On the steamer, I felt the fever of reinvention coming on. The passengers were assembling below deck, the first fibers of the first cocoon just beginning to spin.
I watched as it began: the crooked hairline and the wild eyebrows of the short Hungarian disappearing under thread after thread, the fine silk winding down past his boxer’s nose and thick neck. He and I had met on the gangplank and nodded at each other, but not exchanged names. No names on the steamer, for they were useless now.
The steamer departs from a place you don’t know of and arrives at place that you do. The people who get on are not the people who get off.
It’s an expensive ticket for those seeking a perennial change: Each passenger is cocooned in the hold, the silkworms lulled by the lapping of the waves as they work. Their delicate threads give the body new ideas in the dark.
Just before shore, the steward carefully dissects each silk coffin, awakening the passengers, now each with a different face, a different voice, a different walk. They nod at each other, strangers again, and depart for wherever their plans demand.
I sweep up the loose threads.
Front page image by Anita Carril.
GHOST WRITER is a project by Tracy Danger Mumford. New sections are released every other Sunday. If you’d like to receive email alerts—and that’s all you’ll get, a short email—saying the new one’s up, sign up here: