I don’t know if ghost is the right word, but it definitely isn’t something of this world– that much I can tell at a glance. I sense something and suddenly wake up and there she is. It’s the middle of the night but the room is strangely light, moonlight streaming through the window. I know I closed the curtains before going to bed, but now they’re wide open. The girl’s silhouette is clearly outlined, bathed by the bone white light of the moon. She’s about my age, fifteen or sixteen. I’m guessing fifteen. There’s a big difference between fifteen and sixteen. She’s small and slim, holds herself erect, and doesn’t seem delicate at all. Her hair hangs down to her shoulders, with bangs on her forehead. She’s wearing a blue dress with a billowing hem that’s just the right length. She doesn’t have any shoes or socks on. The buttons on the cuffs of her dress are neatly done up. Her dress has a rounded, open collar, showing off her well-formed neck. She’s sitting at the desk, chin resting in her hands, staring at the wall and thinking about something. Nothing too complex, I’d say. It looks more like she’s lost in some pleasant, warm memory of not so long ago. Every once in a while a hint of a smile gathers at the corners of her mouth. But the shadows cast by the moonlight keep me from making out any details of her expression. I don’t want to interrupt whatever it is she’s doing, so I pretend to be asleep, holding my breath and trying not to be noticed.
She’s got to be a ghost. First of all, she’s just too beautiful. Her features are gorgeous, but it’s not only that. She’s so perfect I know she can’t be real. She’s like a person who stepped right out of a dream. The purity of her beauty gives me a feeling close to sadness–a very natural feeling, though one that only something extraordinary could produce. I’m wrapped in my covers, holding my breath. She continues to sit there at the desk, chin propped in her hands, barely stirring. Occasionally her chin shifts a fraction, changing the angle of her head ever so slightly. As far as anything moving in the room, that’s it. I can see the large flowering dogwood just outside the window, glistening silently in the moonlight. There’s no wind, and I can’t hear a sound. The whole thing feels like I might’ve died, unknowingly. I’m dead, and this girl and I have sunk to the bottom of a deep crater lake. All of a sudden she pulls her hands away from her chin and places them on her lap. Two small pale knees show at her hemline. She stops gazing at the wall and turns in my direction. She reaches up and touches the hair at her forehead–her slim, girlish fingers rest for a time on her forehead, as if she’s trying to draw out some forgotten thought.
She’s looking at me. My heart beats dully in my chest, but strangely enough I don’t feel like I’m being looked at. Maybe she’s not looking at me but beyond me. In the depths of our crater lake, everything is silent. The volcano’s been extinct for ages. Layer upon layer of solitude, like folds of soft mud. The little bit of light that manages to penetrate to the depths lights up the surroundings like the remains of some faint, distant memory. At these depths there’s no sign of life. I don’t know how long she looks at me–not at me, maybe, but at the spot where I am. Time’s rules don’t apply here. Time expands, then contracts, all in tune with the stirrings of the heart. And then, without warning, the girl stands up and heads toward the door on her slender legs. The door is shut, yet soundlessly she disappears. I stay where I am, in bed. My eyes open just a slit, and I don’t move a muscle. For all I know she might come back, I think. I want her to, I realize. But no matter how long I wait she doesn’t return. I raise my head and glance at the fluorescent numbers on the alarm clock next to my bed … 3:25
I get out of bed, walk over to the chair she was sitting on, and touch it. It’s not warm at all. I check out the desktop, in hopes of finding something–a single hair, perhaps?–she left behind. But there’s nothing. I sit down on the chair, massaging my cheeks with the palms of my hands, and breathe a deep sigh. I close the curtains and crawl back under the covers, but there’s no way I can go back to sleep now. My head’s too full of that enigmatic girl. A strange, terrific force unlike anything I’ve ever experienced is sprouting in my heart, taking root there, growing. Shut up behind my rib cage, my warm heart expands and contracts independent of my will–over and over. I switch on the light and wait for the dawn, sitting up in bed. I can’t read, can’t listen to music. I can’t do anything but just sit there, waiting for morning to come. As the sky begins to lighten I finally sleep a bit. When I wake up, my pillow’s cold and damp with tears. But tears for what? I have no idea.