Do you believe in ghosts? I’m asking because, sometimes, I have the feeling that some events in my life were influenced by one. Unlikely twists of fate, nearly impossible coincidences… It’s possible that what we call ghosts are simply the lingering effects of people’s existence after they die, like an after-image that our eyes keep seeing even though there is nothing left to see, or the wake left in the water after the passage of a boat. Maybe you’ll understand better if I just move on with my story.
On the day of my grandmother's funerals, the sun shone way too bright and the sky was an indecent shade of blue. My grandmother passed away one week after suffering from a heart attack, one fine afternoon of mid-July. She had retired about seven years earlier from a faculty position in the Biology department of one of the best universities in the country. Some of her former colleagues were now mingling with family and friends in the funeral parlour.
I just stood there, in front of the closed coffin. There lay the grandmother with whom I had read my first stories, who secretely fed me chocolate cake when my parents weren't there, who always believed in me no matter what... Suddenly, I felt that stupid tightness in my throat. Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry... Just like that, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I wiped them with the sleeve of my suit jacket, but more kept coming. I was going to leave the room when a blurry tissue appeared in my field of vision. I took it and blew my nose in the most pathetic way before looking up to my benefactor. He was a youngish good-looking man I had never seen before, wearing the mandatory black suit and sorry facial expression. He was too young to ever have been one of my grandmother's colleagues, not part of the family...
"Are you Dr. Jenkins's grandson?" the stranger asked.
"Yes, I'm Damian. And you are..."
"Daniel, I was one of her students. My condolences, Damian."
I had nothing to add, so I simply nodded and edged my way outside of the parlour. I felt a little bad for not having a better go at making conversation, but I thought that if I spent one more minute in there, I would just start blubbering like a little kid. At least, chances were, I would never meet him again.
Or so I thought.