Last night I sat on the stairs with my ghost, the oldest friend I have, and I wore a white nightgown to match hers. Every year I look more like her, though this year I have grown larger, corporeal. I sat on the stairs and I let her place her hand on my hand and whisper in my ear, running cool breath across my feverish temple.
All of the portraits in this hallway have been packed into boxes, we will pick up our ghosts and move again, I will return south and dream of islands, my parents will drive north and find a home on a lakeshore, pulling cold comfort from a civil war cemetery. Sometimes I drive through Gettysburg on my way south, terrified of how excitedly people talk about when we murdered our brothers.
I talk in hushed tones and avert my eyes when I talk about the times I murdered myself. Too many tries in one year. Too many scars in one year, so this year I will cover the scars with words, write my future into my skin with ink as promises and reminders of where I’ve been. I will wrap my arms with beads and bands and carry the names of this year.
So many arms have held me, I tell my ghost, and you have kept me safe. She smiles and settles into me, I feel her shiver, I feel her eyes become my eyes, her skin become my skin. They will carry you forward, she says.
This year I lost the girl I once was. This year I carved monsters from my skin. This year I found the arms that will hold me tight.