55. What That Space Feels Like

Because I felt like it:

A Thursday.

That’s when I find the old novella draft from Lin. Another one unfinished. I kept it because she allowed me to keep it, when I was afraid she’d throw it out.

She would have. Then it was with my mum for a long time, until she dropped most of my archived stuff here last year.

Fair enough. I threw out a lot back then. But I kept this and then forgot. … In the story a girl loses her sister who falls into another dimension. What kind of dimension? I don’t know. Another. But the girl learns to live with it.

She keeps the emptiness of the loss inside her, carrying it with her, instead of shunning it or trying to heal it or transcend it. Just letting it be. Lin didn’t like that. She wanted an ending but couldn’t think of one.

She wanted the girl to kill herself or get married to some guy she didn’t like or become a prostitute, but I forbade it. I said she should stop or give the story to me, and not make it ugly or throw it out.

And Lin just shook her head and looked at me like she was both sad about how I could be so naive and loved me endlessly for having said this to her, and tried to stop her – like a child trying to stop parents from throwing out a beloved but moth-eaten piece of cloth.

And the snow was falling over Columbus that evening, and from the windows of our coed apartment there was nothing to see but white and then dark over the white and then more white in the starts.

All of that mixed with the smells from the pizzeria down on the 1st floor, and the guilty conscience about assignments that were much, much too late and the warmth of good company and not caring and another glass of wine.

17 years ago.

I read the unfinished story again. Lin called it “Ghost”, but she didn’t know what else to call it.

Like the ending she couldn’t find another title. Just like her dreams of ever becoming a writer. She never finished any of it.

She couldn’t. For some reason. … I knew the empty space of the loss of her sister would eventually speak to the girl, if she allowed it to be there, within her. It would – somehow – become a link to the sister. A sense of her.

Even if there was nothing.

It would be the other part of that “Ghost” in the title and in the universes.

It would be a heart, because it would be the girl’s own heart that she dared to be with – wounded forever as it was of the loss of her sister. But she didn’t try to repair it.

She didn’t even pretend she could. She knew that even if she had been able to communicate – through angels – or whatever with her sister in the other dimension, the sister would be lost, disconnected, from her life. Always.

It would at the very least be like having a sister living across the Atlantic. You could only Skype, but never visit. She was gone.

And in her place was the doubt about where she had gone. If anywhere. If there was anything left but the ghostly space in the heart.

But the space could be owned. If she made the choice. It could be inhabited. So the girl knew the only way to live with it was to carry it with her.

The space.

Excerpt from my short story “Ghost Hearts”