“When is daddy coming back?” Stacy cried. “He isn’t.,” Jodi said. Her matter of fact tone of voice gave away none of the turmoil she was feeling inside. It was as if the ground were being taken out from under her feet. “Is he?” She turned to their mom. There was a distant, pained expression
Their father left just after bedtime on a Sunday night. He had tucked them into the bed she and Stacy shared. Kissed their foreheads, saying “I love you,” to each of them as he stroked the bangs from their foreheads. Jodi knew something was wrong. She crept out of bed and followed him to the
I blinked up at him, seeing blue sky and clouds through his transparent body. Horace’s ghost leaned over and looked into my eyes. He looked real—my ghostly husband—his eyes the saturated blue of a Maxfield Parish painting. His mouth moved, but I only heard the breeze rustling through the weeping willow. But what I imagine
“Oh, Horace. Oh no,” I keened. I put my arms around my husband’s still body, leaned into the weight of him. Not gone. Not yet. Please not yet. The absence of him already threatened to engulf me in its suffocating depths. I cried against his neck until I noticed a glint of light bouncing off
The ducks began to stir. Nap time was over. Or maybe they just felt her presence—the glowing “ghost” I could no longer deny. My husband’s dead wife. “It’ll be all right, Judith,” Horace said quietly. He squeezed my hand gently before his hand relaxed. The bird’s wings broke inside my chest, at last falling still.
After a time, I sat down and Horace, still talking, sat beside me. His voice sounded more strained and tired as time went on. My ears hurt from taking it all in. At last he came to the end. “She’d left a note,” he said, “that she had taken Ernst and gone to the lake.
“Will you stay long enough to let me finish telling you?” he asked. “Then, if you want to go, I won’t stop you. Or blame you. Only, please, Judith. Hear me out.” I stared into Horace’s blue eyes, wanting to find some hint of the man who would marry a girl he barely knew. There
“I see,” I said, not bothering to hide my disapproval. Or my disappointment. After all those months, Horace had never been anything but a gentleman with me. I’d considered his restraint a sign of respect. I’d heard how some men could be from my girlfriends, and always considered myself lucky that Horace wasn’t like that.
“Her name was Lucy,” he began. “We were both working at the county fair the summer I graduated from high school. She was older than me by a couple three years. She sold tickets and I ran the ferris wheel six nights a week. It was a crazy time, Judith, and well… A lot can
“Maybe,” I said slowly. “But I haven’t had any personal experience with angels. Have you?” I hadn’t asked Horace about his first family. I expected he would tell me himself when he was ready. But months had gone by and so far he hadn’t said anything. Horace took my hand and held it against his