Why won’t you show your face?
I feel you, watching me, when I’m with my friends. They laugh at old memories and I laugh too, to show them I’m OK. That I’m getting over it. But when my eyes slide away to the window, you’re outside in the dark, watching.
But you don’t show your face.
Why doesn’t your smile appear at the glass, or your frown. Or your unspoken recriminations? Why does it show only sky and faraway stars?
I forget to laugh and my friends notice my searching eyes. They gather close. Do I want to talk about it? No. Do I realise there was nothing I could have done? Yes, I realise that. Am I recovering? Yes, yes I am recovering. Every day, I feel a little better.
You watch me lie to my friends.
It’s time to go. Home. Empty house. Empty bed. Unopened letters with your name on them. Cards with my name on: Deepest Condolences.
You wait for me in the street, somewhere outside the splash of street lamps and the roving car headlights.
Do I want to share a taxi? No, I want to walk. It’s not far. I like to walk.
I like to hear your footsteps following.
But when I reach the end of the street, you’re so close that I turn, looking for your face, but find only shadows. I shout out, “Where are you?” but you don’t answer so I call, "Show your face!”
Teenage girls at the bus stop opposite shriek with delight. A window opens. A voice calls out. Do I have any idea what time it is?
Yes. It’s time to go. I know it’s not far.
It’s not far, up the stairs, hearing them creak behind me under your tread.
Not far from the stairs to the bathroom, where your shape curls in the rising steam.
Not far from the heart, to the arm, to the wrist and onward, through darkening waters, to where you stand watching me.
Until we are face to face again.
This is one of my favourites because I think it works well as a portrait of grief even if the 'ghost' isn't real. It was the first story to reveal my (apparent) obsession with staircases that creak when people walk up them.