I smell them on a wet evening, while the winds are blowing and the trees are swaying in the dark. Or when I walk up the stairs of an old building, and each step takes me closer, creaking. They gather like dust, in dust, and think it's a camouflage. They perch on the windowsills, watching.
Sometimes they think they are still alive. I don't know what to do with that knowledge. Do I tell them or should I not? When I open a door, I hear them run around for their hiding spots. But if I take a seat, and sit long enough, they creep close and sit by my side. They tell me things, but they don't have voices. When they speak, I hear them as if it is myself, reading another's letters in my own voice.
They want to live on. Can you blame them? Sometimes they're broken, and missing parts. Sometimes, they keep walking in a direction that doesn't exist. When they tumble out from between pages, I fear for touching them, lest they crumble so aged and delicate they may be. Sometimes, I can feel them asking me questions. They want to know if they lived for a reason. I don't know how to tell them that I don't know. I tell them I think they did. They did not exist without purpose.
There are little ones, they pull on the hems of my jacket. They curl themselves around my knees. They want me to meet their friends, who belong to others. Not mine. I know them, somehow. Sometimes they all look alike. And sometimes it hurts to look at others. Even though I may only have met them, it feels like I've known them forever. They want reassurance, even as they creep back into their hiding spots, they want to know if I will forget them? How do I tell them that I don't know if I can, even if I tried?