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 47 of 50 | Published Thursday, July 25, 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 37 continues

So far: Gary admits he’s been thinking about Richard’s ghost.

I waited.

“About Rich’s ghost,” he continued, then stopped again as if he expected me to jump in with something, like, oh, that was a joke, me admitting that I hadn’t really seen Richard’s ghost.

“Yes,” I nudged him. “What about the ghost?”

“Maybe you’re seeing something in the dark and then imagining it’s Rich.”

“Could be.”

“Really?”

“I suppose. I haven’t had much experience with ghosts.” I thought about what he had said for a moment — what we see in the dark. We were hardly in the dark anymore. “There have been many fewer ghost sightings since electricity was invented.”

“Really?”

“Just a guess, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? When people didn’t have lights to turn on at the click of a finger, they probably saw a lot more strange and gloomy things in the dark.”

“I guess. You’re not mad that I’m suggesting you’re making up this ghost?”

“Of course not. Don’t you think I have thought that myself? I’m pretty existential about it all. In a way everything I see I make up. It’s my world.”

“Is it scary to be seeing this ghost?” Gary asked.

“It’s Richard. How could he be scary? I mean if it was someone I didn’t know who was appearing at the foot of my bed with an ax in his hand, that would be scary. But Richard’s just kind of wandering around the way he did before he was dead. I find it very comforting.”

“So you’re not worried about the ghost?”

I admitted, “I’m a little worried. Either way. If I’m making it up, then why? And what does that mean? If it’s really real, what does he want?”

“I’m glad you told me.”

“Yeah, it feels better to have someone else know. Maybe I won’t see it again now that I’ve told you.”

“That would be fine,” Gary said, then added, “Sorry for throwing the turkey at the table last night.”

“I thought it was the high point of the meal.”

“I thought the high point was when you were trying out for the broad jump as you went after Lucinda,” Gary said.

“How was my form?”

“Amazing. I’d give you a nine point oh.”

“The good thing is — it’s over. Thanksgiving is over.” I thought for a moment. “Now, if I can get through Christmas, I can have a total nervous breakdown in January in peace and quiet.”

“Come home,” Gary said.

“Home?”

“Come back to the Cities where we can bug you a little more easily.”

“Soon.”

We said our good-byes. Cloud turned upside down and meowed as if to ask, who was that?

“Soon,” I told her. “Very soon.”

• • •

I finished the pillowcase. The careful stitches captured something of the languidness of a happy cat. I found an old down pillow at the bottom of the bedroom closet and stuffed it in the newly embroidered case. I put the pillow on the hearth, plumped it up nicely and then set Cloud on top of it. She sniffed it, then walked away, back to the warm and comfortable couch.

My stomach growled so I scrounged some leftovers for dinner. The thought of cooking anything left me feeling weak. I didn’t want to eat, but it would pass the time. The last piece of pumpkin pie was gone — I’d eaten it for breakfast.

The turkey carcass looked like the hull of an old abandoned ship with its sails in tatters. I picked a few strips of meat off it and made a sandwich.

When I went back in the living room with my sandwich, intending to make a fire, I noticed movement out the window.

Tiny white parachutes were falling from the sky.

“Oh, Cloud,” I said. “It’s snowing.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 37 continues.

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