Ghosts: Number 3

There was a small tear in the leather of the seat. A gash from some cut that had been made deliberately, meticulously. Yellow foam was oozing out of it.

“Like a wound”

“What?”

“That tear there. On the seat. It’s like a wound.”

Amy gave the tear a cursory glance. It didn’t seem to bother her.

But it bothered him.

“Don’t you think it’s strange?”

“Strange? No, why?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I thought things never changed.”

“Why? Why should nothing change?”

“I don’t know. I just thought that was how it was.”

“Nothing ever stays the same. You know that.”

“I guess so.”

But he kept staring at the gash. It didn’t seem right somehow.

If that small tear could appear it meant everything else could change and all he wanted was for things to stay the same. He just wanted to be here for a while and think of nothing. Just sit here in this cafe, in this booth, drinking coffee and staring out the window at the empty street.

He liked the feel of the formica table, the smoothness of it, the sound it made when he strummed his fingers on it. He liked the way the daylight shone through the window, catching little particles of dust in the air and making them visible.

He liked how calm all of this made him feel. It made him feel less lonely, less tired.

“You okay?”

Amy had a habit of bringing him back from his thoughts. He wondered sometimes if she wanted him to think at all.

Which wasn’t far from the truth.

She’d made that cut in the leather knowing he would notice it and be troubled by it.

She did it to remind him that he’d have to leave here eventually. Lately he’d seemed happy to pretend he could sit there forever.

He’d sit and stare out the window recalling little snippets of his life. Small moments that had made him happy.

On a swing as a child, pushing himself higher and higher just to see how high he dared go.

Running through a city, late at night, all the windows dark, feeling as if the whole place was his alone.

The weight of a pebble in his hand, a souvenir brought back by his father.

She’d encouraged him to remember these little things and hold on to them for a while. It made the transition easier. Made the fact that there’d be no more memories like these, less terrifying.

But he was holding on too long, holding on to a life that was no longer his, and now it was time for the waiting to stop.

She felt sad for him, sitting there, staring at the tear. He knew what it meant. Knew that this was really it and it paralysed him, made him grip the edge of the table as if he was checking it was real.

But the glint in his eye, showed he knew even this would soon be forgotten.

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