"It's been a desperate day for that beautiful woman," a brown haired girl told me in the diner on a street with no name.
Well, OK, it probably had a name, but I didn't notice it that warm summer night when I saw the neon sign flashing, Mac's Diner, it said. I was starving. There was a woman's tennis game going on, on the TV screen behind the counter of the diner. I wasn't taking much notice as I ate when this brown haired girl joined me. She was pretty but her face was sad. I wondered why.
She talked to me like she was an old friend. I didn't really mind, though. I had been travelling through America for days, sometimes alone, sometimes with people on busses. I didn't really mind. I just wanted to find something, anything, really. I just wanted to go on. This is how I am.
"You have a name?" the brown haired girl enquired.
I wasn't sure if I should tell her. She was a stranger, somebody I would probably never meet again after tonight. But then again she appeared harmless enough. "It’s Midnight," I told her, "Midnight Fable."
She looked at me like I was crazy or something. I felt a little annoyed with her. Then quite suddenly she was gone and once more I was alone with my thoughts.
Later, much later, I lay back on a beach on the edge of a nameless town in South Carolina. The sea was far out and there was hardly a sound or a breath of wind, which was strange for a place like that. I wondered if I was dreaming. I tend to dream a lot. Or imagine I am dreaming.
I closed my eyes and let ghostly figures flicker by. Alice, my best childhood friend, who was knocked over and killed riding her bike in the road when she was nine. I cried and cried for hours and hours, inconsolable when my mom broke the news to me that night.
And Peter, the college freshman with the pop star good looks who promised to love me forever before sleeping with that big boobed sophomore who shall be nameless. I never spoke to Peter again, though he begged me over and over again for forgiveness, I ignored him. I don't forgive such infidelities.
I met the most wonderful guy in a bar tonight in Minneapolis. He told me his name was Robert Williams, and he used to be a movie star but he was dead now. "But I can see you," I told him, "You’re alive."
"No," he said, with a sad look in his eyes.
Later that night I saw an old Jean Harlow movie called Platinum Blonde as part of retro season of her movies in a beautiful old cinema. My heart skipped when I saw Robert Williams, the guy I had met earlier, was the male lead in this movie. He was amazing, but that was in 1931 and this was 2017. Had I really met the same guy? On the way out a friendly usherette informed me that Robert Williams had died in 1931 just three days after the movie premiered.
On the way back I found him standing on a street corner. "I was good?" he asked, with a hopeful look in his eyes.
"Yeah," I said, "you were amazing."
He smiled a sad smile, thanked me and was gone, and I knew I had seen my first ghost. Or maybe my mind had simply played tricks on me because I was tired.
Passing down one of those numbered streets in New York late tonight I saw a frightened looking woman place a baby, wrapped in a shawl, down on a door step and rush away. The baby started to cry and I was about to rush over to help when the door opened and an oldish woman in a shapeless green dress, stepped out, looked down, saw the crying baby, picked it up, looked around, before taking the bundled up child inside.
Further down the street the woman who had put the baby there, was hiding in the shadows, watching, looking like a scared rabbit.
"It’s Ok," I told her, "she'll look after it."
"Please God," she replied, her eyes wide with fear before rushing off into the night.
Today I met Helene, who wants to be a dancer. Only she can’t dance, she says. But she wants to learn, but is really a little too lazy for all that. She was so matter of fact in her speech she made me giggle and want to be her friend. We met down a beautiful dim lit street in Chicago. She was alone and trying to dance but not really succeeding when she saw me watching and smiled and called me over. And it was like instant friends.
We kind of ended up the night at a disco lounge that looked like it had stepped right out of the seventies. It was beautiful, intimate and dreamy. And I sensed everybody watching Helene and I dancing, even though were not that good. We were just so into the music.
Just before we left Helene said this would be our only night together, but she would never forget me. I wanted to cry when we parted with a hug. I took pictures of her on my cell, and a little video of her too which I am currently watching, and the tears are running down my cheeks because I already miss her so much.
So I keep travelling. My mom says I’m running away from my responsibilities. Perhaps she’s right, but I can’t stop, you know? Yeah, I just can’t…
© Mimi Dey, 2019. All rights reserved.