Ghosts of Daylight

Posted: October 14, 2015 in Stories
Tags: , , , , ,

It being close to Halloween, here’s a short ghost story. Keep the paper tissues handy.

“It’s easier to dismiss ghosts in the daylight.”

 

I floated over the toilet as my son brushed his teeth. It was a cramped bathroom, but the apartment was cheap. Picking up the tiny water glass, he took a swig, swished it around and spit.

“I’m going to make that sale today, I know I am,” he told the mirror.

You do that son, I know you can.

There was strain in his eyes, creases. He hadn’t slept well. I know, I’d watched over him all night. He rubbed his beard, checking for stray hairs.

“Nah, it’s fine. Looks more manly if it’s a little rough.” He adjusted the blue tie over his white shirt.

I followed as he went to the car, sat with him through the ride to work.

I’m his mother, I have to look out for him.

“Hey Judy,” he greeted the receptionist, “looking good today.”

“You too Ron, have a good day,” the brunette replied without looking up. The desk was glass, the decorations were glass. Everything was see-through in the lobby, just like me.

“I know I will,” he nodded. “You too!”

He headed in for that big presentation to the client. He was brilliant. At least I thought so. The client, however, was unimpressed. Ron returned to his desk and slumped with his face in his hands.

“What am I doing?” he whispered. “I suck at this job, can’t make a single sale.”

I ran a finger through the hair around his ear, just like I did when he was a child. Not that he showed any signs of feeling it.

Come on Ron, it’s not so bad. You’re going to get out of this, I know you will. You’re a bright boy. I believe in you. Please, please keep up your hope. I wrung my ghostly hands in worry. Can’t I do anything to help? Dammit!

I sat with him through lunch. He ate alone at Subway every day, no mayo, trying to lose weight.

I followed him from one staff meeting to the next. His diagrams were good.

We rode together home, and back to his computer desk. There he sat and made doodles, like he did most nights. A webcomic, he had over five hundred fans according to the page statistics, but that wouldn’t pay the rent. Sales would pay the rent.

Why don’t you use all that free time to study up on more sales things? Your hobby isn’t going to feed you, son. I don’t want you going homeless. I shuddered, thinking of him living in a cardboard box with me at his side.

Saturday came, and I followed him to the hospital. No! Don’t go there! I screamed. I don’t want you to! But he did, and reached the room of Sylvia Beauregard, number 807.

“Mom,” he said to the unconscious woman, sitting and taking hold of her hand. “You’ve got to wake up, or let go. One or the other. I can’t handle this limbo of you being alive and not alive. I’d love to have you back in my life, but if you can’t wake up… then please, I beg you, let go. Move on.”

No! I have to watch over you! I can’t go yet, not until you get married, or at least get your big break in the business. I tried to shake him, push him away, but my hands went right through him. My useless body lay there like a lump on a log.

“Remember what you used to tell me? If the chair you’re in doesn’t fit, find another one. Well, I need another chair. Sales just isn’t working out for me. I’m going to quit and work full time on my art, live off unemployment, see if I can make it a job.” He gave the woman’s hand a squeeze.

The cardboard box… no….

“You, you gotta do the same thing. I don’t know if you can even hear me…”

I can! I wish you could hear me! I love you so much and I miss holding you in my arms.

“… but you have to make a choice. No more limbo. Sometimes…” he glanced around, looked right through me, “I feel like you’re watching over me, encouraging me.”

I am! Can you really hear me?

“I hear the things you used to say, in my head.” He shut his eyes tight. “It’s like you’re haunting me. And I like hearing you there, but the little voice keeps telling me to make more money, and that’s not where I’m at. I need to do the thing that’s in my heart. That’s art, not sales. Mom, I need your blessing to do this. Can you do that? Can you let go of your paying for my degree, and tell me to follow my heart? I… I’m not sure I can do it if I know it’s disappointing you. Could you twitch or something, to let me know it’s okay, that I’m okay to do this?”

I let out a wail of anguish worthy of any banshee as I looked up to the light. That damned light above, calling me, promising peace. I looked down, clenching teeth, and saw tears forming on the edge of the woman’s eye. Biting my lower lip, I hugged my son.

Then with a sniffle, I did the thing I had avoided all these months. I let myself float over my body, lie back, and gently drift down into it.

I love you, son.

His eyes flew open as he laughed. “You twitched! I felt that! Thank you mom, thank you! I love you so much!”

Then the heart monitor, that constant musical beat of beeps, became a long steady tone.


 

All comments appreciated. I cried every time I edited this piece. Letting go is hard. 

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Comments
  1. Ly says:

    Aww, this was so sad! Brilliant piece, well written, but so sad. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • lofnbard says:

      You asked me privately what led to this story.

      I read a friend’s blog on living with lupus Friday night, and struggled to find something to say. I did, the next day. But one sentence stayed with me, something along the lines of “and I had a talk with my 8 and 10 year old boys, about what to do if Mommy doesn’t wake up up anymore.” There’s hardly anything more horrifying I can think of than having your child find you dead. Picture a bright sunny morning, you go to hug mommy. ask for breakfast… and she doesn’t react. She’s cold. There is *no* adult in the house to tell you how to deal with this. You have to tell your brother his mother is dead while your whole life burns to ashes. That is true horror.

      I was morose that Saturday morning after commenting on her blog. Unable to get the motivation to do anything, I did a writing exercise on the prompt above: “It’s easier to dismiss ghosts in the daylight.” That took about forty-five minutes to write, and another fifteen to edit. I’d accomplished *something*, so I wouldn’t feel like worthless crap because I’d done nothing that day. I spent the afternoon watching anime. Around 4pm my friend Michelle came to visit, and we went to the garden together. Her presence brought me back to life, and I took many pictures of my plants as they stood in their mid-October waning. We had supper, watched a movie, and she slept over. It was good.

      When all else fails, as Neil Gaiman said, you can use it to “Make Good Art.” So I had.

      The next day was good as well, seeing me thoroughly distracted by baking with another friend. I completely forgot about lupus and dead mommies. Because I could.

      Like

  2. sonyjalerulv says:

    It is. In different places I described it as poignant and as gut wrenching. It’s both. Very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lofnbard says:

      Thank you. When you find yourself with tears flowing down your cheeks as you write, that’s usually a good sign it will work for readers as well. My friend Ethan would be proud, finally a piece entirely devoid of comedy.

      Like

  3. Jacky V. says:

    Oh, beautiful XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

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