Ghosts: Number 2


I once met a man who had lost his son.

I was thirteen years old and had a weekend job at the local store.

One day he came in, and as he was placing his order, I walked in from the storeroom.

When he saw me he stopped mid-sentence and stared at me, and not knowing what to do, I stared back.

Then he started to cry. Not in a loud way, just very softly, noiselessly.

For a few minutes that was all he did.

And I watched him until the sight of his tears became unbearable and I turned away.

He left empty handed and I watched as he shuffled through the door. He seemed diminished in some way.

I knew who he was. We all knew his story.

Three summers earlier his son Larry had drowned. They’d waited days before the body resurfaced. Days in which the whole town stood frozen, waiting for the horror which they knew would soon arrive.

For a long time afterwards you’d see him  walking around town, watching people. Looking for something. A little glimpse in someone’s face that revealed they once knew his son. That they remembered his son.

And he’d ask them.

“Did you know my son?”

Until his wife took him away for a while. Someplace where he could not ask that question. Someplace where he could learn to forget.

But ghosts are not so easily displaced. Even at thirteen I knew that much.

I’d felt it when he’d looked into my eyes. The flicker of recognition. I saw it shudder though him. Felt the force of it as the wave of grief flowed towards me. The weight of it, a body blow that winded me and left me feeling like a dead child. Like a ghost.



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