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My Coming of Age Ghost Story

Home is where the heart is.

By M.C. Murphy Published 3 years ago 5 min read
Runner-Up in Identity Challenge

Where was I? Rather, When was I?

I seemed to be standing on the same piece of ground I knew so well, but like a slide projector, time was flickering away in front of me. I was a child. The room was crowded and warmed by the body heat. Loud, crowded, safe. A fire was burning. I kept trying to get close to it and my mom kept pulling me away. How the flaming red embers allured me, crumbling to ash after being so alive just moments before. The blue-green at the very center of the flame, I wanted to live in that place. Always warm, always protected.


Next slide, I was young. Far too young to truly understand emptiness but old enough to see it coming. There was family. I was singing for them. Standing on the fireplace, old enough to be alone next to it, I felt beautiful and untarnished by life. And I was.


It was Christmas again. This room meant Christmas. Only some of us were still here, trying desperately to recreate the past, but there was a void in one chair. Nobody really dared sit in that chair. It was as if we were somehow expecting him to walk through the back door and take his rightful place, with us.

Click click.

And I was hiding behind chemicals. Now fully acquainted with life, it was all I could do. They didn't know I was floating above them. They thought I was uncorrupted still, just older. They thought I was still me. You know the drill.


I was alone. The memories lingered like cheap drugstore perfume. Far too heavy. The room looked the same, it always has, but the light had gone out of the frame. The silence hurt my ears. In this space and in this time, I was completely alone. There was no fire left. And it was cold. I was cold.


The sound made you wince. I had desecrated this Holy Space by letting the wrong people in. People who didn't understand or even care to try.


The greatest shame of my life.




Joy. Peace. Unconditional love.


Loss. Despair. Endings. Money honey, heartbreak baby. Time was no longer linear. The projector had a mind of its own.


You smelled sickness in the air. It was stale and no-one acknowledged it there. The mountains of presents replaced with oxygen tanks and a hospital chair. And nobody was singing. Not a one of us was singing.

Click. Click.

Now another was dead. Laid next to the other and miles from us, all alone in the rain. It was too hard to be here. In the photos, all looked the same but up close you could see the cobwebs.

And now time's caught up and I'm simply speculating. Things I can predict that I never could before. There are boxes and trucks and the room will be carved out. Like a pumpkin, its guts scattered about. This room will finally change for the very first time. Nearly 50 years after it all began, we won't be allowed in. Little do they know, I will always be here. My soul is tied to this red and worn floor. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't undo this knot.

My blood and a thousand tears have consecrated this house as mine. I can walk it in pitch black yet not disturb a thing. I know every inch, every secret and every leaf scattered under my tree. I know the windows that don't fully close and each crack from the earthquake, delicate veins. I know every lift in the cement and each stone I turned as a child: their size and shape and proper spot. I know the side yards and all their wild vines, order in chaos that only I can see. I know the very best places to hide. Each room has a life of its own. The Purple Room is peaceful but the Cowboy Room was home. The Kids Room is a safe place, and the maroon tiles were a womb. Under the house is forbidden, and the heart of the house will be stilled very soon.

No more, my everything. No more, my safety net. No more, Until I See You Again. And so it is.

The past, present and future all meld together here. I can see myself as a child, myself as a drunk and myself trespassing all with equal clarity. Trespassing.

Peering through the just too high windows on the tips of my toes. The undergrowth sticking me like needles. Trying.

Desperately for a glimpse of what was once mine.


More mine than anything I had ever had.

Trespassing in my Home, but it didn't matter. It would all be mine again. So I step back onto the uneven sidewalk where I am lawfully allowed. I resist the urge to go through the old gate and make my way up the steps, leaves crunching under my bare feet and never knock at the door. No-one ever knocked. I force myself to drive away and with it all shrinking in the rearview, I remind myself as soon as I die, I would be there again. I'd scream at the top of my lungs for the others to get out. They wouldn't hear me and with no end in sight, I would grow increasingly frustrated, increasingly angry, until all I felt was that anger.

It belonged to the ones that belonged to it, alive or dead. No earthly law could change it. They would not be able to hear me, so I would spend an eternity trying to be heard, if that's what it took.

I had one to spare.

Then someday, in some way, I would make them understand- they were the ones trespassing. That I would rather see it all burn to the ground than in hands who didn't love it, didn't understand it. It was far more than bricks and stone, it was the only place in this world I've ever had. It was home. It was refuge and it was mine. It has always been and always would be, mine.


The memory of a sound, the projector is long gone.


My existence is fast forward and rewind. Nothing more.


There are no days and nights now, only ownership of memory.


This place will never leave me.


I will never leave this place.

I will never leave this place.


About the Creator

M.C. Murphy

Words have the power to change everything.

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Comments (1)

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  • Alison McBain5 months ago

    I could see the ups and downs of an entire life through your slide projector. Vivid and emotional.

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