GHOSTS

I have told him that I do not love, I cannot feel, and there is nothing but emptiness in my heart. Yet, he does not believe me. He stands there staring at me, incapable of thinking that the creature has chosen to love cannot love in return. There are tears in his eyes, the same tears that fell once when I struck him as a child, tears that should give me a sense of victory. This is what Miss Havisham wanted, after all; for him to grow up loving me, so that I might scorn him, break him, ruin him, destroy his heart as assuredly as the fiend who left her so incapable of feeling.

Oh, she informs me in all seriousness that she no longer loves, no longer feels… but she lies, just as so many of us do. Miss Havisham pretends it does not torment her, but her very existence shows the truth. The crumbling wedding cake covered in spiders' webs, the layers of diminishing lace crowded about her pathetic form, the name plaques faded in their penmanship, the hours she spends pacing the hall in agitation… oh, she has loved; she has felt, and she feels still, but that the love has turned to hate.

Even Pip, she hated from the start, for she saw in him not an innocent child, but a small man who would grow up, as all men must, to break another woman's heart. "Love her," she urged him, and to me, "break him." Yet, I could not. I did not want to. There were moments when he delighted me, in spite of his shabbiness, in spite of his shoes, in spite of his stupidity, and his tendency to allow his eyes to crowd with tears.

If I lack emotion, Pip overflows with it. It radiates outward from him, for he feels each thing deeply… love… hatred… desperation… I see it all as he watches me, hoping I lie to him too, but it is not a lie. I do not love him. I feel nothing for him. I do not wish to torment him, but that is not love. That is simply a cat bored with a mouse and chasing a bird instead. I feel no stirring of affection, no sense of attraction. His tears provoke in me a different reaction than Miss Havisham would like. I feel rather sorry for him, that he has chosen such a poor subject upon which to receive his heartfelt affections.

I see the world as it is, and the people in it as they are, even and perhaps most especially, Pip. He is a romantic, a lovesick lad, a boy who carries his heart on his sleeve and offers it to me. I see Miss Havisham, a woman whose emotions have driven her to madness, a pathetic wretch of a human being whose very existence makes me come very near to despising her. I see a house in ruin overrun with vile memories, a wedding cake half-desiccated, as a morbid tribute to a man whom she allowed to destroy her. This woman, once magnificent, now reduced to a shivering, mangled corpse in a yellowed, frayed wedding gown, one slipper forever lost, her skin pale as that of a ghost. I am her victory, yet she knows me not. I dislike her as much as she worships me, not out of any form of true affection, but as her creature, her invention, her triumph. But it is not her triumph. I am who I am because of me, because I have never loved, because I have never felt a stirring in my soul, because I see things with logic rather than emotion, because it is not in my nature to let feeling lead.

Ghosts… that is what this wretched house is, and its mistress… ghosts of the past, ghosts of loathing and sorrow, ghosts that if they should fade away and die, no one would mourn them. I wondered as a child if ghosts existed, if my parents were among them; now, I know that they do; not in the wispy, whitish beings found in children's stories, but in far more terrifying form: those who neither care for the world nor understand it, but leave no mark upon it. If Pip is not careful, he will become a ghost. He will be unimportant, unmemorable, just a simple boy with a fortune he has neither earned nor knows what to do with.

Love him? How could I love such a fool?

Yet, he would have me lie to him, smile at him, simper over him, to please him. But I won't. He must know me for the woman I am—cold and dethatched. If he should choose to love me then, well, he is a greater fool than I anticipated, a child who has never grown up, and a boy who loves unconditionally where he should not.

I spurn him. I tell him to go away from me. And yet, as he walks across the garden, into the shadows, I have a sudden, horrifying thought.

Is it my destiny to also become a ghost?