ghosts

It’s a bad idea to become close to a writer because it hurts to know the truth about yourself. Your heart will be pierced. It becomes suffocating. At the age of eight, in the summer-time, I would swim at a swimming pool with the day-camp group my grandma paid for me to be a part of. Paid for me to get out of the house, interact with others my own age, gain useful life-lessons from the high school-aged counselors managing the camp. In the pool, the older boys would often swim up behind me, putting one hand on my head and the other around my shoulders, and dunk me. Every time felt like death. So sudden. I’d be gasping for air for a full minute after. The way other people speak about you when they don’t realize you are listening. The way other people see you. The words feel suffocating.

I stand in the mirror wearing a t-shirt and underwear, pinching my thighs in different directions. Change my mind every half-second, fat, thin, fat. Turn around, examine ass. Girl at tea-shop near work: I gotta stay away from your work, too dangerous, gotta watch my figure. Tell her I can feel my double-chin growing every day. She tells me to shut up. You’re just a little thing. Clench butt, examine cellulite. Turn around, push chin into neck, observe ease of double-chin. Lay down on bed feeling heavy. Always heavy.

At work, I’ve learned they don’t care a whole lot about who I am as a human being. They don’t need human beings, they need efficiency machines. I am improving as an efficiency machine. Feet hurt less than they used to. Co-workers joke they fantasize about breaking $30 bottles of olive oil, throwing hunks of prosciutto into glass windows, destroying everything. Co-workers bug me for slacking off during a slow period. Co-workers get promoted to managers. Managers bug me for slacking off during slow periods. Managers throw knives angrily into the sink.

Co-worker begs me not to quit because then he won’t have any bros left at work. All his bros have either quit or been promoted. Can’t be bros with a manager. I push my chin into my neck in the bathroom later, double chin, feel like a bro.

Feel my loneliest on the crowded subway after work, feet aching as I stand near pretty young student girl using her backpack to block anyone from sitting next to her. Feel my loneliest on my lunch break, scrolling through my phone contacts, terrified of each and every person’s name. Feel my loneliest scanning the room at a party, a few minutes after the person I was talking to told me they’d ‘be right back,’ seeing them engaged in animated conversation with another person, seeing them leave the room, seeing nobody else I know, seeing my own quivering hands holding a clear plastic cup of cheap red wine.

Beneath glowing green plastic stars, I can’t sleep much anymore. Dreams have become so mundane they blend with my waking life. I take the subway. I buy a coffee. I make sandwiches for ten hours. I have conversations about nothing. The people at my work become like little ghosts. Snapshots of lives. This is how a person shops for food. This is how somebody helps a customer. This is how somebody orders a shitty cup of lukewarm drip coffee. With milk, they say. My manager tells me to give them the whole milk container so they can pour it themselves. It is illegal, she says, for us to pour it for them. My manager has seen me drink alcohol before but has never seen me ingest drugs or skip the subway fare. The glass between us is tangible.

I spread my arms and legs out laying on the bare mattress in my one-room apartment. My thighs are liquid, spilling everywhere. Open a beer. Check email. Check bank account balance–double digits. Look at photos of my co-workers doing things together on their days off. They stopped inviting me out after maybe the third or fourth time I flaked. It’s depressing to spend all your time with the people you work with. Smiling in photos holding $10 glasses of wine. I live my life separately from these people.

Imagine becoming lifelong friends with someone. Imagine dying alone.

I pass so many people as a ghost, so closely but invisible. You can hug a person you don’t know. Say congratulations on your engagement, or I’m so sorry for your loss. This is just what you do. Words don’t need meaning. Words don’t have meaning. I speak less the more time I spend around someone. Throttle the words at the esophagus and hold them in the stomach. Only the necessary things. Enjoy your days off. I’ll see you tomorrow. Good luck on your date. The sunset filters through the brown curtains that came with my apartment. My thighs jiggle as I sit up to check my phone. I want someone to call and say they miss me. Then maybe I could feel weightless.

About Moon Temple

Moon Temple lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been published in Shabby Doll House, The Tangential, and Everyday Genius. She has written two chapbooks, I Saw A Bird Sitting and Come To My Ocean. She can also be found on Twitter and her own Moon Temple Universe.

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