Somebody left the window in the attic loft open. A spirit walked in and opened the door. Finding nothing but the old dead smell of cats months gone downstairs, it returned to the attic. There it paced, mulling over some question that was never answered during its life. But it doesn’t matter how many steps a spirit takes, it can’t solve a problem in death that it was unable to solve in life.
The living take on the burden of unfinished, and unfinishable projects. I walked up the stairs, and felt a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there yesterday. My every movement is an echo of this spirit’s funeral keening. But I can’t help it, and it can’t help me. Together we make a good team, for the time being.
I scrub this house until I don’t recognize it. Oil every hinge, hammer down every proud nail, replace every gasket, paint all the walls. After its all over, when this place looks like a shining mansion, I sit down on the front steps and stare down the avenue. It’s dark out and too warm for this time of year. I am only wearing a t-shirt. The breeze makes the desiccated leaves whisper. And in that whispering I hear the spirit say goodbye in a language that only I can understand.
So this is it then? That’s all there was? It just wanted to clean my house? I look at the Jack-O-Lantern on the porch, and his frozen grin has no wisdom for me. When I go to bed, the eyrie seems empty, even of myself. I am not really here. I am somewhere else, with that spirit who wandered into my room through the window and speaks in the language of fallen leaves. I am just watching this life go by, but he and I are walking planes of ether together. It has to be. Otherwise I can’t do this.
The wind is roaring. The house rattles and creaks. Lights go off all down the street. This is the perfect time for ghouls to roam. So I walk down the avenue, watching other people emerge from their houses because they are curious or scared, or just bored because now they can’t binge watch whatever show they were currently streaming. Sometimes the gusts of wind are so strong that I can barely walk, or almost lose my balance. The trees bend and some look near breaking. Tomorrow morning I am sure there will be one or two trunks lying in the road, obstructing traffic.
For no reason in particular I decide to walk down an alley. I almost step on the body of a dead magpie. I inspect further with the flashlight on my phone. There are maggots writhing inside, each like a living grain of rice, wriggling with a rancorous lust for life. My stomach flops around and I keep wandering with the wind. I wander until I see and open window. I walk into the backyard. A golden retriever on the porch raises its head and regards me. But I am moving without steps now, and existing without substance. Neither can the family inside. Well dressed in their clean clothes, eating some healthy looking dish. There are two boys and one girl, plus mommy and daddy. They don’t notice me, because I am now only a spirit. I get bored and walk upstairs. I press up on the hatch that leads to the attic. The sound of wood knocking against wood draws attention from the people downstairs. But it is a windy night, so they pay it no mind.
Once in the attic I pace. I am thinking about some problem that I can never seem to solve. Every solution I conceive, I soon realize I thought of before, but dismissed as impossible, or tried and found that it didn’t work. My footsteps sometimes wake the family from their pleasant dreams. Sometimes they walk upstairs to check if there’s an animal living in the attic. But nothing lives in the attic.