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on loving a ghost

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Loving a woman (who’s been possessed by a ghost) is not an easy thing. Jamie tries her best to do it anyway. 

 

Jamie sees it in Dani’s eyes: the fog. It rises up and clouds her irises and Jamie knows that it’s not just Dani in Dani’s body. Dani is slipping away. She stares off into space, looking at something Jamie can’t see. Jamie sometimes wishes that she could see what Dani sees, that horrible faceless face, just so she could share the horror, so she could carry some of that weight in her hands. 

Dani would never let her carry it. 

Jamie tries to carry it anyway.

Jamie waters Dani’s flowers when Dani can’t find the strength to pick up the watering can. Jamie does the dishes so Dani won’t get lost in the water’s reflection. Jamie tells Dani that she’ll do them because she’s better at dishes. She doesn’t want Dani to feel like a burden. Jamie turns on the faucet and tells Dani to go get some rest (and it sounds something like I love you ). At night in the kitchen, Jamie scrubs and she scrubs and she scrubs, but her fear always clings to the plates like it’s mocking her. 

When the fog returns, as it always does, Jamie bathes Dani to make it easier. Dani keeps her eyes closed, avoiding the water and the reflective tiles. Jamie shampoos her soft hair and sings to her, doing anything to take Dani’s mind off of her body’s roommate. Dani smiles. A tear rolls down Dani’s cheek and into the bath water. 

One day Jamie comes home and there’s bath water in the hallway. It marches toward her like a river and she knows the tide is coming. She knows that they’re running out of time.

Dani’s face is dipped in the water and she’s on her knees like she’s praying, or maybe she’s begging for her life. She meets Jamie’s eyes and Jamie knows that Dani is approximately ninety-five percent gone. Dani argues that it’s too late, that she’s unlovable, that it’s not worth trying. Jamie thinks, maybe, if she nurtures the last remaining flower, Dani will turn into her own field of flowers again. Jamie hopes that if she can pull out the weeds that threaten to suffocate Dani, maybe Dani will rise up and grow. 

Dani would never let Jamie dirty her hands to save her. She wouldn’t want Jamie to sacrifice anything. Dani does the sacrificing and Jamie just has to hold her through it (until it’s time for her to let go). 

Jamie loves that about her, hates that about her, how she gives and gives and gives but never wants to take. Dani sinks to the bottom of the lake just to save her. She sinks to keep everyone else afloat and alive, buoyant and human in the shifting seas of time. 

Jamie thinks of Christianity: how Jesus dies on the cross, to save humanity, then rises up again like it’s nothing. Only three days later, he comes back. When Dani drowns herself in the lake at Bly Manor, Jamie sits with the news and she waits and she waits and she waits. Three days later, Dani is still underwater. Jamie keeps ticking off the days, in sets of three, just in case. 

Years and years later, it’s the night before a wedding. Jamie’s hair is longer and grey, her face has aged, but her heart is still full of Dani. Jamie tells their story to an engaged crowd of near strangers. Jamie talks about ghosts, about shadows that hide within light; she talks about love and how it haunts in both the best and worst ways. She talks about Dani: how she loved Dani under the moonlight and how she loved her every day after that. She talks about Dani as if Dani is still here. Maybe she is.

When all the people leave, Jamie feels a cold hand on her shoulder. She thinks it’s a figment of her imagination, the kind of hope that still tugs her stomach. It doesn’t matter if it’s real. The feeling of it is enough. Dani is with her (even if she isn’t). 

 

Living is not an easy thing. But, Jamie does it for her. With every breath she takes, she keeps Dani alive. 

(Sort of.)