There is a phantom that makes his home in the dust and cobwebs of my bedroom, a poltergeist flitting in and out of sunbeams and bumping in the dark. I can hear him sigh my name in the back of my mind every day at noon; I can feel him ease down onto the arm of my chair to read over my shoulder the newspaper, and I know the door opens just a little too quickly every evening when I come home. When the pages of my book refuse to stay open, when all my houseplants begin to wither and die, or the cat goes galloping down the hallway in a random panic, I know that he is restless. His presence lingers around me, heavy like an uninvited guest, but he always welcomes me home with the open arms of an old friend.

He keeps me awake at night when he cries, terrible, awful, heaving cries, coming from the darkest corners of my bedroom. Some nights, I can feel his salt tears on my cheeks, leaving cool colourless trails down my hot heartbeat skin, whispering like autumn winds past, or his fingers trailing across the bony bumps of my hips, turning once-rosy skin blue and rotting, deadening under his airy gray touch. He sings sweet nothings of a time long ago to me in the dark hours of the morning, his voice soft as cold September rains. When I close my eyes I dream of him, his face flush with colour and the sun dancing through his eyelashes, his smile a night terror I can no longer start at. I awake, and there too is his face, grinning out of the darkness and relishing the circles of purple he puts beneath my eyes. On hot midsummer nights, he slips a knife between my shoulder blades, a sharp sliver of cold biting between my vertebrae, popping them apart and relaxing all my muscles, stinging and burning where his poison fingers probe my wounds for my bloody essence that he seeks to make his own. I wake with bruised flesh, hues of purples and blues and browns, where his hungry hands have grabbed and pulled at my limbs in an attempt to make me his.

He lives in dismal grayscale, and I in ghastly technicolour. He cannot find his place within my watercolour world. He begs me to recall his name when his hands gently caress my shoulders while I make breakfast, three syllables that tumble across the tongue in shades of red and orange. He queries after the colour of his hair while I brush my teeth in the bathroom mirror, toying with once-black tousled curls now white and streaked a grey translucence. He asks me desperately to remind him what colour was his favourite when he still lived as I change out burnt lamp lightbulbs, staring at me with empty eye sockets where once eyes so dark a brown they glittered black resided, deeper than the deepest outer space. I remember falling into those eyes for the first time, drowning in them, feeling that I could both know everything about him and yet leave him a sparkling enigma all at once if I just let them wash over me like a gentle deep-ocean wave. I floated content in the great voiding depth of those eyes, never once suspecting that they hid a raging riptide, a famished black hole, that they had trapped me as a pitcher plant traps a beetle, feeding off it for days.

On my bad days, I ignore him, and he screams at me, a terrifyingly loud and angry bass, like an upset child with the voice of a man, and he opens floodgates that force me to remember everything I push down deep inside. Our play at contented coexistence comes to a screaming halt, giving out a dying gasp of sad summer air that ushers in the cold of autumn with it. On those days, my hair turns white and falls out in clumps, more fine lines around my eyes crease, and I become older and slower and quieter while he stays young and powerful and angry. Later, the colour returns to me cheeks and lips, but I feel a little more tired inside, and in the bathroom mirror I mark the growing transparency of my own skin, knowing I will join him soon and render him content. He cannot give up his living past, and I cannot reconcile what he once was with the thing he has become. It will be the death of me.

The saturated colour of my eyes, the eyes he always loved so dear, dulls every time his fingertips trail my face, never to return. What he touches, he ruins, just as I once ruined him. And I want to leave, I want to, I want to, I want to run away and never look back and never be found and never relive his horrors again—but he is forever bound to me, holding on to that pre-summer bliss of our childhood, when we were two imperfect souls finding perfect solace in one another, reveling in what we were, what we could have been, what we planned to be.

I can bury his skeleton in my closet, but I can never outrun his ghost.



The Best Idea I Ever Had—Sew Intricate
Heaven in Hiding—Halsey
I Knew You Were Trouble—Taylor Swift
Somewhere Else—Artist VS. Poet
Million Dreams—The Greatest Showman soundtrack
Unbreakable—Artist VS Poet
Summertime Sadness (cover)—Megan Davies
Edge of Seventeen
I’m Not Dead—P!nk
Saviour—Rise Against
Devil’s Backbone—The Civil Wars
Everybody’s Fool–Evanescence
Apologize—One Republic
Dancing with a Wolf—All Time Low
This Means War—Marianas Trench
Ordinary World—Joy Williams
Man Overboard—Blink-182
Erase This—Evanescence
Ghost—Ingrid Michaelson
Outlines—All Time Low
Dearly Departed—Marianas Trench
B-Team—Marianas Trench
Young and Menace—Fall Out Boy
Eyes Like Yours–Shakira
Amnesia—5 Seconds of Summer
Nina—Ed Sheeran
Grand Theft Autumn/Where is your Boy Tonight—FOB
One More Night—Maroon 5
Outer Space/Carry On—5 Seconds of Summer
Dark Side of your Room—All Time Low
Rhythm of your Heart—Marianas Trench
I Miss You—Blink-182
Daddy Lessons—Beyonce
Don’t—Ed Sheeran
A Drop in the Ocean–Elenyi
Nightmares—All Time Low
Call Me When You’re Sober—Evanescence
End of an Era—Marianas Trench
(BONUS: The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes—Fall Out Boy)

Angel–Part 4: Deliverance

I could see the details in his face under the stage lights as clearly as I could the day I had met him. I stared at him and he stared at me, his fingers limply holding the neck of his guitar and his jaw dropped slack. His band mates sang on, confused at his lack of participation, until one nudged his arm with a concerned look etched on his face. They exchanged a quick glance, and then looking back to me the man smiled and jumped full force back into his performance, newly invigorated with energy. Throughout the night, he smiled at me, stared at me, all while performing with seemingly endless energy. When I left the stadium, I couldn’t keep myself from smiling.

“You see,” my friend said, linking her arm with mine, “I told you I knew this would help.”

I laughed, and suggested we go for a late night coffee before returning to the hotel. She nodded her agreement, and after a moment looked at me strangely.

“You know him?”

I nod–we met by accident last fall, I say. I had no idea he was famous.
The thought makes my stomach flutter. As if what had happened in autumn hadn’t already been embarrassing, to make it worse the man I ran into had had to be famous.
There was a panic behind us, coming from the stadium. I tuned it out, assuming it to be rabid fangirls trying to get a glimpse of their idols. I was unaware that the man who looked so at home under stage lights was running after us, trying to find me. As he pushed his way through adoring fans, begging them to let him through, my friend and I rounded a corner and disappeared from the sight of the stadium. I had no idea what thoughts were going through his head, this angel I would never see again.

“Where is she?” he had asked
His friends had looked at him, confused.
“The girl,” he insisted, “from the front row.”
“Oh–the one you were making googly eyes at?” his friend teases.
“You know, man, tonight was a damn good show. Your energy was way up there–but it was like you were singing for her, not for us.”
The man stopped at the door to reply over his shoulder.
“That’s because I was.”

He was running, running, running, and we were walking, walking, walking, out of his sight and ever so slowly out of his reach. Desperately he tried to reach us as we continued on our way into downtown Toronto. I came to terms with the fact that I would never see that man again.
Until we heard some one call out behind us–wait, wait! Confused, we stopped and turned to see the man running towards us, hair flopping up and down. We stared in disbelief. Why would he track us down, when his hordes of fans were back at the stadium?
He stopped in front of me, panting. All I could do was stare. He smiled at me, a mischievous and playful smile, while he caught his breath.

“We certainly have made a habit of running into one another, haven’t we?” he teased. Still I could only stare, my friend and I dumbfounded by the circumstance in which we found ourselves.
“Well, heartbreak girl, aren’t you gonna tell me your name?”

My friend and I exchanged a glance. Heartbreak girl? The man stood to his full height, towering over us, and ran a hand through his hair. He was still smiling.

“Look,” he said while staring at the sidewalk, “I know you don’t know me. But even from the moment I knocked you over back in Calgary, I knew you were sad and I knew that I was meant to have you in my life. Tonight, your being at my show is proof of that. I don’t want you to be frightened of me, and I understand that you are and that the walls you have up will take a while to tear down.”

He took my hand, cautiously, and glanced at my eyes momentarily. Still confused, I stared at him and didn’t make a sound.

“If you’ll let me, I will take away all the pain you’re suffering from. Just please, give me the chance to do so. What do you say, heartbreak girl?”

Despite myself, I felt my fingers tighten around his. He smiled with a mixture of relief and uncertainty–uncertainty for, I felt, the future, as he realized I had agreed to allow him into my life. I didn’t know him at all, only his face and his music, but how could I have resisted him? He was radiant, so willing to take a chance on a stranger of a broken, run down girl. Light seemed to emanate from his eyes, and again I found myself falling into them as I opened my lips and whispered to him in a voice he had never heard before, giving him chills I could feel reverberate through his hand and into mine. I told him my name, that was all–okay, he said and then laughed, Ray, like a ray of sunshine–and I swore as he smiled I could see his wings behind him. We invited him to join us for coffee, to which he agreed. He fit in with us effortlessly–he skipped along the sidewalk with us like a five year old child, he teased my friend about a band mate of his that thought she was cute, all while holding my hand.
And so I found myself walking into a future with an angel sent to me from heaven, and the voices in my head were quiet and the lover I used to know was sleeping with a girl I had never met. And I was okay.

Angel–Part 3: Salvation

The butterflies in my stomach had been dead for a very long time. Whether I had drowned them in alcohol or shot them with pills, I don’t know. But my life had become an empty void, a routine sickness I battled day in and day out. All companionship those little butterflies had provided me died along with them, and I had never felt so alone. My depression set in and controlled every ounce of my being–parasitic, it fed off my energy and whispered destructive thoughts to me. It reminded me how silent my phone was, it reminded me the rent was due, it reminded me how much I hated my job, it told me that food and sleep were unimportant and that I was worth nothing, just like my ex lover had said.
Life had become a nightmare I had accepted that I would not awaken from.
My phone began to ring. I checked the clock–8:30. Perhaps a little late to be ringing some one, I thought. I answered anyway and was greeted with the upbeat and enthusiastic voice of my best friend.

“Hey, August 1st what are you doing?”

I paused. “Working.”

“Book some days off–we’re going to Toronto.”
I shook my head. What? I didn’t understand.

“Look, Ray, you’ve been completely depressed since like November. You need a vacation, and I have the perfect thing to pick you back up. Book the days off.”

And before I could reply, she had hung up. Stunned, I placed the phone down and slid into bed, resolving to deal with my new found situation in the morning.
My boss fought me on the vacation days, but in the end I won the time. Overall I’d only be gone half a week, and even she could see I was too run down to continue working without a more substantial break. I wasn’t sure what my friend had in mind, but I elected to trust her on the whim.
I couldn’t feel how tired I was when we settled into our airplane seats. There was no difference to me in feeling from one day to the next–the lack of sleep and the stress of airport security had little impact on me at this point. Beside me, my friend wriggled into her seat as I clasped my hands and closed my eyes. I dozed into a restless sleep, awakened by her prodding at 7000 feet above the ground. She gave me a mischievous smile, and finally revealed her secret to me–the purpose of our trip, she said, was to see an up-and-coming band live in their first global tour. I had never heard of them, and questioned why she would take me to see a band performing across the country when I had never heard of them. Her eyes twinkled.
“Because you need them.”
Passing me a pair of headphones, she claimed I had another five hours to grow accustomed to their music. So I did.
My time in Toronto lifted my spirits. Being free of worries and stresses greatly liberated my mind from the phantom of my ex lover and the knives his words had become. By the time the night of the concert came, I found to my surprise I was excited despite my lack of knowledge of the band. It was true that their music had connected with me on a certain level, and yes had even brought me to tears–but irregardless of my excitement I couldn’t help but feel slightly out of place standing in the line of hyperactive teenaged girls waiting for the stadium doors to open. When they did, my friend and I found ourselves pushed up against metal barriers right before the stage on the floor, elbowed by shoving fangirls and getting our faces cut by posters pleading for a marriage proposal. In truth I was slightly sickened by the actions of the younger crowd around me–so head over heels for a group of men older than them. I had to pause and remind myself that I was not much older than many of them myself, and as the music started to play the screams grew louder and I found myself smiling, reconciling with myself in the familiar feeling of a buzzing concert.
As I turned my eyes up to the stage, I stopped dead. My eyes surveyed the long spiky hair, the kind face, the strong hands grasping the guitar. I grabbed my friends hand and, panicked, whispered “I know him.”
And green eyes met blue, and I could feel the words he was about to sing stick in his throat.

Angel–Part 1: The Dream

Waking up with butterflies in you stomach is either a good or a bad feeling.
Waking up with you heart stopped, brain frozen up, and those butterflies beating against your stomach in a failed yet desperate attempt to breech it is the bad kind of feeling.
Especially when it happens again.
And again.
And again.
In one night.

It was the same dream, over and over. Standing on the street, I watch the body plummet to the ground. And as it hits, there’s a moment. A lull in time where everything stops. And I run towards it, pushing my way through the growing crowd yelling my justification–“he’s my boyfriend, he’s my boyfriend”–until I reach him, cradle his head in my arms. Wipe the blood from his face and settle into a quiet desperation, rocking to and fro. I stroke his face and sing, something he has never heard me do, and I close his staring eyes and gaping lips. I kiss his forehead and rise, watching up above me for his shape standing at the edge of the rooftop. But he was here already, he jumped and hit the ground before I could have caught him.
And it was the proceedings following this that after which I would awake.

In one I would run, unable to be caught, around the building and up the stairs, and infinite number of stairs, until I reached the roof. My friends would scream up at me from the ground as I stood at the edge, and then I would jump. Face first, welcoming the ground with open arms. And I’d crash into it. Awake.
In another, everyone below would catch me and pitifully I would live. Awake.
In another, I would subject myself to an anxiety attack. I’d run, find somewhere secluded, and sit with my face or ears covered. And eventually a man would find me, and take pity on me. He’d lead me to a trailer nearby where he would let me sleep in his bed, so I could deal with the pain alone and safe. His friends would question it, but accept it openly and not at all unkindly. And I would become one of them. A façade became my face to the public, some strange and new girl celebrity with a sad and unknown past and a fake name. She’d sing about a boy who fell from a rooftop, but no one knew his name. Every day middle class girls from around the planet would send her hate messages for becoming friends with “their boys.” But they didn’t realize that those boys were the ones who helped her deal with the loss of the boy that fell from the rooftop. And eventually she fell into an awkward phase that exists between losing and finding some one. The man who had found her shared something special with her and they grew attached to one another. When she had nightmares of her lost love falling, he would wake and slide off the trailer couch and into the bed that used to belong to him, all cold feet and tousled hair and white boxers, and wrap his arm around her frail, skinny body with his nose pressed to her neck. In the morning she would wake before him, and make breakfast for all four of them in an attempt to make up for the burden she thought she had become. She cleaned and she cooked and she shopped as her old self on their behalf, so that they could avoid the adoring crowds and loving and obsessing teenaged girls. She allowed herself to join in on their music practices, and she would help the man dye and redye his hair for the fans. And eventually something grew, as it was bound to. In the days he spent watching her grow and recover he came to admire her, and he could no longer look away. One day she caught him, her lips inches from his. A brief moment saw them leaning to kiss, but their hearts failed to take over and the moment was lost.

With heart pounding and blood rushing and her boyfriend alive and that beautiful man with the smiles like stars that helped a broken girl fix herself singing a song about forgetting, and another about being at the mercy of another, and another about wanting to let go far far away from her, she awoke.
I wanted to wake up with amnesia and forget, because I didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t–or what I wanted to be true or not, for that matter.