Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2002
Adult Winners

Third Place

Our third place winner in the Adult category is Saugonian Tara Tamasi.

Giving Up On Halloween

Tara Tamasi

My life, or at least my desire to live, effectively ended on Halloween 1999. I'll never forget what happened. Janet was attempting to make meatballs that were not too burned, soggy, or dry. Me, I was sitting comfortably at the kitchen table, trying not to smirk. Once she failed at something, like her notorious meatballs, Janet never gave up trying to conquer it. It took her three tries to get her driver's license and four different hairdressers to find the right tint of red to color her grays.

My wife personified perseveranceshe refused to give up on me when I fell apart after Gaily, our seven-month old daughter, died. Finding your baby dead in her crib carves a raw, gaping hole in your heart that will never be filled. Even though we were mindless with grief, we were met with suspicion until the autopsy confirmed that Gaily died of SIDS. After the police finally left us alone, Janet became my rock, taking charge of my zombie-like state. "Don't give up, Wayne," she said with red eyes and a straight line where the curve of her smile used to be. "We can still have a life together."

And she forced us back into some semblance of a normal life. She made me go to work, and she wore a smile on her face when I came home. But it was easy to see through the garish blue eye shadow and clumpy mascara that she had been crying. Janet never wore eye makeup until after Gaily died.

I had my job to distract me, but Janet had nothing. So she threw herself into cooking, whipping out dusty cookbooks still wrapped in plastic. She used new recipes every night. Sometimes the meals were great, sometimes barely edible, and other times, just plain ugh.

"Face it Wayne," she'd laugh, almost as melodically as she used to before Gaily died. "You didn't marry me for my cooking."

No, I did not. When I met Janet, she was a college sophomore who burned Kraft macaroni and cheese. Most guys would grudgingly rate her a seven out of ten, but in my book she was an eleven. Janet's red-gold curls reached her shoulders. Her eyes were slanted and green, complemented by arched eyebrows. She was strong, loyal, brilliant, funny, exciting, joyful, great in bed, and a lousy cook. I was hooked, and she quit college to marry me.

About a year after Gaily's death, I came home to a delicious aroma, soft music, and lit candles. Janet wore a flimsy, silky thing that normally I would tear off, but it was Friday, and I was beat from the long week. But the smell of good food enticed me, and after I stripped down to boxers, I sat down to champagne.

"What's in this?" I asked suspiciously, as some incredible ravioli melted in my mouth. "Lobster?" I knew it wasn't our anniversary, so why all the fuss?

"I can't tell a lie," she said smiling. "I didn't want to screw this up, so I got takeout from that new Italian place everyone's been gushing about."

"Janet, what's going on?" I asked, suddenly alarmed. Had I forgotten her birthday?

She threw herself into my arms. "I'm pregnant!"

Justin was born seven months later, on Halloween 1993. A healthy, happy baby who enjoyed the attentions of a stay-at-home mom and doting dad. As the years passed, I took him fishing (Janet wouldn't hook a worm or kill a live fish), and Janet and I would take "Sport" camping and to the movies. Our house was never emptywe were always entertaining his friends, little scamps who would hog the TV and eat all of our food.

Every Halloween Janet makes an elaborate meal and birthday cake. We take turns taking him trick-or-treating, because she says someone has to give out candy to the neighborhood kids. Janet always insists on getting the best candy too. Milkyways, Snickers, and Butterfingers, which is why I think some of the kids, disappointed by other offerings of small apples and pennies, sneak back for more goodies.

Anyway, on that fateful Halloween, Janet cut a piece of meatball in half and blew on it. My mouth salivated as I smelled garlic and parmesan cheese. I remember thinking maybe she finally made the perfect meatballs and wondering if she'd let me taste the other half. As she put the meatball into her mouth, Justin bounced in the kitchen in his full Austin Powers gear, yelling, "Do I make ya hawny, baby?!"

Sport looked just like Austin Powers. His costume consisted of a loud puffy shirt, bell bottoms, and the similar eye glasses, rotten teeth, and wig. What made it so hilarious was that we knew our six-year-old son had no idea what "hawny" meant. I cracked up and looked up to see that Janet was choking with laughter too. It took me about two precious minutes to realize that she was literally choking. On the meatball.

Terrified at how long she'd been choking, I tried to give her the Heimlich, but I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I heard her ribs crack, her chokes became rasps, and her eyes bulged. "Call 911!" I screamed at Justin, who just stood there, frozen.

"Call 911!" I commanded again and vainly tried to dislodge the meatball from Janet's throat. She was gagging, and in my panic, my fingernails gouged the roof of her mouth. Janet sagged in my arms, and her lips were turning blue.

"Damn it!" I ran past Justin and called 911. I don't remember what I said, because by now Justin was wailing and I was yelling over his cries. The dispatcher was loud and authoritative, trying to calm me down, but I couldn't be consoled. My wife's glassy eyes pleaded with me as she convulsed on the kitchen floor.

Later, the doctors determined that anoxia had caused Janet to lapse into an irreversible coma. Brain dead, they said. Out of my mind with grief, I turned my back on my family, my friends, and my son, the idiot who couldn't even dial 911 to save his mother's life. I sold our three-bedroom Colonial house to move into a tiny, dingy apartment, but it's much closer to the convalescent home where Janet perpetually sleeps. Justin had to change schools, but that's his problem, not mine.

Today, Justin is a sullen nine-year-old. I don't think he has many friends, but I don't care. What matters to me is that I know Janet is refusing to give up, which is why she hasn't passed on. So that's why I make sure we're there every night. Janet needs Justin, and he's already failed her once. He will be there when she wakes up.

Last Halloween, he had the audacity to rebel. "But Dad, I don't want to visit Mommy. I want to go trick-or-treating," he had whined. "Davie's mom said she'd take me."

Later, I would discuss Davie's mom's interference with hera conversation that resulted in Davie never inviting Justin to do anything again. But at the time, beleaguered by the same headache that had plagued me every night since Janet went to sleep, I had no patience with the brat. "If you had bothered to dial 911 that night, your own mother would be able to take you trick-or-treating! So you're spending Halloween with her."

The walls in Janet's convalescent home are pea green and the floors cold and gray. How Janet must hate this sterile place. She had painstakingly and lovingly decorated our entire house. Our old bedroom had been done up in light blue with mauve bedding and curtains that slowly transformed into purple at twilight. The kitchen's mustard gold walls brought out the gold speckles in our dark green granite counter tops.

Light cherry cabinets were complemented by a matching table and chairs. A bay window overlooked our garden, which consisted of endless grass, rose bushes, and a Chinese Dogwood tree that Janet and I had planted.

Our family room had wall-to-wall teal carpeting, ice gray walls, and a working fireplace framed in stone. Justin's old bedroom was done up in sports style, with bunk beds to accommodate his many sleepovers. When we moved, the buyer fell in love with the dŽcor and bought the kitchen and dining room sets and all the window treatments, which I stubbornly called curtains, horrifying the real estate agent.

Now Justin sleeps in a room wallpapered in a pink, Winnie-the-Pooh motif that I am too busy to change. His bunk beds still have football comforters, but his worn gray sheets used to be white. I think I remember to launder them maybe once a month. With Justin always sleeping on the top bunk, the bottom bed hasn't been used since we moved.

When I'm alone with Janet, which is often because Justin prefers to sit on a folding chair in the hall, sometimes I get impatient. I yell at her, "Wake up, damn it! You can't leave me! I am nothing without you! Look at what I'm doing to our son!"

Embedded deep in the pit that has become my heart, a tiny soft spot still reminds me that I love my son and Janet's condition isn't his fault. But it's much easier merely to go through the motions of living, slapping peanut butter and jelly on stale Wonder bread for Justin's lunches, making him eat soggy raisin bran, and dropping him off forty-five minutes early at school so I can get to work. As a single dad, I have flexible hours, and my whole schedule revolves around dropping Justin off, picking him up, wolfing down fast-food, and then spending a couple of hours at Janet's bedside. This is our steadfast routine, and I protect it with a vengeance from concerned family membersnamely my sister, parents, and Janet's parents and two brothers. Ever since they dared to question Ôwhether it was healthy to bring Justin to the convalescent home every day,' I've decided their presence is no longer necessary. Nobody was going to prevent me and my son from being at Janet's side.

Today I picked him up at four p.m. I had arranged with his teacher to let him stay late every dayit was convenient for me, and it allowed him to do some homework at schoolone less book to lug home. Still, I was amazed at the heaviness of his book bag. He usually has at least two hours worth of homework each night. Once in awhile, he'll ask for my help, but I can't get past the fog in my brain to figure out this crazy new math. Justin was on his own.

Tonight, we went to McDonald's. The restaurant was decorated with jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, witches, Frankensteinyou name a goblin, it was hanging up somewhere. Some of the workers were dressed up in costumes, and they were all too cheerful for me. The smell of French fries was potent, and I heard Justin's stomach growl.

"Give me a Big Mac, double cheeseburger, two large fries, and a large diet coke. And a small regular coke," I said gruffly to what appeared to be Cinderella. Cinderella smiled at Justin, and as she rang up our order, she said in a singsong voice, "What're you going to be for Halloween?"

Justin shifted his feet. "Nothing. I can't go trick-or-treating because Mommy's sick."

The food arrived on a tray. As Cinderella counted my change, she passed a candy bar to Justin, who took it gratefully. "I hope your Mommy feels better soon," she said, with such a genuine smile that ole Ronald McDonald himself would've been proud.

"Thanks. I pray every day that God will let her get better," Justin said solemnly as he clutched his prize tightly, and my heart momentarily ached. When was the last time I had bought Justin a candy bar? I tried to smile at the girl, but I'm sure all I managed was a grimace.

We sat. Our routine was to eat in silence and then hasten to the convalescent home. Today, something felt different. Maybe the kindness of Cinderella had me feeling ashamed, I don't know.

"How was school today?" I asked.

"Okay." Justin was struggling to open a ketchup package. It squirted all over his shirt and the table.

"Can't you do anything right?!" I snapped. "Give it to me." I used two ketchup packages for his fries, and we ate the rest of the meal in silence. Then we drove to Janet's prison without speaking, while I listened to Sports Radio.

When we got there, the regular nurse on duty nodded to me. She learned a long time ago not to bother me with small talk. Her name was Edith, she was about fifty, and although short and portly, she had a pretty face that always had either compassion or a smile etched on it.

"Hi Justin." Edith said in that sweet tone adults reserve for young kids. If she could've gotten away with hugging him in front of me, I'm sure she would've gone for it. "Are you going in to see your mommy?"

"Yes. It's my birthday, and I'm going to remind her. I want her to wake up so she can sing Happy Birthday to me."

As we walked to Janet's room, I heard Edith mutter something and turned to see her wiping her eye. "Don't pity us!" I wanted to say. "And don't keep telling me that this coma's irreversible. My wife will never give up, don't you understand?"

"Dad?" Justin asked nervously.

"What?!" I barked.

"Why did you just yell at Edith?"

Oh my God. I must be losing it. My innermost thoughts had been said out loud without my realizing it. I hastened away, avoiding Edith's questioning gaze. I was sweating by the time we reached the end of the hall, where Janet's room is. I wiped my forehead and opened the door.

"Justin, kiss your mother. And then do your homework or something." Justin dutifully kissed Janet's cheek. He told her that he loved her, that he was sorry he didn't call 911, and to please wake up, because it was his birthday and he wanted her to take him trick-or-treating. Then I kicked him out so I could be alone with my wife.

She lay there, hooked up to a ventilator, gastric tube, telemetry monitor, and IVthe works. Despite the doctors' advice that it was a waste of money and time, I insist that she have the best treatment. I know Janet is NOT in an irreversible coma, because she will never stop trying to wake up. She also has extra blankets, at my insistence, because there is often an unacceptable chill in her room. Her breathing is quiet and even, as it has been for the past three years. I kissed her forehead and began talking to her. I always talk before I end up crying.

It must've been about an hour before I quit my crying jag. I opened the door to check on Justin and felt instantly chilled. Sometimes the corridor was cold, but never this badit was even colder than Janet's room. Incensed, I decided to complain to Edith. They obviously needed to turn up the heat in this place. What if Janet caught a cold, for god's sake?

Then I noticed the girl. She sat next to Justin, and she was crying. Justin was shivering, even with his jacket on, but he kept asking her what was wrong. She just sobbed into her hands, and I couldn't see her face. She had curly reddish hair, similar in coloring to Justin's. She wore a green sweatshirt and blue jeans. I pegged her to be about ten, but she could've been anywhere between eight and twelve, I can't really tell children's ages.

She looked up and her eyes met mine. I frowned, because she looked familiar and I struggled to place her. Maybe she resembled the daughter on that new sitcom that I pretended to watch with Justin on Monday nights. Despite the nagging familiarity, I was almost certain I had never seen her before. Justin and I know everyone in this cursed place, and the only people we ever see with any regularity were Edithand whenever Edith deigned to get a lifeher backup, Yolanda.

The girl had stopped crying and was staring at me. Something about her unnerved me, but I found myself wanting to help her. "What's the matter, honey? You lost?"

"My mother wants me to take her home, but my dad won't let me," she said.

"Your mother wants you to take her home?" I said doubtfully. A strange way to put it, a child taking her mother out of this wretched place. If her mother was a patient here, most likely she would never be going home. No, unlike Janet who was here by mistake, this girl's mother was doomed. Patients only left this place on a gurney on the way to the morgue.

"What's your name?" I said, thinking I could ask Edith about her.

"Her name's Abby." Justin offered. "That's what she says people call her whenever they walk by. Poor little Abby," he said, his voice dripping with sympathy. I found his tone eerie and wondered what he had meant by Ôwhenever they walk by.'

"Yup, that's what they call me. 'Specially the old ladies. Whenever they walk by, they say poor, poor little Abby. So young." Abby's ability to mimic an elderly woman was creepy, and my neck and arms broke out in goose bumps.

"Do I know you?" I blurted.

"You should. I've been sitting here for three years waiting for Mommy." Her green eyes slanted at me and seemed to look right through me. Now the kid was giving me the willies. Except for an occasional couple who visited their elderly father down the hall, I only rubbed shoulders with Edith or Yolanda.

"I've never seen you here before. What room's your mother in?" I demanded. I wanted to find the girl's father and get rid of her. And if her mother's room was close to Janet's, I would request that it be changed. I didn't want this weird kid near Justin.

"Mom's in there," she said, and pointed at Janet's room. Justin gasped.

"Shut up!" he said. "That's Mommy's room. She's my mother!" He clenched his fists, so I grabbed his arm and yanked him past Abby. As we walked toward Edith's window, I turned my head.

"That's enough. I don't know what you're up to, maybe you think it's funny cause it's Halloween, but I'm going to report you," I said, as gravely as this kid made me feel.

As she silently watched me drag Justin away, I noticed her feet weren't touching the floor. I blinked, but she still appeared to be floating. Great. On top of everything else, now I needed my eyes checked. Justin and I reached the receptionist's area.

"Edith!" My shout reverberated down the hall.

Edith poked her head through the window. "Wayne? You okay?"

"Who is that GIRL!?" I yelled. Mirrored in the window pane, my face was red.

"What girl?" Edith said, looking bewildered.

"Abby! For god sakes Edith, she says she comes here every night! Why haven't I ever seen her before?"

"Dad." Justin whispered.

"Shut up! C'mon Edith, even with your extreme case of nearsightedness, surely you can squint down the hall and tell me who the hell that girl is and why she's pretending that Janet is her mother!"

Edith stuck her whole body out the window, precariously supporting her large frame on her elbows. She hopped back into place and said very carefully, "Wayne, there's no one there."

I grit my teeth and looked down the hall. No one stood where Abby had been. "No!" I yelled and ran to Janet's room. I thrust open the door and foundpeace. Janet was sleeping as soundly as ever. Abby wasn't in the room. I was freaked outI had to find that kid.

I dashed from room to room, thrusting doors open as I made my way down the corridor. The only egresses were an alarmed emergency door diagonally next to Janet's room and the door at the other end of the corridor, past Edith's area. Abby had not walked past us, and no alarms had gone off. She was obviously hiding in somebody's room.

I opened the door to the last room to find a bald, middle-aged man lying in bed. With his eyes staring unseeingly at the ceiling, he looked like he was dead. It rattled meall the other patients had their eyes closed. I quickly shut the door, and shoulders sagging, made my way back to Edith's window.

Justin leaned against the wall, watching Edith, who was staring at me. Her hand rested on the phone, probably ready to dial 911 if I made a sudden lunge. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open. I could see her silver fillings.

"Justin! Tell her about Abby." I barked in desperation. Where was that kid? How could Edith have missed her?

"I don't know what you're talking about, Dad." Justin looked at the floor.

"Wayne, can I get you a cup of coffee? Better yet, is there someone you want me to call?" Edith was still concerned, but at least her hand had moved from the phone.

I buried my face into my hands. What was wrong with Justin? I know what I saw. I looked into Justin's eyes, and he whispered, "She didn't see her, Dad. She won't believe us. Just pretend it's a mistake, and we'll leave."

When did my little boy become such a wise old man? I looked up at Edith and shrugged. "You know, I'm sorry. I've been working so much, haven't slept. I'm fine now, but I" I was stammering, so I took a deep breath. "I guess I must've fallen asleep and had some kind of weird dream. I've been taking cold medicine the past few days." I said, lamely.

Edith visibly relaxed. "Sure I can't get you a cup of coffee?"

"Actually, that would be great. We're just gonna head home now." Maybe if I accepted coffee, she'd feel secure enough to let us leave without calling the police. I carefully took the steaming mud she handed me, refused sugar or the sawdust that they dared to pass off as coffee creamer, and thanked her profusely for the coffee that I didn't intend to drink.

I then smiled, wished Edith a Happy Halloween, and pulled open the obscenely heavy door that separated the clinic from the foyer. As it slammed behind us, I dropped my coffee. It hit the floor and splashed haphazardly all over the wall, but I didn't care. I had other problems.

Not bothering to try and pass itself off as a little girl anymore, it was floating a full foot above the floor. Goosebumps popped out all over my body, tingling against my socks and pants. Sweat trickled down the back of my neck, in between my shoulder blades.

"Hi Daddy," it said solemnly.

I shielded Justin with my body. "What do you want?" I asked it. Maybe if I did what it wanted, it would go away. If it tried anything, I would protect my son with my life.

"Tell Mommy it's okay to give up. It's her time, and she won't come because of you."

Rage seized me. "Leave my wife alone!"

"And it's time you stop blaming Justin for what happened. You shouldn't have expected a child barely six years old to dial 911. And you've suffered enough too, Daddy. It's not your fault you didn't realize in time that Mommy was choking. There was NOTHING you could've done to save her, because it was just Mommy's time." She floated closer to us, and I cringed. From fear or shame, I don't know.

"How could you possibly be my daughter? She was a baby when she died." Justin squirmed behind me and poked his head around my waist so he could watch Abby.

"This is the body I would've had if I had lived," she said simply, as if it automatically made sense. None of this made sense, though.

"I don't believe you," I said as obstinately as I could. How could any sane person believe this was happening?

"Mommy said you wouldn't let her go." She sighed and floated, looking sad. Suddenly she smiled.

Justin gasped, and my heart beat more rapidly than I thought possible without having a heart attack. Abby had Janet's smile. And her eyes. How could I not have realized it until now?

"Maybe you'll believe this," she said and floated right through me, disappearing through the door. Oh my God. Abby? Abigail. Gaily.

As I felt Gaily's being pass through me, so many repressed memories exploded as I was overwhelmed by my baby girl's familiar scent. Abigail, named for Janet's grandmother and nicknamed Gaily because of her huge smile and happy constitution, still smelled baby powder fresh. I remember I used to tickle her belly and give her wet raspberries on her chubby cheeks. Gaily would laugh so hard, she'd gurgle spit-bubbles, which I popped with my index finger. Janet and I often took her for strolls in her carriage, so lost in our own bliss, we'd coo baby talk so loudly that people would stare.

"Gaily," I whispered, but she was gone. I picked up my shaking son and hugged him. It was only when he gently patted my back that I realized I was the one sobbing. It took me a couple of minutes to collect myself, before I could put Justin back on the floor.

"Hey, Sport," I said, still sniffling.

His eyes widened and a hint of his old smile tugged at his cheeks. I hadn't called him Sport since this nightmare began.

I put my hands on his shoulders and stared hard at him, willing him to accept without question everything I was about to say. "I'm sorry, Sport. I'm sorry that I haven't treated you very well. It isn't your fault what happened to Mommy. I'm the one who should've dialed 911, not you. Do you understand it's not your fault?"

"But I should've"

"No! I should've called. You were too young, Sport." I hugged him tightly and whispered, "It's not your fault. And I love you so much, always have, even if I haven't acted like it. Justin, you are the most important person in my life." I waited a few minutes until I felt him relax. I took him by the shoulders again, so I could look in his eyes. He had my eyes, serious blue ones. "Look, there's something we have to do. Together."

"Are we going to say goodbye to Mommy?" he asked, surprising me.

"Yes," I said. "We have to. She needs to go to heaven now. And you and me, we need to get on with our lives. Starting tonight. We are going trick-or-treating. Okay?" I felt like I was asking his permission.

"Okay," he said solemnly. "Daddy, I'm going to miss Mommy."

"Me too," I said with resolve and took his hand. "Me too, Sport." When I pulled open the door, Edith looked up and then jumped in surprise.

"Edith, I'm all right. But there's something I have to do, and I need you to witness it."

"Wayne" she began, warningly.

"We just want to say good night to her. Please?"

Maybe it was the peaceful expression on my face. Hell, maybe it was the smile on Justin's face, but Edith, with her reservations written all over her own face, followed me into my wife's room.

Basked in a white light, sitting Indian-style above the bed was Gaily. Intent on her mother, she took no notice of us. Edith apparently didn't see Gaily because she didn't scream or faint at the sight of a specter floating above her patient's bed.

"Justin, go kiss your Mom goodbye." I said.

Justin leaned over the bed and whispered, "Guess what, Mommy? Daddy called me Sport again. And we're going trick-or-treating tonight."

Edith exhaled loudly, but I didn't look at her. I watched my son kiss his mother for the last time. The light surrounding Gaily began to glow brighter as Justin walked over to Edith. He held her hand as he watched me. I went over to Janet and gently took her free hand.

"Baby, it's time to give up. I'm sorry I made you stay so long. Me and Sport, we're going to be just fine." I kissed her hand with as much tenderness as a man in love will do when he knows it is the last time his lips will ever touch his wife.

The line on the telemetry monitor began to take on erratic, sharp angles, and the alarm cried out its warning.

"Tomorrow, I'm going to start looking for a house in the old neighborhood so he can have his friends back. I promise you, we'll have fun from now on. We'll go camping and fishing"

The monitor alarmed steadily now, and the line started to straighten out. Edith grabbed the phone and paged "Code Blue." Pushing me aside, she began to administer to her dying patient. Gaily was glowing so brightly, it was almost like looking at the sun. When Gaily smiled at me, it was the most bittersweet gift I have ever received. The last time I have seen such a smile was on Janet's face, right before she started choking.

"and I'm gonna buy some dirt bikes. Justin and I'll go to the movies every weekend, just like we used to. I promise you, I'll take good care of him from now on. I'm so sorry I let you down." My voice broke. The line was just about flat.

"I will always love you, Janet. Go ahead, Baby. Give up."

Justin hugged my waist as the line went completely flat. As Edith frantically worked on Janet, my son and I looked up at Gaily and saw Janet's spirit join her daughter in a bright hug. They vanished in a burst of white light that somehow did not blind us.

Then the doctor rushed in and found he could do nothing that Edith hadn't already tried except to declare Janet legally dead. Edith had me sign a few forms and promised she'd come to the funeral. She hugged Justin, and I realized I was actually going to miss her cheery face.

Sport and I left the convalescent home, pulled into the nearest Wal-Mart, and picked him up a lame costume, but what do you want for last minute? We then shot over to a local supermarket so Justin could pick out his birthday cake. He settled for a chocolate layer cake.

Justin made a cute Superman, and I took him trick-or-treating around our apartment complex. We met many of our neighbors for the first and last time, because Justin and I bought a house in our old neighborhood by the end of November. Moving was a snap, because my three brothers-in-law and my dad helped us.

I kept all my promises to Janet. Justin and I are best friends now, and our house is always crammed with his buddies. I took him and a few of his pals to see the Patriots beat up the Chicago Bears. I made up for three lost Christmases, spending Christmas Eve with Janet's family and Christmas with mine. I spoiled Justin, buying him the latest in toys; designer clothes; sneakers that cost more than a microwave oven, for Gods sake; electronics like PlayStation 2; and most importantly, 'spanking' new comforters and sheets.

Justin new bedroom is huge, and we spent a weekend painting it blue, his favorite color. And we're planning a whitewater rafting trip come the spring. Life is good now. I know that my son has inherited his mother's big heart and sister's innate good humor because he has unconditionally forgiven me for the three years of torment I inflicted on him.

Did it happen? You bet it didboth Justin and I discussed it at length. But as time goes on, Justin's memory of it has faded until only I know the secret. And I will never forget. I also know, and am counting on it, that when it's my time to pass on, my wife and daughter will be there to welcome me.

A Happy Ending

Continue to the 2nd place story

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