The Old Man and the Ghosts: Past

There’s a certain sound the rain makes on the roof during that first heavy storm of spring. It’s a seductive rhythm that lulls one’s mind into a state of peaceful receptivity, hypnotic in its not-quite-irregularity. One is always listening for a pattern that isn’t there in the gurgling rush of water through the gutters, and hearing voices in the water running down the street.

This is the voice of the Past.

This is what it sounds like when the Past whispers in your ear in the dark. This is the queer rhythm strummed out by its cold fingers as it runs them over your memories. It prospects in the little rivers of your mind, sifting through a lifetime of forgettable mundane details and half-recalled trivia in order to find the bright bits of hope, the dark and precious pains, and the priceless gold of happiness.

When the Past mined my life, it was thorough. It was careful. It sang like rain the whole time. Sometimes, I thought it laughed (a muttering of thunder and a trembling wind in its fingers). It was as inevitable as the weather, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. All I could do was deny it my assent and make its conquest futile. It could take any piece of my life that it wanted, but I would render every precious gem of it valueless by rejecting it. I would throw diamonds to the ground as if they were nothing to me. I would hold on to useless things as if they meant all the world, and trick it into taking the fool’s gold of trivial and stupid memories. I would burn down the castle of my consciousness so that no enemy could hold it, and I would call that victory.

My enemy laughed its parody of Marley’s laugh, and I pretended to love the sound so that the hungry Past might see it shining in my heart.


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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