I drifted out of some vague dream and saw the lights of a freighter going by the window. Even now - sleep interrupted, as it so often was - I reveled in the sight, looked farther out, saw mist over a glowing red bridge, still lit by the dropping moon.
"God damn it, you're a fucking ghost!” That seemed like my voice. “You're not real. I know you're dead. Get out of my bedroom." I must have dosed off, but my body felt awake. If this was a dream, as it had to be, it treaded a space very near reality.
"Wow! You never talked like that when I was alive."
He kept coming back, invading my sleep.
“And I'm too old for this ... this ...”
“You? You’re young. You'll never be too old. For anything.”
“Maybe in heaven,” I said, “you don't age but some of us are still here on earth.”
His gentle caress was disturbing me, in an unsettling way. Oh, the wrap of that tall body around mine was as familiar as breathing, but he had been gone for several years now. And this man seemed different somehow, almost younger than the one in my mind. Virile. Healthy. Hard.
“Well ...” his sexy voice continued, “your body still feels good.”
He was still there.
“Ha! Remember you used to stand in front of the mirror and look at the wrinkles on your arm in disgust? And I would just stand next to you and laugh as I combed my hair? Well now that's me in front of the mirror. Don't give me that 'young' bullshit.”
“You'd feel young again if I ... If you just let me …”
“I'm not listening to this. If you're going to come visit, don't torment me.”
“Don't you remember how much you used to love it when I ...”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Well, you should. And besides, I have my eye on someone else now.”
“That sap? You can do better.”
“Ha! You try and be me. See what that feels like. See who shows up.”
“Honey, I'm better than that guy. You know it. C’mon, let go, come with me, let's play like we used to …”
"Just go away!" I rolled over, half asleep, half awake, dawn gently entering. I could've woken up fully, of course I could have. I was rebuilding life outside that window, in the city where I first learned of love. But something kept pulling me back. No, not something. Someone. Him. The elusive, seductive, frustrating man I had been married to for thirty years. The one I kept close even as friends suggested it might be time to meet someone new.
“It's your fault I'm not meeting anyone. I just keep comparing them. They're not tall enough. They're not successful enough. Their paunch is too big. They don't have a sense of adventure. I don't like their smile. It's all your fucking fault.”
“There you are with that language again. I like it. It's sexy.”
“I thought there were nubile beautiful young maidens in heaven. What are you doing talking sex to a sixty-five-year-old bag?”
“Well, that's your own fault, you know. I just can't stop thinking about you. About us. About before I was sick.”
“Oh? You too? Remember that bed that we destroyed the first time we made love?”
“How could I forget? That old Victorian thing you bought at a garage sale when you got out of school then carted around the world with you? It wasn’t exactly seduction material.”
“It didn’t stop you from trying.”
“Or you from enjoying it. How come you’re acting so cold? That’s not the way I remember you.”
“I’ve had time to cool off … no nubile maidens or slick studs hang around my bedroom. Do I have to keep reminding you life goes on?”
“Come on, let's play. What do you have to lose? Remember when I used to touch you here … and here … like this?”
“Go away. You're not real; you're a fucking ghost!”
“Yeah, well maybe a ghost could be fun!”
“Okay,” I said giving into the feelings. “Maybe a little more.”
He came back the next night, and the next. Cloaked in mystery, like the first times we coupled, new and exciting, his long fingers explored lands long conquered but gone native. But when I tried to carry him along with me, he would disappear, my craving never fully satisfied.
"I think you don't want me to find someone else."