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Christopher, Ontario, Canada
February 2004

It is often a habit for someone to ramble about seeing a loved ones face on a wall or in the bedroom after they have passed away. We often believe that we see these images of the people we have lost because we don't want to forget them.

I have never had a fascination with the dead, and I rarely listen to ghost stories without sighing in a dubious manner. Personally speaking, death and the after- life are rather troublesome topics that are best left to those participating in cults or seances. However, and I say this without a doubt, it's not enough for one to be utterly impassive about ghosts. For even if you forget about the dead, they wont necessarily forget about you. Let me begin.

In my high school years, I became infatuated with a lovely girl named Isabella. Like most claims made by young boys about their objects of affection, she was the prettiest girl I had ever laid my eyes upon. She was a mysterious young girl, hardly like the other females at school. She mostly kept to herself and always carried a red string that was securely wrapped around her thin little wrist.

She was a rare beauty; her long, black locks fell softly over her shoulders. Her skin was pale and her eyes were a brilliant green. She reminded me of the porcelain dolls my mother kept in the attic. Isabella had very few friends and those whom she did converse with were frightened of her. I know this because I would hear the girls making remarks about Isabella being a witch or the daughter of Dracula himself. Then they would go on about how they should steer clear from her in case she casts a spell on them.

Isabella wasn't threatening or dangerous in any way, but there was something about her appearance, a vibe even, that pushed people away from her. Being 17 at the time and quite the outcast myself, I noticed Isabella like a diamond in the ruff. I didn't feel as though I was being pushed away by her appearance. In fact, I felt as though I was being pulled towards her, much like a magnetic force that is impossible to break.

I noticed her eating her lunch alone in the cafeteria, I noticed her walking home from school and I noticed her in my science class as she would delicately dissect a worm. There was something about her that I found absolutely irresistible. She hardly seemed well off; her clothes were torn and worn consecutively throughout the week while the other girls happily pranced around in their brand named jeans and expensive shoes. Nonetheless, I was taken by her.

So one day after school was over, I had asked Isabella if she would accompany me to the library. She never replied, rather, she nodded humbly and made me feel rather awkward, as though our visit to the library was top-secret. I asked her what part of the city she was from and she told me that she grew up in Sighisoara, Transylvania. How extraordinary, I thought. The famous Count Dracula is said to have lived in that very same city in the 15th century. Perhaps this is why so many people were afraid of poor Isabella, because of the location of her birth home. I, on the other hand, didn't really give it much thought after that.

After a couple of weeks, I developed strong feelings for Isabella and I was determined to ask her to the school dance which was going to be held on the Friday of that week. We had spent our lunch breaks together and though she did not say much, I always felt that I could read her silence. We didn't have to say anything to each other, we just knew what the other person was thinking. I knew then that we were falling in love with each other. I knew very little about her, but I felt assured that we had our entire lives to learn about one another, much like the way it happens in fairy tales and such.

On a most unfortunate Thursday afternoon, the eve of the school dance, it was announced that Isabella had passed away in her sleep that very morning. The cause of death was never mentioned. I fell into deep despair, one that took my mind off everything that was going on in my life. I had taken time off school to cope with my distress, but it seemed that the more I tried to forget about her, the more she roamed around in my mind, like a splinter in my brain. I was angered by this because the sorrow I felt on account of Isabella was becoming insufferable.

I tried terribly to forget about her, in hopes of claiming my life back. I had been non responsive to the world around me like a zombie for almost that entire year. My mother decided that it would be best for me to seek therapy from a psychiatrist. And so I did.

The therapy, or so they call it, didn't help much. Isabella was in my mind night and day, and I had spend many nights crying myself to sleep.

Years after the incident I had volunteered at an animal clinic, graduated from high school, met my fiance in college, and before I knew it, Isabella was long gone from my memory, locked up somewhere deep within my subconscious and away from my everyday life.

I have been married now for five years. My wife and I had our first baby boy and are expecting a second. I work as a veterinarian and my wife works as a computer graphics designer. Everything in my life seemed normal until the night on February 12.

It was a Thursday night and my wife had gone to bed early. I was sitting alone in the livingroom watching jeopardy and I was just about to call it a night when the lights in the kitchen suddenly went off followed by the TV It was pitch black. I usually keep a flashlight in the drawer next to the couch and just as I went over to search for it, I saw her.

In the far corner of the room stood a girl wearing a white dress. I reached over for my glasses to get a better look and ended up knocking over the lamp. She was so stunning. Her pale skin shimmered in the darkness. Her hair was long and black and her eyes were bright green. And surely enough, a red string was tied around her wrist. That was when I knew I was looking at Isabella. She was so beautiful in her white dress, just the way I remember her from high school. She had a peaceful countenance about her that brought ease to my heart. My eyes were welling up and my mouth was stiff. I managed to whisper her name..and that was when she spoke back. She didn't actually speak out loud; she spoke to me in my mind. She asked me why I had forgotten her, why I stopped loving her. I could not speak. I was filled with countless emotions but could express none. The silence in that living room was oddly deafening. In an instant she vanished, the way an image is suddenly deleted from the screen of a computer, and all that was left in her place was a sheet of blank paper. "What is this for?" I remember asking myself out loud. In my mind that very second, a voice replied: "because you are the only one who can read my silence."

I have kept the blank sheet of paper ever since. Isabella visits my house once every year on Thursday in the month of February. Sometimes she visits me in my bedroom, the kitchen, or the livingroom. Once I even saw her in my office at work. Her visits are brief but allusive. She comes to remind me of the days when we fell in love; the days when she was still alive. I once took a picture of her, but nothing showed up on the film.

I have never told my wife about Isabella, but she will always be a part of me now and I can never forget her. After all, she wont let me.

Christopher, Ontario, Canada
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