Her veined hand shakes as she grips the wooden bannister. The faint knocking at the door has awakened her again, and she is on the staircase now, headed down, step by slow step, knowing what’s coming. Age makes each unsteady tread deliberate, and in this cautious movement she sees herself, naked, descending the staircase, leaving an essence of herself behind with each footfall, each glimmer a ghost of a moment’s past self, lingering behind on each step, as Marcel Duchamp would see her, leaving imprints of herself as she moves through time, the aging “I”s of a second ago, embers dying.
Reaching the bottom she turns and looks back to see the leavings of herself, but they are never perceptible to the living, even though they are most assuredly there.
There’s the soft knocking at the door again, and she shuffles, arthritic and in pain, to open it. The door creaks, like her bones, joints rubbing on joints, and standing before her is the child she recognizes, the ghost of long ago.
“I so miss you,” she says, “and wish you could heal age. But I know there is no cure for time.”
As always, she reaches to touch the girl, watches her swirl away to nothing. And she cries for what was, knowing each night the little ghost is lighter, more diaphanous, further away in time, knocking more and more faintly.
Then she sighs, looks up, knowing she is that much closer to the end of her ghosting story.