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Father

Mother won’t believe me when I tell her you visit me at night.


She thinks I’m crazy when I tell her how you sneak into my room, a little past one when the moon invades my window and illuminates seven out of the thirteen books on my bookshelf. How you never make sound when you turn the rusted doorknob and step inside. The paper reminders pinned all over my door never blow or rustle like they usually do when the door swings open. Nor do the hinges creak like a chorus of dying cats when you enter. You come in quietly and announce your presence only in the cool breeze that blows over my skin and makes contact with the whole surface area of my body.


Mother thinks I’m insane when I tell her how after you close the door, you stand there silently, a six-foot-eight silhouette, gazing at me for about five minutes. I look back at you without lifting my head from my cozy memory-foam pillow, the one you bought for me after I complained about how my old one felt like a rock. You walk forward and sit on the edge of my bed, right next to my family of stuffed animals. I feel the weight of your body on my feet every time.


Hello.

 

The sound of my voice shatters the dead silence as the five letters catapult off my tongue and get lost like an astronaut in the dark space between us.


You don’t reply. You never do. You nod instead, real slow.


I always follow my greeting with a daily report of my endeavors through school and life. I mention the tests I fail, the projects I have only a day to complete, the English books I’m required to read but will most likely SparkNote for the essay. You nod and nod as I talk and I continue to relate to you how things are going.  You sit there listening, a black featureless shadow taking in every word I say. I talk to you till my insomnia evaporates and just as my eyelids start to close, feel your hand pat my forehead.


I’m setting an appointment for you with Dr. Keishner, Mother told me today. He’s the white-bearded weirdo I had to meet regularly not long after you left.


I’m telling Father, I warned her. Tonight, I’m letting him know, I said with a haunting hiss.


Mother stared at me with the widest eyes, completely filled with horror. I don’t know why I said that to her, it’s not like you’re going to do anything. You won’t even utter a word. I wish you could actually speak to me. Tell me what it’s like where you’re at. How grandma and grandpa are doing. If Aunt May still curses like a sailor and sings like a saint. A little update from what’s happening above wouldn’t hurt. Must not be too great if you feel the need to come here every night.


Another nod. Hmm.


I wish you would sit where the moon could light up your face. I miss your eyes. They always reminded me of an owl. Wise and kind of scary. I think that’s why I used to jump when we played peak-a-boo.

 

I had my appointment with Dr. Keishner. I told him about you and how you visit me at night. He nodded like you do and scribbled about how crazy I am on his notepad. He asked me all sorts of questions about our late night sessions. How long have you been having these visitations? When did they first start? What exactly takes place? How long do they last? You talk to this visitor? Does this visitor talk to you? How does this visitor interact with you? Does this visitor make contact with you in any way?


I smiled with every response I gave that man. The friction between his pen and that paper could have started a fire. There’s no doubt I’m going to be labeled as schizophrenic or something. Maybe you should pay everyone a visit and let them know I’m not insane. No nod. I guess that means you won’t.


By the way, I love you Dad.


The nod must mean you love me too.


Well, it might surprise you to hear that I have a secret boyfriend. You probably already know if you’re watching me from up there. If not, I’ll tell you he’s this nice guy from my science class. Really cute. We have a lot in common and he thinks I was sent from heaven, your current state of residence. We’re not official if you’re wondering. And yes, you would approve of him. He has an afterschool job and his pants don’t fall at his ankles. Yeah, a real keeper. If I’m not mistaken that last nod seemed kind of fast. Guess that means you approve. I won’t tell Mom though. She would overreact. Probably think we’re dogs in heat, having sex here-there-everywhere. She never handles things as calmly as you would. And it’s not like you’re here to override her decision. So for now he’s going to remain a secret.

 

Today I wanted to join you. I stole a bottle of Mother’s pills, locked myself in the bathroom, filled up the bathtub. News spread around school bout me seeing a shrink and now everyone talks about me as I walk down the hallway. They did before but now it comes with funny looks and giggles. Someone even wrote “freak” and “ghost girl” on my locker. Dr. Keishner’s been talking with Mother, he thinks I should go to some rehabilitation place for a while. Says I’m emotionally damaged and need to spend some time in a special environment to heal. Oh and by the way, Mother found out about my little secret. Secret showed up at the house when I told him not to and now I’m forbidden to see him. I failed more tests, got more bad grades. Summer school awaits me along with a year of being grounded. So yeah, I thought it would be nice if I could chill out with you for a while, maybe for eternity. But I got scared. Cold feet. Yup, I’m a coward. A broken, lonely, coward with a lot of screws loose. You’re probably ashamed of me and what I’ve become. Wondering what happened to your precious little girl who used to laugh from sun up to sun down, put sparkly stickers all over the cabinets, sing nursery rhymes early in the morning, dance on the kitchen chair when Mother wasn’t looking. I’m like a stranger to you, aren’t I? You probably wanna disown me, like I’m sure Mother wants to at this point. Wanna know what happened to that bright, happy child?


You took her.


She left when you left.


It’s all your fault. You’re the reason I’m such a mess. You had to go and get sick and flip our worlds upside down. Thanks for all the tears and sleepless nights. Must be fun not having to worry about all those hospital bills you cost us. Life insurance? It was helpful for a little while, but it didn’t last. We’re still swamped with overdue notices. Real nice of you to ditch us just when Mom lost her job. It wasn’t easy for her to find a new one. It hardly puts food on the table. I appreciate you dropping by but really? I mean, how is it watching your family struggle to make ends meet? Do you think it’s funny watching your wife pinch pennies to pay for your daughter to see a shrink cause she’s suffering emotional malfunctions triggered by a traumatic loss? Triggered by you.
You stopped nodding. Truth hurts, huh? Didn’t feel good to be told how it is.


Now you’re getting up.


Now you’re leaving.


You’re out the door.


I love you.


Guess that was my last visit.




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