Renee was at the door with her overnight bag. I was hoping she would cancel again – I knew she hated doing this as much I as did – but here she was. We were never close growing up. When mom died we promised to check in on each other but I never intended to uphold my end of the deal.
At some point she developed OCD. But me, as a single mom, I drifted to the other end of the cleanliness spectrum. If Harry made a mess, I told him not to worry we’re just creating memories. Now, Renee is here to box away those memories. A dirty house was acceptable on her first visit, but on the second visit, I heard all about it.
She wanted to see Harry’s bedroom. I spent most the morning cleaning up his toys like I do every morning – except I kept the dust on the dresser – she ran her finger through it then swiped it away. I was hoping to capture his hand in it one night.
“Did you even vacuum yet?” Renee asked.
“I told you. I can’t.”
“This house is just too big for you, Debby. You should think about selling it.”
“I can’t leave, Harry.”
“Listen to yourself. Harry isn’t here. This is just a house.”
“You don’t understand.”
“You expect me to believe that your son’s ghost comes through the motor of the vacuum? That he’s still plays with his toys?”
“You came tonight didn’t you?”
It was odd having company at the house. And lonely these nights have been since Harry’s death, I still felt alone in our awkward silence. I could have found better conversations at the bar.
She stood and stretched. I half expected her to say she was leaving. Maybe I was only hoping. Then it happened. The thump sound against the wall. My heart skipped a beat. I know her’s did. She turned to look and never blinked once. Not even when the tears came. Only I didn’t know if they were tears of happiness in knowing Harry was here, or tears of fear because he was.
I guided Renee to the edge of the hall. She listened as a little boy played in his room. The toy box was being shuffled through. The giggles she missed while he was still alive.
“Lay down. Next to his door,” I whispered. She was hesitant at first but did. In the sliver of light beneath the door, his shadow moved. Renee jumped back. She gripped the wall.
“Don’t open it,” she muttered.
“I don’t anymore. I just listen. When I do, he leaves me.”
Renee quickly grabbed the door handle and pushed it open. Cool air pressed against our faces. Harry was there, then vanished. His toys were spread out across the room.
“I’m so sorry,” Renee said grabbing my hand.
For a moment I felt a bond with her. “He’ll come again.”
“I’m leaving. I can’t stay in here.”
She was gone.
Copyright © 2015 E.F. Olsson. All rights reserved.
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