London Folklore: Ghost, CR5

1907, October–  darkness and the stone floor is hard against my cheek and I am so cold and then for so long I’m coughing and I’m coughing again and my head hurts and pounds, mother it hurts, I try to say it but it is just noise, I never have the words, and then it isn’t and I’m not and I’m not and I’m not and it doesn’t and I can’t say it it it it is just noise but it is not dark, it is not, it is not dark and it does not hurt; it is not light –

1910, October– the nurse with the fat arms who locked me downstairs, I make a knocking from behind her and she yelps, and later footsteps (I’m getting better at the sounds), I make her drop her tea, I groan and the footsteps lead to that little door to the basement and she follows she can’t help it and she cries- this day every year the world is like mumbling suddenly close to my ear and I am near and I can mumble too and mother doesn’t come and I don’t want her to but of course I do; Cane Hill is a bad place and she is free and clear but I am not, not yet, but it isn’t bad- I am getting better at the noises and the nurse with the fat arms deserves a cry once a year maybe but I don’t like it not really but it is something; I am proud of the noises- my best footsteps yet I think, and I try and head away again like last year and I try and leave to find mother but I am stuck in mud, and everything dims and slips and it does not hurt and it is not dark but it is not light-

1912, October– the lady Hannah was nice to me I think I try to remember I couldn’t make the words or the right noises but I remember her I think and this year it is her boys but older and smarter “If only you had given me a cup of tea, I would have been alright” she says and the younger looks like a ghost (I know I know) and I was going to make the sounds since it is my one day but Hannah looks at me and she sees I swear she sees and she looks sad so I just sit at her feet and press against her legs and her hand strokes my hair I think and then eventually it slips again and I didn’t make a noise but that is okay, that is okay, I hear a bird singing out past the wall and it is beautiful –

1930, October– I feel tired this year even though my sounds are just perfect now it all seems similar, the glimpses I get during the year coalesce and the changes seem miniscule and then big (when did the tall man die, where is the doctor with the ears), but the sounds don’t tire me out like they did and last year I made a window rattle but after I felt dim and off and not right, not right is what my mother would have called it and there is a doctor now who has the silliest glasses (the girl who lived next door had glasses and I always thought she looked silly but I didn’t have the words to say that, she had words enough for us both, she let me touch her glasses and she smiled at me) and I reach and grab his glasses and I feel them but, no, “bloody hell” he says and then it is dark, no not dark, dim;  not light –

1940, October–  I can go upward, I can float, the limit is the same to the mud but a hundred yards up is enough to see the city through the trees and it is not dark but it is night and of course it is not light but there are things flying through the sky everywhere (they are planes, I know planes) and from London there are lights and fire and smoke and noise more noise than I’ve known and it might be the end of the world (if it is the end of the world what will happen to me, will I stay here and make my noises alone, will there be others, will there-) oh a big one, the biggest yet, was that St. Pauls- no, surely not- I push myself higher and higher, but this is the limit I think, oh, no, this is, this is, bloody hell the flashes are incredible, these must be the planes, the war; I pushed too high, it is dim and not dark and I feel almost cold, not dark but getting there, perhaps next year (if it comes), perhaps –

1965, October- they aren’t doing him justice the old fella with bad legs and the bad shoulder and his brain not right, his brainbox not right my mum would have said but he looks like my grandpa and he is thirsty even I can see that and the nurse is off with the doctor in the storeroom and I see what they are doing bloody hell (bloody hell is my favourite I think) the nurse has hair that is very long and the doctor has a haircut I’ve not seen on a man before and I’ve not seen anything quite like what they are doing but I’ve seen enough and I try and move the water to him but it is hard and the windows rattle as I do it but the cup goes and it is close enough and he grabs and drink and he sees me, or knows me, and I wish I could help and I put my hand on his arm and he is crying and I am so bloody hell mad with that nurse that I make all the lights flicker in the storeroom and the door swing open but that is a lot, that is a lot, and it is not dark but it sure is dim and that was a lot and I feel tired and it is slipping, too soon, it always feels too soon and then too long, I –

1971, October– I can go down, and it feels weird and a bit bad but I go right through the floor and the mud and below, right down, is a tunnel and the men there are making lenses and glass and things and I didn’t know it was here but this is a new thing, a new place, a new place to explore but it is wet and it reminds me of, no no best not, one of the lenses is held in this big lens holder thing and a man with a moustache is leaning very close and so I go on the other side and I try and make myself seen and I really do I try but seeing is hard, being seen is hard, and he just looks right through and is it just the bloody worst and I feel it slipping, slipping again and God I don’t know about this is there an end, will there be an end…the man can’t see me so I push at a stack of glass things on desk, they are fragile and I am fragile and they break but I don’t, I slip, again again again –

 1981, July– Early bloody hell early and it feels weird, it is summer, they are digging outside in the cemetery, Cane Hill cemetery full of the dead mad and the mad dead (I thought of that a few years ago my words are very good now I think) and I try and whisper it in the ear of one of the men digging but no, no of course not, never words, so I just touch his bald head and he shifts uncomfortably and the sky is bright blue overlaid with grey, grey as a stone slab and it is not dark but no way not light but not the dim, not slipping, but something is tugging, and the men dig and they lift so carefully and it is bones, it is bones they are digging, mother help me it is bones and I feel lightheaded and my head pulses and I am on a stone floor I am at home safe I am in the cloud of the year I am more present than I have been and I reach for them but it is too much, it is light  and it is dark and I close my eyes and I rock and I feel her hands on my hair and my cheek and I let it slip, I make it slip, I decide

1997, October- it is empty and I don’t like it, I am alone, but then I realise I am not alone and I find the birds and the rabbits and the spiders and a worm and a beetle the size of my thumb and I have to really look but I do find them, I’m not on my own, I don’t like being on my own, but there are only rabbits and bugs and eventually I let it all slip, I let it slip faster than I would (what If I just don’t, don’t don’t come back and I just slip, it’s not dark, it’s not sore) and the rabbits look at me but rabbits are not afraid of ghosts I think –

2010, November– The clock tower is burning and not much time has passed and the fire goes down down down and who started it I go down down down through the fire the smoke and I rattle windows and I groan and I tip and tap but there is noise here already and I move down and the fire goes down the clock tower and down the rooms where they first took my hand and down down again and I don’t want to go but the fire is there and this isn’t the same nothing feels the same and I go to the room with the stone floor and it is dark even though there is fire it is dark and I move down and I feel my head throb with a century of weight and I curl in the flame in the dark and it is not dark, and mother it is not dark, it is not dark; it is light

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