I don’t believe in ghosts. Any more than I believe in a tree, or a rock. What the heck does a tree care what I believe in. Why does it matter what you call a stone, unless you’re a geologist or something. I just try to live with things–as is. ‘Take them the way they are, and work on your own self,’ like Daddy said. Like you have to take Uncle Bob. It’s not going to change anything about Uncle Bob if I object to it. He’ll just get more ornery and give Mama a harder time. He’ll just ignore me, same as a rock would. You can’t argue with a stone, and Uncle Bob thinks anybody still under the age of sixteen is as dumb as a rock anyway, so what’s the use.

I’ve been watching this one ghost for a week now. He thinks I don’t see him, if he thinks about me at all. He moves up and down the stairs like he’s carrying something but I can’t see his arms. Maybe he doesn’t have any arms. But he looks busy, like he’s getting something done.

You’ve seen the phosphorous glow over a swamp at night, haven’t you? Now that is scary! I almost peed in my pants the first time I saw that. I lost my fishing pole anyway. But, that doesn’t look anything like a ghost. No. Ghosts don’t glow. They’re just there, like the dent you put in the couch cushion that you can see when you get up. Like looking in on the edge of a thick piece of glass. What you can see bends up just a little bit at the edges. And the air moves. I have felt the air move a lot of times when it shouldn’t ought to have done.

I was home last Sunday night when Uncle Bob took his girlfriend to see a movie at the Regal. Mary Jane was asleep. She sleeps a lot, because she’s growing, Mama says. I was supposed to be doing my math. I hate math. And Mama was off at Aunt Julia’s. She would not be home until the bridge game broke up and that could be two in the morning. Uncle Bob could have his girlfriend pinned down in the front seat of his old Ford truck until at least then, so I was mighty alone. And it was quiet.

I put all the lights on.

I’m not about to sit around in the dark.

Besides that, Uncle Bob says you need plenty of light to do math problems. You can’t afford to lose a number in the shadows. That’s the way he talks. He can’t add enough to keep his checks from bouncing. But I was inclined to agree with him the night he took Miss Whittemore to the movies.

The air was still. Late August still. And with school just started I had to get my homework done or else I was going to be on Mr. Farley’s shit list for the rest of the year. And he’s a vengeful bastard. Uncle Bob says that too. They went to school together and don’t speak right up to this day.

I was at Daddy’s desk in the living room, sitting in the rolling chair. The wooden arms come up under my elbows now, like it was made to fit. That’s my spot. I have rights to it, and Mama won’t sit there and Uncle Bob won’t touch it. Mary Jean won’t even go near it. She won’t say why, but I think it’s an emotional thing. Girls are different about their daddies.

I was trying to keep an eye on an algebra problem that kept moving around on me. ‘5u/2 + -11uv + 6v/2’. Where does the ‘x’ come in? There is always an ‘x’. And then I felt the air move.

The son-of-a-bitch went right by me into the kitchen. I followed him.

I made like I needed some milk but I could see where he was bending over the stove. Looking for something. Then he was gone. Slipped by me again when I was putting the milk away.

I went back to Daddy’s desk and tried to find where the ‘x’ was supposed to be. I almost had it, and there he comes again. But this time it just caught me wrong. I mean, the ‘x’ was just about to come out and there was this phantasm, this apparition, this reverse shadow of a thing that comes by acting as if I should just ignore him.

So I followed him back into the kitchen. Remember, the air is as still as it can be. But I can feel this fellow moving just ahead of me. I can see the edge lines of the doorframe buckle just that much. And he goes right back over to the stove and bends low there again.

Well, I’m irritated now and the stove is shut so I just go right through him like he wasn’t there and open the oven door for him. I figured that’s what he wants, right? But then the ghost was gone in an instant, and the smell of the gas just about choked me to tears.

I had to go outside to turn the valve off from the propane tank. Took a minute. It doesn’t get turned all that often. It’s a little rusty. And I’m not as strong as the fellow that delivers every once in a while from the company. And also I worked up a sweat at it cause I turned that little valve the wrong way the first time. Lefty loosy, righty tighty. I know that!

I just stood there after, and took a full breath of sweet night air. The moon was half full and clear as a light bulb. The crickets were singing up a chorus of Bach. That’s what Daddy used to say, and he liked Bach. And then I went back in and opened up all the windows that weren’t already opened and got two more fans going.

When Mama got home she went nuts.

I had fallen asleep at Daddy’s desk. All the lights were on. The fans were all blowing. The windows were open.

She says, “Why did you want every damned window open. You know some of them stick. I’ll have to get your Uncle Bob to shut them when he gets back and he’ll be full of beer and all tuckered out. I sure hope it doesn’t rain tonight.”

I told her, “It won’t rain. You can see the moon as clear as can be. It won’t rain for a day or two.” But I didn’t tell her about the ghost. I just said, “I think the knob on the oven is broken and it didn’t shut off after you made the meatloaf. I had to air the place out. And I shut the tank off from outside the way Daddy showed me that time.”

That got her attention and I went to bed.

Uncle Bob came to live with us after Daddy died. It was a natural. He’s not a bad guy. Actually, he’s pretty good. But he can’t add and he can’t subtract and he’s been tossed out by two wives already and doesn’t own much more than he can fit in that old Ford truck.

Uncle Bob does have one bad habit though that has gotten him into a pile of trouble with Mama, and that would be his foul language. It can be ‘ripe,’ as my mama says, and though he has tried to keep his tongue under control, she thinks he has been a bad influence on me. I have tried to tell her I hear a lot worse at school, but she won’t believe it.

Uncle Bob wanted to take a shower when he got home that night, but he had to settle on a cold one. He was ripe.

Now, I’ve seen these ghosts during the day. They are harder to see then, but if you look sharp, you can catch sight of an edge or feel a little waft of air that shouldn’t be moving otherwise.

The next morning I was out the door to school way early, but left my homework on my bed so I had to run back and when I came into the room, there was one of them right there. Standing by the bed. I could tell. I’ve seen that room every day of my life and I know how it looks blindfolded. Just there at the end of my bed near the dresser I could tell it was different.

I said, “Hello.”

And that ghost was gone, just as fast as I said the words. You can’t talk to a ghost. They are shy.

That night we had George Patterson over for dinner. Monday night is a funny night to have someone over. But that was Mr. Patterson’s night off. People that own their own business don’t get to pick and choose their hours. Daddy said that more than a few times. Usually on Mondays we have leftovers from Sunday dinner but Mama cooked up lasagna. Her lasagna got a prize at the County Fair two years in a row and they won’t even let her bring it anymore.

George is eyeing me like a pervert, but I know he is not. He’s okay. He has something else on his mind and can’t find his way to it.

Mary Jean has gone as quiet as a mouse and Uncle Bob can’t seem to shut up. Uncle Bob has been unemployed for nearly a month and George Patterson has a Honda dealership and it seems pretty clear that Uncle Bob is angling for a new job. He is dragging out every big escapade and sharp deal of his career. I have heard this all a hundred times before. Especially the time he sold the Amway representative on a new Maytag dishwasher when she came by to sell him on something else. That was during his second marriage. Proud moments for Uncle Bob. But I interrupted anyway.

I said, “Do you believe in ghosts.”

I was looking right at Mr. Patterson, but Uncle Bob tried to answer first.

“What? Now boy, you don’t want to get into that again, do you? That is murky territory. You might as well discuss a man’s religion as that.”

But Mr. Patterson smiled. Like he was ready for it.

He says, “Sure. Sure I do. I don’t know what they are, but I have seen’em. More than once. I don’t think they mean any harm. I’m not afraid of ghosts, if that’s what you mean. They’re just there now and again.” He turned to Mama. “Don’t you think?”

Mama was a little red now. Like a blush. She is pretty when she blushes. She spends too much time indoors where she works. I know she’s gotten a little white in the three years since Daddy died.

Mr. Patterson’s smile faded back to that look of concern he had before.

I said, “But they are not there! There is nothing there at all. It’s a miasma. A specter.” I tried to remember some of the other definitions I had looked up in the Webster’s Third International. Nothing else came to mind, but I plunged on with my objection. “It’s like an algebra problem. It’s all pretend. Not even any numbers. Just what if this and what if that. But then if you figure it out you get a sum and that answer is right anyway.” That was about all I had to say except “I just don’t understand it.”

Mr. Patterson looked kind of blank faced then. It took him a minute to catch on to what I was saying.

But Uncle Bob couldn’t wait.

“It’s imagination. Just that. You can imagine anything you want. You can imagine a number is a letter, but whatever the letter is you’ve imagined it to be instead, it’s still the same number. Remember that and you won’t go wrong,” he nodded at the absolute perfection of his advice.  But he could probably read my own answer there on my face. “You just don’t know what that number is, don’t you see. The reason for the algebra is because you don’t know what the number really is. And the algebra is a way to figure that out. Like a—“

Mama finally got her tongue. “You see what you want to see. A ghost is whatever you want it to be, or maybe what you don’t want it to be. That’s all.”

Mr. Patterson smiled again. “Yes. That’s right. A ghost is just what you want it to be, or what you are afraid of. That’s all.”

Mary Jane spoke then with her chin down on her chest as if it was stuck there. She has always done that when she’s unhappy, as far back as I can remember and she’s twelve now.

She said, “It stands by the closet at night and watches me.”

This revelation pretty much struck us all dumb.

Mary Jane doesn’t talk a lot and when she does, it’s never something like that. It’s usually something stupid.

I asked her, “Does it make the air move? Does it bend the light from the window?”

She nodded without removing her chin from her chest.

My mama sighed. She shook her head like she does when she doesn’t want things to get out of hand. Then she set her napkin aside and went over to Mary Jane’s chair and hugged her as best she could.

Uncle Bob rolled his eyes. He is very uncomfortable with moments like this. He’d rather talk than be quiet anytime.

Then Mr. Patterson said something odd, “That’s a very good thing, you know. You may be afraid of it now, because you don’t understand it, but it’s there for a reason. Maybe it’s not watching you. Maybe it’s watching over you. But I can tell you this, when you don’t need it anymore, it will be gone. And I know it’s easy to say, but don’t be afraid.”

It wasn’t but a few minutes later that Mr. Patterson looked at his watch and said he had to be leaving. Mary Jane went to the bathroom and left her dinner half-finished. Uncle Bob ate seconds. Mama was on the verge of tears and got so quiet it brought a silence to the room.

The next day I stopped at the Walmart on the way home from class to get some school supplies. Mrs. Haber was there putting up boxes of Cheerios in a big display that looked like it was about to fall if it got some help. I was thinking about ways I could make it collapse like you do a tree in one particular direction if you cut a notch just so, and it might hit the display of toilet paper across the aisle. Those rolls of toilet paper ought to fall pretty easy. I was standing there trying to decide which box of Cheerios ought to be pulled at the bottom. It was an interesting calculation. I wasn’t going to actually do it. I just wanted to make the calculation.

Mrs. Haber gave me a dirty look. Her son is a year older than I am. She has me figured out.

She says, “What can I do for you?”

I say, “Nothing.”

She says, “You can do me a favor then. Tell your mother I want to talk to her. I missed her on Sunday.”

Now I figure that Mama sits in Aunt Julia’s living room every Sunday night for six hours or more and plays bridge with Mrs. Haber and Miss Curtis. What more can she have to say?

I said, “Mama has been working overtime. I can tell her a message if you want. But I’ll bet you’re going to see her on Sunday anyway.”

Mrs. Haber is not a very patient person. She says, “Just tell her please.”

I was all the way out the door and over at the Piggly Wiggly packing groceries for people before it dawned on me that something was not right about what Mrs. Haber said. She said she had missed momma on Sunday night.

So, the question was, where did Mama go on Sunday night?

Now, I may not be sixteen quite yet, but almost. I know about stuff. And Mr. Patterson was not visiting just because momma makes the best lasagna in the State of South Carolina.

Mama is a single woman now.

My daddy died in an accident at the off-ramp to I-85 just two miles from home. He was on his way back from a short haul up to Charlotte and his truck was empty or else he wouldn’t have even tried to do what he did. Some lady had pulled her car over to read a map. Another fool stopped right there to help her read it. The way guys do. The State police say the only way Daddy could have avoided hitting them, with the cement abutment right there on the side, was to stop his truck just where it was when he saw them. And that’s just what he did.

He flipped that big rig backwards and over, right on the spot.

Mama usually goes to the cemetery on Sunday afternoons along with Mary Jane, but I can’t. It bothers me in a bad way. So I go over to the spot on I-85 Saturdays and put something out by that little cross you can see there. Usually some little thing from his desk. He had all kinds of gimcracks and odds and ends in there he’d picked up around the country on one trip or another. Mostly stuff he would give to Mary Jane or me, but I guess he found more than he needed.

Anyway, it has been three years. I still go over to I-85 on Saturdays, but I notice Mama isn’t going over to the graveyard every single Sunday afternoon anymore. Now I figure she has something else on her mind.

So on Tuesday night, when Mama was off with Mary Jane doing some shopping for school clothes, I say to Uncle Bob, “What do you think of Mr. Patterson.”

Uncle Bob pipes right up, “If that son-of-a bitch doesn’t give me a job, I’ll tell you what I think.”

I say, “He seems like a decent sort of fella.”

Uncle Bob gives me a big eye. “Decent how? Any fool can see your mama is the prettiest woman in Spartanburg County. He has his priorities. I have mine.”

That’s Uncle Bob. He is a number one opportunist so he figures everyone else is like that too.

I say, “Do you think Mama loves him?”

Now this has Uncle Bob in a fix. He cannot lie. But he has great difficulties with the truth. His preferred course is exaggeration, or misdirection.

He says, “Women are hard to figure. You never know what their true feeling are until it’s too late. They can lead you on when they don’t give a whit and they can act like you don’t exist but then cry if you forget to say hello.”

The whole time he is talking Uncle Bob is patting at his pockets looking for his tobacco. Mama made him quit when he moved to the house, but he has the habits of a man who has been chewing Redman his whole life, which he has, and still does, only he hides it out in his truck.

I say, “It’s in the glove compartment. Want me to get it for you?”

He says, “No, boy. I’ll get it. I have to get over to see somebody just now anyhow.”

I say, “But you did not answer my question.”

He says, “Because, I don’t know the answer,” and heads for the door.

I say, “I think she does. She was out with him on Sunday night, you know. I think it’s serious.”

Uncle Bob turned on me then like old Pup used to when you got too close to his food.

“What do you know about such things boy? You don’t know diddly. That fella might be feeling lonely, but what does he want with a forty year old woman and two kids. A man with a Honda dealership! He could have any young thing between here and Charlotte!”

And then Uncle Bob was gone.

But not two minutes after that, I can see something funny over by Daddy’s old records. Something odd was going on there with the light. Nobody plays those records anymore now but me. Especially now that the television has been moved into the living room. So I go right over and pull out the Goldberg Variations. Daddy liked the Glenn Gould version better than anything and I put it right on the turntable and set the sound.

Mama never liked classical music. She’s a country and western girl. And Daddy was likely to play country when he was wheeling along the highway and he could sing a heck of a lot of the songs too. But when he was home, he played the classical music on his records. His grandfather was a Mennonite and those people came over from Germany, but I don’t know how he learned to like Bach. It just was. And he never would let a television into the living room so Mary Jane and I would watch our shows out on the back porch while he played his records.

That ghost hardly moved to let me by. He stayed right there close while I set the arm down on the record. He hardly budged.

And I stayed right there too.

Finally I said, “Why don’t you sit at the desk like you used to.”

But then he was gone. And I sat at the desk by myself and I did cry a little.

On Wednesday I had to run for cross-country team practice till six o’clock. It is too warm for running outdoors, but that’s the way it is. The wimps that do track and field were using the air-conditioned gymnasium.

And I got dehydrated.

Coach Johnson rides along in his car and makes us drink as much as we can hold, but some days it’s just too damned hot. I wasn’t the only one. So coach had us halt in the cool of the shade of the I-85 overpass, not a hundred yards from where my daddy died.

Mr. Patterson’s daughter Sheila is on the girls team. She comes right over and sits next to me, even though there are about twenty-five pairs of eyes looking right at us. The girls never sit with the guys.

The sound of the traffic above us keeps things from getting too quiet, and she whispers at me just in case.

Sheila was looking over at the little cross. “Is that the place?”

I just nodded.

She said, “My daddy was talking about it just last week. I never really knew, you know. It’s just not something people talk about. Not the kids, anyway.”

I said “No.” I thought that should be a pretty clear message. But she had her own mind.

She said, “I like your mama.”

Now this was moving along pretty fast.

I nodded.

Sheila said, “She came over for barbecue on Sunday. Daddy went crazy. He cooked a whole cow, I guess. He couldn’t stop cooking just trying to stay busy. We got to talk with your mama quite a bit.”

Now, I was a little hurt by this. Why didn’t Mama tell us she was going to Mr. Patterson’s house for barbecue. But then that was pretty obvious, wasn’t it? We’d all have been asking why.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded again.

Sheila Patterson is a skinny girl but she has a pretty face. She has her black hair cut short so it won’t get in her eyes when she runs. It makes her look like a boy if you look too quick.

Mrs. Patterson died of cancer some time ago. I had no idea when. I had never thought to ask.

Sheila says, “My Mama died when I was nine. I’m the youngest so…well. I guess it doesn’t matter how old you are. But my sisters didn’t seem to have as bad a time with it as I did. They knew it was coming for so long. I just didn’t understand it. When it finally happened, I didn’t believe it was true…for a long time.”

I calculated that my sister Mary Jane was about that same age when our daddy died, though I didn’t say it. But there was one subject that had been on my mind all week, so I said that instead. I figured if she thought it was weird, then that would be that and she’d leave me alone.

I said, “Did you ever see your mother’s ghost?”
You would think Sheila just got hit up side the head. Her jaw dropped open far enough for me to count teeth. I had nothing else on my mind so I waited until she got her words together.

She finally said, “Yes.”

And then she got up quick and ran back to the other girls.

On Thursday I was packing groceries at the Piggly Wiggly again. Because I’m still under sixteen they only let me do it for twelve hours a week. Most of Saturday morning and a lot of weekday evenings just before dinner time.

I looked up from a bag and there is Mrs. Haber.

She says, “You tell your mother like I asked?”

I said, “Yes ma’am.” But that was a lie. I’d forgotten.

She says, “She hasn’t called me. Why doesn’t your mother get a cell phone like the rest of the world?”

I said, “She had one, but she threw it away.”

Mrs. Haber says, “I never knew that. Funny thing to do.”

But it wasn’t. It was because Daddy called her while he was trapped in the cab of that truck. She never told us what he said, but I can figure.

That night I was in bed before eleven o’clock. My homework had just about put me to sleep. I was just lying there and thinking and then I knew I was not alone in the room. I didn’t know where he was, but I knew he was there.

I was going to say something. I had a lot of questions. But he wouldn’t have been able to tell me anything, and then he would go and disappear and I sort of liked him being there so I just shut my eyes and kept them closed.

On Friday I went outside at four to play some touch football with the other guys and I did not get back until after dark. This was not a good move. I missed a dinner that Mama had decided was important. She had told me, but I forgot about it.

I sat out on the porch with Uncle Bob after I ate what was left for me. He spit out what was in his jaw when he heard the screen door and then he cursed when he saw it was just me.

He cussed, “Dang. That was a fresh plug. I thought it was your mama.”

I said, “What was the big deal? Why was Mama so upset?”

Uncle Bob said, “She has things on her mind. You know that. She wanted to talk to all of us all at one time. That was her plan. That’s it. A body gets a little weary when you can’t plan anything without it going wrong.”

I asked, “Did she say anything.”
Uncle Bob spit some remnant for good measure.

“No. She was waiting for you. Then your sister got a phone call. Then your mama got a phone call. Like that.”

I said, “What would you have said if she had?”

He laughed, “I would have said, “Get on with it. We’re not getting any younger.”

I said, “She would have kicked you in the leg for that.”

He said, “She would have done that. She would indeed.”

So I wandered off into the yard. It was a big starry night. Venus was gone down already but Mars was there at the top of the trees and there was Jupiter. Daddy knew the names of all the big stars and a few of the little ones. I was just standing there looking up. That’s all. But I didn’t want to move. I was alone, for sure. There was no ghost out there with me. It was an odd thought to have then–that I was alone like that.

Daddy was not a religious man. Most people around here are, but he never was. He did not go to church on Sunday. He did not pray out loud at dinner. He believed in right and wrong and that was that. The most religion he ever addressed to me was to say, “You just do right. Any God worth his salt will know about it.”

He showed us about right and wrong every day. He never preached it.

But Mama is a Free Will Baptist. She would go to church most Sundays. At least that was her way before Daddy died. She hasn’t been since. It was Daddy’s cousin Arnold who said the service when Daddy was buried. Arnold is a Methodist preacher. But that was done mostly for that side of the family because they are all Methodists I think. The first and last time I met most of them was there at the cemetery and at the gathering afterward. For some weeks after that one lady or another from the Free Will Baptist Church would show up at the door with a cooked meal or some sort of dessert. That was for Mama’s sake, of course. Everyone knew Daddy was what they call an agnostic. But nobody from the Methodist church came by after that day at all.

This is not a strike against the Methodists now. There might have been other reasons why they never came by. Maybe it was just because they knew the Free Will folks were taking care of it and there was food aplenty. It’s just that Mr. Patterson is a Methodist. And I wondered what his thoughts were on the matter. Or something like that.

The Honda dealership is off down by the Greenville Highway exit so I had no call to be over that way except that the creek runs right near there and I could use some minnows if Uncle Bob is ever going to take me fishing down to Lake Bowen before the weather cools off. I can turn the minnows in at Peter’s Fish & Tackle Shop and get credit to use for more whenever I can get Uncle Bob off his butt some Saturday.

So I had a pole net and my Daddy’s old sain and a bait bucket and saltine crackers and I hiked up that way on Saturday and then kind of casually dropped by the Honda dealership just to look around.

A salesman gave me a big eye until Mr. Patterson saw me from his office and came right out.

He said, “What kind of car are you looking for?” and he shook my hand.

I said, “I think I’ll be looking for a used One-Fifty. You don’t sell those here, do you?”

That made him smile. “Your uncle has a good’un. Why don’t you plot to get that and convince him to buy something a little newer. I’ve got a little Ridgeline over here that’ll save him on some gas.”

I said, “That’s an idea. I’ll talk to him about that.”

He said “You going fishing?”

I said, “Yes sir.”

He said, “For minnows. Or for knowledge?”

That caught me flat footed.

I said, “A little bit of both, I guess.”

He kind of guided me out the door on the shady side and we sat down at the back of the open bed on one of his trucks.

He said, “There’s a pile of minnows down in that creek. I know that. What other knowledge might you be looking for?”

I wasn’t for any chit-chat with a man who probably could see right through me so I went on at it. I said, “Do you love my mama?”

He said, “I do.”

I said, “You want to marry her?”

He said, “I do. Would you object to that?”

I said, “I don’t think so. If she loves you.”

He said, “I believe she does. Do you know anybody else who might object?”

I said, “I’m not sure.”

He said, “Will you check into that for me?”

I said, “I’ll try.”

Then he said, “I have a customer in there filling out papers that should have been done five minutes ago. I don’t want to walk away from something I believe is more important here, but if you think it’s alright, I’d better get back to work.”

I said, “Yes sir.”

He said, “But there is another thing. Labor Day is coming up and I think you have a school day off on that Monday. That’s one of my day’s off too. Any chance you could take me fishing that Monday?

I just nodded at that. There didn’t seem to be much else to say. I had forgotten to ask him about his being a Methodist.

On the way back I stopped by the little cross and left a stone I had found in the creek. It was green and red in layers like marble agate with the color all on the outside. Daddy always like to collect little rocks as he went along.

Sunday morning Mama went to church.

She showed up in the kitchen in a yellow dress that just about bit the eyes. She was going to the Free Will Church. I could tell she was happy to be going and she took Mary Jean with her, but I stayed home with Uncle Bob.

I got stuck with the dishes.

After the coffee pot ran out, Uncle Bob went to do some errands. The sun was blazing and I wasn’t thinking about doing much more than taking it easy. I had a book to read for class. I had more algebra. With both Mama and Mary Jane gone, I could take a nap whenever I wanted to.

But I kind of naturally looked first for any shadows or odd places in the room, of course. The sun out in the yard had the windows bright and that wasn’t leaving anything I couldn’t see.

I sat down at Daddy’s desk and held onto the wooden arms of that rolling chair just a little while before I thought of something and I pulled out the center drawer. Most the things in the front are mine, but at the back there’s all sorts of small stuff. Broken drill bits. Match books from places along the roads he had taken. The nubs of pencils. There is a roller bearing you can fit over your hand and spin for an hour instead doing homework. And there is a small cardboard box in there with a blue stone in it.

I knew this stone from before. It was something Daddy picked up in North Carolina and wanted to make into a ring for Mama, but they said it was not good enough for that and would not last. Instead he would take that stone out now and then and just hold it up to the light. He said more that one time that he could see into it for a million miles. Like looking into forever.

Daddy said it was actually just kyanite, but he liked to call it a “poor man’s sapphire.” And that’s what I’d call it. As blue as a clear sky can be just before dark.

When I looked into that stone before, all I ever saw was a little shimmer. But this time I looked into it with the bright sun from window behind. And this time I could see at least a million miles. I could see all the way to forever too.