You write, and of course I thank you for it, concerned for my lonely habits and, though you do not say it, for my sanity.
Let me try and explain.
You knew me when I was younger, braver, but perhaps you did not know – how could you –that I used to imagine that I was a knight. Or, more correctly, that I had a knight’s armour I could slip into. Don’t laugh. When the armour was on, I could be brave, sure, solid. Somebody to count on. Somebody I could count on. And when things were going well, when we were all alive and strong and sure, there were days when I didn’t have to imagine. The knight was me. I am vain enough to think that is the woman you remember. But that was a long time ago. Whatever armour I have left is rusty and full of holes. There is only me to go out and face the world. And I have no protection. No false courage.
And, before you protest, I do go out, though I admit it is usually at night.
You might think of night as the worst time, a time for robbers and demons and ghosts, but in my experience, most of them are asleep in the early hours. At least around here. At least up on the roof between the tomatoes and the dill and the slowly growing corn. And yes, I am able to venture down to the street. At 3 a.m. I can sometimes be found on the footpath in front of Mr Chang’s. Even Mr Chang’s shop itself is usually free from menace at that hour.
Mr. Chang is a good man who pretends he can see my knight’s armour even though I have left it at home. He also seems to find a way to stock coffee and chocolate and those biscuits with the thin wafer in the middle. Ice cream in the summer. In the winter too, though I am less likely to appear when it is cold. These things fill the holy grail of the knight who no longer exists. See how old I have become.
Sometimes he offers me fruit. Sometimes I bring him beans from the garden. Or the knight does when it can put on enough ghostly armour to rustle up sufficient bravery. Hardly any bravery at all. That’s what you would say. That’s what I say, though it doesn’t feel that way.
In any case, Mr Chang is human contact. More than enough for me. There is no need for concern! I have managed to live a long life and this drip of humankind is enough. Human contact scours me now, sends my anxiety to spin and eats my telomeres. It is safer this way.
And now, thanks to you, I have Fred. Yes Maxx, I took the dog in. Feel congratulated. But though Fred comforts me, I am not sure it is a good thing, or at least not in your eyes. I am happy with us closed off here, behind the door, two sleeping souls protected in our cave. With Fred here, I don’t wish for anything more.
So there is no need to worry, no need to visit, or send some other unfortunate soul to my door. Remember me as I used to be if you like, if that helps.
I sound ungracious. I know, forgive me. Your letters are a wonder and I am grateful.
the Ghost Knight