I promised Luke, that I would return tomorrow after my exam. I can’t say that revision was my main motive after hearing about his exploits around Europe. I had never travelled out of England, and I was interested in everything Luke had told me. I waited for my late bus home, after realizing that I was hours later than I had realized. I replayed over and over in my mind, Luke’s stories of avoiding wars and meeting the pope. He had told me Rome was the most beautiful place in the world, his descriptions of everything up to the sewers intrigued me. It seemed like his words gave everything their own quality.
I sat on the bus in a daze, music blasted through my ears but I wasn’t listening to it. I stared out at the dark afternoon and continued to check the time – a little worried that my mother would be waiting for me. Usually, she calls if she is worried. There were no missed calls on my phone that I checked repeatedly throughout Luke’s lecture of the Eucharist.
I got off the bus a little early, and ran up the road towards my house. I skidded and slipped as my feet hit the stones of my drive way. The lights were on in my house and the door unlocked as I ran through. I kicked off my shoes and ran to the kitchen, I was greeted with the smell of perfume and my mother emerged from her bedroom, in a black dress and heels. Her hair straightened and make-up applied to perfection.
“Wow mum, you look nice” I said, peeling off my coat.
“Thanks” she replied, turning around to check the time “you’re home late...” she observed with no real interest. She twisted the bracelet around her wrist.
“Yeah...I know...I – I got sidetracked” I explained, telling my mother I had seen a ghost was not an option.
“Well, I'm going out...it’s going to be a late one. So, do you mind putting Josh to bed?” she asked, her eyes pleading. Her mascara was applied thick and I fought the urge to rub her over blushed cheeks.
“That’s fine” I replied, flexing my fingers.
“Thanks” she smiled “Did you have a nice birthday? Your present is on the sofa” she giggled mischievously.
“Thanks” I smiled, walking over unenthusiastically. My mother was materialistic. She enjoyed designer brands of perfume, clothing – everything. Her previous gifts to me indicated that she thought I shared her preference.
I lifted the poorly wrapped gift and laid it on my knees; my mother hadn’t stayed to see my face as I opened it, which was a shame because I had truly mastered the fake gratitude and triumph of getting gifts I would plan to return. I could hear hair spray being applied from her bedroom.
To my surprise, the gift was something that I could use. They were an extra pair of headphones; my old ones did crackle after hours of listening through them. I read the details and these headphones specifically blocked out any other digetic sound.
“Thanks mum” I shouted to her, she didn’t reply until she came back out, now wearing a red dress.
She said goodbye, and left a large red smudge across my cheek as she kissed it. I played with Josh until it was time for him to go to sleep, after putting his pyjamas on. I read to him Pride and Prejudice – it was really for my own amusement, but his eyes soon drifted to a close.
I crept out of his room, and continued to read lying across the sofa. I tried to focus on the words, but I was soon replaying the entire day over and over in my head. Watching in my mind, Luke’s smile and his lips curved with his archaic dialogue. Was I crazy? Did I accidently fall asleep in the library and dream it all?
I could hear Luke’s voice in my head, like my own private podcast of history facts. I threw pride and prejudice to the corner of the living room and buried my face in a sofa cushion.
Why am I the only person who can see Luke?
Did I have dementia? Was there something wrong with me?
If I told anyone about today, they would be convinced there was definitely something wrong with me. But I could not accept that my own mind had created such a ghost as Luke or any ghost for that matter. I thought of how his hand had slid through the table we sat at, his skin turned opaque when the sun shone onto it. But in the dark of the library shelves he almost looked human.
Too tired to get the history notes out of my pocket, I turned onto my side and began Luke’s lecture from the beginning. I reached the death of Henry Viii in 1547 before falling into a deep sleep.