The Apparition

(Keywords: daughter/son, supernatural occurrence, pursuit, an empty house, shield)

My son stood on the lawn in front of our house. His fringe blocked one eye as it always did, and he was wearing his favorite dark-green, grungy T-shirt on top of his tight-fitting jeans. It was mid-November, and it was weird. Not so much that he wasn’t wearing a jacket, even though the temperature outside warranted wearing at least some sort of jacket, but more so because he had died last year.

I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and called my husband while keeping the sheers out of my view. I didn’t want to let go of the vision.

“Hi honey, what’s up?” my husband asked cheerfully. He had recovered sooner from the loss than I had.

“Um, please don’t get upset, darling, but Sean is standing on our lawn.”

There was a long pause before Bill answered.

“What do you mean?” he finally said.

I cleared my throat before replying.

“Exactly what I said, Bill. Sean is standing on our lawn. He’s looking straight at me. I’m not joking.”

The hairs on my arms stood on end and a yearning began to materialize in the pit of my stomach. I could hear Bill sigh on the other end of the line.

“Honey, that’s not possible. You know Sean is dead.”

The yearning morphed into anger.

“I know that,” I spat. “But as real as the cheese sandwiches in your lunch box, Sean is standing on our lawn. I don’t know what to do. Am I going insane? Please don’t tell me I’m going insane.”

I let go of the sheers and pulled my cardigan closer around me. It had been a difficult year for me, for us, to accept the death of our son. Sean was only seventeen when he was killed by a drunk driver. He had had so much life to live yet. There wasn’t a day that went by without me wishing it had been me instead of him.

“Maybe it’s a prank of one of his friends,” Bill said.  “Why don’t you go outside and talk to him. He may be missing him too. It’ll be good for you to talk about it with someone.”

“Okay,” I said, anxiety instantly taking control of me. “I’ll go and do that. Bye.”

“Bye, honey. See you tonight.”

I pulled the sheers aside again. Sean was still standing on the lawn. I so wanted it to be Sean. I wanted my son back. I wanted to hold him and cuddle him and tell him I loved him so much. Something kept me from running outside, though. There was something about his vision that was unsettling. Bill thought it was a friend of Sean, but I knew Sean’s friends. They didn’t look like him. This apparition looked like Sean. Hell, it wasn’t an apparition. It was Sean. And yet…

With trepidation, I walked to the front door. I put my hand on the doorknob. My breathing increased, and I felt light-headed. I could feel the sweat beads forming on my skin. Thinking about the words of my therapist, I tried to control my breathing. I inhaled slowly and deeply, releasing the tension slowly with an exhalation. I did this three times before I had the guts to turn the knob and open the door.

Sean was still standing on the lawn. I pinched the bridge of my nose, closing my eyes. When I opened them again, he was still there, still looking at me.

A feeling of hope crept over me, the yearning to hold my son again a thousand-fold. I slowly took some steps in his direction. As I did, so did he step away from me. I stopped. He stopped too. I took another few steps. He stepped the same amount of steps away from me. What was this boy playing at?

Frowning, I called his name. But he didn’t react at all. There was no expression on his face. Was Bill right? Was this a prank?

I took some more steps in Sean’s direction, but he continued to keep the same distance between us. I became agitated and angry. Why was he not letting me get near him? If anything, I wanted to smack his ear for being so inconsiderate. I began walking fast to him, turning it into a run when Sean began moving fast too. My pursuit went on until Sean disappeared into an abandoned house.

I hesitated to follow him in there. Rubbing my neck, I looked back. I was out of view of my street, my neighbors. When I looked at the house again, Sean was standing in front of the broken window of the house. I was now the one standing on the lawn, looking at him inside the house. The tables had turned.

Deciding I’d had enough of this cat-and-mouse game, I went inside. When I opened the door into the living room, Sean looked at me and my heart melted when I finally saw a smile on his face. I stretched out my arms to embrace my son. Then the world exploded around me.

When I came to, I found myself covered by debris. The house I had been in had collapsed into a pile of rubble. Fortunately, I had been protected by the door frame and wasn’t injured but for a few scratches. I managed to climb out of the mess that had been a house just a few minutes ago. The lawn was covered in debris, but not from the house. I realized what had happened. A plane had crashed and had leveled part of the neighborhood, including the street I lived in, and my home.

I looked back to the flattened house which had shielded me, but Sean was gone. I dropped to my knees, crying as I hugged myself. People ran over to me, asking me if I was injured. They thought I was in pain. I wasn’t. I was happier than I had ever been, knowing that my son was my guardian angel.


Copyrighted (c) by Jacky Dahlhaus