By George Economou
Of lovers past
A candlelit, romantic dinner,
after which she walked away, thanks
to his old, bad habits... A long walk and an even longer night, followed by a
deep, heartfelt conversation, the pouring of heart into soul; then, the
stabbing pain, and he had to walk away, even if he didn’t want to—a dead man
lost amongst the living, who, instead of a heart, had a lump of coal, and it
was alright, for he needed no warmth to keep his soul alive.
Nothing is worse
than a lonely, cold, winter night with little to do but drink and allow the
suffocating mist of heavy smoke to engulf and lead one down memory lane. Past
wrongdoings return to haunt the mind and shadows appear in the dim room;
figures that were once truly there remind one of what could have been.
There I sat, already
lost in another drinking binge, alone, save for my memories of a life gone by—women
I’ve lost because of who I am and friends left behind because there was no room
in my heart for anyone but myself. Cigarette upon cigarette were lit and bottle
after bottle emptied, trying to convince myself that each last drag or sip
would bring salvation and the end so desperately desired.
Alas! A voice echoed loudly in the tiny confines of my room. No, it was
not a voice, but soft moans of pleasure. I stared about; all was peaceful…yet,
I could still hear the moaning. I knew what it was, but rationality disagreed
with my intuition. I saw the shadows on the bed, on the couch where I was
sitting, on the tobacco-covered floor, yet refused to believe what I saw. There’s
nothing there. But they were all
around me, even in the kitchen and the bathroom. I could not move, the pills
and the bottles having numbed every fiber of my body, but my mind was moving
fast, seeing and hearing everything.
whisper became a distinct, clear, and dearly familiar voice: “The sounds will
remain as long as you stay here; we cannot be together because I’ll always hear
the voices of girls past.”
No! I told myself angrily, and returned to drinking. Although it should
not have been why she left, those whispering echoes of former voices were always
present. I had refused to
listen. Now they refused to be
ignored, those whispered words of love and hate alike—intermingled and yet, all
somehow distinct, even within the grey mist of a drunken haze.
“I fell for you in
an instant, wanted to be with you, was there for your worst, and have seen you
in your darkest hours. I didn’t leave then, even though I should have. I
stayed, to hold your hand in the nights when you were too lost in the bottle to
even sense my presence. It was you who drove me away. Obsessed with dying, you
refused to embrace living.”
A chill ran down my
spine, my hair stood on end, and, for once, I was perfectly sober. Those words
had been uttered to me in my sleep by the one person I’ve ever loved. She was,
of course, gone too, and for years. It’s her I wish to see whenever I wake up
next to someone else.
Why now? I wondered in desperation, for the ghosts had remained silent for
so long. No doubt my own mind creates them in its desperate need for some
company, even in the form of shadows from the past.
They say ghosts are
the remnants of those who died wrongfully, and seek retribution, or absolution.
Perhaps, though, it doesn’t apply only to dead bodies. Maybe, even when a small
piece of the heart dies, that soul searches for salvation. A haunted house
doesn’t need to be inhabited by ghosts of the murdered; I suspect wrongfully
caused tears are reason enough to maintain the ghost of a former passion, thus
keeping the whispers alive for years.
How many times have
I uttered, “I love you”? How many times have I lied that I’d never said that
before? And how many times have I afterwards ruined everything, causing tears
of pain to countless women? How many hearts have skipped a single beat in my
bed, and how many wounds have been inflicted on innocent souls? How often have
I promised myself to change my ways, only to break the promise the very next
These questions troubled
me, although I wasn’t the one asking them; the whispering ghosts inhabiting the
four walls I call home were the real interrogators. They needed answers, for
only thus could they find resolution. What could I say to explain actions I
A book fell from the
packed shelves—The Great Gatsby. I’d
once gifted the book to someone I thought I loved, whose heart I broke. I
couldn’t stand up to replace it; my legs were numb and my mind hazy. I stared
at its cover. Having given away my copy, I’d had to buy it again; the hole in
the shelves reminded me of what had to be forgotten. Here the book lay, her
eyes staring back at me from within it, and I felt a knife driven through my
heart, destroying whatever feeling remained.
“I wish things had
been different,” her voice whispered in my ear, “and that we had met under
different circumstances. I love you, but I love him too, and will never forgive
myself if I don’t try to patch things up with him.”
I shivered, for she
was next to me, clearly visible—albeit for merely a second—and I wanted to run.
I couldn’t, and stayed with her there—at least the pieces of her left behind
when things went to hell. Trembling, I was surrounded by company, as more
shadows made their momentary appearance. Despite another bottle of bourbon and
another cigarette, nothing could destroy the mirages, or silence the whispers. The
book lay on the floor amidst drifts of dust and tobacco remnants—a stark memorial
surrounded by shadows and horrible debris.
“You told me you’d
lost someone, that I was the only one who could revive you from the horrible
depression of mourning,” another whisper reminded me.
A second bottle
emptied, drunkenness would not come; having a strong liver is a curse. Numb but
conscious of my environment, I heard the whispers, each having something to
complain about, providing a growing memorandum of my past sins.
“I broke up with
Peter to be with you. I came seeking comfort and found you lying between two women.”
“I left home for you,
to run away together. You backed down because your story was published, and you
thought you’d become the next Poe.”
“You said you loved
me; a week later, you disappeared. I came to find you, and found another in
“You never wanted marry
or have kids,
although you said so. We slept together. You stopped calling. Why?”
Unable to bear
standing accused for all my past crimes, I broke. The ghosts surrounded me,
ready to devour me, to drag me down into the inferno to suffer for my sins
"I’M SORRY!" I yelled
at the empty walls, but the whispers never stopped; my repentance wasn’t
heartfelt, they claimed. I knew they were right.
you’ll get away with everything; talent and charm are not enough,” they told me
in unison, and I opened the third bottle.
“Please, take them
all away,” I begged the bourbon and drank deep. For a few moments, silence
reigned. I sighed in relief, the darkness quiet. I was all right…
“Running away, as
usual. That’s all you’re good at,” accused another familiar voice—no face
attached to it—and the chorus of accusations continued.
A loud thud startled me. I looked
only the fragments of shadowy ghosts, waiting in darkness for…something. Then I
saw the source of the sound: Death in the
Afternoon, the book that helped me meet her.
It was how we met; she was reading it, and I commented on it. Three months
later, she left, for good, because I made her life hell. There it lay, next to The
Great Gatsby. I thought of the two towering
figures who wrote those two great love stories with tragic endings.
“We said we’d fight
through difficulties,” she reminded me, “and promised we’d never let anything come
between us. You broke the promise, and allowed everything to get between us.”
I couldn’t take
anymore. I got up, stumbled, fell face-first onto the floor, and lay there in
defeat, helplessly whimpering, breathing in the dust. Could I move? I had to
get away. I crawled out of the room and into the kitchen, where I found a
knife. I put it in on the counter, reached for the door, and couldn’t open it.
Someone was preventing
me. Who? I was all alone, yet, the
door would not budge.
I got the knife, and
stared at the sharp blade.
“Always the easy way
out; never willing to fight,” a judgmental voice said in my ear.
I tightened my grip
around the knife, ready to fight for my life…or, maybe, put an end to the whole
charade. I somehow managed to get back up, leaning heavily against the counter.
I returned to the couch, knife still in hand, and sat down. I waited. But the
shadows were gone; only the books on the floor testified to the harsh truth
still ringing painfully in my ears.
“For three weeks,” a
solemn whisper broke the silence, “you dragged me into your personal hell. I
stayed, for your promises were grand. You never planned to keep them, just needed
new material for your damned stories.”
“Stories is all you
live for,” another ghost took the floor. “There’s nothing beyond the paper. You
live and breathe for words. When the stories are done, you move on, ignoring
the pain you cause, the tears shed.”
understand the value of emotions, for you have none. You can’t comprehend how
others feel because you believe no one feels anything. No one is like you! But your
world is not the world.”
I kept staring
intensely, almost reverently, at the knife, which was now whispering, “Do it,
do it, finally do what you’ve wanted for so long to do!” It was insistent, but
I couldn’t obey.
“Don’t do it. Just
once don’t take the easy way out,” a voice
said, and I didn’t know which advice to heed.
I swigged more
bourbon, hoping that in the next sip a final decision would come to me—to no
avail, my mind remained dichotomized and I couldn’t help but continue listening
to the debating whispers. The ghosts of sins past remained strong, undeterred by
the knife’s presence. Some urged me to use it, others to stop and reconsider,
but, ultimately, my fate lay entirely in my own hands. I simply didn’t know
what I desired the most.
A soft touch on my
chin made me jump up and stare about. No one was around, but someone had
touched me. The knife was taken from my hand and thrown at the already broken
closet—another sad reminder of people long gone. The blood felt frozen in my
veins as I watched the red river flowing down the closet door to puddle on the
floor in a crimson lake.
continued, growing louder, some comforting and others spiteful. There was no
escape, so I drank until the world became a blur. Despite drunken distortion,
the shadowy, whispering ghosts lingered, their presence stronger, more
More books fell from
the shelves—Keats’ Collected Poems, Post Office, Hollywood, A
Desire, Journey to the End of the
Night, Sometimes a Great Notion, Dharma
Bums, Ask the Dust—all of them somehow connected to some steamy night or
passionate weekend. I remained seated, unable to concentrate, my gaze aimlessly
wandering among the falling books, the knife, the closet—its scarves and shirts
flying about as if caught in a violent whirlwind.
Finally, the drink
took over and I blacked out; in my dreamless slumber the ghosts were silenced
at last. Come morning, I opened my eyes with difficulty. My head ached
tremendously. Purely out of instinct, I took a long sip of bourbon and lit the
half-smoked cigarette resting on the ashtray. The whispers returned, despite
the bright sunlight penetrating the lowered shades. I didn’t care. The books on
the floor and the knife sticking into the closet (like a threatening message
from a cliché thriller) were there to remind me of the reality of the previous
I should move out, I told myself, for I cannot co-exist with vengeful, hurt
ghosts. Alas! I couldn’t leave the four walls, stained with tears and
screams of both pleasure and pain. Without the ghosts I’d lose my past, and
without my past there’d be no stories to write.
Hence, I took
another long sip and sighed. The whispers grew stronger and the shadows on the
furniture sat, as once did those believing in my lies and thinking I was real.
I drank the rest of the bottle and the cheerful dizziness returned. The
whispering ghosts vanished, momentarily, but I knew they’d return. A part of me
craved their company and, when I heard a soft whisper in my ear, a faint smile
accompanied the shiver that numbed my spine.
Gad Economou, email@example.com, of Risskov,
Denmark, who wrote BP #75’s “Walking
to Class” and “Whispering Ghosts” (+ BP #74’s “The Family F,” BP #72’s
“In Dreams There Is No Time,” BP #68’s “Angel of the Dark,” and BP #64’s “The
Day I Started Believing”), is a 20ish horror author from Greece, whose first
novel, THE ELIXIR OF YOUTH, was published in Greece in 2010. He wrote this
first novel at age 15, and has since written more novels, as well as short
stories, all horror. See www.facebook.com/GeorgeGadEconomou.