Yesterday was Father's Day. I realized this around noon and kicked myself for not picking out six sentences from one of my back-burner WIPs that fits a Father's Day theme. So for a belated Father's Day, I present a short story I titled "The Haunted Wedding". It's in it's second draft so I appreciate any comments on how I can make this better, especially because I may submit it to a writing contest if its good enough. I hope you enjoy it!
The Haunted Wedding
I once saw the ghost of a bride’s late husband at her second wedding. He was in parking lot of the church. I saw him sitting on the edge of a truck bed smoking a cigarette. Just like old times.
The Rahker family had moved in across the street when I was just three years old. My family wouldn’t have paid them much attention, but they had a daughter my age, and one of their three boys was my brother’s age. Needless to say, our family’s friendship was inevitable.
Since my father wasn’t too involved with us kids and my new friend’s father was, Martin became a bit of a surrogate dad. He’s the one that taught me how to roller-blade. After hours of showing Lauren and I how to push our blades against the ground and letting us try on our own, we were finally taking off.
“There you go! You got it,” he said in between puffs of his Marlboro.
My parents would always tell us how dangerous smoking was and about the damage it does to a person’s body. Even this chain smoker told us kids to never start, because now he couldn’t quit. You could even hear the damage done to Martin’s lungs every time he coughed; the crinkling wheeze followed by the rasping hacks. It was only a matter of time until it consumed him.
Martin did end up quitting, but only because he needed to start cancer treatment. The radiation and chemo took quite a toll on his body, and the cancer did its fair share as well. It was strange seeing this man that was once so strong start wasting away. First his hair went then his muscles, and finally his spirit.
After the end came I didn’t know how to act around Lauren anymore. She didn’t have a dad anymore and I had never experienced a tremendous loss. I didn’t understand her mourning process and it put a huge strain on our friendship. As a result, out friendship went the same way as her father –slowly, but surely.
Many years later, after a little reconnecting with our old friends, my family was invited to the widow’s wedding. Everyone was excited to see her finally get remarried. Even her grown children were happy to see her smile once again.
I saw the ghost as I was walking to the door of the church. Martin was there. That face was unmistakable -right down to the signature smoke hanging from his lips. I didn’t believe in apparitions, but there he was in front of me, as solid as can be.
After a few minutes of being enveloped by this surreal scene, I realized that I wasn’t looking at a solid phantom, but rather at Martin’s oldest son.
I hadn’t seen him since he was a teenager, but he had inherited nearly every trait of his father- his jaw line, his cheekbones, his receding hairline, and his taste for tobacco.
*********I still claim I saw a ghost, but I still don’t believe in phantom spirits. A ghost is the imprint of a person’s soul left on the earth after death, and that is exactly what I saw at the wedding.