Beyond Belief 

Beyond Belief

I imagined the ghost. This was because I knew such phenomena did not really exist - so what else could it be but a flip of my own mind, or a flick of the light on its last legs ahead of darkness, or a flap of a weathered window-shutter, or the flop of a dropped dressing-gown, a fleck of reflection, a flippety-gibbet that deserved less credence than a dream?

But, then, when my colleagues at work started small-talking about the ghost in my house, without me having breathed a word to them about it - in fact becoming a topic of conversation taken more for granted than that of the weather - I began to have my doubts. Not that doubt is tantamount to belief. But doubt is the next worst thing, surely.

So, I began to doubt the ghost, rather than imagine it was a freak of my mind. Its existence wavered upon the edge of tangibility, true. But it was still something I locked away in the depths of silent sleep, come the fullness of night. My dreams were full of routine matters, such as the ledger at work and colleagues who spoke as if they knew me - and a boss who did. Call him God, if you like.

Then I gradually grew aware of matters that most human beings never encounter. One was indeed the ghost. A real one, this time. No doubt about that. I had died in my sleep, you see. It was only natural. I could not claw my way out, past the dragging fingers of jealous colleagues. But a wisp of me managed it. A mere wisp. Call it the ghost, as I say. The nearest you will come to believing. The nearest to proving the old Cartesian maxim: "I doubt, therefore I am." Or was it a flip of someone else's mind, or simply an unpredictable fluke of the weather?

(Published 'Wearwolf' 1994)

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