There are so many ghosts here. Behind closed eyes they are brought from elsewhere. They sink their claws into the web, sending out images and stories where the fancy will take them. Such a ghost is “the boy next door”. From the hood of children in the far provinces, he blooms like a dusty river. His source, the street without trees; cold and shingled with litter of dead weeds along the sides. Unlike the other ghosts his smile never runs dry. Nor does his burden of embraces and their stories. My current encounter begins here outside the house with a white picket fence.
It all depends on the way he smiles. Often, dreamers walk up to him and sit and watch and wait by the side of the road for whatever his smile may bring: that night it brought me.
His voice beckoned, like a distant hiss composed like a hymn. It was more than just a call; it unwinded roads before me. And in the morning at five o’clock when I got up the memory was already waiting for me; humming faintly at the back of my head. Sanity had dropped its guard, and rivers, wild and barefoot, slipped unseen between the cracks, across the heart. I listened for his smile as the dust rose with the sun. But the roads were silent, only lies rattled through the undergrowth. If they were true, he would have hunted them down and set fire to the wind to make them come running out of the burning air. But the promises are long gone, stretched and gutted and pierced on sticks as a reminder and a warning to folk on their way out of the dark.
That is the only song the dreamers hear: lullabies from golden smiles bringing home what was sent away. But sacrifices must be made. And those sacrifices will be cared for very well. He will see to it. His claws invisibly sunk into hearts of gold swelling painfully into river rafts woven by a smile that never runs dry.
I wake in the morning with a plentiful catch of lies cleverly woven into memories still waiting, after all this time. In the mirror I don’t see the claws scarping along the delicate skin under my morning gloried eyes. I only see a smile that never runs dry.
*This short story/narrative poem is inspired by a dream I had.