My friends told me that the shortcut I went through to get home was haunted. And I didn’t believe them. Why? I didn’t, and still don’t, believe in myths. They told me the spirit of a girl roamed on the narrow road, and that the girl had died in the cold of winter.
Or so I’ve been told.
Back from school, I went through the narrow shortcut. Then I saw something. No, someone. It looked like a girl with that long black hair. She sounded like a ghost. Is the myth real?
I tiptoed and approached her, touching her. She’s real! I thought. When she turned around and looked at me, I ran away. ‘Don’t run away!’ the girl shouted. I came back to her.
‘It’s okay, don’t be scared,’ she said. I became less scared and walked to her. Still curious, I asked, ‘Are you real?’
‘Well of course I am, why wouldn’t I be real?’
I walked closer to her. ‘Come on, sit here next to me,’ she said. I just accepted that and sat next to her. I braved myself and asked her the scary question.
‘Who are you?’
‘Well, Merve, why are you here?’
‘I…don’t…have…a home,’ she mumbled.
I could hear her saying the words. No home? All I could imagine was a girl who’s free to do whatever she wanted, but had to struggle at the same time. So unfair, this life. I looked at my watch and seeing that it was already late, I walked away.
‘Wait!’ she shouted. I turned my head around, and she said to me, ‘Thanks for not running away from me…’
I gave her a smile and left.
It’d been a year since I met Merve, and every time I come home, I always spared some time with her. But not today.
On my way home, through the shortcut, I felt lonelier than ever. And this day I realised that the only way you know that you truly love someone is when you let them go. And she wasn’t there for the next days. Days, weeks, months passed. Maybe she’d gone away or just wandering around.
And eventually, years passed. Those years were hard, the years where I had to move on from thinking about Merve. And now that I’m free from the burdens of student life, the only burden is missing her.
Today, I’m not really free, though. I promised my sister that I’d come to see her – family affairs. And so now I’m waiting for the train to Istanbul. Then, in the crowd of strangers, I can see a familiar face. Too familiar, to be honest. Can it be? I see her squeezing through the crowd, trying to get to me. And when she is close enough, when she is standing just right in front of me, she said, ‘Ayşe, is it you?’
And I happen to ask this question at the same time: ‘Merve, is it you?’
‘Where have you been?’ I ask.
‘I just came back from Istanbul. I see you’re going there.’
‘Well, yes. Let me guess. Goodbye?’
‘All right then. Goodbye.’