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Be sure that what you dream of won't come to hunt you out
Where is my head where are my bones
Why are my days so far from home
Ghostman How come we get so lost
Save me from myself

Bush - Head full of ghosts

You’ve always been like this, always been special, scared, maybe even scarier. You remember when you were a pixie of a child with big dark eyes and the weight of both worlds on your shoulders. You remember your mom, tired and worn thin, trying to fend off the cold and the hunger as well as her own fear. You know she loved you, there was never any doubt about it, but you’re no fool and you’ve seen the terror in her eyes too many times not to know she was more afraid of you than those who never believed you.

You’ve been running for days because it’s easier. There is less to see in the middle of nowhere than there was in Pittsburgh, and after the fire, you believe a simpler life is exactly what you need. If you hadn’t been a coward, you think you may have ended it back then, jumped in through the blaze of the flames and the cries of the people trapped inside. They didn’t want to know what you’d seen and what you were trying to warn them against, still, you feel guilty. You saw, you knew, yet you didn’t manage to save one.

You think this is day 59, but you’re not sure anymore. You need food, maybe water, and probably a place warm to rest for a few hours, but you’re afraid. You stand at the edge of this small town and look fearfully ahead, try to see if they’re waiting for you, the black ominous shapes that pass you by as if you weren’t even here. You miss people, though. You may have had to deal with many ghosts it still never kept you from making friends. It’s only when the number of casualties skyrocketed through the roof that you fled.

The fear clutches at your belly, but you go ahead, push the door of the diner to step inside. It’s warm and blissfully empty, with the smell of grease strong and just what you need. You seat near the door, ready to bolt at the first sign of them, and you wait for the waiter to come and take your order. When he finally walks up to you, you know you’ve been away too long. His smile and his eyes call to you and you feel the grimace on your lips, the unpractised ghost of a smile of your own.

I’m Lance, he says, and his smile widens when you grunt your name in answer. He calls you Chris and talks in a deep honeyed voice that feels so soothing, you think you may fall asleep soon. He brings you a burger and fries that taste almost like home, and when no one walks in, he sits with you to chat for a bit. You talk for hours, though, and when he has to close, it feels easy and perfectly normal to agree to take him up on his offer to share a last cup of coffee at his house.

You remember that, too, the feel of skin under your fingertips, the thrill of a kiss, and the security of the unknown. You don’t know this kid and chances are, you won’t linger long enough to know him better. As he sinks his teeth into your shoulder, scrapes his fingernails on your back, as you push into him and later shake through your climax, you remember what it feels like to wake up in another man’s bed. You stay because you want to, because you choose not to remember the shivering shapes that haunt your nightmares even when you’re awake.

Morning comes and he shakes you awake, hurries you through breakfast and a shower, and you think of staying a few days, of maybe hanging around, of watching him smile some more and making love to him until you’re both out of breath. He’s beautiful and alive and eager, and when you tell him of your plans, he laughs and promises not to hog the covers. It shouldn’t be this simple, you think, and when you step out of his truck to walk to your car, you know without having to look that you shouldn’t have stopped here at all.

You stand there dumb and unable to speak, and you watch as he drives off, a black shape hanging to the side of his truck. Your mother believed you, always knew what you saw, but when the time came, she wouldn’t listen any more than those who’d called you a freak time and time again. What holds you to Lance is no more than sweat and spit, the time shared in lovemaking, so you’re pretty sure that if you tried, he would laugh in your face, close his door to you. You get in your car and never look back.