Chessboards Made of Wishes and Smoke

An afternoon sun walked in the blue of the cloudless sky.

We sat there together, quiet at the table, our hot drinks breathing upwards from their nests inside the coffee mugs.

I wanted to know, “why?”. Why should I care about the nature of “certainty”? What do the ghosts want, why do they rake my cheek with cold, raw fingerbones while I try to sleep, in the slow hours of the night, muttering in sotto voce things about knowledge and observation, things I barely understand even when I have the chance to fully to attend to them with a waking mind.

“They want you to tell their story, young and foolish as you are, they want you to speak for them,” mumbled my friend through fat aged lips, dark eyes glittering in the recesses of his wrinkles. “Listen to their moans, write them down on that pad of yours,” he said, tapping a yellow legal pad lying in front of me.

I looked at the pad, and imagined dictating a banshee’s wails, using lots of vowels and exclamation points.

The old man frowned. He unhooked his right forefinger from his coffee cup, grabbed the edge of the table with both hands, and leaned forward.

“Write their story down. You don’t want them to forget you again, like they did before, when you kept pulling the bedcovers over your head as they whispered to you at dawn?” Suddenly the old one looked almost afraid. He leaned back in his chair and put his hands on his lap, working the fingers against each other. “You can feel terrified. You can do whatever you want. But don’t go back to zombie land. You’ll regret it, and the wrong kind of emptiness will fill you with amnesia. Just write a little bit for them, and they’ll stop for a while. You’ll get enough peace to feel ready for when they visit again. They do care for you, after all, as much as their kind can.”

I tapped my capped pen against the yellow of the pad, thoughtfully.

Written by Willem