I Won’t Compete With A Ghost


I won’t compete with a ghost.

I see how your eyes drift when her name comes up in conversation, the seconds it takes to pull yourself back to the present. I hear the change in pitch when you tell a story about some friend, and I always know it’s about her. When you hold my hand, I feel you reaching for the ghost of hers and know that mine will never fill that space between your fingers. When you kiss me, I feel you wishing you were tasting her. Sometimes you’ll start to reminisce on a moment we shared, except I was never there.

Long before there was a we there was her. Your wistful longing is poignant. I can’t compete with the past, with someone you never stopped loving, and someone who did you no wrong.

If she were dead, I would grieve with you and the loss you never could have prevented. But instead, she’s just gone. Living far away in world you can’t be a part of, a world you both chose when she left you behind.

She’s translucent, and I’ll catch just a glimpse of her; her aura is palpable, but you’ll never admit it aloud.

You’re surrounded by her: that picture she took of you from a vacation, that anniversary necklace you never gave her still tucked in your sock drawer, the blanket she made you left on your bed. Every memory is colored by her, you filter the world you see through her lens. Your heart never broke: it is intact as you keep loving her from afar.

I am just a body to you, keeping the place beside you occupied, but not filling the room with my presence. You speak as though you’ve moved on but you betray yourself with every dwindling sentence and drifting hand. You look right through me and see her instead.

I won’t compete with a ghost.

She is gone: she broke her own heart to leave you and find herself. But you haven’t let her go. Her ghost lingers like the sweet aroma of her perfume, and as my back turns you spritz it again to refresh her scent. You hold her back in the recesses of your mind, her business is unfinished as long as you keep her captive.

You straighten your tie and pull out my chair, but push her in towards the table. You tuck her hair behind my ear and whisper how beautiful we are. You take me out to her favorite show, and give her my favorite flower.

We are one in the same to you as we flicker in and out of existence before your eyes.

I will not compete with a ghost. I will not be the body for her spirit to fill. Tonight I will close the door behind me instead of behind you.

Go. Until she ceases haunting your waking and dreaming, go. Find yourself alone again without the flickers of her around the corners, go. Find your own hopes and curiosities and passions again without her watching over your shoulder, go. Just go, and leave me be.

Demons can be fought and conquered together. But ghosts? You have chosen to carry hers with you and do not want her vanquished. So I won’t fight for your love.

I won’t compete with a ghost.