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 22 of 50 | Published Sunday, June 30, 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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Mary Logue talks about writing, and 'Giving Up the Ghost'

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Serial novels reveal how we're willing to wait for a good story

Giving Up the Ghost

Chapter 22 continues

So far: Wendy fends off holiday invitations.

After the Carlos fiasco, I knew I had to see Richard again.

I decided that I would call and ask him over for dinner at my place. I would make all his favorite foods, ending with some sort of chocolate bomb, a real culinary explosion. I would explain that I was wrong, let him know how much I missed him, ask him if we could get back together.

But before I gathered the courage to do that, after I finished waitressing one night, I ended up walking over to his loft. It was about 11:30 at night. I had only had one drink at the bar. I wasn’t drunk. I just had to see him. His windows were dark. His car was in his parking spot. I knew he was home.

A guy came out of his building and I scooted in before the door closed. I walked up to the fourth floor and stood in front of his door.

I was scared to knock. I couldn’t stop thinking that someone else might be in there with him. All my fault.

Just when I was about to turn away, Richard opened the door.

I fell into his arms. He didn’t say anything, just kissed me until I couldn’t breathe. We ended up on the floor in the living room.

After we made love, I finally asked, “How did you know I was there?”

“I didn’t. I was going to get some milk.”

• • •

Late afternoon, I got chilled. I didn’t have enough wood left to have a fire so I decided to just put on another shirt. In the coat closet I found one of Richard’s old Pendleton shirts: a beautiful blue and green plaid. Too big for me, but I rolled up the sleeves and wore it over my sweater.

Instantly I felt better, as if I could manage, the day was not a waste, tomorrow might even be better.

Maybe it was aroma therapy — whiffs of Richard came off the shirt.

• • •

No one called me that whole day. I was a little surprised. After all, it was the day before Thanksgiving. I had talked to no one for over twenty-four hours.

Even Cloud seemed a bit distant, sitting on the couch, cleaning her paws, not really paying much attention to me. I tried to snuggle her, but she just jumped out of my arms and walked off in a huff.

When I checked on the turkey thawing in the refrigerator, it had nothing to say. I thought of calling Gary, but I didn’t want to hear about what he was doing and I wasn’t doing anything that I could tell him about.

The small padded envelope and I sat on the couch. The address said it was from Staunton, New Jersey. I didn’t think Richard knew anyone in Staunton. At least, not that I was aware of.

Even though he was dead, it still felt weird to be contemplating opening his package. I guess it’s pretty deeply ingrained in me that it’s against federal law to tamper with someone else’s mail.

I pulled at that tab that hung from the back of the envelope. I hated those tabs — when you pulled them it completely ruins the envelope and it could never be used again. But I didn’t feel like trying to open it any other way.

When I tipped the envelope all that fell out was a tube of paint. A bill accompanied it, saying “back order.”

Richard’s last tube of paint.

His last color.

Pale ochre.

I opened the tube and dabbed a bit of paint on my finger, then rubbed it on the back of my hand. The paint matched my skin color.

I so clearly remembered Richard saying, “Flesh tone was the reason oil paint was invented.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 23 begins.

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