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DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are my creation and property and are copyright. I will not benefit financially in any way from the publication of this story.

Author: Jesmihr
Rating: PG
Summary: While Spock is at Gol, Kirk inexplicably sees him on Market Street.
Challenge: SBS 3rd Year Celebration “First Line” Challenge
Author’s Note: Thank you, Hypatia, for allowing this very beautiful first line from your haunting story “Embers” to be a part of this challenge. Because it has such a lovely rhythm, as well as the wonderful word “amidst,” I thought it could be poetry… and now it is.
Feedback: Gratefully received!

The Sighting

I caught a glimpse of him on Market Street, amidst the morning crowd.
The fog that day was sullen, the traffic loud,
the people blunted in their customary early Tuesday way,
and as for me – well, what can I say?
That I was hurrying to get to where I didn’t want to go
in the first place, the only type of destination I seem to know
these days? That I felt wasted, vacant, and way too old?
That it took everything of the nothing I had inside to hold
myself together hour-to-hour? Yes, and every other face without a name
that swarmed around me probably could’ve said the same.

So let’s go back to him. He appeared on the corner of Market and Third.
(Keep in mind here that I’m using the word
“appeared” in a strictly literal sense. This point is important because
at first he wasn’t there… and then he was.)

Understand that I saw it happen: his abrupt presence, spontaneous
and unexplained, when just a heartbeat earlier only extraneous
strangers roved about on the sidewalk. Standing taller than the rest,
serenely motionless, dressed
in quiet black, he looked up and deliberately met my eyes.
I froze - more from joy, I think, than from surprise.
On his beloved mouth was that minute smile, diffident and apologetic.
When I beheld it, my heart roared into life; I felt that same magnetic
force, unabated by time or hurt, untouchable and immutable.

And yet, I knew it was an all too irrefutable
fact that he couldn’t be there… wasn’t real.
“Can the living have a ghost?” I asked myself, but as soon as that surreal
thought crossed my mind, he looked down - and was gone.

I was left once more alone, standing there on
the curb with my world blurred by sudden, futile tears;
filled with the kind of anguish that sears
the spirit and makes numbness seem like clemency. I hated
everything at that moment, hated myself and him and the sedated,
anonymous crowd that was so oblivious, so vacuously unaware
of what had just been wrenched out of me in that little instant. Blank stare
after blank stare – that was all that met me. And if I’d
chosen someone and walked up to him and pulled him aside
and said, “I’ve just seen the ghost of my old lover, who isn’t dead -
over on that corner. He wasn’t there, and then he was...” Instead
of understanding or compassion, I’d receive
at best a look of vague alarm. I’m certainly not naïve
enough to think he’d say, “Yes, I saw him too, across
the street, and also watched him disappear. The loss
must be unbearable; I know that kind of pain
myself – I’ve lived it.” No. The plain
truth is: no one knows. And I could never share
what he was and is, or what it means to live without him: I couldn’t bear
to pour into a stranger’s ear the smallest detail of our most private hours.
Those times, both the incandescent and the bitter dark, are ours:
The ones that filled us, and the ones that emptied us out
utterly. I hoard them all alike. Without
them, I would lose the very proof of my own
breath, and blood, and bone.

By sheer force of will, then, I swallowed down all of my tears and part
of the grief and even a little of the rage, rather than impart
to any of those who milled about the street what had just occurred
on the corner. But I could not accept – never will accept - the absurd
implication of the vision: that all I knew with him has been reduced
to conjuring magic no more potent than a self-induced
hallucination – a makeshift ghost. I’ll always avow a love like ours
ought to have at its disposal infinite powers:
the power to move mountains, or to change his mind. I must believe a love like
this ought to make heat from ice; right from wrong. It ought to strike
fire from ashes, turn the path of fate, heal the ache, shatter
barriers. A love like this ought to matter –
it ought to count for something, damn it!
It ought to, but it doesn’t:

He was there. And then he wasn’t.

The End

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