The Encounter

I didn’t know his name so I decided to call him Martin. Martin was a ghost. “How are you doing Martin,” I said breezily, “how’s the craic?” Only no words came out of my mouth. I felt like I was choking. The choking turned into coughing. What came out of my mouth wasn’t words but moths – thousands and thousands of huge grey moths pouring in great spurts out of my open mouth. I was choking and choking, coughing and coughing. The ghost was me. I was Martin. I didn’t know myself. I saw myself standing awkwardly there in the corner of the room. “How are you doing Martin?” I asked, trying to cover over my embarrassment at this meeting. Trying to paper over the uncomfortable silence that lay between us. The awful embarrassed awkwardness. “How are you doing Martin?” I said, the words coming out all croaky and weird, like they didn’t belong to me at all. The uncomfortable silence had been preferable. I knew Martin felt the same way – he looked sick with embarrassment. His skin was the colour of old parchment – he didn’t look right at all. Only he didn’t have any skin because he was a ghost. You could see right through him. I could see right through him. I was him. “How’s the craic?” I quipped nervously but I knew it was the wrong thing to say just as soon as I said it. The words just hung there in the air between us like an unacknowledged fart, embarrassing both of us. No one wanted to own up to them.  It’s hard to relate to a complete stranger when that stranger is yourself. It’s hard to know what to say – small talk just doesn’t seem to cut it. I didn’t know his name so I decided I’d just call him Martin. “How’s it going Martin,” I said only no words came. Only a weird kind of mewl, a bit like a sick kitten. Martin didn’t have any discernible features so it was hard to establish eye-contact. I didn’t know where to look – I kept looking for a face but there wasn’t any. “How’s the craic” I blurted out nervously but instead of words a horde of great grey moths burst out of my mouth. I broke off in a fit of coughing. I coughed so much I sounded like a dog barking. I barked and I barked and I barked. No matter what I did I couldn’t stop barking – it felt like I had been barking forever. Martin didn’t know where to look. I’d gone pure mad. It was an awkward moment that didn’t look like I was going to be able to get out of…




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