Sleep loses its hold on my son when the tires of our Toyota Corolla leave the pavement and chew into the gravel lot. It’s cold outside and nearly dawn. In the mirror I see that he’s forgotten where we are. There is a moment of confusion that reminds me of when he was young.
My son is still young, but this is a difficult age.
“Want to see a ghost?” I ask, “You were one yourself, just twelve years ago.”
My son rolls his eyes and the child is gone.
The Wharton Estate is made to look haunted. A custodian is hanging cobwebs when we arrive. Another spreads dust from a sack. The restrooms are left clean. The ghost, Annalisee, has not yet manifested. She is the Old Faithful of the afterlife. She spends her days at fruitless labor.
My son could learn from her.
There is an old man in a wheelchair. A woman who suffers from cancer, no doubt. The dying visit The Wharton Estate for proof they might return. They are drawn to my son’s youth and he is repulsed by them.
My son retreats to a corner to practice a trendy dance. This is a solemn place and he is not graceful. I ask him to stop as we’re taken to the bedroom where the manifestation occurs. He declines.
When Annalisee appears, she appears from nothing.
My son dances, still, but slowly, now, and wide-eyed.
Four out of five stars.
Dylan Bach writes fiction and attends to the business of stay-at-home dads. He holds an MFA from UBC's School of Creative Writing and maintains a position on PRISM International's editorial board. He posts weekly descriptions of fictional dives at www.autumnbythewayside.com.