Night, Mary

Are ghosts future-curious for our present? Their text-book moaning and the harking-backness of their reason to be believed in, cheerless, would suggest not; cemented airily as they are in old gripes, grudges and misfortunes – a base reluctance not only to let go, but to recognise changes to the staircase or bricked-up doors in modernly down-sized houses. They are floating stick-in-the-muds.

As ghosts of the future ourselves, will we be respectful and inquisitive guests? Or will we moon through that future’s virtual diner in the micro-apartment complex that then stands in our garden – touchlessly brushing aside the house-flamingo that lunges at our spirity wisps from its laser nest – ignoring everything new, and intently badgering on about the paddling pool and swing-set where the sad event happened; unshakeable from our nightly ghoulings until… when? Until after a clutch of decades the passing distraction of an International Series broadcast in 5D grows from a brief appreciation of United Yorkshire’s performance versus Britland, to the entertainment technology too, and then the presence of two new colours, not just on the players’ capes (what sport is this, with the horses and the ice?), but actually two new colours, period. And you find your spectre-self wishing to know what these colours are called – and then wondering if The Fleece is still open and who’s the landlord now? Do this lot still have pubs? (Of course they do.) Shit me, this new hover-lighting in the streets is an improvement…

Spirit Lingerer, we – I and she, a ghost – have estimated her being born in 1790 and dying in 1806. There’s no stone I’ve found hereabouts to this Mary Dell, and she’s not on any online record; though a sister is, and that sister marrying also, with a plump descending line running locally still. Established then that she is/was Staffordshire born and Derbyshire based; entirely, therefore, without West Country connections: and yet she will insist on a wringing Bristolian; indignant or cowering, self-demoting and bullyingly dim. A period drama’s lovelorn stooge. Ghost school; the girl’s elementary.

She laughs at the observation and continues – in a flatter form, but with the singing note-splitting of the East Mid’s vowel – to berate my horseless life.

Milk Maid (detail), Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, The Sutcliffe Gallery, Whitby.

Mary’s life and passing remain a mystery, though it’s not one that troubles its subject. She recalls (can ghosts remember beyond their haunting objectives?) she felt ‘peculiar around the time there were daffodils’ (she just stops short of adding ‘a-blooming’), but has no drawn-out bed-boundness to recount – only feels a strange attraction to where some cowsheds once stood; now a neat row of red brick cottages housing un-met neighbours. But when pressed she simply can’t or won’t define that attraction or an exact stall, or beam, or beast within. So I, in turn, can’t read if this is the source of her well of woe, or ‘woohs’, if you will – for she does occasionally camp up the ghostery in that general direction – or whether the long-gone building stands for some gladder pull. Well, perhaps it’s both.

Whatever the facts, Mary has little patience for my questions; fails to understand a purpose. And that impatience isn’t anything that’s going to become a joke between us, either.

I raise the subject, she drifts off.

© All content. Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2012

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About Stevie Mitchell

I come from a long line of cartoons and beer. I was once peed on by a tiger. Hoping the resultant super-powers are yet to come, cos if these are they, then, grrrr....
This entry was posted in Childhood, Family History, The Home and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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