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Let me tell you something about ghosts.

It's last Tuesday, and I'm working, an automaton or a robot and my mind starts to drift. You can only straighten so many sheets or swab so many decks before you lose touch with the world and disappear into your own reality. I used to think that there was nothing in life that couldn't be fixed later, that we are all so strong and that we may get hurt, but never for long. I was painfully optimistic. I realize that we are malleable and some scars take time to heal, or never do. My mind has stopped racing, and I can finally just sit still and breathe. I have found my balance again.

I stop to take a break, and I'm sitting in the old butcher's shop, eating a muffin while perched between two ancient vegetable peelers stamped General Electric, 1943. 440v AC, enough to cook you quite thoroughly. They probably still work, most of this stuff does, but I never use it. I lean against the bulkhead and it becomes clear that I was in denial before, telling myself that I lead a life with no regrets and it's all water under the bridge, and I can keep going and going and going because I'm fine, all while ignoring the truth that I've been fucking broken. I guess I'd just never stopped to think about things that way, because it's so much easier to just bury my head in the sand.

These ships, they used to go off to war and when they would get damaged, the crew would patch up the damage as best they could, wait for things to quiet down enough to escape, and then head home for repairs. A sister ship to mine has the distinction of being the most damaged aircraft carrier to return to port under its own power. If this great steel behemoth designed for battle and wrapped in armor still needs time and distance to be whole again, then who am I to assume that my heart is dressed for battle, invincible? Maybe it's best that I've let my heart rest in drydock for the past few months.

I was woken up by a ghost on Friday. At least, I'm assuming it was a ghost because that's the only logical conclusion, or at least as logical a conclusion blaming ghosts that one can make. Somebody shined a light in my eyes an hour before I was supposed to wake up, and motioned for me to wake up, so I did. I thought it was my coworker who I'd asked to get me up in the morning, so I woke up. My coworker found me an hour later, and asked what I was doing up so early. After comparing notes, we asked everybody who was onboard that night if they woke me up with a flashlight, and nobody did. Everybody else either has at least one ghost story, or a story that they are still trying to find a rational explanation for that doesn't involve ghosts.

It's Friday night, or maybe Saturday morning, to be precise. I'm not eager to sleep on the ship again. I'm with the new girl, climbing and climbing and climbing. We drank in my office earlier, when we finished work. We're standing above the bridge now, as high as we can possibly climb. We're kissing against a massive antenna, I think maybe it's for the radar, but I don't really know. I tell her that I think we are the first people ever to do this here, kissing, drunk at one in the morning twenty stories above the water, at the base of a huge antenna. She thinks so too. It's cold. I wish that somebody had a camera following us, filming this, because it seemed so epic. Her lips are very soft, and I wonder if this is heaven, or at least my own private interpretation of it.

We slept in the captain's bed that night, I hoped that maybe the captain's quarters wouldn't be as haunted as the junior officer's berthing. We slept well, aside from being woken up by footsteps of people who weren't there or even still alive every hour.

My boss had a conference with management this morning about finding me someplace relatively ghost free to sleep.

I'm inspecting the berthing areas now, singing along with my ipod. I know that nobody else will be anywhere near the forecastle at this hour, so I feel free to sing despite my voice. It doesn't hurt when I think about her anymore, and maybe I have finally found some degree of peace. I open the watertight door to the outside, and run into a guest. We look at each other for a few seconds, equally surprised. I hope he didn't hear my singing, and I back away and close the door. I sing more quietly now. I realize that I've been carrying a lot of hurt around, and putting this hurt on other people, like somehow somebody else being miserable would make my burden lighter. I've finally let all that go.

I wasn't going to talk to her again, ever. I couldn't help but read about the fires in Southern California in the news, and one of them sounded awful close to her house, so I had to ask. She told me she was fine, and I hoped that was the end of it but I knew it wasn't. She messaged me a few days later asking if we still weren't talking.

It's Thursday night. A paranormal group has come out to our ship, they come every month or so. The ghosts never seem to show themselves to the paranormal groups, it must be more fun for them to mess with the crew so everybody else thinks we're all crazy. They end up communicating with one of the ghosts, somehow, something involving a tape recorder and whatever else I don't want to know. The paranormal group decides to perform an exorcism in the forecastle at midnight, twenty feet from where I was going to sleep. I decide to relocate. This is all a bit too much for me, infrared cameras and EVP meters and freeing spirits.

There's a ghost that lives in the elevator next to my office. Well, maybe "lives" is not the proper verb, because I suppose the ghost isn't still living. During World War Two, he rode the bomb elevator up to the hanger deck, and a load of ammunition shifted while he was riding and crushed him, he died a few days later of internal injuries. If you stand in the elevator, you feel very uneasy, and all you can think about is getting out of the elevator.

She asks me the usual "how are you" questions, and I respond in kind. She's doing well, and I am too. I tell her that I'm glad she's doing well, and sincerely hope I don't hear from her again, knowing full well otherwise. My problem with her was always a lack of self control, it took me months to learn how to not answer the phone when she called. She tells me that it feels like we should have a lot more to talk about, because we haven't talked in so long. She asks me if everything is okay with us.

I tell her that there is no "us" anymore, there is a lot more to talk about but maybe it's best if we just don't. I tell her that she is a ghost to me now.

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