There are some places I’ll never go back to. Not because they meant nothing to me, or because they are not worthy of my revisit, but because they meant too much. Because they hold memories of a person who has left my body. A me who is no longer. A me who helped build the story of that place. Who added her fingerprints to the tree trunks and footprints to the earth. Those fingerprints are now forever engraved into those trees and if you carved them open, you may find me in the rings. I cannot go back because I am already a part of that puzzle. But not this me. This me doesn’t belong there. Just my breath creates a paradox. Even the trees feel it, whispering that something’s wrong. Because a ghost of me already exists among them and there can never be two of me in the same place at once. It feels like I’ve transported back in time, and it makes me realise just how much I’ve changed – looking back on the me I was.
I guess I’m talking about one place in particular. I wish I’d gone back more, despite the paradoxical tension. There’s something so addictive about time travel. About the feeling of being haunted by your own ghost. But last time I went back, everything had changed. Really, everything changed a while ago. The path I had once walked had been reconstructed and it’s almost difficult to remember what it even looked like before. But it never occurred to me that a place holding the day my heart skipped a beat would change so much. The entire river side had been transformed by the flood. Part of my heart broke to find that special place that once felt like ours, filled with water. It was part of the river now. It could no longer be our secret. There was no room for secrets. Now it’s part of the ordinary. I couldn’t feel the paradox. The page had been turned over, waiting for new memories to be created. I couldn’t revisit the ghost of me. I miss her, because our visits reminded me of how far I’ve come and how far I could go. But she isn’t there now. Unless she’s in a cave under the water, she must have been washed away with other remnants of memories. Or maybe she drowned as the flood swallowed her home.
Can ghosts die?
I suppose not. At least, not inside of me. For no flood will ever wash away my memory of the day my heart skipped a beat.