence here in this haunted house. Because I can tell you for certain that it’s not for the excellence of the sleep. And it’s not for the romance. And neither is it for the bright and promising future. Maybe it’s simply because I can’t leave it. Because you are the most beautiful thing that is likely ever to happen in this cracked and frozen world. Because walking away from this place would be walking away from all the light and wandering off into the darkness of the blackest void. Because I’d rather have the ghostly remains of you than the actual beating heart of anybody else. Because once you’ve had the greatest thing, there isn’t much place to go. After that. And mostly, I suppose, because it’s my fault. Because I left. Because every moment I’ve been circulating blood and oxygen and electromagnetic pulses since that one moment when I told you I needed to go – every one has just been me doing everything I could to turn around, and take it back, and make it right again. Because I guess all we do, if we’re honest, is break the things we most treasure, and then spend our lives on the floor with a bottle of crazy glue trying to piece them back together. Wishing for the impossible. For the broken thing to be whole, for restoration of that lost thing we love, for redemption.