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 14 of 50 | Published Saturday, June 22, 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 14

So far: Intense memories distract Wendy from the present.

Cloud saw the cabin as her playground. Since I hadn’t been cleaning, blankets and towels were strewn around and she often curled up in some small cloth cave. She didn’t come when I called, but the sound of my footsteps would pull her out of hiding. So I walked around the house, looking for her. After I passed the bathroom, she popped out of the nest she had made in a pile of towels and meowed at me.

Cloud talked. She told me when she was hungry. She bumped me if I forgot something. She rubbed against me if she wanted petting. She chirped when she was happy. Having her small being in the house was a comfort. Another warmth. Breath in the room. Then there was the shriek, just to let me know she was there.

In bed she needed to have part of her body touching part of mine. Not even Richard had been that cuddly.

• • •

The phone rang late afternoon and when I checked the number I didn’t recognize it. I decided to take a chance. I hadn’t talked to anyone all day.

The voice on the other end of the line was Susan, Richard’s sister. She was five years older than he was, and five inches taller. A striking beauty, but not too concerned about it. She was seventeen years older than me. I neither liked nor disliked her. We got along because we both loved Richard.

She had been married once in the past, before my time. Working for the government, she met a lot of men and was often seeing someone, but nothing lasted long for her.

After our hellos, she said, “I felt I should call.”

“Oh,” I wondered.

“Well, this woman has been bothering me.”

I guessed. “Lucinda?”

“Yes. She seems to feel I might be able to sway you to get Rich’s work to her. For a show.”

“What do you think?”

“Do you mean if I have the power or if you should do the show?”

“Both.”

“I doubt I have much power although I’m sure you would at least listen to what I think.”

“What do you think?”

“Well, you know Rich. Nothing he liked as much as a huge group of people coming together to tell him how great he was.”

“I know.”

“What’s the problem?”

“Aside from the fact that he won’t be there to enjoy the crowds and hear the praise?” I asked.

“Yes,” Susan answered, giving me that.

“I don’t seem to be able to move.”

“Could I be of help?” Susan asked.

“Maybe. But give me some time. I’ll let you know.”

“And then I was wondering about Thanksgiving.”

“Yes, I should have called you.” Susan sometimes brought a man to Thanksgiving if she thought he would fit in, but not often. I wasn’t even sure if she was seeing someone at the moment. “I’m not up to anything this year.”

“I wasn’t thinking you needed to cook Thanksgiving, but I have no other plans. What I thought was maybe we should just go to a restaurant.”

That sounded like an awful idea. Then all we’d have to do is talk and that’s exactly what I didn’t want to do. “I don’t think so. Not this year.”

“All right. Let me know if you change your mind.”

I was surprised to hear that she sounded disappointed. “It isn’t that I don’t want to see you.”

“I know, Wendy. I miss him too. I still can’t believe he died the way he did.”

After we hung up, I lay down on the floor in the kitchen and looked at the bead board ceiling. Where was my ghost when I needed him?

Tomorrow: Chapter 14 continues.

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