In Their Dreams

Submitted into Contest #65 in response to: Write about someone’s first Halloween as a ghost.... view prompt

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Fiction Holiday Drama





    I could hear their voices from downstairs. I was hiding in the dark corner of Sarah’s closet. Not that I needed to hide since no one can see me.

   They were coming in from school, Thalia chattering about Halloween and Sarah sulking the way she seemed to do a lot of late.

  “I’m going to be Cookie Monster and Thalia is going to be Elmo,” Sarah said without enthusiasm.

  “Sarah, you’re ten years old. You’re way too old to be Cookie Monster for Halloween,” Patrick said.

  I had to grimace from my ghostly place in my daughter’s closet. My dear husband. He wasn’t following my lead. Encouraging our girls to be themselves and be whatever they wanted to 

be.

  At this, Sarah angrily threw her backpack on the floor and raced upstairs. 

 “I’m not too old! I hate you, Daddy.”

  “ But Daddy, we have to. Mommy told us too,” Thalia said.

   Patrick scoffed  at this of course and assumed it was coming from the silly imagination of a seven year old.

   I come to my daughters in their dreams. Late at night I step out of the closet and speak to them gently or kiss them softly on the cheek.

  So far Thalia is the only one who believes. Sarah shrieks and cries when she sees me in her dreams. Patrick has had to come in her room several times to calm her while my ghostly spirit retreated to the closet. 

   I loved my Sarah. I ached for her. She had suffered this profound loss and no one seemed to understand how much she was hurting, including her own father.

  I knew Thalia would be okay. She was seven and she had always been a happy, resilient child. Sarah had always been more sensitive and sullen.  She was almost eleven and reaching the age where girls were already forming alliances against one another.  Perhaps that was why Patrick suggested dressing as Cookie Monster in fifth grade was probably not a good idea. It would give her peers another thing to laugh about.


   It was eleven months ago, just before Thanksgiving last year when I “passed”.I was in the kitchen in the morning packing the girl’s lunches when I became dizzy, collapsed and crumpled to the floor.

  Patrick left the kids with a neighbor and drove me to the emergency room himself. I was conscious and just a little woozy in the car and assumed I would be fine.

   The ER doctor diagnosed me with some kind of congenital heart defect that I’d probably had since childhood and had never known about. That almost made sense. My parents had never been big on doctors. There were five of us kids and we couldn’t really afford good medical care.

  The doctor said I should spend a few days in the hospital for tests. As much as I hated being away from my girls, I was willing to stay in the hospital. For them. I needed to be healthy for them.

 Within thirty-six hours, I was gone.  I had a heart attack that ended up being fatal. Patrick was at my bedside holding my hand until the end.

  It was during the funeral that I realized my spirit still existed. When I witnessed the grief my husband, my parents and my siblings were feeling it was too much to bear.

 Sarah and Thalia did not come to their mother’s funeral. Patrick had made that decision without consulting anyone else.


    Sarah wore the Cookie Monster costume to school on Halloween. It created the reaction Patrick assumed it would. There was a chorus of “baby” from the girls in her class dressed as Kim K or Lady GaGa.

  Still, she insisted on wearing the costume for Trick or Treating.  She also insisted Patrick go with them while most of the other kids in the neighborhood were parentless.

  “I thought we’d go with Mrs. Minnelli next door. She’s taking Tim and Brandon,” Patrick said.

   Beth Minnelli was the single mom next door with sons around the same ages as Sarah and Thalia.  She’d had designs on Patrick since the ink dried on her divorce papers. I just didn’t expect her to swoop in this soon.

 Or for Patrick to fall for it. Prick.

 “No! I’m not going with her!” Sarah shouted.

  “That’s my girl!” I said quietly from my hideout in the closet. 

  “You don’t have a choice, Sarah. You’ll come or I can drop you off at your grandmother’s and they’ll be no Halloween at all.”

  Sarah didn’t give in easily but the prospect of no candy was apparently worse than trick or treating with Beth Minnelli and her kids. So she trudged along, pouting all the way.


   I tried once more to talk to Sarah in her dreams that night. This time she didn’t scream or cry and was more receptive.

  I sat at the edge of her bed and softly put a hand on her cheek and she didn’t flinch.

  “Sarah, it’s Mommy. Your dad is making some mistakes but he loves you and this is hard for him too. Give him a little slack, okay. He’s trying.”

 “I know, Mommy. I just don’t like Mrs. Minnelli and I don’t want her to be my mom.”

  “Sarah, she will never be your mom. I will be with you always. Even when you don’t see me. I love you, Sarah Bear.”

    Sarah fell asleep that night smiling and content for the first time in a long while.


    I went away after that. I didn’t hide in the closet or haunt my children in their dreams. I would turn up occasionally to check on them. I was watching silently and unseen during their high school and college graduations and at their weddings.  Their were smaller moments when I would peak in on them as well. I saw Sarah in her prom dress and Thalia when she passed her driver’s test.

   Patrick came to his senses and didn’t end up with Beth Minnelli. About five years after my death, he met a nice woman named Katie online who was a nurse. She was good to my girls and never let them forget I was their mother.

  And I always will be. Even from the netherworld.

October 30, 2020 20:54

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2 comments

C. Jay Loren
04:08 Nov 04, 2020

Gosh this was such a sad story but very heartwarming at the same time. I have a similar story about family called “A Mother’s Love” if you would like to have a read. :) Also, as a small note, when I want to change scenes or do flashbacks or time changes, I usually put ***** between the scenes. But that’s just personal preference.

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Kathleen Whalen
04:37 Nov 04, 2020

Thanks. I will definitely read your story!

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