Another Haunted House

 by Oana Celia Gheorghiu

Neither here, nor there. Her here is not where she is. She is there only because acted like you didn’t want her here. She thought that she needed a somewhere. An anywhere. Across felt like ersatz back then. It feels like darkness now. Mind void. She took what was given to her without asking herself whether she wanted it or not. She clearly didn’t: even ghosts make mistakes. Eerie, how things change with a word. ‘That is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all’, Mr T.S. might say. She just wants here. Here is where her heart is. The heart cannot be there. The green grass across poisons the mind. The heart is safely severed. Left behind: here, with you. Depression grows stronger in the absence of the heart, in the perpetual separation. You will not listen. Dearest. I feel certain that I am going mad again…

‘Here I left it! Oh, but here too….’ In the white halls with venerable computers that sometimes won’t start. On the narrow corridors with lowboys with old books that no one reads. Past glory and cultural intertexts. I belong in the past. On the loggia hazy with smoke, in the room the women come and go. Safe, safe, safe… I love being here. Loved, perhaps? No, love, though I don’t live anymore. Ghosts retain the ability to love, apparently.

Here is 60, she only had it nine. Time would pass so swiftly here. ‘When summer came—‘In winter snow time—‘ then the door slammed shut on her and the time started dilating. Three years a slog. She sought in vain for a place here, but she ended up there, adding locks to the door to her heart… and then she came back, beseeching. Ghosts can pass through locked doors. “Well, you can’t!”

In-betweenness. A vague sense of belonging in the garden, by the artesian well. Between here and there. Near water. Water is welcoming but it ruins perfectly drafted farewell notes. Virginia knew it. I don’t think a person could have been happier than I have been.

“Leave it here if you wish. Feel free to feel tolerated here. Keep haunting. Just don’t be here. There is good for you. Be there. From here to eternity.”

“I’ll be by the fountain. Maybe…”

Here is not available for the moment, please try again later. Today is only yesterday’s tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. Platitudes are so maddeningly true sometimes.

A room of her own in the attic of a dilapidated school, in another country, far from here, where she plays the teacher and hopes that she plays it somewhat like you. Just a humble disciple of the Lady of the manor. Otherness hurts, let’s replace ‘other’ with ‘former’, it has a nicer ring to it. Oh, but it hasn’t!

‘She’s looking for it, she’s drawing the curtain.’ You resume your reading without care. “Why did you go there? The treasure was here. You left, you left it.” “I never left, I wasn’t, in fact, here to leave.” “It is you who went there. Why are you still coming here?” “I love here. You.” But the door stays locked. Saddest of all – old lodgers still say that you keep the door locked. She ignores them because you are in her heart, because she refuses to believe it, no matter how often she hears it…

“Why are you still going there?” echoes from there. “Your there is my here.” There would like to be here. There will never be here. She doesn’t belong there, just as she doesn’t belong here either. Unsafe, unsafe, unsafe…

Here she left the treasure… the light in the heart still indwelling her mind. Still longing for here. Long years. Days passing aimlessly, turning into years. Still haunting. Still hoping. Still loving.

That is not it. At all.

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Note:  This text is an homage to Virginia Woolf. The sentences in italics are quoted or adapted from Virginia Woolf (suicide note, A Room of One’s Own and A Haunted House) and T.S. Eliot (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock).

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