A warm fire blossoms inside the confines of the fireplace as charred embers and soot ascend towards the skies through a red bricked chimney. From the window she watches the clouds sail across the sea of shining stars. The air in the house had suddenly become chilly and this had nothing to do with the climate, for the trees stood motionless under the illumination of the moonlight.
A crackle from the fireplace sends timber logs crumbling to ashes. She turns towards it her eyes scanning for rogue embers. She moves towards the fireplace, making sure none had escaped onto the carpet. Next to the warm orange glow, her facial features expose the deep creases beneath her eyes as she stares at her reflection on the mantelpiece. It was the anniversary present from her last marriage. As she pondered upon her saggy demeanor, her mind swarmed with thoughts from her last marriage. Their first date eating burnt toast , dancing on the beach without clothes while vacationing for their honeymoon, the breathless kiss when she informed him of his impending fatherhood status and his calm stare following her trembling body as she was wheeled into the theater.
A loud crackle pulled her from her deep thoughts, this time it was from the baby monitor in her hand. She then began to rub her eyelids lazily as if trying to erase the sleep from her eyes. She wished he were here, he was a nocturnal creature always spending nights hanging wallpapers and fixing the nursery. He would have cuddled her to sleep and stayed awake to watch the sun come up. The tiny speaker emitted more garbled sound. She had started to cry. Grabbing a metallic bar, she began beating the flame until it flickered and died out. She took one last glance at her mirrored reflection on the mantle piece and found herself smiling back as she repeated a promise he had made while giving her the present. “Always and forever” she whispered to herself as she made her way to the nursery.
He appeared in the room, his translucent frame hovering between shadows of the midnight crescent. Avoiding the artificial lights he soared above tiny Legos littered around the nursery, and he floated towards the mobile steadily swirling above the crib. His cloudy fingers slowly extended towards her tiny red cheeks when a sudden burst of light swept into the room, and standing at the entrance of the door, a Woman dressed in dark pyjamas clutching onto a baby monitor.
She walks over to the bed where she had laid the child, sweeping the path of littered Legos with her feet. She inspects her daughter’s face carefully as her fingers run across the little girls face.
“You look just like him” she whispered into the air.
“Is everything ok?” came a soothing voice from behind.
She turned around smiling, walking into her husband’s embrace. “Yeah honey, I thought I heard something”
“You should come to bed, we’ve got a long day tomorrow”. He sighed while planting a kiss on her head.
“Right, let me clean up here and I’ll join you.”
A couple of minutes passes and the floor of the nursery is stripped off tiny yellow bricks and barbie dolls. Now coooing peacefully, an exhausted Mother puts finishing touches around the crib area. Then peeking one last time at her sleeping child she flips the light switch and closes the door gently.
Behind closed doors he appears again. At the same spot, his moonlit eyes focused on the child swaying in the cradle. He reaches out to her chubby cheeks, but his misty fingers dissipates as he touches her skin.
And so the mist like figure hovers over the crib until the stars started to fade under the warm glow from sun’s rays . As the light bleeds into the crib, his form withers like steam from the spout of a boiling kettle. Now only half of what was, the ghost bends towards her forehead and plants a wispy kiss across her hairline. “Always and forever” he whispers into her ears as he vanishes into the morning light.
The door knob wrigglesget slowly and the Woman enters wearing an oversized black gown. Walking towards her daughter crib, she finds a strand of white hair interlaced among tiny curls, her bright eyes and tiny limbs gesturing for an embrace.