Roaming around the place was a daily ritual for him. The sunshine, the greenery, the sparkling river, held a romance of sorts. He could see the people there, lost in their own thoughts, lost in their lives, lost, and trying to find themselves. The one thing that intrigued him was that they were almost always alone. That was the irony. A place full of cliches from the world, and yet, lost souls knew no way out.
It was a particularly chilly day. He had worn his withered brown jacket, as always. He could see a couple today, young and gentle. They stood staring at the dazzling water, talking to each other. The only curse was the intrinsic nature of this place. They were talking to each other, but a silence captivated their minds and hearts. A silence too deep to be ignored. It is sad how we explore masks as a means to protect the ones we love or the ones we think we do.
A cool breeze touched his cheeks. The mild fragrance of roses hung in the air. Sometimes, he could smell things others couldn’t. He could clearly feel the hot breath of freshly mown grass at times, of a steaming coffee brew, of an old parchment at others. He had a strange sensation then. His vision reflected a clear stream, but he was transported to another place, a figment of his fertile imagination, a phantom. It was a place he felt close to. He could almost feel the tender touch of the elements, reaching his nerves, entrancing them.
He always carried a book with him to this open haven of his. It made him feel safe, not of the physical, but of things unknown. It gave him a power nothing else could. It was a higher form of interaction, mingled with the beauty of invisibility. It was like a warm hug in times of despair, and he could not remember the last time he was happy. He could not live without it.
He contemplated going back, but where would he go?
Right then, a little girl passed by with her mother.
“Momma, look! There’s the man with the brown jacket Granny was telling us about!”
There was apprehension in her mother’s eyes. “There’s no one, dear! You need to give your mind some rest. Sleep early.”
“No, momma, I’m not making it up! Please, Momma, believe me.”
For once, she did. Composing herself, though, “Granny’s ghost stories are for entertainment, my love. They are not real. Ghosts do not exist,” her mother smiled.
The girl kept staring at the man in the withered brown jacket. That day, lore took on a deeper meaning for that tender mind, as the apparition of despair turned into mist.