I’m followed by ghosts who tease and torment me. They like to call me stupid and fat and no good. Sometimes, I let them. Other times, I try to cover my ears, but their taunts seep through the cracks of my fingers and pierce my drums, echoing those nasty thoughts, which make me feel I am horrible and bad.
My Nana says I’m crazy for listening to them ghosts. They’re dead and in the grave, and so should stay their words, she tells me when I come home crying and carrying on about who said what and how it makes me feel I will never become anything but my past.
Nana wasn’t there when those ghosts were real people who hated each other, and as a result, despised the combination of their beings which spawned me. I didn’t understand their anger, but I felt the lashes of their rage, whipped across the backs of my legs with that leather belt no one ever wore.
Nana didn’t show up until they were gone, killed by a truck that swerved left when it should have right, and in an instant, all of that hate I had known was a fine mist that cleared away when the morning sun stretched its arms and yawned. I don’t know who told her of the gruesome night, or how far she had come to stand at the foot of my bed as I woke and asked unabashedly, “Are you a ghost?”
Her wispy white bob shook with her disapproving glance as she wheezed, “No, I’m your grandmother. Ghosts live in the ground. Nanas stand at the foot of your bed and order you up and at ’em. We’ve got a day’s work ahead of us, and I won’t stand you lollygagging and slowing me down.”
I never got a chance to ask her about a lollygag because Nana didn’t make time for nonsense or believing in ghosts that said bad things to make you feel rotten inside. She didn’t then, and she doesn’t now, so I have to appease these ghosts on my own. Or find a way to get rid of them.
“A little turpentine will always do the trick,” Nana likes to say when she’s cleaning up a stain or grime off the floor.
So maybe a whole can of this stuff will do the trick, just as soon as I can pop this lid and pour out its contents all over my parents’ graves…
– Written on May 29, 2012