A (haunted) home may be a reflection of my inner self
On the night I wrote the last page of “The Black Volume,” the strangest wail shrieked into the 2 a.m. blackness outside my apartment.Then quiet.The March breeze crawled through the open front door in soft gusts, as if hiding from the streetlamp in the neighboring hotel parking lot. I looked up from writing, unsure I’d heard anything beyond the confines of my own shifty mind.There it was again; a sound of pain, like a soul being twisted in the basement of another dimension.I set my pen down and stepped into the night. Barefoot, I picked my way over the sticks, gravel and pavement to look up at the castle-like silhouette of the hotel’s stone towers.Dark pillars contrasted against starlight in the empty belfries six stories above. Nothing. Everything seemed dead, no more alive than the buzz of the florescent light shining down over the shiny cars before me. And then I heard the cry again. My back bristled a bit. I definitely heard it – but it was no easier to pinpoint its source than it is for the wind. I stared up into the opaque windows of the lonely, looming gables a moment longer, feeling watched, and padded back inside, turning the deadbolt behind me.I returned to the page on my desk, puzzling over that sound while inking empty, mindless words onto the paper.I had a column to write – No. 7 – but I didn’t know what I was writing about. Deadline was falling on my head, and I’d started grasping at straws hours ago.When my pen reached the last line of the journal … it paused. And continued onto the inside of the back cover – a postscript I hadn’t read until now, as I’m trying to figure out the contents of No. 13.Some readers might recall that the true “Column #7” was never published. I missed that window, and I’d swallowed it as a loss to another realm, intangible to our physical existence. But here I am. I’m nearly back to that particular place in my life, filled with questions and aloneness and a building sense of urgency to escape a sleepy, rotting garden while I still can; before I melt into a steaming compost of apples, leaves and eggshells. I’ve been learning, however, that the only way out – the only way to avoid a kind of enchanting sleep – is to pay attention to a sense of truth and follow after it with all my honesty. You see, I couldn’t discover the real words to No. 7 because I didn’t have the courage to be honest with myself at the time, to admit the words that were really boiling inside me.I do believe in spooks.There. I said it. And feel a lot better already. Now I can move on from that blemish, that sense of awkwardness I’ve been holding onto for fear of judgment.I hope that packing these boxes for my literal move across town will be so easy. Wading through the detritus of trinkets and old notebooks has a way of pulling me down into the thick muck of the past. There’s so much of it – even after only three years in what has become my beloved home – sentimental crust is caving in from all directions. More piles around me with each day as I try to step forward. I get lost if I’m not careful, if I don’t remember where I really want to go. So I rip out the duct tape, shovel some of the more worthwhile reminders into a beer box … and strap it shut with a hasty, bundling wrap until the screaming voices are too muffled to bother me for now.If Norman Maclean is haunted by water, I am haunted by baggage. All those little bits of crazy add up to me, though. So I take them with me wherever I go. At least that way I know I’ve always got my world, my burrow to live in, to crawl back to when the noises outside are just too strange.Derek Franz never goes anywhere without his red-and-black book bag, which is mostly full of things he never needs. You may offer him psychological advice at email@example.com or 384-9113.
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