she says, "do you believe in ghosts?"
he tells her he likes the idea. that it is something that interests him, but something he sort of left in a box.
"in a box?"
"in a box. when i was in kindergarten i was convinced of ghosts. i had elaborate dreams about them. not so much looking like dead people, but how they would be in cartoons. floating sheets. sometimes they were good. sometimes they were completely evil. usually you could tell by the mouth, if it was frowning or smiling or had pointy teeth. those were vampires, i think. but often and a lot at the end, you couldn't tell a good ghost from an evil ghost. there were no longer any real distinguishing marks between good and evil. it was weird."
"so you're saying you don't believe in ghosts?"
"i'm saying it doesn't matter if it's real. i'm saying the thought is absorbing and fantastic. that i saw a painting once that was just the words 'to repel ghosts' in white, printed on black. that this was incredibly affecting. but that most of my convictions about this sit in a box somewhere in my parents house. with the enthusiasm award i got in kindergarten."
"i can't imagine you in kindergarten."
"i didn't have glasses and i remembered things better. short term things, anyway. i didn't have a habit of wandering into a room and forgetting why i was there."
"i believe in ghosts," she says. she looks straight ahead. or just off in the distance. somewhere near the windows.
in the bed, sitting up, the thunder crashes. he holds her to him. he feels her breasts through her shirt, rising and falling with her breath. they are just big enough to fit in the palm of his hand.
"i believe in ghosts," she says, this time letting her eyes close a bit. "in something. something involving physics, and a soul. there is obviously science behind it. there are no sheets involved."
"there should be, ada. there should be sheets."
"my ghosts are not the product of your childhood."
"i had a wonderful childhood."
"allen, when i woke up it was because i had this dream. about a camel. or, there was a camel. and it was trying to get out of this gate that i couldn't get open. and so it stretched its legs sideways, like a spider, because it had to get out. the grass was burning. it was an estate or something, and it had grass. i had been hiding in the house, and everyone i was hiding with just ran through the fire. because they were scared of something."
"were you scared, ada?"
"i don't know. i woke up so i could figure it out. but i still don't know." she pauses, and takes a deep breath. "once when i was driving at night, there was a storm. i was near a telephone pole, and i couldn't see through the rain, which was a curtain. and a deer jumped out, right into the windshield, and its head went through. sometimes i dream about this still."
"Ada," allen starts, "if you listen, you can hear everything moving. the rain outside and the clouds up ahead. the stars up above that are really so many low flying jets. the ice cubes turning into ice. the fact that i am still hungry. you can break these things down into smaller parts. and find out what is creaking."
"the creaking woke me up."
"there could have been a porch swing. in the dream. it was an estate."
"this is a fair assumption, i think."
"you're just saying that to be supportive."
"what were your ghosts really like?"
"round sheets. that floated in a black void. they smiled and frowned and had full sets of teeth or pointed teeth or no teeth."
"the longer you got to know them the harder it was to see which one was obviously good and which one was obviously evil?"
"were they dead people?"
"they were just ghosts."
"Allen?" Ada goes, "I want to go to sleep."