*In this case haunt takes on its meaning as a pronoun: a place that is habitually frequented.
by Mianyi Wang, UWCM
19th of October, 2022
Illustration by Ozias Silitonga
The October gust sweeps away whispers from unfamiliar lands and whisks them by my side. I don’t mind them in the way that I don’t mind the slight traces of erased pencil marks, or the scent of yellowing journal pages. Their ubiquitous presence lingers, but I don’t feel the urge to push them away; they don’t anger me like the cheerful chatter does.
When I walked past the moat yesterday, their footsteps reflected mine. But their tracks were barely visible beneath new acrylic-paint footsteps that smelled strongly of uncrushed hopes. Mine were once just as bright, though they’re more of an earthy tone now. I didn’t continue walking because I was afraid that the shadowing footsteps would subside if I went too far away from the place we have in common: the place that they haunt, and the place that haunts me. In their presence, I’m more at peace with the tans, browns, and forest greens of my paces.
They didn’t appear today though, but it doesn’t surprise me, as they fade in and out at random moments. Among the flag-canopy constructed of multiple identities, they took the shape of a girl with a maroon hoodie who did not know where her home was, and they recalled her name above the crowds of foreign cheers. I orient myself back to the tunnel and look for my new roommates. Among the late-night fairy-light chats in the common room, as people left one by one to sleep, they surrounded me with echoes that kept me awake. I realize I am the only one left and so I stand up to leave. Among the laughter of theater kids in the drama room, they gave me a thumbs-up and a smile, and I cannot help wondering if I am morphing into them. I zone back into the script-reading.
In my chronic tiredness of DP2 year, I have found consolation in the glimpses of the past, but they do not allow me to dwell on it. The paradox of something so fleeting is that while it passes by quicker than that October gust that brought it flurrying, it is the only thing that is constant. New people find the secret UWC places, and new people form connections to the place they are starting to call home, but they do not take away from my home. Old people passed on the UWC traditions, and old people left to construct new memories of their own, but they creep back into my memories. The overlap of the unfamiliar sketches of the present and the faded yet vaguely familiar pencil lines of the past comforts me in an eerie way. Perhaps one day I will also become one of the autumn whispers that haunts. However, for now, the whispers are frequenting me less and less, and I am not sure if they will come back tomorrow.