Giving up the Ghost

A novel by Mary Logue published in installments each day in the Star Tribune from June 9 to July 28, 2013.
Day 46 of 50 | Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013
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The story: Wendy was just 25 when she met Richard, a Minneapolis artist, at the New French Café. They fell in love, married, bought a cabin in northern Minnesota where they spent their summers. But when Richard died unexpectedly, Wendy found it difficult to move on. Because she kept seeing Richard’s ghost….
Mary Logue
Mary Logue is the author of more than twenty-five books, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, mysteries and children’s stories. She has won a Minnesota Book Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award, and many other honors. She lives with her husband, writer Pete Hautman, in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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Giving Up the Ghost

Chapter 36 continues

So far: Wendy realizes she needs a reason to get out of bed.

The morning after Thanksgiving I sat on the couch and embroidered clouds on a pillowcase. Out of the clouds peeked a pair of cat ears, farther down a tail poked through. At the bottom a paw lifted out as if it were walking. In the middle of the cloud, I scripted C L O U D. The clouds were sewn with light blue embroidery floss, the parts of the cat in a soft gray, quite close to the blue, but distinguishable. The name of my kitten was in a rose-pink.

I held it back and looked at it. Embroidery. I often felt as if I was painting with thread, doing my own designs, trying to show how the world looked to me. Hand work. So often as I was sewing I would think back to all the women who had sat still and done the same kind of work. It was a sedate art form that was given little credit and had been deemed appropriate for the insular world a woman should live in. I knew there were woman out in the textile world that were embroidering and earning a living off of their pieces. I wondered if it would be possible for me to do such a thing.

I hoped Lucinda still wanted my embroidered ties in the show. Some of what she had said last night was true — it was time to get to work on Richard’s show. I supposed I owed her some kind of apology. But not this day.

As I stitched, I felt watched. Cloud was sleeping next to me and she wasn’t paying any attention to what I was doing. It was not her eyes I felt on me.

As if a gust of cold air had blown down my neck, I knew Richard was standing behind me. I wasn’t sure I could turn around fast enough to catch him. I was getting tired of the short glimpses I got of him. His inability and my own to make any real contact.

But I wanted him there so I kept sewing, with every stitch I fastened him to my life, all I loved of him I sewed to me, careful small perfect stitches. This was what women had always done, fastened things together.

But suddenly I knew I could never do the stitches perfectly enough to keep him with me for always. Eventually Richard would leave. Cloud would leave. And finally even I would leave.

My stitches would stay. On the pillow.

Chapter 37

I fell asleep on the couch when I only had the D left to stitch. I dreamed that I was swimming across the lake as the water turned into ice all around me. I was worried that I wouldn’t make it to the other shore before it completely froze over. The phone woke me up.

“Hello.”

“Were you sleeping?” Gary asked.

“No. Just sewing.”

“You were sleeping. I can hear it in your voice.”

“How can you hear it in my voice?”

“You have granules of sleep in it and it makes it sound gravelly. Not an unattractive sound.”

“Thanks. Well, I might have nodded off.”

“A good day for that.” He yawned. “What time did Susan leave?”

“About one. When did you get home?”

“Right around two.”

“Thanks for coming.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, it would have been a sadder day without you.”

“How about Lucinda?”

“Oh, she just drives me wild. But she’s really okay. Nice to have someone to get mad at once in a while.”

“Great news about her wanting your ties in the show.”

“Yes, I’m really excited about that. If she still does after our fight.”

“Oh, that Lucinda is one smart cookie. She knows an emerging artist when she sees one.” He paused, then asked, “Will you make me an embroidered tie before you get too famous?”

Immediately I envisioned a tie covered with dogs and cats, some with black eyes, some without, on a geometric tie. “Of course.”

“Listen,” Gary said. “I’ve been thinking about the ghost.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 37 continues.

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