Little ghosts don't last long. They fade out in no time. The empty air where my hair used to be, after I've cut it short, leaves my fingers clutching at suds, but only for a few days. The ghost of the old faucet makes me grasp and flap as I hunt for the tap, but that too will pass.
The ghost of the stair that used to be there lives no more than two weeks. My foot may step where the step once was, and a sickening feeling will rise from that emptiness and twist in my gut, but I'll find my footing. I always do. We get used to the way of things, no matter how new. And that makes the ghosts go.
At Eglinton station, another ghost lives in the smell of the cinnamon that wafts from the place that makes buns. He wears a black overcoat and his swift, bouncing gait makes it stream and flap behind him. I can't see his face, though I can follow his back. At the turnstiles, he's gone.
On King Street, the ghost of a sculpture lives in the valleys of the great office towers. Wall and Chairs, it was called. Made by McWilliams. The sort of bronze that leaves a scent, a metallic strangeness in the mouth, as if you'd licked it. It was illuminated by a digital thermometer that (do you remember?) rose and fell fourteen degrees in the space of an hour one cold winter night. My ghost used to live in that circle. One of them, anyway. But the sculpture is gone. It's been gone a long time. It's the ghost now.
The ghosts aren't just here, in this place and this city. At least two live in Florida. In a beige sedan with velour upholstery, they are alive in the old-fashioned ticking of the turn-signal. They wait at the light at Rattlesnake Hammock, make a right onto St. Andrew's Boulevard. They are pastel in the sun.
Vancouver is teeming. Too haunted to ponder.
His huge hands cup my ears in the Annex, muffling sounds that might otherwise hurt. He is curled on the hardwood floor, just next to my bed. He is bounding up Vaughn right now. I'm sure I caught sight of his hat. It's all ear-flaps, and the face of a bear looking out from the forehead. It makes children laugh.
This city is full of ghosts. They are here and not here. They are things lost, but not always. They are your childhood and mine. They glimmer and go. They are mica in the sidewalk. They need not be feared.