“Do you believe in ghosts, Mimi?” asks Josh, his blue eyes curious.
I love this boy, and a smile comes easily to my face. “What a question! What makes you ask?”
“Mom says there’s no such thing, but I think there are.”
“Are you seeing ghosts?”
“Not me! I was just wondering. I went camping with Jimmy and his dad last week. We sat around the campfire telling ghost stories.” He pauses as a blush moves across pale, freckled skin. “I got scared.”
Smoothing back his unruly hair, I drop a brief kiss on his forehead. I know a grandmother shouldn’t have favorites, but there’s something about this boy. He’s the youngest of my daughter’s three children; perhaps that has something to do with it. Or perhaps it’s the look that appears on his face when he’s curious about something, a look as beloved as it is familiar.
“So, Mimi,” he repeats, “do you believe in ghosts?”
I blow gently against the surface of my coffee, trying to cool it. I use those seconds to look around the garden.
It’s peaceful sitting here with Josh, feeling the slight breeze against my face, inhaling the scent of roses and honeysuckle. It reminds me of other times.
You and I used to sit here most mornings, drinking coffee, listening to the music of the birds, the playful barking of the pups. I’d be telling you my plans for the day and you’d be saying, “Yes, dear,” pretending to listen but focused on your crossword puzzle.
Last week I was cleaning out the back room and came across our photo albums. I pulled out the one we’d put together when Audrey was a little girl. I never understood what people meant when they said a thing was bittersweet. I do now. There you are, holding onto Audrey as she tries to take her first steps. You’re looking into the camera, a bright, happy smile on your face.
I lost myself in that album; nothing got done the rest of the day. Instead, I sat on the floor, leafing through old photographs, searching for you, studying your face, remembering the sound of your voice. Lately, I struggle to remember its timbre. The thought of forgetting terrifies me.
There are times, not often… but there are times when I have a sense that something or someone is close by. It’s an odd sensation, one that makes me want to look up, that makes me wonder if a fleeting shadow might be something more. And so I do look up, I look around. But there’s nothing…
We had a good run; forty-five years. But it went too fast.
“Mimi?” says the little voice next to me. “Are you okay?”
I swallow back tears and smile. He reminds me of you, this boy. The eyes, the expression… the joy.
“I’m fine, Josh.”
A white butterfly flutters out of the honeysuckle, and lands on the startled boy’s nose. Giggling, he playfully swats it away.
And just like that, you’re here with me again, appearing in the surprised laughter of a seven year old.
I take a deep breath and feel better for it. “You know, Josh… about that question…”
The boy looks at me expectantly.
“Yes… yes, I do believe in ghosts.”
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer