(With apologies to Dickens)
Stave 2: The Ghost of Daddy’s Past
I woke up in the middle of the night. I looked at my clock. It was 12:59. It was dark and quiet. Wife was sleeping. I couldn’t tell if any supernatural beings were in the house. That was fine with me. Maybe the whole thing with Farley was just a dream. Maybe nobody or nothing was going to come visit me after all. I didn’t hear anyone coming up the stairs. I didn’t hear doors opening or closing. It was a nice, quiet night with Wife and no children.
Then, despite my eyes being closed, I could tell the lamp on my nightstand was turned on, although it wasn’t as bright as it normally was. I opened an eye and looked in the direction of the bright and gleaming interruption to my slumber.
I rolled over and saw a being no taller than The Oppressed. It was dressed in a heavy winter coat. Its cheeks were ruddy, as if it had recently been outside for a walk. Gloves were tucked into a pocket. It just stood there, looking at me like it was one of my children.
This one had woken me up so, like an idiot, I was waiting for it to at least introduce itself or maybe tell me why it had decided to come and disturb me in the middle of the night. Finally, realizing it wasn’t going to volunteer anything to me, I asked, “Who are you?”
“I am the ghost of Christmas Past.”
“No,” the ghost said. “Your past.”
“Well,” I said, “Things happened and I can’t do much about that now. After all, it’s in the past. I wish I didn’t take the ‘Over’ last week, but I did. That’s in the past now,” I said again as I laid down and pulled the blankets over me.
“Besides,” I continued, “I think Farley gave you the wrong house. I mean, I’m not saying I never met the man. I did, but I don’t think he meant to send you to me.”
I noticed the covers being removed I looked up and saw the spirit standing by an open window. I was trying to figure out if it opened the window from my bed or removed my blankets from the window. Either way, how was it able to do two things at once. I should introduce it to my children. Anyways, at this point I realized I wasn’t going to convince the prying poltergeist to leave me alone, and I was awake anyway. I got out of bed and put my robe on. I wanted a jacket but the ghost said I didn’t need one. I loved how the beings with the coats and jackets were telling me I didn’t need to wear anything to keep me warm. I was also trying to figure out why the lamp was dimmer than usual. The spirit could tell I was puzzled by the dim light by my bed.
“I turned it on but dimmed it for you,” it explained. “I know you’re always talking to the children about leaving rooms without turning off the lights and how high the electric bill is, so I dimmed the lights so you wouldn’t complain about the electricity.”
The ghost was right, but how did it know I was saying this. Who else was spying on me in my home?
“By the way,” the spirit said, “You kind of sound like your father.”
“Shut it,” I said.
The ghost floated out of the window. I was jealous. If I had to endure supernaturals and lose sleep, I should at least be able to do something different, like float or fly. I walked to the window like a mortal and looked down at the ground from the second floor. I looked at the spirit, who waved me over. I rolled my eyes, hoping gravity wouldn’t kick in. I stuck one leg out of the window and looked at Wife before bringing up the other leg.
If I had to endure supernaturals and lose sleep, I should at least be able to to something different, like float or fly.
I brought up my other leg and turned to face the window which had disappeared. I wasn’t sitting on the window sill in my bedroom in my house. I was standing in the living room of the apartment Wife and I had lived in. I looked around. Everything was decorated for Christmas. I looked at me sitting next to my wife – girlfriend.
“What’s this?” I asked?
“It’s Christmas Eve,” the ghost said to me.
It was late at night. I saw the shadows of me and Wife exchanging presents. It was late and we had decided to open our presents that night because it was going to be a busy Christmas Day for us. We’d be running around from our apartment to my family’s house to her family’s house; possibly visiting some other houses en route. Some things never changed for us.
I saw my shadow go to the kitchen and come back with two bottles. My shadow gave one to his girlfriend. They clinked their bottles wished each other a Merry Christmas.
Lights in the apartment turned off by themselves. Soon, only the tree was lit. I looked around as I noticed the lights turning off and I saw it was daylight. I looked back and saw the shadows emerge from the bedroom and make coffee. I saw my shadow enjoy a happy, pre-children tradition where I put a little something delicious in my coffee. Wherever we were going first that day, my girlfriend drove. I took advantage of this with said tradition.
“Not bad,” I said. “It’s nice and quiet.”
“Just the two of you… For now,” The spirit said.
“Yeah,” I replied. “The kids are coming soon enough.”
“That’s not what I mean,” the spirit said. I was confused. I turned to ask what the spirit meant, but before I could ask, I noticed the surroundings had changed again. This time, we were at my in-laws’ house. We were seated at the dinner table and about to eat. It was quiet; just adults sitting at the table eating their meals and having quiet conversations. No kids running around the table. No yelling. I was sitting next to my wife. I was talking to my wife. It was incredible. I didn’t remember the last time We were able to do that.
“This is nice,” I said.
“One more Christmas,” the spirit said, “and then we must part.”
“Wait,” I said. But before I could finish, the room changed. We were still in my in-laws’ house, but there was something different. We had a baby with us. This was when I realized it was the first Christmas Wife and I had with The Oppressed.
“Our first Christmas as a family of three,” I said.
“Your first Christmas Eve as a family of three,” the ghost reminded me.
“Christmas E -,” I started to say, and then I remembered something. “Wait a minute. What time is it?” I asked the ghost.
The ghost looked around the room. “I don’t see any clocks.”
“You don’t have a watch?” I asked.
The ghost shrugged. “I’m a ghost,” they said to me. I don’t really need to be anywhere. Besides, if I do need to be somewhere or with somebody, I’m summoned.”
“Well, summon a clock,” I said. “I need to know what time it is.” I looked at me and Wife. “Hey!” I screamed. “Check the time and start packing up!”
The spirit touched my arm and said, “Don’t bother. These are but shadows.”
I rolled my eyes. That wasn’t helping at all. I started knocking on the wall, hoping to get the attention of me and Wife. Wife’s mother thought she heard something. She went to the door and came back after a moment.
“I think there’s a fire on our street,” she said.
A fire? Wife’s mother opened the door when she thought she heard someone knocking. She saw and smelled smoke when she opened the door. I saw my shadow look at Wife. Wife looked at my shadow. Before anyone could say anything, a fire engine turned onto the street and parked right in the middle of the street in front of the house. That was it. No one was leaving the house for a while.
“I could have used some help,” I said.
The spirit shrugged and said, “They can’t hear us. These are-“
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said. “These are but shadows.”
The shadows of Wife and me stayed over my in-laws that night, just as we did with The Oppressed on that first Christmas Eve many years ago. Later that night, my shadow went to bed. I laid down on the couch. I looked over and I was in bed with my Wife, just as I was when the spirit had come into my room.