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Presence

Nothing Else

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

A young woman returns to her childhood home looking for her father. 

On a regular basis he comes to the solitary residence for grieving. He will sit on the bottom stairs of the stairway that lead to the second floor where their rooms once were. She believes he has come here for memories of her mother, who died from cancer when she was a little girl. Her parents had that kind of love for another we don't see much of today. They were childhood sweethearts. Her mother's death left her father in a long grieving process. 

When the young woman arrives at the house, she opens the door to his presence sitting on the stairs. She slowly calls out to greet him, then asks, "Are you well?" As she begins to take a seat next him on the stairs, her father says, "I know you truly love your husband pumpkin." This only leads her to question him. He then responds, "When you love someone, you face all obstacles with that person. At times these obstacles can be the worst moments of your life, or they can be the greatest moments of your life." The obstacles were what her father liked to call challenges, she liked to call them tests. He then turned to face her, "If you can face the obstacles with your spouse, and still love one another at the end. Then that is true love, at least in my opinion," he said confidently. “You guys had a lot of obstacles kiddo,” he said sadly, continuing to sit quietly, looking forward. Time seemed to have passed, and she suddenly realizes she is now sitting on a chair near the staircase her father once sat. Only now she's cold with a blanket wrapped around her. Her father has left without her acknowledgement. The young woman sits in her new spot and thinks about what her father has told her. As memories pass in front of her, she visualizes difficult times when only her husband was employed.

She was a freshman in college, and had to put rent aside from what they earned from financial aid, he'd bus tables, wash dishes, and greet customers for a local restaurant. Sure, they'd argue over money, but they'd kiss and make up after. By the time she was in her junior year, he had already graduated, and was working on his internship within a successful organization in business. They still had that bond that together they could accomplish anything. Now days she was a successful financial advisor, and her husband a successful business consultant. However, it's as though they rarely talked anymore. Almost as though they no longer had time for the love they once shared for another.

When she finally snaps from her thoughts, she asks herself, "How long have I been here?" How the time had passed, she thought. With a quick shiver, the young woman embraced her blanket even tighter to her body.

Before she realized it, her husband came weakly through the front door to the home looking for her. He sits on the staircase, almost in the exact same place her father had sat. He begins talking to her, which leads into a conversation of their life together, their earlier days, and then it trailed off to her childhood memories he had heard so much about from her and her father. Her husband just sat listening, smiling, and then a tear slowly ran down his cheek. A moment of silence passed. Her husband then spoke aloud saying, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I wasn't available during those times you needed me most. I'm sorry I was not here with you when you felt alone. I'm sorry I chose success over our marriage." He then looked around with tears in his eyes, and said, "Most of all, I'm sorry I wasn't by your side when you lost our child." She then began to cry and responded, "It's fine. I… I could've done my part as well." He then rose, and said, "Your father said I should come here and make peace. He said he felt your presence earlier when he was here." The young woman then slowly stood up clutching on to her blanket to keep warm and felt confused. She was wondering what he had meant by that. He then responded, "I have always felt as though you'd always be here. I never thought anything would ever happen to you." She then asked in a soft-spoken voice, "What?" It was then, flashes of what had happened hit her in an instant.

She was driving home from the office, when she heard a loud pop, a flat tire maybe. The stirring wheel began to stir one way, then towards another. She then remembered losing control of the car and crashing head on into a car causing her to hit the stirring wheel. It was as though her neck snapped forward so fast.

She was then brought back from her memory, and she questioned to herself, was it a spinal injury that had taken her final breath? At that her husband began to walk toward the door, slowly opened it, and just before he left, he turned looking towards where she was, and in a rumbling voice of sorrow he said, "I'll always love you." Then he slowly walked out the door, closing it behind him. She stood there in silence looking at the closed door realizing she was the presence, the ghost, no longer anything else.