We paid a crazy amount for two breakfasts of poached eggs on toast, with a pinch of Middle Eastern spices and a small bowl of chorizo jam. It was a treat, however, to lick my teaspoon and look around the cozy neighborhood cafe, where groups of women in lycra lingered over their lattes.
The waitress had pink hair and an aquamarine nose ring. Throwing caution to the wind, we asked him for two more coffees, then re-mortgaged to pay for them. I visited the washroom before leaving – it was lovely, with scented soap and ocean-inspired potpourri, and the ornamental driftwood was a really nice touch too.
After tipping the waitress, we said goodbye and set off for a walk along leafy suburban roads. Delighting in the abundance of blooming magnolias in all the pretty gardens, we had more fun looking at other people’s site reviews. A whole bunch of locals in this particular corner of red-brick woods, it seems, are planning to wrap their wallets around a wrap-around kitchen.
As we walked, we talked about the ghosts and the tradition of our shared extended family (many of whom once lived in this neighborhood) of banshees swinging to announce the passing of our parents.
It would be hard to imagine a banshee showing up nowadays in one of the prosperous dwellings we strolled past.
One of these banshees was discovered by the son of a dying relative, sitting on the end of the bed the day before his father died. Another capped lamenter, also spotted by a dying father’s son, crossed the middle of the road in the moonlight just outside the family home.
“She had no shade,” my companion told me.
“Sorry?” (I had been distracted from the conversation by a dashing japonica.)
“Banshees – they cast no shadows.”
“A glass extension either,” I said, gazing at a slice of biophilic architecture adjoining a beautiful house at the end of the road, which did a wonderful job of connecting the building and occupants to abundant nature.
“Do you believe in ghosts?” she asked me.
“Maybe,” I replied. Not, I thought, would seem rude, having grown up with a mother who, quite regularly, it seemed to me, had wandering minds that intruded on her reality.
Mind you, it would be hard to imagine a banshee showing up in any of the prosperous dwellings we walked past these days. Avid singers should bypass advanced home security systems, make sure they don’t trip over sectional sofas, and be damn sure they fit in with the overall aesthetic before opening their gummy mouths.
There are the bad-girl banshees whose unearthly howls chill you to the bone. These are women with reason to hate
I read somewhere that there are two types of banshees. First, there are the good banshees who appear as beautiful, enchanting women who sing a sorrowful song filled with concern and love for their families. (This particular brand of sweet, compliant banshee is usually rewarded with a Dyson Airwrap in his stocking stuffer, a clothing allowance, a plug-in Mini Cooper, and an apartment near downtown.)
And then, of course, there are the bad-girl banshees whose unearthly howls chill you to the bone. These are women with reason to hate, women who don’t mourn the loss of a loved one but celebrate the future death of someone they abhor.
I couldn’t tell you if the banshees of our ancestors were of the whining or singing variety – nonetheless, decent of them to show up, I suppose.
We crossed the pleasant suburb, cutting through verdant alleys, passing in front of churches with steeples. Some roads displayed more than one “Agreed Sale” sign. On closer inspection, the properties seemed empty, with tattered gardens, drafty window frames and rusty front doors. Apparently, local realtors have waiting lists of wealthy clients ready to pounce once probate is settled, clients eager to gut, expand, upgrade, begin transformative journeys of restoration.
My companion and I did not stop in front of the house to reminisce. It’s out of my league now
The house my mother grew up in (home of the restless banshees) is up for sale again. He had remained in the family for many years after she left him. I remember playing hide and seek in the long back garden. I also remember going up to the room where she had stayed as a child for months and months, recovering from peritonitis. Sitting on the winding staircase, I imagined I could smell the lilies in her sickroom, left there to disguise the smell of poison wafting from her gut.
My companion and I did not stop in front of the house to reminisce. It’s out of my league now, robs me of any lingering feelings of attachment. Ghosts and their guides are one now, bygone souls drifting across floor plans, silent witnesses of earthly progress.