“Do you think you have a ghost?” Cheyenne asks me this morning. We’re standing on the corner of our street and Anchieta, waiting as we always do for our ride to school. I am sipping instant coffee from a plastic green cup, my second this week and it’s only Tuesday. It’s just 7:30 and she’s just come down the hill, where I’ve been standing for a minute or so already. This is how things usually go in the mornings: I arrive first and she comes tumbling down after. She is usually still dripping from the shower, full water drops still clinging from her impossibly tight curls. This morning she tells me she’s gotten dressed in the elevator, afraid of missing the ride.
As usual, we regale each other with stories of the night before, which for me because they’re “school nights,” usually don’t amount to more than, “Yeah, I slept. Went to bed at 9:30.” Or, “I forget. I didn’t do anything.” Having a musician for a boyfriend, she stays up doing not much of anything until the early hours of the morning waiting for him to come home from a show, so she usually has better stories. But not today. This morning, I tell her that I woke up again in the middle of the night hearing noises, like I’ve been doing for the past three weeks without fail.
I tell her because of the thing I want to say next, which is, “I wish Dennis were here because I sleep so much more soundly when he’s around; I feel safe.” But Cheyenne takes it to the next, spiritual, level. “Do you think you have a ghost?” At 7:30 I’m not prepared for ghosts and my reaction to her suggestion for the cause of the sounds is something akin to, “Are you insane?” She raises her eyebrows like she knows something, like it’s not out of the realm of possibility, like she’s had personal conversations with ghosts in the past about making noises at night. “I’m just saying, you never know.” I brushed the comment off like I would a meaningless insult, but it stuck with me all day. I never thought about a ghost.
Maybe I really do have a ghost here. My building doesn’t seem ghost-friendly, though. Too many windows, no closets. Just a bunch of airy rooms with no personality. I guess if I were a ghost, I wouldn’t want to be in a place like this; I’d want something comfortable and lived in, a place with dark wood and lots of fabric. I could be wrong, but if I didn’t have to live here, I wouldn’t. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing ghosts too much, but I’d assume they have taste when it comes to choosing a place to haunt.
Furthermore, if it were a real ghost, don’t you suppose it would haunt more than just the kitchen? That’s where I hear all the noises coming from. I shut all my doors so no drafts come through, so you’d think I’d not be able to hear the noises of the kitchen all the way back in my bedroom. Not the case. That ghost is all about late night partying and living it up and checking out my food in my pink kitchen. There’s clicking and twitching and snapping going on all over the place and sometimes I swear I have fewer Hershey Kisses in the morning than I did the night before.
But I’m a skeptic. There are clearly explanations for the sounds I hear at night. Right now, it’s 5:30 almost and I can hear the same clicks and twitches and snaps going on in the kitchen and here, in the daylight, they all make sense. That snap–that’s the kitchen window responding to the wind. The click is from my neighbor upstairs. They’re drowned out by the trajillion squealing buses and chainsaw motorcycles, which is probably why I can only hear them when I concentrate. But at night, when the buses no longer run and the only sounds outside are the occasional group of yellers or trash men running after the truck, all the noises become exaggerated and wake me up, cold sweat, heart pounding. I walk around then to check, with eyes half closed from sleep, that the doors are locked, that the windows are closed, that everything is in order. Sometimes I half expect to see a person standing before me or rifling through my papers on the table. I am afraid he’ll take my computer and keys. I invent elaborate protection plans, including the most recent involving my yoga mat. These are the things I think about at 2am.
But wouldn’t it be funny if every night for these past three weeks, there’s been a chocolate-loving, beer guzzling ghost hanging around and waking me up. I can imagine the specter making the clicks and pops and then floating over to the orange couch with a ghostly bowl of popcorn to wait for my eventual rising and rummaging through the house, flipping on lights and turning knobs and looking confused. I imagine it would be nice entertainment for a ghost trapped in this cold, bare space, if he had no other choice about where to go. I guess maybe if I were a ghost, I’d be that kind. The routine, good-natured one who’s just in it for a hearty laugh and some snacks.