faith

Gloucester Morning

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                                                               Gloucester Morning
maine-2446045_1920.jpgBy Ursula Wong

Teresa sat on the dock, stretching her toes into the water, trying to imagine herself as a teacher, a politician, a wife, a businesswoman, a . She had just graduated college, and the indecision of what to do next felt like a curse. She hadn’t been happy in weeks.

Gulls flew up singing their cul-cul-cul song as a woman came down the dock, looking scruffy in old sneakers, jeans, and a faded denim shirt. Her gray hair was loosely piled on top of her head. “Hello,” she said.

Teresa smiled and nodded, hoping the woman would keep on walking and let her get back to worrying about the rest of her life.

“I’ve lived in Gloucester for a long time,” said the woman.

Teresa suppressed a moan. This is going to take forever.

“My husband died a few months ago.” The woman brushed away a tear.

Teresa shifted uncomfortably, but motioned the woman to sit down.

She said her name was Mary, and she talked about running barefoot through the village in Sicily where she was born, taking the first steps of love with a man who would become her companion for the next 60 years, and then settling in Gloucester, where her husband had relatives. She spoke of the little darlings who were her children, for she had been a teacher.

“You knew you wanted to be all those things?”

“It was an arranged marriage. I didn’t have a say. As for teaching, it was the only job I could get up here at the time.” Mary looked out over the sea. “I had to learn to love many things in my life. You’re lucky to have choices. I always wanted to be an artist, but never had the chance.”

Teresa smiled. Maybe she was lucky.

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The Singing Ghost

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Jen crossed the floor and put another piece of wood into the pot belly stove that radiated warmth and the feeling of comfort. Uncle Alex had lived a long life in the old house with its rafters that smelled like time itself. He had never owned a TV or even a radio. He had even cooked his meals in a cast iron skillet on that stove.

She turned back to the job of sorting his papers. Uncle Alex had stored everything in boxes. Jen opened one and pulled out cancelled checks, a pile of old family photographs, and a discarded sock. In the bottom lay an envelope with her name on it. The note inside read simply, Be nice to Christopher.

She had wanted him to move in with her during those last years, but he had refused, saying he’d miss his friend Christopher too much. Jen had never met Christopher and didn’t know how to contact him, so she had been the only mourner at Uncle Alex’s funeral. She wondered why Uncle Alex had felt the need to tell her to be nice to his friend. She wished she knew how to get in touch.

She missed Uncle Alex with his stories and laughter that had filled every crevasse. She hummed a few bars of an old ditty she had learned in grade school so she wouldn’t feel so lonely.

Someone was singing with her.

“Who’s there?” she called as she picked up the scissors and clutched them in her hand as a weapon. She sprang to her feet.

Uncle Alex had always said there was a ghost in the house. He hadn’t told her it could sing. Who else but Uncle Alex would have a singing ghost. Jen chuckled at the thought.
She hummed a few more bars. No voice joined her this time, and oddly, she felt disappointed. The house seemed colder and lonelier; somehow emptier. Uncle Alex had lived alone there, but had often mentioned how he had never felt lonely. Then, Jen knew why.

“Will you join me, Christopher?” said Jen.

She hummed some more, and there was the voice again. Jen smiled. It was good to have company.

The Yellow Butterfly

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The Yellow Butterfly

By

Ursula Wong

 

In the dim light of a room that smelled of disinfectant, a priest I didn’t know murmured a prayer, his hand covering the yellow rosary beads entwined around Mom’s fingers. Her lifetime of prayer shouldn’t have led to this. Her diligence on sore knees should have stopped the inevitable from happening. But it hadn’t.

He asked if I needed anything. I shook my head.

“She was a lovely woman,” he said.

“You get sick and you die. That’s all there is. Faith is a waste. Prayer is for fools.”

I went to the window, raised the shades, and opened the sash. A yellow butterfly hovered over the ledge, just out of reach. When I stepped back, it flew inside.

I forgot my anger as I watched it circle the room and land on the rosary beads. Yellow had been Mom’s favorite color.

“I don’t believe in God or coincidence, but I’m beginning to believe in butterflies.”

“It’s a start,” said the priest.