Little Ghosts

(An Unpublished Short Story)

Your sister died this week. She was my age. Just a couple of years older than you would've been. We buried her up to the rez, right next to you. We figure she would've wanted it that way. You probably would've, too. I mean, I know you didn't always get along, but I think you would've really gotten to like her in time.

It wasn't just me that never got over you, you know. She didn't either. She changed after we lost you. Got sober, for a while anyway. Got pregnant a couple of times. Your son grew up with some really great cousins. She even named one of them after you. Not, you know, your White name. Your real one.

I remember when I first realized she was different. It was up on the reserve, outside that little old church next to the graveyard. It was the middle of February. The ground was frozen, but they dug out your grave the day before we got you back. So, I only had to shovel the dirt back over you after.

I never knew wind could blow that hard, and that cold. It froze my tears to my cheeks before they fell. My hands went numb even through the gloves before your casket was covered. I couldn't feel much of anything by the end, but I couldn't feel the cold by then either. So, it might not have been from the wind.

She's down there now, next to you. It's not February this time so it wasn't as cold. I still went numb, though. I was out there watching each shovel full of earth cover the tobacco ties we put down with her, just like we did with you. You used to love those things. You said they were cute. Said they reminded you of little ghosts.

When we were burying you, she came up and stood beside me and she just didn't stop talking. I know, she never talked much before, but after you were gone she said she had to talk for two now. So, she told me all about how much meaning she used to find in your life. She said it didn't seem right for someone whose life meant so much to have such a meaningless death. Just another statistic, she said. Just another motherless child left behind for Grandma to raise.

I never forgot that part about a meaningless death. I never wanted to let it be true. I figured as long as I still had some life, maybe I could lend some of my life's meaning to your death. Maybe I could carry on your story, or find a way to stop this from ever happening to anyone else. Ever again.

I'm said to tell you I tried. I tried a lot of different ways, but I always failed. I keep trying, though. Keep failing, too. I've been failing ever since then, really.

After I finished with you all those years ago, and I dropped the shovel and went back to some house – your cousin's or your auntie's, I don't remember which – she came along with me. She kept talking. She kept telling me over and over again that you loved me. I told her I knew.

Then I told her, "I never really understood why. I guess now I never will."

Then she asked me something. It was before we got back. Just before we reached the house, she stopped me in the snow. In the wind blowing ice that chipped across my frozen tears, she stopped me to ask if I loved you, too. I told her I always thought it was obvious. Then she said it wasn't, and that I should've said something.

The thing is, I did. Never when you were alive. Not when it would've mattered, or when you needed and wanted to hear it. But I did after that. I did all the time, really.

Because every time I dream it's of you, and I'm always, always sure to let you know this time.

Each morning I wake exorcising another little ghost of you. Each night I fall asleep just to see you again. Before the dawn, I'll tell you again that I love you, and each new morning memory this makes is what keeps me waking up.

© 2018 Rob Callahan

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The Devil's Descent (The Hidden City Vol. I)

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(From the back cover) Lex was content to keep temping for the devil indefinitely.

Wait, no. That’s not right. She wasn’t content. More like resigned. Lex had renounced any sense of hope and surrendered to the drudgery of temping in the Devil’s call center for perpetuity, but things changed when a violent workplace massacre left her next in line for Acting Executive Vice President of the Impending Apocalypse. Now hers is a delicate balancing act – caught between keeping her job and saving the world – and the only end in sight lies beyond scheming coworkers, corporate villainy, killer cops, a secret hidden world within the walls, and a mysterious band of would-be assassins who won’t stop until she’s dead. [Pre-Order Available March 5]

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