So, after I got divorced, and after I broke up with a girl who I came close to marrying, I was coming out of a fair sleep when I felt the presence of a woman, spooning me carefully. As soon as I was aware of it, she left. I heard the stairs creaking, and I knew she was slipping away.
I thought about it for a while and decided this ghost felt my loneliness match hers and she couldn’t resist crossing the line between us. She couldn’t resist at least trying to see what it felt like again to be close. One more time. Still, I felt like a part of it was also a desire to do something for me. To hold me. To care for me.
But I never felt her again. One night I was up there watching TV by myself, and I had the door closed even though I was the only one home. So, when someone knocked, or more accurately, when they pounded on the door, it was far more disconcerting than the spooning ever was. I opened the door and searched the house. I checked for open windows or a windy night. Anything that could explain the sound, but there was nothing. The sound had come from nowhere.
I thought about it for a while and remembered the urgency of the knocking. The determination to be heard. I wondered if she was trying to say don’t you dare close the door on me, but then what did doors mean to her, so I decided it meant don’t you ever forget me. Don’t forget that I was here. Don’t forget what I did for you. Don’t you leave me.
I have since sold the house, lived in another, and bought yet another. I got married, and, in this new place, I’ve never woken to a stranger needing a snuggle or heard the knocking from the other side.
I’ve thought about it for a while, but I don’t know what it means. Does it mean I don’t need her anymore or does it mean she doesn’t need me? Does it mean I left her alone or she left me? Or does it mean that she’s gotten what she needs, seeing me get what I need, and she’s content to stay quiet on the other side, resting in peace? I hope that’s it.
Al Kratz is a writer living in Indianola, Iowa. He is a fiction editor at New Flash Fiction Review. He can be found at alkratz.com.
Artwork by: Loren Gu