GHOST LETTER 41

Chris R-1110409 Image by Christine Renney

To say I have completed the circle and made my way around again would be going too far, and yet these city streets that I frequent and where I linger they form a block and it has become somewhere. A place I can’t help feeling isn’t so unlike the one from where I began, the one from which I fled.
Each morning when I begin walking this block, I pass a man who works for the city along the same stretch of pavement. He is a street cleaner and glancing back I watch him at his work. If and when he isn’t there I am thrown. It seems, fleetingly, that the structure of my day has been tilted a little.
But I keep moving, pushing toward the familiar until I hear the City, or at least this small part of it, coming around and waking again.

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GHOST LETTER 40

Chris R-0332 Image by Christine Renney

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not quite there yet but this place has begun to grate a little, to nag and gnaw at me. Feels as if I have conjured it up from out of nowhere and I’m not sure why or how.
A tiny square in a sprawling city, a city that can’t be contained. It is spreading and thriving despite the degradation, all the empty and dilapidated buildings.
I have settled here and I stay until I have the cash, enough for what I need. And in order to get it, I walk elsewhere, a little farther each time. And yet still I keep making my way back.

GHOST LETTER 38

Chris R-0098-2 Image by Christine Renney

After walking for so long and so far, the roads have merged in my mind. Just one route and, alongside the relentless traffic, I forged my way straight ahead and I didn’t stop and I didn’t turn. I do recall an abandoned stretch. It had been raining and in the bright sunlight the road had appeared fractured, its surface cracked and split, the countryside, left and right, lush and green but I am unsure now if these fissures were real or simply shadows from the overhanging trees. I pushed my way on through and moved beyond it, whatever it was – an apparition perhaps or an oasis?
At last the traffic began again to chime at my side and I forgot. But here in the City I remember and I find myself brooding on it over a mug of weak tea, or clutching a cold can or swigging from a bottle of cheap wine.

GHOST LETTER 36

Chris R-0226-2 Image by Christine Renney

Can alcohol still take hold? Get inside and make its demands? Or am I too full of holes and will it seep through the scars?
I have separated the can from its companions, freed it from the plastic ring and set it down in front of where I am sitting. Leaning back I stretch my legs out across the pavement and I can’t reach the can between my feet.
The others, the passers by, are forced to step over me and many of them glare angrily and I am glad of it. I don’t want some good Samaritan crouching down beside me. But if I sit here for long enough and drink myself into a stupor I know, of course, that this will happen.
What I want is for one of them to knock the can over and I don’t care if it is intentional or not, as long as I can watch the lager pool onto the pavement, the damp patch spreading between my legs and soaking into my trousers.
But despite their impatience and the scowls, the passers by are graceful, balletic even, and they don’t touch me and they don’t knock the can.
If I were to draw in my legs and reach out, snatch the can and drink from it would I feel it? Can I still know it? Can a ghost carry that conflict and walk with it?

GHOST LETTER 34

Chris R-0210 Image by Christine Renney

I have managed to settle at last. I sit on the pavement and look up. The buildings above the shops, once regal, are now in disrepair. The City glares back at me in the windows but one of the blinds is broken. Where the slats have fallen away I can see an old filing cabinet. It is standing just behind the glass and there are cardboard boxes stacked on top of it. I wonder are all the rooms up there like this one? Used for storage and filled with junk?
This is the busiest part of the City or at least it soon will be. I am often here, in this place at this time before it all begins. Standing I can hear the clash and clatter of the metal shutters being raised up from the front of the shops a little further along the street.
I walk toward this sound.

GHOST LETTER 33

Chris R-0314-2 Image by Christine Renney

I try to convince myself it is sudden, this want, this need. It has been growing inside of me, unbidden, a well without water.
How can I talk again after so long? Each time it surfaces I suppress it and resist. I could so easily run, abandon the City, and make again for the road, find that other place, the one in between here and there, where I could stand off to one side and, unheard, shout at the sky and down into the earth.
I look up, not because I must, or because I might stumble or have gotten too close to the edge and could fall into the abyss, I look up to see what is happening right here and now. But it is too bright and, squinting into the harsh light, I am hardly able to see. Everyone is moving so quickly and everything is blurred. At last someone slows a little and I focus on him.
I watch him moving in closer and he bends and drops a handful of coins onto the pavement in front of where I am sitting.
‘Thank you,‘ I say, staring down at them but when I raise my head he is gone.