|House of Ghosts by Eric Bosse
||[Mar. 8th, 2012|09:19 pm]
The blue Victorian at 1145 White Street shifts in its foundation, creaks, and settles in for the night. The boys are bundled into their beds. My wife, too, has gone to sleep. I’m alone in the kitchen, steeping chamomile tea, coughing phlegm into the lines of my palms. Toast crumbs on the table shiver when I exhale. The refrigerator groans. The candle pops. The back door swings open, and the ghost of my father’s lover stands there in the moonlight. I offer him tea. He accepts and smiles as if death were an exquisite pleasure. I pour hot water into a World’s Best Mom mug and tell him it’s been five days since the night my wife called me David. I was kissing her breast, and I saw her lips as she whispered it: Oh, David. Her eyes bloomed with the horror of her mistake. Her cheeks turned pink then a pale green.|
David, I asked. Who is David?
My father’s lover’s ghost takes his tea with honey and sips with his pinkie extended. I ask if my father was passionate in bed.
The ghost’s gaze trails toward the knife block and the spice rack. He sets down his tea and beckons me to follow. We walk to the back porch. The boards squeak beneath my feet but not his.
Outside, in the yard, everything is gray — the moon, the stars, the decrepit fence. And other silver ghosts are there. My grandfather, in a powder-blue polyester coverall suit, plucks cherries from a branch of my wife’s apple tree. My childhood dog Farrell — half mutt, half beagle — naps at my feet. My high school football coach, Butch Stuemke, stands with his arms wrapped around the keg of his chest, watching me, waiting for me to throw a block or catch a pass, to do something, anything.
My father’s lover’s ghost puts a hand on my shoulder and presses me to take a seat on the steps. He sits behind me, cradles me, and whispers that I am brave to go on living. I rest my head in his lap, and for the first time in five nights I drift toward sleep. Did he ever talk about me? I ask.
Oh, all the time, the ghost says. He never stopped. You were the most lovable kid in the world. You were his cupid, his darling boy, his perfect little cherub.
I shut my eyes. Something moves in the grass. The ghost strokes my hair. I keep wondering if it will rain.
from the book Magnificent Mistakes, Stories by Eric Bosse