We took walks together that had no destination. Sometimes they would begin at dusk and end just before dawn. Sometimes neither of us could stop talking. That, or one of us would be silent for nearly the entire time. On a few rare occasions, we wouldn't talk at all.
“Little black ghosts and September embers,” she once said.
It didn’t make sense at all and I didn’t ask her to explain. We courted each other’s uncertainties, savoured every apprehension. There were details about each other’s lives that strangers could discover with even a feigned interest and a few ‘aha’s and ‘mhm’s. These details, amongst other subjects, philosophies, and opinions of greater importance, we kept from each other in quite substantial fragments.
They were sealed in chests in dark corners. They were guarded. Watched over. Some, by angels. Others, demons. Flattering or not, it didn’t really matter.
That is why I didn’t ask her to explain.
There is no long-lasting love without certainty.
We never intended to be in love; we wanted to be in infatuation. This might’ve been the only thing we knew with certainty that we agreed upon wholeheartedly. And it worked. Though we never said it, I don’t think either of us experienced a greater passion for another person for such long periods of time.
I figured it out weeks later, what she said. Sitting atop a hilltop one evening, I saw what she saw: the little black ghosts. They were thrushes—common blackbirds—flitting about in the sunset glow. The embers.
I wasn’t sure what we were. Lovers? Stalkers? Not friends—certainly not. We had no loyalty, no consistency. None of the usual terms seemed fitting.
Not that I could ask her what she thought. As I watched the funeral attendants scatter across the cemetery grounds beneath the hill, I wondered if ghosts haunt strangers.
I hoped so.