A Story About Wanting To Be A Ghost

Allegra Messina

I feel nervous about everything all the time.

It’s hard for me to relax in the moments I am supposed to relax because the awareness of all the things I have to be nervous about is like a lightning crack in the way that it is impossible to pay attention to any other thing. In the way it fills up a room.

There is a vulgarity to all this nervousness, and I’m nervous about that too, because it represents a specific and objective kind of failure — a metric that lays bare the way I am not as I should be.

I hold my breath when he tells me a “funny story” because the last time he told me a “funny story” it was about some other woman and he looked at me like he expected me to laugh and I wanted to crawl into a deep, dark space inside myself and die like a stray cat you find under your porch weeks later and only because it has started to smell.

He makes jokes like this and I feel like I have fallen asleep on the train and woken up somewhere strange, where I don’t know the customs. I am a foreigner and all I can do is marvel at this breathtaking difference in the gravity we feel about a story about a woman who isn’t me — whether it is light-hearted or whether it carries with it a kind of rot.

I think if he had his way he would place his body on top of mine and wrap his arms rigidly around me so I can’t move and put his face on top of mine and I would be so hot with his sticky radiator skin and his breath on me. I don’t know if I am crazy for wanting that too.

I want to be claustrophobic and suffocated and have all the parts of him inside of parts of me and I also want to run away and be clean of him and have so many things exist between us that we never have to touch again.

I wonder if he even likes me or if I am just this rag doll he arranges in the way he wants a girl to be arranged.

Becoming close to a man is like this impulse that lives inside me and every girl, I think, where I want to wear baggy clothes and let my hair fall in my eyes so no one can see me and walk this earth like I am unseen and anonymous and then maybe no one would hurt me. And if someone notices me they will pity me because I am a small girl who is doing her best to claw at this life, to simply take hold of something and not be swallowed up. I want to be away from him while also being with him. I want to disappear so that I can survive but I want to survive while my nose is pressed against his neck, so that I can smell him every time I inhale.

I want to be a ghost so that I can haunt him all the time while knowing that he can reach out all he wants, but never be able to touch me. (But never be able to hurt me).

I don’t want to think the worst things about men like this.

I just don’t know how to not be so hopeful that I am playing pretend or so insecure that I am clinging like an octopus to whatever happens to touch me.

I am afraid to swim with him, I am afraid I might cause him to drown. I am afraid he might drown me. I am afraid he might be indifferent to my drowning. I am afraid because drowning is for people who can’t swim and I should know better than that.

I am afraid of so many things.

I am afraid.

I am afraid.

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