I'm posting this story, which was written in January of 2000, now in response to Jennifer's comment about my "Conundrum" entry in my "My Journey" journal. The theme this week was phenomena.
I drove back into that little town on a day just like the one I'd left 25 years ago. It was a raw, bleak, blustery day with the snow still hanging on in the shadows and with puddles and mud everywhere else it seemed. I checked into the same hotel although it had changed hands and names at least once in the intervening quarter century. I asked for and got the same room although it earned me a curious look from the desk
clerk who decided apparently it was too much trouble to ask about it though.
That night I saw it for the first time. The room had changed of course yet it was pretty much the same. I looked up from writing in my journal and could swear I saw her standing in the short hallway into the room. She looked just as she had the last time I saw her, her hair the same way, the same warm, happy smile. And then as I went to stand up it faded, the vision or apparition or whatever it was.
I'm no longer young now at 65 maybe my mind is playing tricks with me. I have just recently lost my wife and now find myself in a town I last visited when I had an affair a quarter of a century ago. It was brief in the scheme of things. We were in contact by email only a total of two years and only met in person one time yet all this time it has stuck with me. I should not be surprised to see ghosts, she haunted me ever since the week we spent
together even when she was forced to sever all contact with me.
The next day I drove as best I could recollect it, the route she took me when showing me the area so long ago. The shop she worked at is still there. I stopped and looked in but could not go in. I swear I saw her there, again just as she was so long ago, yet when I touched the doorknob the vision was gone.
My sleep that night was haunted by memories. I woke with moonlight streaming in the window and saw her on the bed next to me. Curled in sleep as I'd once seen her looking like a cat, comfortable and content in her sleep. Afraid to move lest the vision dissolve again I drank it in with my eyes. The pale skin was the same I remembered, the swell of her breasts, even the freckles looked hauntingly familiar. I ached to reach for her, to hold her in my arms one more time. I could feel her hands on me as she laid in my arms her fingernails tracing little patterns as she rested her head on my chest. I could feel her soft skin under my hands; hear her contented breathing as we just lay there enjoying being together. I reached out to stroke her…and there was nothing there but empty bed. Sighing and fighting back tears for both that loss so long ago and my more recent one I finally fell asleep again.
I drove to the park she had taken me to, finding it with some difficulty. It was much the same. Centering around a dam on the river that ran through a forest of evergreens it stood in sharp contrast to the stark bare trees in nearby areas. Shadowed patches in the trees still had snow on them and as I turned looking across the dam the other way there she was again leaning on the railing looking out over the valley below. Oh how many times I'd seen that in my memory. She had patiently waited while I walked from one side of the dam to the other marveling at the scenery. She had been so thrilled to see how happy I was to see these wonders unfolding in front of me. I stepped off the curb and sadly the apparition again was gone.
I drove then somewhat aimlessly, or so I thought, thinking of her. Was I crazy? I was not seeing memories, she looked real, solid, and I'd seen people around her that didn't disappear as she did. I decided not to worry about it. I decided just to enjoy it since it was more than I expected. I expected my memories to haunt me but not that. Still it was healing some old wounds as well as some new ones being here.
The road I was on looked familiar and then I was shocked to realize that it was "her" road. I'd not intended to do this. But there was no good way to turn around so I carried on. Then I saw the house on its hill surrounded by all that land. I stopped and looked and there were two people on the porch, a man and a woman with their arms around each other looking off down the road the other direction. Apparently they'd not seen me. She turned and looked down and I knew then it was her. She was older yet unchanged. My breath caught in my chest and I felt the funny sensation of fear and excitement that only something like this can produce and I quickly drove on before she could get a good look in the car.
I stayed one more day but never saw my apparition again. As nearly as I could figure I'd exorcised that ghost. I still had my memories but for the first time in a quarter of a century I was at peace with them. I drove back home to Florida and never looked back with quite the same longing again. That trip helped me deal with both of my losses and both of the ghosts that had been haunting me and enabled me to just move on living my life happily ever after, at least so far.