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A Head Full of Ghosts  
by C.R.M. Nilsson

The sunlight is bright, almost blinding. The world has been given a golden glow from the yellowing leaves of some plants, only broken off by the healthy green of other leaves and red of the berries in the bushes. The sun is shining brightly, but the rain is hitting the ground. They are clear lines as the drops hit the ground and splashes up, because it is not a mild rain.

It is odd. The sun is shining so brightly, yet itís raining rather harshly.

Maybe thatís what has drawn me out of my solitude: the oddness of the bright sun and the rain that hits the ground insistently. What has the ground done wrong onto the sky? Why does the sky want to punish it?

I step out and the rain slows down, slows down for me. I walk out from under the veranda roof and down the stairs. I stand in the sunlight and the rain is hitting my bare shoulders. My white shorts wonít protect my pale skin from the rain and I donít want it. I want the chill to sip through into my bones and marrow. It will be hell on my joints, but I donít care. Iím young: I can take the pain, even when my body behaves like itís an old personís body.

Thereís a saying about when it rains like this. It claims that the veil between our world and the one beyond is thin when the sun shines brightly while it rains.

I stand and let the rain soak my black shirt and the equally black cap keeps my eyes hidden. My body is chilled and the knees are already aching a bit and the hip is uncomfortable to lean on. But my head is filled with ghosts: memories and words and scents. I donít notice my body that much: too lost in the labyrinths of my mind.

I hear a voice, an eighty-year old woman, comment that I should be a model, to my younger Goth self, which is sort of preposterous since Iím five foot three. The memory makes me smile and the cap still hides my tear-filled eyes. I can see her smile from the heavens, but it is not her Iím waiting for this time.

My heart is heavy as the rain slows down. They will not come, not this time. Tears sting in my eyes and blink them away, raising my head slightly. I swallow and my throat feels constricted. Iím suffocating on emotions I cannot stand, but cannot let go off. Emotions are never a weakness and if I donít grieve, what would happen to my heart? Would it become cold and hard as stone, closed from feeling love ever again?

I never knew that love could hurt this much. My heart is over-flowing from it and I canít keep the tears at bay. I breathe in and in, but never out, getting light-headed from lack of air. Itís then when I see her, coming walking up the path. Her paws gently disturb the fallen rose petals, as the season for roses is almost over. She looks like a short-haired Alsatian, when she in fact is a mix between Alsatian and Border collie.

When she died, I was rather young. I made myself believe that she was not really gone: that she had become my guardian angel. Even as I grew older, I couldnít let go off the idea. Whenever Iím scared or in danger, I see her and she keeps me safe. She mothers me like she did in the past.

But itís not her Iím waiting for and she knows that. She always was far more intelligent than people credit dogs. She moves to the side, my dog guardian angel, and lets him pass her by. He is a purebred Alsatian with long, soft fur. It surrounds his head like the bearded face of a lion and his tongue lolls out in a friendly doggy grin.

My heart constricts. It hurts. But Iím smiling and crying, because he is here. Maybe he is a ghost, but he is here with me. I fall to my knees and embrace him. I bury my nose in his thick fur and inhale deeply. He is warm and smells of healthy dog, unlike when I last saw him. My hands move and I caress the silky soft fur of his ear, down the sides of his face that are equally soft. His brown eyes are so warm and loving. Iím laughing and crying and he is licking the tears away. That makes me stop crying, but rather push him away. Death has not helped him with the serious breath problem.

ďYou still need a mint tablet,Ē I complain, but donít let go off him.

I donít want him to disappear again. But I know that he will when it stops raining. Itís easing off already and I settle down on the ground. I cross my legs and reach for him, aching to remember him. He lies down and puts his head in my lap. I canít stop petting him and murmuring nonsense about how he is such a handsome boy, my favourite guy, the prettiest dog in the worldÖ

I keep moving my head down the side of his face: up and down. He faithfully looks up on me and not even the blinking against my thigh, which have always grossed me out, disturbed me. Iíve missed the weight that puts my legs to sleep and even that gross sensation. My hands keep moving, exploring, and imprinting the memory of him in my mind. The thought of ever forgetting scares me to tears again.

She comes up behind me and presses her warmth against my back. Iím surrounded by the smell of dogs and their warmth, which Iíve so missed.

ďI love you,Ē I murmur and look into his brown, warm eyes. ďYou know that, right?Ē I turn slightly towards the other dog. ďI love you too. I never forgot. Never for a second. I love you both so much.Ē

The rain is ending and I know that they will have to leave. Iím crying again. He rises easily and licks the tears of my face. She licks my cheek once and then twice, telling me in her way not to be sad. How can I not be? How can I not miss them so much that it feels like my heart has been rendered in two?

He barks at me and sometimes that sound annoyed me, but now it sounds so sweets. His bushy tail is wagging and he barks again. He runs off, down the rose petal strewn path, jumping and chasing what I think is flies. The way he sounds, it makes me smile. It seems like he will be seeing me again.

She gives me a look before following him. It seems like she is exasperated by his youth and enthusiasm, because in my head she will always be the older and more mature of the two of them. He always was so full of energy, while she was more sedated and would lay curled around me.

I donít move from where Iím sitting, even when they are long gone.

My heart is still aching in grief. But it feelsÖ I donít know; lighter?

I miss him as much, but as he implied with his happinessÖ we will see each other once again.


Copyright C.R.M. Nilsson 2010

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