My stair-step children are all scrubbed, brushed and shining, waiting for the long-anticipated arrival of their father.
Since Michael began his travels four years ago, the children always plan wonderful surprises for his return. Nora and Nola can’t wait to show him the pink and yellow rose bushes they’ve nurtured to full-blown beauty. Their brother Sean planted his dad’s favorite apricot mums, which he checks on at least three times a day. Thomas, who just lost his first baby tooth, is going to present a Jack-o-lantern he helped me carve, with a gap-tooth grin to match his own.
I’m just as excited as the children.  In a few short hours I’ll be with my beloved husband again.  I miss him so much when he’s gone! All day I’ve been celebrating the last day of October, with its impossibly blue skies tinged with gold, its cinnamon-scented leaves tumbling toward winter, its pumpkins playing “Rhapsody in Orange”.  These are my homecoming gifts to Michael – words and phrases celebrating his favorite month.  The children bring me out of my poetic reverie.
“I’ll see him first!” “No, it’ll be me!” “I’ll sense him before you see him!” “I dreamed of him last night, and he told me where to watch.” I listen to their chatter, but keep an eye on the horizon. Where would he first appear? He’ll surely come to the garden, so we pull a bench close to a row of tangled vines. The sky gradually darkens, the final moments of October daylight deepening and outlining the evening star, which seems unnaturally bright. Is that him?
“Dad!” The girls simultaneously shout and point. Sure enough, a Michael-scented stream of smoke, in shades of cobalt and robin’s egg, curls out of a Jack-o-lantern. It slowly takes shape – outstretched arms, a smile, a pair of twinkling blue eyes.
Michael had been a magnificent man in life, and now, as he breaks through the veil that is thinnest on All Hallow’s Eve, he is even more magnificent.
“Daddy’s home!” We all cry together, rushing to greet our own personal, dearly beloved ghost.
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Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
1 year ago

I loved your story, Juma. A great twist ending and totally heartwarming. Beautiful 🙂

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate (@thompson-emate)
1 year ago

I love the story. It’s scary and funny.

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Clever, Juma. Reading back again, the planting and bushes make sense of the situation the reader knows by the end.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hi Juma, I enjoyed reading this story. I enjoyed the way you built up excitement through the children. Children always see things differently and more excitedly. A lovingly told tale, with a tinge of the unexpected.

Pragya Rathore
Pragya Rathore (@pragya-rathore)
1 year ago

It’s difficult to put twists in flash fiction, but you excellently managed to do it. Looking back, your foreshadowing was done perfectly, and yet the ending was out of the blue, but endearing, for me. The way the children were talking about Michael visiting them in a dream and then sensing him was an excellent foresight on your part to hint at the ending. Perfectly relevant to the theme too! Great job.

Last edited 1 year ago by Pragya Rathore
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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Your story reaffirms the statement ‘from great sadness comes great joy’. Lovely story with a hopeful twist, and something extra for the family to look forward to.

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