My wife and I, we both call it ‘the wave’. That wave of tired that washes over you so quickly as you’re relaxing in front of the TV or with a book. If you don’t catch it early and drag yourself off to bed, you’ll wake in the middle of the night with a full bladder as the screen saver dances around on the screen that’s been watching you for a while.
I stayed up for a bit after she turned in last night, not quite ready for sleep. It only took an hour or so, and then my own wave came along. I turned off the TV, looked around the empty room and reached up to pull the chain that turns off the lamp beside my recliner.
It was then that I saw the silhouette in the chair in the corner, side lit by the streetlight coming in through the opened curtains on the window beside that chair. That chair that was empty mere seconds before, when I turned the lamp off. I cleared my throat and spoke up.
“You know, I tell my wife all the time that we have a ghost in the house, but I never thought we’d have the opportunity to meet.”
“You might want to lower your voice some. You don’t want your wife to come out and find you talking to yourself, now do you?”
“No, I suppose not. She puts up with enough of my nonsense as it is. So, tell me. What is it that made you decide to reveal yourself instead of just making noise upstairs now and then?”
“Noise? Oh, that ghost thing. I never claimed to be a ghost, pal… that’s entirely your take. In the past, you always referred to me as your ‘invisible friend’, and that was a bullseye.”
“Oh, so there actually are invisible friends, and you’re mine?”
“Was yours. I’m putting my papers in, which is why I came to say goodbye.”
“You learn something every day. Not only do people actually have invisible friends, but they even have a retirement plan!”
“Not usually. We’re generally a friend for the long haul, but I have to tell ya, dude… you wore me down and burned me out. I got nothing left!”
“How exactly did I manage to do that?”
“That wild imagination of yours, dude. Five decades of writing music and lyrics, and then, just as I thought you were gonna give it up when the arthritis set in, nope. No such luck! You go off and start writing fiction cause you can’t play anymore! I thought you’d maybe sit in the park and do crosswords or watch birds like the other old timers do, but nooo, not you! Sorry dude, I just can’t keep up with you anymore.”
“I’m sorry, man. I guess I just still feel I have something to say, even though I had to find a new way to say it.”
“Look, I’m a friend, so I’m gonna give it to you straight. I get it. I do. You have a sense that if you try hard enough, you’re gonna break through and finally make it. You do have talent. You are good, no doubt. There are a LOT of people like you, talented people that are good at what they do… but they, and you, aren’t great. The few that are great, that have that unique thing, they’re the ones that make it.”
“Can’t argue with that. I always say I wrote the music no one hears and the stories no one reads.”
“Now, let’s look at it from a different perspective, OK? You HAVE had something a great many people will never get to experience. You’ve had the joy of creating that body of work, dude. All the music, all those stories… maybe they’re not great, but they ARE good, and you created them all. Your crazy wild imagination was the fuel that gave them all life, and most people just don’t ever get to experience that joy of creation. You’re one of the lucky ones, dude… you just don’t see it that way.”
I found myself at a complete loss for words. He was absolutely right about all of it. I had that rush of excitement more times than I can remember as I finished putting something new together. Maybe so much so that I came to take it for granted? I started nodding and finally muttered my response.
“I… I can’t, I mean… wow. You’re right, man. You nailed it; I just didn’t think of it that way is all.”
“I know, and it’s fine. I just wanted you to see the forest from beyond the trees before I head on out.”
“I’m gonna hate to see you go, man.”
“You’ll be fine. I have a feeling you won’t need an invisible friend offering suggestions while you’re sleeping any longer.”
“Nah… just a friend. And… maybe I’ll hold off for just a little while, make sure you’re good.”
“I’d appreciate that, man… I truly would.”
“We’ll see. Right now, you best hit the rack before you nod off in that chair again.”
“Yeah, you’re right. And… thanks. Thanks for everything.”
“Aw, don’t mention it. Oh, one more thing before you go?”
“Sure, what’s that?”
“You do have a ghost, but he’s cool. His name is Henry, and he was a carpenter way back when. He likes all the improvements you’ve made to the house.”