One of my brother’s ears folded over in a flap. He had held it that way for so long trying to block out or hold in the voices of ghosts, that the cartilage permanently creased. I remember him sometimes looking like one of the dogs, staring at some invisible thing just above me, one ear erect while the other drooped. Are these things genetic, or do ghosts choose certain sorts of people to show themselves to? It was sometimes called a gift, proof that he was protected and that by proximity so was I.
“You’re there,” I would say into the night, and he would answer, “You’re there.” Whatever else there was there was this—this echo repeating our presence back to us. Now I wake up and if I bother to say it, if I am brave enough to say it, there is only silence in response. A dog may look up at me, the wind may alert itself, but there is no voice to confirm me, there is nothing that speaks.
What was between us, what was fraught, was taken by the ghost. And this was all there was, I realize. We were each other’s accounting. I existed because he saw me, and we existed together because we saw the same surrounding. But the ghost was there for him only and its presence was a rewriting. To him this desert became ghost before sand, and so we could not both live there with certainty, could not know as before that when one was there the other was or was not.
One night he looked and saw only ghost. He ran away from me, away from the house, I followed him. I was not fast enough, and at some point the sounds of our feet were inverted, at some point it was me who was pursued. How long did we run?
Sarah Tourjee lives online at sarahtourjee.wordpress.com and on land in Providence, RI. Her short fiction and prose can be found in Quarterly West, Conjunctions, PANK, The Collagist, Wigleaf, Everyday Genius, Anomalous, and elsewhere. She is currently at work on a manuscript entitled Sam Says, Sam.
This week’s Wardrobe Best Dressed was selected Nicole Oquendo. Nicole Oquendo is an Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications, and the Nonfiction Editor of Best of the Net. Her most recently published essays and poetry can be found in DIAGRAM, fillingStation, Storm Cellar, and Truck.