The Ghost

The Ghost
Image by http://eggo.us/

There’s a ghost in my house. It’s not like the ones on those movies, scary. It is an elderly lady with gray hair dyed blue and black eyes surrounded by wrinkles. Her lips are thin and covered with a rose lipstick that clearly doesn’t agree with the age that I think she is, eighty something years old. She is chubby and should not be very tall, though I’ve never seen her standing, so maybe I’m wrong.
Her white shirt is buttoned up to the neck. She wears a dark gray skirt and stockings sock thats ends just below her knee, before the bottom of the skirt, revealing chubby knees. Her house slippers have seen better days and I do not know what color they would have been at first.
She’s always sitting in the rocking chair in the corner of the living room, next to the window and radiator. She rocks back and forth gently, just so quietly.
She spent knitting all day. I think that she’s knitting a scarf, because it is not very wide, but long.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
In her lap, with balls of yarn of different colors, there is a pair of scissors.
She never looks at me, although I’m sure she know that I’m here, sitting on the couch, watching her.
There’s a ghost in my house and no one else seems to see it. My mother always scolds me for sitting there, staring into the corner of the rocker. Once I tried to tell her that there was a ghost that was sitting and rocking.
But she ignored me. I stopped talking and she walked away mumbling something about teenagers with an overactive imagination.
The old woman smiled when my mother left the room, but did not look up the needles.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
Sometimes I think my family is right, and it’s my imagination that makes you see ghosts. But I know they have realized that the chair moves by itself. And everybody avoids sitting on it.
My cat, Luna, doesn’t come even close to the corner where the rocking chair is. Despite the radiator and that ray of sun coming through the window and that site is the warmest in the house.
I think my family sees this woman, knitting all the time. But they do not want to admit it, because only madmen, those with a vivid imagination can say that they see a ghost sitting in a rocking chair while knitting a scarf.
Once I came home from school and the rocking chair was not there. My mother looked at me, while I remained standing in the doorway of the room with my eyes on the spot where it had always been the ghost.
‘It’s time you get over this obsession, son.’
‘Obsession?’
She nodded.
‘You can not go through life believing that we have a ghost in the house. Ghosts do not exist, honey’ and she ran a hand through her hair.
‘But…’
‘No buts, Juan. Ghosts do not exist, and in that rocking chair there was non,’ she said with a steely voice. I believe that she wasn’t trying to convince me, she was trying to convince herself.
There are no ghosts, ghosts do not exist.
We ate in the kitchen. My brother and my sister looked at me askance, as if they were not quite sure what to do now that there was no ghost. My father and mother were talking, oblivious to the silence that enveloped their three children.
Not missing our routine, we went to the living room after dinner, to watch some TV before going to bed.
My mother always enters first the room, scolding because my siblings are so messy. It is a ritual that is repeated night after night
But my mother did not enter, and she stopped under the door frame without finishing the sentence she had begun.
In the corner, rocking, it was the rocker.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
‘Why have you brought it back, Juan?’
My mother’s voice was barely a whisper.
‘I have not done it.’
‘Do not lie!’ My father smacked me in the nape and shook me, but not too strongly.
‘I swear that I have not been.’
The ghost continues her knitting, oblivious to the discussion that had caused its reappearance.
My father let go of my arm and breathed deeply.
‘Let’s sit and watch TV.’
My siblings and my mother entered the room without even once looking toward the corner. When I was going to follow them, my father went back to grab my arm and stopped me.
‘Juan.’
‘Dad, it was not me.’
‘I know.’
His eyes were terrified and they would not stop going from my face to my mother, who ignored us and talked about the show that was scheduled to start on TV with my sibling.
‘But…’
‘Ignore her, do not look at her, please, Juan.’
‘Do you see her?’
‘There’s nothing there. It’s just your imagination.’
‘Dad?’
He squeezed my arm and went without saying anything else.
I stood at the door, confused. I looked at the ghost, but she did not look up the scarf. With a slow gesture, she stopped her knitting and grabbed the scissors from her lap. She chose a thread and cut it.
I preferred to go to sleep.

The next morning dawned rainy. My mother came into our room, ready to fight with my brother and me to get us out of bed. No easy task, since a cold wave lashed the country, and out from under the blankets there were low temperatures that put goosebumps on our skins.
But that day things didn’t go as always.
I had not slept all night, thinking about the ghost and her smile, which every minute seemed more malicious, when she cut the thread.
I watched my mother entered the room wrapped in her robe and hair still tousled from sleep. She leaned over the bed of Pedro, my brother, and touched his shoulder to wake him.
He didn’t awoke.
I got out of bed and got nearer. My brother had a fever, and had lost consciousness.
My mother took the child in her arms and ran, calling out to my father to hurry to get dressed and take the child to hospital.
The house was so quiet when they left as if we were still asleep. My sister had gone with my parents. Although my mother had not said anything, I’m sure she would not leave María with me. I don’t think that she relied on me.
Before leaving for hospital, all my mother said to me was to wait there until they called to tell me how my brother was.
And that’s what I did.
Hour after hour I sat on the edge of the Pedro’s bed. The only sound to be heard was the click, clack of the needles while the ghost was adding more rows to the scarf, with one thread less.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
With one thread less.
The shadows began to invade the room. Night was falling, and no one called to tell me what was going on.
I got out of bed to go to the kitchen and eat something. I called, my mother’s cell phone rang in the living room. I tried my father’s, but it was off. They would be in the ER.
I walked through the house, not knowing what to do. One possibility was to go to the hospital, but knowing my luck, my parents would be back while I was there.
My poor cat was following me. She mewed softly, trying to get my attention and get her something to eat. I went to the kitchen and opened one of her cans.
In the living room, the click, clack of the needles was uninterrupted. The ghost doesn’t seem to mind darkness. I was so used to the noise of the needles that I was no longer able to sleep if they were not there.
I went to the living room and stopped at the door. The old woman looked up from her hands, but now she was bent over her work. Light came in from the street lamps through the window and I do not think she could see very well what she was doing. Or she didn’t ever care. She had never stopped, until the day before. And it was better not to. My brother was sick and I did not think it was coincidence.
There are no coincidences. Or so they say, of course.
I watched for a while her knitting. The yellow light of the street was not enough to illuminate her work and she increasingly bent more her head to see what she was doing.
I approached her, afraid to interrupt her knitting and looked at me. Or worse, to stop knitting and cut off another thread.
But she didn’t stop moving the needles, its click, clack almost hypnotic. Luna meowed at the door of the room. She seemed to want to warn me, to make me back away from what was sitting in the rocking chair.
I ignored her. I had to.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
I looked around. Since no one was using the rocking -who is going to sit on it being the ghost there, swaying and weaving?- there was no lamp nearby.
I went in search of the lamp which my mother used to read. It weighed a little and I had to almost drag it around the room, leaving marks on the linoleum floor. My mother was not going to be happy when she saw it. She was very proud of his impeccable floor.
At last I reached the ghost and dropped the lamp beside her rocking chair. She did not even look at me. Needles paused a few seconds, but then returned to their task.
Finding an outlet to plug in the lamp was harder. I Never had the need to find an outlet elsewhere in the house that was not in the room I shared with my brother.
The only thing I found was where into the television, video and DVD player where plugged in. But in the lead there was still a free slot. I plugged the lamp there.

Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
I turned on the reading light, much nicer than the halogen bulb, giving a diffused light.
The hands of the ghost paused and she looked up the scarf. She looked at me with her round and dark eyes. Her thin-lipped mouth, always in a straight joyless line, relaxed to form what could be considered, if you tried hard, a smile.
Without realizing what I was doing, I smiled back.
The old woman took the thread that the previous day had been cut and rejoined the scarf, without even looking at what she was doing.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
The phone ringing made me jump and say a swear word that if my mother had been there, it would have earned a threat to wash my mouth out with soap.
And I picked it up.
There’s a ghost in my house. It’s not like the ones on those movies, scary. It is an elderly lady with gray hair dyed blue and black eyes surrounded by wrinkles.
She’s always sitting in the rocking chair in the corner of the living room, next to the window and radiator. She rocks back and forth gently, just so quietly.
She spent knitting all day.
Click, clack, click, clack, and she starts another row to the scarf.
In her lap, with balls of yarn of different colors, there is a pair of scissors.
She never looks at me, although I’m sure she know that I’m here.

Translated into English by Adelaida Saucedo

First Published:
Spanish (original): Axxón 161: El Fantasma
French(translated by Pierre Jean Brouillaud): Un fil (INFINÌ)

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone