Monstrous Femme

The Ghost of You

Once upon a time—that’s how most fairytales begin. However, this narrative deserves an introduction that suits a perfect love story turned tragic opening scene from a horror movie.

I stood in front of what I previously regarded as my home. But it wasn’t a big, luxurious castle: now looking barely habitable enough to be classified as shelter, I would rather declare it a haunted house. This place used to be full of love, you see. The first major asset that I saved up for, because I assumed I’d be spending my entire life living in it. Yet all that seemed to exist in it now were the memories I had of us, of you. We were so naïve back then, and admittedly, I was lovestruck enough to ignore this flaw. Thinking about it again makes me feel sick to the bone. This mistake, nevertheless, was no one else’s but mine to account for. I was the person who asked for us to make it official, eager to settle down. But in my defense, I was under the impression that you were there for it, alongside me, when in reality—I’ve come to realize—I was the only one who wanted to make our little fantasy come true.

I should’ve known, based on your hesitance to set foot in what was meant to be our safe haven. The venue of our wedding, you treated it like a horror asylum from a carnival, filled with your deepest, darkest fears that got worse as you ventured farther inside. At the entrance, the word “BEWARE” flickered in neon red, to be heeded as a warning.

We agreed to walk down the aisle together, in contrast to the traditional way. But with this decision, judgment hit you right in the face as you made eye contact with my upset mother, being the lone individual from our immediate family willing to let slide our wishes to live our lives together. A few steps to your right, you might’ve gotten overwhelmed with the commentary that our guests engaged in, regarding increased responsibilities; heading toward the left, I could tell how frightened you were as your friends joked and laughed about you serving as the sacrificial lamb of the bunch, on the brink of being tied down. Sweating profusely, you scurried through the pathway, evidently distressed.

I tried to get you to calm down, squeezing your hand that had been holding mine all this time. The hand you chose to release as you stopped in your tracks, staring directly at what was waiting for us at the end of the line. The officiant, ready to pronounce us husband and wife once the vows were told, symbolizing . . . commitment. To me, it sounded like a dream, for it was what I’d been looking forward to from the very beginning. For you, however, it was the last straw. The expression you offered me afterward—panic-stricken and full of regret—was enough to send tears running down my face.

For closure, I asked you, “What’s wrong?”

To which you replied, “Everything.

You faced the other way and bolted before I could even comprehend what had happened. You backtracked as if I wasn’t there, left to helplessly hope for your arrival. Hours, days, weeks after it occurred, I waited patiently for you, against people’s pleas that I shouldn’t bother, not when you disappeared without so much as a clarification, nor a trace for me to follow. Half of the time it took for me to do this, I kept myself occupied by filling every corner of the house with something that reminded me of you. What most would deem creepy, I established to be comforting. And with that, I became “the crazy lady with the scary house” to the kids in the neighborhood. I ignored it, persuading myself to concur that such a title was given to people in films, not in real life. None of this felt real anyway, just as none of it felt right.

For twelve months or so, perhaps not. For six whole years? Maybe. It took me more than a decade to surrender and put a halt to this madness, as well as the pile of thousands of questions I’ve wanted to ask you. I longed for your presence to the point where I bought a Ouija board, assuming you were a spirit I needed to summon. I would’ve done worse things if it meant I could have you back. Yet the longer I clung to my feelings for you, the more frequently my mind told my heart to cut it off.

I determined that what would do me the most benefit was selling the property, no matter how cheap. The revenue I’d get for it didn’t matter, so long as the curse that this abode carried with it was passed on to somebody else. A lady—radiantly gorgeous, appearing to be a few years younger than me—was kind enough to coordinate on the subject. She believed she could take good care of the house in my stead, bidding her well wishes for me and my next home. The truth is, I hadn’t gotten that far ahead in planning my life, not when I was stuck fantasizing about perfecting my initial scheme. Therefore, where I was to reside once everything had settled, I didn’t have a clue, and would probably resort to wherever my feet carried me.

It would soon be over, I tried to reassure myself. I’d be bestowing this house to its new owners the next day. I simply prayed that the process ran smoothly with little to no casualties, especially when I was so close to regaining liberty at long last. But for some reason, fate seemed to fancy playing games with me, for it was impossible to view lightly what I had to witness hours later. Right in the flesh, you showed yourself—the ghost who kept haunting my existence. You were shocked upon seeing me. Though, ironically, I should’ve been the one to wear that expression, after all that I’d suffered since you vanished. You were ready to talk and explain, you confessed, despite being evidently nervous.

We sat in the living room while you prattled on, whispering your “sincerest” apologies. Your voice used to be as sweet as a siren’s. However, at present, the nonsense that came out of your mouth served as mere noise that irritated my ears like bats in a cave. Flashbacks to our disastrous wedding day were replaying in my mind. A tragedy you carved into my brain, just as a knife cuts through a pumpkin. How could you expect me to forgive the nightmare I captured while wide awake? How much more of this pain could I endure? Would it be rude if I were to view this whole situation as a joke to laugh at? Could that reward me the title of a maniac?

You didn’t even dare question my silence or my behavior. How I looked at you with utter disgust as you carried on to discuss the terms and agreements we’d be signing, for the transfer of ownership of this wretched house. Speaking of which, I should’ve burned the place to the ground. I should’ve known that you wouldn’t return, at least not in my arms, not to me. I can’t fathom how I mourned you even when you were still warm and alive, dilly-dallying with a woman whilst abandoning another to grow cold and dead inside. Remember when you told me I was the Morticia Addams to your Gomez? Well, I was the Emily to your Victor, it turns out. Still, I do wish your dearest Victoria—who I found out was already your new fiancée—the best of luck. Though at that moment, I would’ve preferred to see her as a rotting corpse than a bride. Was she also in on this idea? Or was she oblivious to our past relationship? I couldn’t help but get mad at her as well, for the feelings I had for both of you were way too excruciating to cast aside.

I wanted nothing more than to forget this ever happened. Perhaps an exorcism would’ve done the trick. I’d have performed it in a heartbeat if it allowed me to bury my recollection of you and her, us, and the time I’ve wasted longing for you. I hoped to bury them all in a tomb, the words “in loving memory” engraved in stone, because you might as well have been dead like you led me to accept.

“I did love you. It was simply too late when I realized we weren’t meant to be,” you selfishly proclaimed.

To which I bitterly replied, “Did you really have to wait until I broke into pieces before you admitted that to me?”

I hastily scribbled my signature down the paperwork, dropping the pen onto the table while my hands shook. I did not spare you another glance as I stood up and grabbed my belongings, forcing the front door wide open, catching your woman by surprise. I murmured my plea of excuse and deserted the area, unable to stomach the scenario of a different person claiming what was supposed to be my happy ending any longer.

I considered lingering wherever my feet would take me. The best I could do was a nearby lake. The sole location I wound up visiting every time I’d miss you. I sought comfort in the serenity of this particular body of water, surrounded by a forest, because regardless of whether I screamed in terror or wept silently, my agony would create echoes that reverberated across the woodlands. And while that occurred in the background, it would feel as if I wasn’t alone. Thus, whenever I shed a tear, I’d do it in the company of this lake. It made an excellent final destination, given that it hitherto possessed a part of me.

Becoming aware that my years of anguish earned me nothing and cost me everything, I thought to myself: What more could I lose?

I was more than happy to let go of my life entirely if it guaranteed that I’d leave you with something better to remember me by than a house. I was never yours, despite how much I yearned to call you mine. This unspoken truth left me quivering as the realization of it all sent shivers down my spine.

I eyed the wooden bridge leading to the center of the lake. It seemed to speak to me. I ran toward the edge, arms outstretched while I cried, “Please oh please, set me free!”

I could hear a cacophony, addressing me by name in the far distance. They must’ve discovered my whereabouts. Unfortunately, I had made up my mind. There was no turning back now. I would be gone before they could retrieve my body; I would be one with this lake that had known my sorrow more intimately than anyone else. Barefoot, I extended a limb out to the calm waters, letting myself get dragged farther down until I had fully succumbed to it.

With what you would then see, I can imagine how horrified you’d be. I wouldn’t regret it nonetheless. For on my own, I managed a way to scar you for eternity and scare you too. Similar to what you’ve done—haunting me with the ghost of you.