A Ghost Story, by Amie Barrodale
I am sure if I had accepted a certain marriage proposal, my life might have continued in an ordinary way, but I refused that humiliation. Later when I would have accepted it, the suitor had passed away. It was of natural causes.
My father disowned me, and for a while I lived in a women’s dormitory. When my resources were exhausted, I spent several years doing the things that I needed to do. It was at this time that I began to see black ghosts.
My mother received a report of my circumstances from my aunt, and she begged my father to send me to the city, where he owned several apartment buildings. Seven years had passed, and his temper had subsided. He agreed on the condition that my mother join me in the city and supervise his properties.
When I was growing up, my mother had enjoyed an active social life, but that had changed since she began to have eczema. It covered her shoulders, arms, legs, stomach, and face. She bathed in a potassium-permanganate solution, but it only reduced the itching and dyed our bathtub indigo.
She had become a shut-in and then an intellectual. In the city, she watched silent movies at night. She saw poetry in her old ghost movies, and watched them over and over again. I don’t like ghost movies, even from the silent era. She watched them late at night, in her room, on her laptop computer and in the morning, she talked to me about the actors.
“Ichikawa Danjũrõ IX was opposed to appearing on-screen, but he was convinced that to do so was a gift to posterity. He is said to have channeled Tokinoriki very well. A few years ago I read Tokinoriki again. I was forced to read excerpts in school, but I could not get past the intricacies of court protocol, and the opacity of Taira’s diction. I don’t know what has happened, but the text has opened up for me and now it is like I am speaking to a friend.”
“That is fascinating,” I said. A gust of wind blew through the tree outside, and petals landed on the dining table. Ghosts are not all bad.