The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

Author:Ben Dolnick
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: 2018-02-13T05:00:00+00:00

. . .

Hannah’s old bedroom had, at some point since her death, become a memorial. The bed in which Hannah and I had slept on the rare occasions when we’d stayed with the Rampes’—in which we’d had quiet sex and wrestled over the fan remote and stayed up watching Inspector Morse on her laptop—was now covered in the stuffed animals Hannah had collected when she was eight. There were framed photos of her on every surface, from every phase of her life—grinning in a strappy black dress at a work event; bravely bearing braces against a pastel-blue background; in a bikini on a beach with Megan. Terri would spend hours in there each day weeping over old yearbooks, sorting through T-shirts. Bruce would sometimes wander in and spin slowly in a baffled circle, like a little boy lost in Tokyo.

At first I couldn’t bear going in there—among the many things that had become poison to me, photos of her were possibly the worst—but after I’d been at the Rampes’ for a week or so I gave in. There turned out to be a not-unpleasant enfolding-ness about it. I still didn’t look directly at the pictures of her, but I wandered around picking things up, quietly marveling. This was where she’d slept every night for the first eighteen years of her life. This was where she’d talked on the phone to boyfriends with forehead acne. Every single thing—the blue plaid blanket with “FRIENDS SEMINARY” sewed into it; the black plastic alarm clock with the wires poking out; the tower of empty CD cases—had had some significance to her, had seemed worth saving. It was, I eventually realized, like being in a historic house museum.

And then I did force myself to look at the pictures: not the recent ones, not the ones in which she looked like the Hannah I’d been engaged to, but the old ones—six-year-old Hannah standing at a sink in her grandparents’ house in Connecticut, helping to wash a bowl full of lettuce; eleven-year-old Hannah at camp, working on a stick-and-feather dreamcatcher.

This is what I was doing—sitting on Hannah’s bed, sipping a glass of Bruce’s Scotch, flipping through an album of photos of fifth-grade Hannah in an apple orchard—when Megan walked in and closed the door. It was eleven thirty on a Tuesday night.

“Can I talk to you for a second?”


She squinted at me. We hadn’t been alone in a room together the whole time we’d been in the apartment.

“When are you going to stop bullshitting everyone?”

For a second my brain was startled into flashbulb blankness. So this was the old, bad Megan. It was as if she’d been acting in a play and we were now backstage. Her eyes and her voice made me think she’d been drinking. I asked her what she was talking about.

“I talked to Hannah’s doctor this afternoon.”

I just looked at her.

“Dr. Blythe. He said he talked to her a few times before she died. He said he’d been worried about her.”

“Okay,” I said. My heart had started to kick.


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