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by on October 3, 2010

Let me tell you my story – how I came to be here in this lonely place. The land stretches out, so flat and yet layered with muted sunset colours and the odd brilliant flash of green. This alien beauty was what drew me here initially; but I wish I had never come. I have been here for so long that my memories are fading. That is why I must tell my story, so that I don’t forget.

We’d planned the trip for months, my friends and I. It was our first adventure as adults. We were so excited to be leaving our childhood playgrounds and experiencing something different. And it was amazing, those first few days. We watched the countryside change from its familiar deep greens and blues and golds. I had always thought our mountains were arid and stark, with their cragged orange and brown peaks and hidden cool clefts. But then I saw the stretched out vistas and the endless sky of the plains.

I think that this landscape is why I am still here. If the accident had happened earlier, before we left the Cape, I think I would have gone to my end peacefully. I cannot rest here. I miss my home with what still feels like a physical ache: the rich colours, the industry of tilled fields and the towering mountains. But what I miss most are the sounds. It is rarely still or quiet at home – there are the winds and the breezes and the gusts, so strong that you can smell the sea kilometres inland. Here, there is just silence. So I tell my story again and again to fill it, and I moan through your dwellings to recapture the sounds of my home.

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6 Comments
  1. Enjoyed the slow reveal and constant fore-shadowing (how I came to be/wish I hadn’t come) in the first paragraph and think the second serves well to create common ground and sympathy with your ghost – everyone has a first road trip.

    Also your (your character’s) love of the land and beauty shines through nicely; love your descriptions of and with the colours.

    Enjoyed the interpretation of Ghost as sublime and lonely as opposed to scary.

  2. I love this – gentle, nostalgic, with a very vivid sense of place. Are you thinking of the Karoo here? That sense of a vast, slightly alien, atmospheric landscape very much recalls it for me.

    The land itself, and the contrast with the Cape, is such a strong presence that it almost overwrites the ghost itself – I don’t get a strong sense of personality or voice, it’s all dominated by the longing for home. Was that a deliberate choice? Interesting, if so – follows the idea of a ghost as obsessed, reduced to one quality, here longing.

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks Doc. I’m glad you liked it and you have it exactly right. I was thinking of the Karoo, around the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape border. And it was my choice to portray a ghost in the tradition of a reduction from complete human to one or two human qualities expressed powerfully and obsessively. On a drive recently I found myself longing for the Cape in a way that felt almost physical – it was very powerful and I wanted to capture it. Also the Karoo landscape is made for haunting stories 🙂

  3. I’m with ES on the sublime and lonely as opposed to scary: almost soft and gentle and sad.
    The descriptions of the two places were great and the contrast was very well painted by your words.

    I particularly enjoyed the vibes around being tethered to the wrong place and “I cannot rest here.” Works really well as motivation for the haunting.

  4. I enjoyed the loneliness, I think it worked well with the descriptions of the colours. I also liked the idea of the memories fading, often I feel as though vast expanses of land are fading into the horizon – I liked the two ideas together.

  5. parfles permalink

    I agree with the comments – I identify with the idea of a ghost being a fading collection of memories and obsessions, it feels right to me.

    The writing is very beautiful when you talk about nature, the hills and plains and so forth. Obviously something you identify strongly with.

    The bits where you talk about the people are a bit more clumsy feeling – “our first adventure as adults” doesn’t sound right to me. “experiencing something different” also doesn’t feel the way people talk.

    I think it will work to keep the people descriptions colourless and wan compared to the overwhelming spectacle of nature – but the phrases need more polish in that section.

    Beautiful and haunting, but not scarily so – thank you!

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