Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.
Mary is here. The walls bearing the echo of her shadow are cold. She wears a calico dress with little white and yellow flowers. Her auburn hair is pulled back at the top. The rest frames her porcelain face. She used to play in the trees behind the house. Then the Comanche still considered the plains their home. She was twelve when she died. She comes at night sometimes to look at the living. She stands by their bed with her hands at her sides. She is not frightening. There is a certain sadness in her eyes. The kind that can only be felt by those disappointed at having died before having lived. She likes to play jokes. She can mimic the voices of children. A mother swears she heard her daughter’s voice. The child is at school. Mary giggles.
There is a man here too. The floor is dirty where he sits. He is a wanderer. His name is marred by his deeds. He came in the night asking for shelter and a meal. He was driven by a darker hunger. He was tortured by demons. In the end he submitted. Sadness carved lines on his face as he discarded the last shred of his humanity. The girl struggled against his torn clothes and clung to hope. The demons laughed. He died when he was forty-nine. The spade of a hard swung shovel crushed his skull. The man with the shovel had a daughter. Her name was Mary.
A father stands to the side of the old house. The roof is failing. He mourns its decay. He is holding a spade. He doesn’t know why. His sadness permeates his bones. He lived for a while after the time that stole his memory. When he died he was 67. He felt older. An ache gnawed at his mind. He finally succumbed. He had lost something, tragically. He died not knowing what.
There is a another ghost that haunts this house. In life it is known as innocence. Sadness replaces its loss. Sadness is its ghost. It lingers in the walls, covers the floor and drapes the roof. As you enter the house the air is filled with the sweet and nutty aroma of weathered wood, petrichor and inanition. Sadness has a character when it is allowed to fill a void. A decrepit trait. It destroys light. Doors can be opened, windows unshuttered. But the darkness that accompanies sadness is a force all its own.