Sleeping With Ghosts
I was obsessed from the beginning.
The memory was etched forever in the deepest corners of my mind. The very first image of his face; the sleek black hair and sapphire eyes, it was such a rare and enticing combination. Those featured accentuated the most warm and inviting smile I have ever seen a man possess. His looks alone were a serenade to my senses and made me wish to engage further. I was hardly only interested in him for his looks. I wasn't that shallow...
"My name is Sebastian Barnett,"
He held a name as smooth as its keeper.
I wanted to learn all about him. His likes, his dislikes, what he enjoyed, how he drank his coffee, if he preferred Scotch or Gin. I had so many inquiries that flooded my brain because of Sebastian. He stumbled into my life by complete accident and I wanted to consume as much information as I could about him. Like my mother always said, though, "The best surprises in life are those completely unexpected."
Sebastian was no exception.
Mother knows best.
From the first few moments of learning about him, I desired knowledge from this new and interesting man in my life. I didn't mean to become so enamored so quickly but his eloquence drew me in and made me crave his wisdom. Finding men in the day in age I lived in who valued intelligence was no easy task. In a world of social media and mindless dribble, it made Sebastian even more of a catch. He was a rare breed of man from the first stories he told me. Every word he uttered rang through my mind like wind through wooden chimes. Rustic and melodic. I could have become lost in him for hours.
The more I engaged in him, the more the world around me seemed to fade into obscurity. The world with Sebastian felt far more refined. It may have been the way he carried himself but it brought me back to a time where life was significantly simpler. I required that. He gave me it without any trouble.
Sebastian's stories and recollections were so vivid and colorful that I felt like I was experiencing them along with him. His attention to detail that others would usually ignore was breathtaking. I was able to see Paris, London, Amsterdam... through his accounts. Marvelous adventures were shared. It was like living in another place entirely when the stories would get going; he had an effortless elegance that captured my imagination and my heart. Was that his play? Was he trying to make me fall in love with him? Why me, though? I was a simple woman who was not nearly as well-traveled as he. It was intoxicating.
"I must bore you, do forgive me."
There was always the faintest of chuckles whenever Sebastian thought he was boring. Mentally, I wanted to tell him that he was crazy. How could he ever think that way? The man was anything but a bore. He probably thought otherwise due to his long, sometimes drawn out explanations of things that most would classify as simple. I can't explain why,but that was my favorite part of experiencing Sebastian's stories. It felt like I was living inside a fairy tale book whenever I would enjoy his tales.
Twists and turns, travels and occupational discussions... I was intrigued for hours and hours on end. I can't tell you how hard it was to not be with him during my long days at work. He never left my mind, though. The days dragged on and on,droning the same monotony that I had become accustomed to. My secretarial job was so.... bland and uninteresting, compared to Sebastian's background. It paled further to his travels as a younger man, as well. I was young, too, and yet I had nothing interesting to talk about. I had no worldly experiences and no tales of exciting places and things like he did. How could my life truly have been such a blank and deadening shell so early in it? I never thought about it until I met Sebastian.
I attended college in my hometown, I never traveled farther than the city or two in either direction. I couldn't afford to travel the world on my salary. It wasn't that I felt worse about my life, per se, but I felt like a plebeian in a sense. I never felt so common and ordinary before. It wasn't his fault, either. It was mostly mine. I gave up multiple opportunities over the years to see things and experience things because I wanted a safety net. I wanted the 9-to-5 job, the secure income, the monotony. I thought that would make me happy. How wrong was I?
Sebastian attended University in his native of London and traveled a bit in search of knowledge and extended learning. His level of education was evident with every wonderful story. Layer upon layer of intriguing Englishman captivated me in ways I never knew a man could. Part of me wondered if I was going insane; it didn't seem right to me that I was so caught up in a man I barely knew. I only had him at face value,when it came down to it. Wasn't that incredibly shallow? The last thing I wanted was for it to look like I only cared about his experiences and his means. He was obviously well enough off that he could travel far and wide but the more I got to know him, the less I cared about the legalities of his travels and finances and the more I cared about the man himself.
I learned so much about him in the first few months. I discovered his favorite color was green. His family was always very close. He grew up idolizing his mother's strength and his father's resolve. His parents names were Jocelyn and Harold Barnett. They were married for forty-three years. Sebastian was previously engaged to a woman named Shelby, who ended up breaking his heart in a way he described 'momentarily beyond repair'. I absolutely despised Shelby and I never knew much more about her other than her name and the fact she left him for a man with a more 'satisfying status'. Shelby was nothing more than a gold digging harlot, in my opinion, but I never voiced my disdain for the woman. I could not and would not hurt Sebastian like hat. She hurt him enough and I wouldn't add to that by verbalizing such a negative opinion over a woman he loved enough to wish to marry.
That would have been incredibly rude of me. He deserved better than that.
Those months were the best months of my life, too, up to that point.
I found adventure and I found happiness in his words and descriptions. He was incredible with making me feel things that I never would have felt before. Sebastian had a way of twisting my expectations without even trying very hard. Perhaps I was easily swayed and easily impressed. It was spectacular how something as simple as extended conversation could help you learn so much of another human being's life. I never knew how much joy I could get out of simply allowing a person's words to touch my very soul. I was a terrible listener before Sebastian, I admit. He taught me the patience of simply being, listening and getting to know a person through exactly what they were saying. I didn't have to make assumptions or jump to my own conclusions with him as he was very straight forward in a lot of ways. He did leave some of the excitement to my imagination though, which kept me interested and kept me on my toes. That was where the occasional 'reading between the lines' came in and it brought me a lot more happiness than I could have imagined.
He was quite the lover as well.
Sebastian shared stories of the women he loved through the years. He had an affinity for brunettes. He wasn't ashamed to describe in almost erotica level detail of how he loved these women. I would have been silly to not be at the very least aroused by the man's prowess in the bedroom. The mental images that his stories triggered brought me pleasure beyond anything I had felt up to that point. That was a little odd for me because I wasn't a virgin in any right of definition but it certainly gave me sensations that I never experienced before. Perhaps it was because it was Sebastian... perhaps it was something else completely. I couldn't put it into words about how it made me feel.
I never planned on falling for himself and yet, after experiencing him for nine months,I could say unquestionably, undeniably, that I was in love with Sebastian Paul Barnett. I was in love with the way he made me feel. I was in love with the way that his stories and his emotions filled me with an irreversible pleasure. I was in love with the way that he made me smile just through the simplest of things. How could this man make me feel so much, so fast? I never found love in anyone before quite like this and I was stunned by the quickness and the surrealism in our situation. I could never tell him, though. It would come off as crazy if I started spouting off at the mouth of loving this man so truly and madly.
What a strange, surreal experience to be so involved and yet, feel like I was drowning in the overwhelming emotions that this man brought on to me. How could he do so in such an casual, unforced manner? He probably wasn't even trying when it happened, either. Was it me being a fool of a woman and being completely naïve? Or was there merit to my sudden onset of emotions toward the man? It seemed natural as anything else and maybe, just maybe, it was meant to happen this way...
I couldn't be so sure.
The craziest part of the entire thing was I didn't even know where he was.
There was something so unsettling about not knowing where the man you were so in love with was. So I skipped ahead and began searching for answers. Through my skimming, I noticed that time had passed. A few years, even. Easily. He was aging and his choice of words words and his expressive style was showing that. I was confused by it. It only took a few books for me to get to that point, though. I felt a sinking in the pit of my stomach as I continued to skim through the aged pages that smelled like time itself. The pages itself were worn and yellowed and frail. I hadn't noticed it as much before as I was lost in Sebastian's life.
I realized that falling in love with him was the last thing I wanted or needed but I couldn't shake the feeling. With every page turned, our love story was having to come to an end. Yet, I stayed with baited breath, almost begging myself not to turn the page. I couldn't stop reading. I needed to have some sort of closure to find out where he was when the books stopped. I skipped work that Friday so I could spend the weekend smitten by the words written in front of my face. My fingertips smelled like the aged pages and I was a bit ripe from my lack of showering but I couldn't be bothered to care about my appearance, my hygiene, or anything else. I needed these answers that kept me awake at night.
I fell in love with the man that I began reading about through the accounts of his life. Journals, almost an entire box of them, that I purchased from a garage sale in town. How the seller got their hands on such treasures is beyond me. The elder woman named Helena was a sweet, older woman with a smile that could light up a room. She was beautiful even in what I assumed were her early eighties but she didn't look like a day out of her fifties. She had lived in town for as long as I could remember but we weren't particularly friends. I was friendly with her, of course, as she was a lovely woman but I couldn't approach her and ask her if she knew a Sebastian Barnett. How would you be able to strike up a conversation like that without seeming like a complete psychopath? What a dilemma.
Once I reached the final book of Sebastian's journals, I found Helena without any need to go and find her.
He spoke of Helena with the highest of esteem in the passing pages. She was his wife of ten years and I was just coming across her in this final journal. I had read through thousands of pages of Sebastian's life and had blatantly ignored the concept that this man could potentially be married. Their love story was the sweetest story I had read in an age. Fifteen volumes in to Sebastian Barnett's life brought me to the end. He began journal keeping when he was a young,strapping man in his twenties and that was the man I fell in love with. It was no wonder Helena had fallen in love with him, too. The only difference was that Helena knew him. I only knew his story from a first-person perspective. It was like falling in love with a fictional character only to feel empty inside when the book was over. Now that I was reaching the end of the collection, that emptiness in the pit of my stomach began to form and pool and left me feeling shattered.
Sebastian Barnett's end of days brought him to the town I called home. How ironic was that?The last entry in his journal was written by Helena herself,discussing the loss of her husband. He died in the year 1985 after along battle with throat cancer. It was why he wrote so much in journals in his later years. He had no voice to speak. Helena spoke of how she couldn't remember the sound of his actual voice, as it had been so long since she heard him without his sickness. The one thing she remembered though was the warmth and hopefulness in his tone regardless of how rough it sounded. It was a long entry describing how her heart broke watching his struggle and how in August of 1985 he relented to his nine year struggle with the disease. He was in remission for five years before the cancer returned aggressively and overtook him.
My heart sank reading it.
Not only was the man who stole my heart deceased but he had been deceased for thirty years. He had been gone before my own lifespan began. The sadness I felt inside of my heart was like a dagger inside of my chest. I cried over the man that I fell in love with and for what? For the news of a departure that was not even in my lifetime. Maybe I truly was insane. I should have been looking up the names of reasonably seasoned psychiatrists rather than focusing on the negative experience that had unintentionally fallen into my lap. I couldn't wrap my head around the sickened, overwhelming feeling that I had once I finally closed the book but the tears that streamed from my eyes and down my face was nothing shy of real, genuine emotion.
Maybe it was a situation like falling in love with a fictional character.
Sebastian Barnett was a man, a character, in a series of documented books that had stole my heart in the year that I had been reading it. It was like any other created work; it drew me in, it made me feel things,and at the end of the adventure, I felt a a real sadness that shredded my heart into bits and pieces. I didn't know him but I loved him so dearly. I loved the feelings that I had from his words, his stories, his accounts and his travels. I mourned from his loss and I felt a sadness for the widow who lost her husband to a terrible disease. I also felt a small shred of shame for falling in love with a man who was not only married but his wife was still obviously hurting, if she was just parting with his journals after thirty years.
Those journals came to me for a reason.
What a strange and slightly disturbing happenstance...
It was the saddest love I had ever experienced. It was the kind of love I wish I could have experienced again for the first time all over again. Sebastian Barnett blessed me with the purest love I had ever known. I'd always be grateful for our time together. I justified that perhaps I wasn't crazy at all as much as I had the kind of imagination that got away with me. His journals were written in such a beautiful, profound manner that it made me feel like I was living the life with him. It was a shame that he never published the work. It would have been a better seller than most of what's on the market today...
I decided that I had to let the books go myself so someone else could fall in love with the man himself. Other people deserved to feel the same sort of love and admiration that I felt toward Sebastian. I hope that whoever finds comfort in his journals after me find the same delight and warmth in him. I wish I had been alive a few decades sooner, too, so I could have experienced a love like Sebastian's in real time. A classic, without bounds love that could have lasted decades upon decades. That could have been documented centuries later.
What a marvelous love that could have and would have been.