Darkness has swathed the room in inky blackness thick enough that- if I didn’t know I’d been staring into it for hours- would make me think my eyes were closed. It’s quiet but for the full throated chorus of insects. The quiet is a door. Ghosts enter and hang in the dark corners, heavy drapery that whip and whirl in the shadows.
These are the haunting hours. The silent stretch between midnight and dawn when the specter of all the people you used to be, everyone you used to know, everything you used to feel sure of, come back to knead phantom fingers into the still tender places they left.
It’s partially my fault. I erect shrines to the dead, turning over every tome and touch in sacred memoriam. I dissect the cadavers with careful hands and sharp blades and wash the cold skin of the memories clean. I file away the discoveries that visit me in the graveyard of the day carefully; did you notice this? Did you see that? What did it mean? How did you miss it? What are you missing?
I remember everything.
I know now, as I didn’t once upon a time, that I’ll be fine. There will come a time that the body laid out on my table will have given me all it has to give. Eventually there will be no more questions to answer or clues to find in the bones. I’ll close them in a cold drawer I only revisit to send them to their burial. The sun will rise and the spirits will dissipate. All will go on.
But every once in awhile, my skin will prickle at a wraith that has risen. It’ll unearth itself from its grave and visit with its questions. It will ask me to remember, to offer it seance.
My work is to offer it no more altars or candles, no prayers or spells cast despairingly at its feet. To instead heave fresh earth over its resting place. It’s dead to me. I will try to remember to mourn the part of me buried in the grave along with it.
I stare back into the black defiant, unable to sleep but unwilling to be haunted either. There is no point in pretending it doesn’t hurt. That I do not wish and wonder and yearn for it’s miraculous resurrection. It’s not yet laid to rest, but still I will it back to wherever fresh hell from whence it came, with conviction I don’t quite yet feel but hope to convince myself of by sunrise.