I long to press my hands on the glass, to feel the cold against my skin, to see my breath turning the vision before me to fog as it mists the surface. But even this is denied me. I have no skin, I have no breath. I can only look, or look away.
Trapped on the outside.
On the other side of the window a family is watching television together. Honestly it looks a bit dull. I’m so envious you wouldn’t believe. Dull sounds wonderful.
Beside me Christopher is babbling away about… Well, I’m not quite sure what he’s on about today. I only catch about every fifth word. You see, Christopher died in the sixteenth century, so he’s like Shakespeare; I can’t really understand the words, but if I listen along for a bit I can usually get the gist. Today, not so much. It would help if he had half the depth of Shalespeare. He doesn’t. He’s mostly concerned with his looks, which is an odd preoccupation for a ghost if you ask me.
I turn away from the family and head down the road. Christopher trails along behind me like a particularly loquacious puppy. At the corner we stop to let a mammoth pass.
I’m told people of my generation over use the word awesome. Well, let me tell you, no other word really fits the experience of being in the presence of the ghost of a wooly mammoth. Part of it is how it looks; a ghost of a person will look roughly like the person saw themself in their head on a day to day basis, but it’s not like a mammoth has a particularly well defined image. So what you get is an enormous undulating black cloud of feelings and animal urges with the occasional trunk or tusk coalescing into existence; sometimes an enormous foot will appear and try to literally stamp you out.
It most certainly inspires awe.
After the mammoth has passed, I cross the road to my bench. There are no flowers tied to it, no plaque nearby. No reason anyone should know not to sit here. Still I’m pleased to find it empty. I settle down to my seat, the spot where I finally let the heroin take it’s full toll. There is a cat who hangs around here sometimes, roadkill presumably. Cats have a surprisingly clear and accurate sense of self image, and make for very pleasant company. It’s not here today though. Christopher sits down beside me and for once, he stops talking. We both sit in silence, watching the traffic. Watching the living.
Trapped on the outside.