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  • Writer's pictureWriters In The Mountains

Adorable Ghost by Mick Benderoth

“Sittin’ on the dock of the bay,” Otis Redding sang it true. “This loneliness won’t leave me alone.” You sit at your bay window watching traffic jams on Broadway, inside your Upper West Side digs, “wastin’ time, wastin’ time.” It’s been eight years since your adorable wife, Nancy, “transitioned,” as the hospice folks say. Wish you could have “transed” with her to wherever she transed to. It’d be fine with you to share nowhere together.

Long past sunset. You aimlessly wander the apartment, find yourself in the bedroom. You sit bedside feeling miserable, musing. If only you could apologize for your egocentric behavior. If, If, If . . . but she’s gone. The only thing left to you is suffering, bearing the guilt of how you treated this patient, caring, giving woman.


You’ve achieved your life goals . . . but at a cost. You cared only about your needs, desires. Nancy, an archangel, who turned a man-child into a man. You gave no thought to the helping hand that was always there. You didn’t appreciate the love and strength that flowed from her to you. You, so self-concerned, could not realize she was your life, until she died. Shell shocked, the world dropped out from under you. Your life stopped; now, you merely exist.


You struggle into your pajamas when swish! Nancy, breathless, dashes into the bedroom, dressed eclectically to the nines, très chic as usual, young as the day you met her forty-six years ago. What? What? What? You stare, drop-mouthed, as this visage skitters over, kisses you full on your lips, wearing your favorite flavor of lipstick.


She sparkles. “Hey baby, I’m super late for a meeting. No time to cook. I’ll make it up later.” She rummages through the bureau drawer, “Seen my Cartier with the black band? The one you gave me for my birthday.”


You sit stupefied. “Wha . . . what are you doing here?”


“I live here, dopey. Too much champagne at your birthday party last night?”

Birthday party? Not even close to my birthday. Nancy flits into the closet, burrows into her massive shoe collection, comes out wearing a sleek pair of stilettos. What? What? How? The love of your life whizzes around.


You follow her into the bathroom, shocked at the image of you both in the mirror looking as young as the day you married. That hot pair taking on the world. You sneak another mirror peek as you start out. It’s you, alone now, seventy-eight, an old man.


Befuddled. Is this what you prayed for? A second chance to confess your sins? You, sheepish, “Do you have time to talk before you leave?”


Looks at her Cartier. “Half a sec, baby, what’s on that overactive brain of yours?”


“I need to tell you how sorry I feel about the way I took you for granted.”


Nancy, blowing it off: “Hubris of youth. You were too busy being you.”


“It should have been us, the things that mattered to you. It was always Me first.” 


“Oh, pooh, darling,” her face dazzling. “Stop dwelling. Anyway, I’m way, way late.”


She cradles your face, “Forgive.” Kiss! Forget.” Kiss!

“You mean it?”

“Have I ever fibbed?”


“Gotta run.” Out the door. Gone . . . again.

You fall sleep smiling. Awake renewed. Absolved by an adorable ghost.


From Fiction Writing class with Thaddeus Rutkowski


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