I believe in ghosts

They’re all around, surrounding me, or haunting me.

Part 1: Athena

For more than a year, Athena and I met several times a week. We would spend 20, 30, 40 minutes together, stretching and talking. For the most part, she would dress as I asked and stretch as I asked. Throughout it all, we had numerous conversations, the sort that people who are becoming friends have. We talked about family, friends, dating, sex, history, politics, and the world. I liked my time with Athena and I valued it. I happily paid her for the service I was procuring from her, the service of stretching with me.

I fooled myself into imagining that alongside our commercial relationship, there existed a friendship. At times, I hoped that this friendship might have more explicitly sexual aspects to it. But for the most part, I accepted that this was unlikely. What was much more likely, I thought, was that we were simply platonic friends, also engaged in a commercial relationship.

I was wrong.

The details don’t matter. Or maybe they do. But some months ago, Athena found herself in my city. While I had hopes that we might see one another, and we had discussed getting together, even coming up with a shared vision of what an evening together might look like, when push came to shove, Athena simply disappeared. I didn’t hear from her.

Or rather, I did hear from her just a little. The occasional glimpse of her having fun, a mile or two or three from me, with lots of other people. Shared with me and lots of other people. Occasionally, during that period, she messaged me, and me alone, that she was having a blast, without acknowledging that we had talked about possibly getting together, without expressing even sadness at not having or making time to see me.

I communicated my sadness about all of this. Athena communicated her unwillingness to discuss my sadness about all of this. Her desire, simply, was either to “be friends” or to resume our stretching relationship. Or both. But not to revisit the past.

“Either’s fine,” I said. “Or both. I don’t care. I don’t need to talk about anything. I miss you and would love to see you.”

That, apparently, was too much.

And Athena has not been heard from since.

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