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 27 of 50 | Published Friday, July 5, 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 25 continues

So far: Unwelcome guest Lucinda arrives.

Lucinda sniffed as she walked into the kitchen. “Oh, that smells divine. What’s the turkey’s name this year?”

“Turkey,” I said.

“Yes, of course. Turkey. Odd that we’ve named one of our own native game birds after another country.”

I just didn’t see any way around inviting her to stay, even if it did ruin all my plans. “Lucinda, do you want to stay for dinner?”

“Really? That’d be nice. I made no plans this year. The holiday just snuck up on me. What with Rich gone and all. I guess I’ve come to count on you for my turkey dinner. Is there anything I can do?”

“The pie is done, the turkey’s getting there. I thought I’d make some mashed potatoes and peas.”

“Stuffing?” Lucinda asked.

“I thought about it, but ended up not making any.”

“Oh,” her voice oozed with disappointment.

“Would you like to peel the potatoes?”

She looked down at her hands. Her nails were about an inch long and painted bright red.

“Why don’t you run downstairs and pick out a bottle of wine? They’re in the laundry room up against the wall.”

“That I can do,” she said.

While she was gone, I went outside and called for Cloud. No kitty. Not a peep. Very gray and quiet outside.

Lucinda stuck her head out the door. “What are you doing? Did I hear you calling the clouds? Like in that Joni Mitchell song.”

“The song is ‘Send in the Clowns,’ it’s a Stephen Sondheim song that Judy Collins made famous, and no I’m not calling in the clouds. I have a kitten named Cloud who must have got outside. I’m trying to get her back.”

She pulled her head back in. I called a few more times. I needed my kitty, especially now that the wicked witch of the west had invaded my territory.

I felt a film of tears seep into my eyes, but I would not spill them. No crying on this day. Not in front of Lucinda. I did not want to have a heart to heart with her — and I was sure she felt the same way.

When I got back inside, Lucinda had found the corkscrew and poured us two hefty slugs. She had taken the good Riedel glasses from the table. I guessed that was fine. Maybe I had set the other place for her.

• • •

When Richard was getting ready to cook, he lined up small plates and bowls with all the various condiments: chopped onion, minced garlic, pinches of paprika, green swirls of parsley. From these pools of color, he made our meal.

• • •

“I’d like to invite Lucinda for Thanksgiving. She doesn’t have any place to go,” Richard said a week before our second holiday together. We had already invited his parents, Susan, and my father.

“There’s a reason for that.”

“Come on. Don’t be mean.”

“She’s not family,” I pointed out.

“She is for me.”

“You already have three family units. I only have one.”

“You can have a couple more if you’d like.”

“Who am I going to invite? Gary can’t come because they’re going away this Thanksgiving.”

“A waitress friend?”

“That isn’t the point. I don’t want to invite someone else to even it out. I’m just not sure I want Lucinda here.”

“Why?”

I tried to think of a nice way to complain about his gallery owner. “She’s not very relaxing.”

“Give her a couple glasses of wine. She’ll be fine.”

“She monopolizes you.”

He laughed. “You’re jealous.”

“No. I just don’t want to be having to take care of your parents while you and Lucinda talk shop.”

“You’re jealous.”

“If it makes you less inclined to invite her, I’m jealous.”

He walked up behind me and wrapped his arms around me and put his chin on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, “You have nothing to worry about. You are the love of my life.”

“As long as that’s the case, you can invite her.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 26 begins.

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