Haunted. A word I have never been able to understand. As a child, I made up stories of ghosts and ghouls, just for the sheer joy it brought. But those were stories — made up fragments of my mind. Completely and utterly fictional. Now, I can’t decipher the word. I physically can’t figure out the meaning of the thing.
The cold winter air begins to seep into my bones, intoxicating my brain. As time goes on my eyes droop slowly, my light hair loses its color, along with the rest of the world. To me, everything is a blur of gray and black.
Most days, I wait peacefully for something that will never come. I clutch onto it like it’s my lifeline, my savior. Without that Something, I am reduced to nothingness. Maybe it’s the thought of his bright eyes that keeps me sane.
Occasionally I find myself lost. Lost from my mind, my thoughts, my sanity. I feel his presence again. I can hear his laugh and see the vibrant colors from the fireplace before us dance across his face. He had so much light, so much joy. He helped me see the colors after the cruelty of the world stole them from me. Now that he’s gone, so are they.
When is the end of this? When is the finish line of the pain and sorrow? It all has to end at some point. I hold on to the thought of getting somewhere. If there isn’t a reward at the end, then what’s the point? Why should we have to spend our days here, trapped liked caged animals at the zoo? There has to be a point. There has to. That’s why I hold onto the Something. It’s a trophy, a prize, for hanging on this long.
I wonder if he got a reward for leaving. I can almost hear his smooth voice, telling me the clichest of things: “My reward is you. You’re all I need.” I’m hit with the overwhelming, gut-wrenching pain again. It takes all of my energy and strength not to double over onto the torn carpet below my feet.
The cold air turns to warmth and my nose is filled with the scent of cinnamon and freshly baked bread. He’s there, in the kitchen, working. The whole thing is fuzzy on the edges, and I can’t quite see straight. “I love you, you know that?” he asks. He turns so he’s facing me. There is dough and flour all over his arms and shirt. A giggle I didn’t know I was capable of escapes me, which makes him grin.
“I know. But you don’t have to tell me all the time.” I have no control over the words I say. They just spill out, unstoppable. The corners of his mouth turn down slightly and he gets back to baking. I want to scream at myself for not telling him that I love him. For taking his I love you’s for granted. Now I will never get to hear the words again.
The memory is gone as quickly as it came, and I’m once again surrounded by cold and solitude. I take deep breaths to try and calm my mind, but it doesn’t work. It never does. Anger bubbles in my stomach and slowly rises into my chest. I can’t keep holding it in. I’m afraid I’ll explode. I face the place where he stood in my memory. “I love you. . .” I murmur. I repeat it several times, each time my tone getting louder and louder.
“I love you!” I scream. I throw a pillow from the couch into the kitchen, using all of the strength I can bare to gather up. The pillow hits the middle island with a dull and disappointing thud.
Finally, the tears begin to flow. They work their way down my cheeks and onto the couch’s grimy brown leather. I haven’t cried since the accident. Not really, anyway. Sure, I’ve let go of a few tears, but not like this. I’ve never given myself the chance to let go of the sorrow and the anger I’ve built up inside. This past year, I’ve been nothing but a zombie, trudging around without a word.
I clutch my head and drop to my knees. I whisper a silent apology, to whom I’m not sure. Before I stop myself, I’m rocking back in forth. Normally I’d scold myself for acting so childish. Crying is for the weak. I am not weak. At least, I wasn’t. But without him, I don’t even know what I am anymore. I am nothing, just a woman with nothing else to look forward to. No marriage, no children, no life. I am a lost cause and a disappointment to everyone else.
The voices and faces of my past dance around in my head, laughing at me. I see them taunting me for failing. For giving up so easily. I try to explain, to tell them what happened, but I can’t speak and they don’t want to listen. I think I’m screaming, but I can’t quite hear anything anymore. I’m cascading into a pit of darkness. It doesn’t matter anyway. No one can hear me. I am indefinitely alone.
I am tortured every waking moment of my past. The people, the experiences, the places. They all come back to me and cry and scream. I can’t stop it. Nothing can. I am lost, unwanted, unneeded. There is nothing in me anymore but the memories that I hold. I understand now, the meaning of that word. I know now that I am and forever will be haunted.
Morgan Von Feldt is a small-town, thirteen-year-old Minnesotan girl, obsessed with various different fandoms. She has had a passion about writing for approximately two years, when she began her journey through the world of fanfiction on Wattpad. Soon after, she began expanding her writing into different types of fiction. She spends her days either with her nose in a book, procrastinating to a new extent, reciting lines on stage, or scribbling down a never-ending amount of story ideas in a notebook. Most often, her mind is somewhere completely else than it’s supposed to be, and she has a very deep way of thinking and processing things.
Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.