Lingering

The Prompt for this story is from storyaday.org, by Julie Duffy. It was supposed to be yesterday’s prompt, but I didn’t finish the story until this morning. Today’s story will likely also be late, since my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary this weekend, and I double-booked myself and signed up for a microfiction writing contest.

It started happening shortly after the miscarriage. Short glimpses at first, so sudden and ephemeral that I could talk myself into believing it was just my grieving mind playing tricks on me. But then, my wife, Alice, admitted to seeing it, too: the faint outline of a child, staring for a moment, then vanishing as suddenly as it appeared. At the foot of our bed every time we tried to make love; out in the garden while we planted our vegetable seeds; sitting beside me at the piano as I searched for the right melody to bring my song to life; even in the kitchen watching Alice bake. The pattern was there to see, once we had enough evidence, though the reason for the apparition was less easily inferred. Could it be the child we lost? Were they hoping for a second chance? Were they simply drawn to activities involving the creation of new life– any life?

Almost without thinking about it, our creative endeavors tapered off. We began making love with our eyes closed as much as possible, but succeeded few times due to the discomfort at the idea of being watched. 

Something miraculous was happening, though: several weeks passed, and then one night Alice felt a kick in her growing belly. She grew as the baby grew, and the ghost child appeared more often and for longer stretches of time. The spectral presence became familiar to us, and we even gave her a name– Guinevere.

Guinevere hovered near the bed as my wife labored to deliver our rainbow baby. When at last we held little Evelyn in our arms, we rejoiced. But Guinevere remained, stoic and patient, until the following morning when Evelyn passed away unexpectedly in her sleep, leaving us with two holes– not just one– in our hearts. But though we grieved, we also marveled, for we never saw the ghost again, and could only surmise that Guinevere had at last moved on to the afterlife, with her twin sister, Evelyn, whom she’d faithfully waited for for seven long months.

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