Reilly Owens's Journal #1
I am visited by the dead these days. They come as heavy, water-logged ghosts on stormy afternoons, when the sun fails and we sit in spheres of orange incandescent light in our apartment transformed by the unnatural dark. We turn lights on before we enter rooms because this gloom is not ours, not like the ordinary night when the windows are open and a breeze blows in, bringing with it the sounds of a deathless city.
Sometimes they come in the sunlight, bright aching flashes of light that trigger the unconscious cinema, and the senses are tricked into hearing lost voices, smelling forgotten places, seeing the flickering traces of an old and unmistakable movement: my mother’s head turning to profile above me; a once-seen girl’s carefree laugh that was the short-lived promise of an everyday grace.
These are my ghosts, peculiar to me, that swing out of my past and shapeless future. They are my own collection of moments, my experience of the world, and I will offer them to God at the end of time. Here now, they haunt me—I am a quarter lived, with the real heaviness to come, when my heart beats dangerous. I have not been touched yet and I am already weighted with sorrow.
I am fallen out of the stream, adrift above it, untethered from the definite, lost in the infinite. I am caged by possibility, cowered and fetal at the foot of the cosmos. I may accomplish anything but victory over time and death. I will die, surely. We will all die, surely. In the meantime, though.
Even then, this brief life is too much. That I had lived with immortals; that the world was unchanging, it would be all right. It is the intersection of lives, the network of souls; these haunt me. I cannot claim this life. I am all of these lives, and every death is a blow, every absence pulls on me. In release, I have lost too much of myself. The dozens of souls that were me, the voices that filled me, the eyes that saw me when I saw myself. They are gone from me and I am limbless, half-man, see-through.
I am different without the others. I am a ghost haunting those that were left. I snatch their memories and pick at their dreams so I can populate this ghost world. My future is a long dance with the past, a false astral world made up of remembrances and ungranted visitations. These dead don’t come to me; I draw them up.
We are directed against ourselves. Would that the dream were appropriate: that of love forever and family inextinguishable. Would that the world were conditioned to receive us, that our dreams shaped reality. Or that we were better than we are, from the first. Would that it were not a journey but a home.
These brief lives are too much, so worthy as to be made worthless. Who could ever accomplish this? All these lives that want to sing at once but must play like an orchestra. I shined once, in 1996, and perhaps I will shine again. Meantime, my brother is high. I am happy for him, with my nose in the dust.
I am haunted by ghosts of the living. Perhaps the ghosts are goodbyes.