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Volume 2, Issue 3, September 30, 2007
eggs and toast
by Jennifer Crow

        Lauren MacIlroy scraped two scrambled eggs onto her plate, buttered two slices of toast, and poured herself a glass of orange juice. She carried them to the table, careful as always to step around her husband's ghost. He slumped in a chair, his pale form stained with ephemeral blood.
        Her gaze skated past his presence when she sat, and though her silverware chattered a bit against the plate, she thought she did quite well at ignoring Peter. It was typical, she thought. In life, he never argued or raised his voice, just watched her with sad eyes until she came around to his point of view. In death, his broken, accusatory form loomed over the hardwood table like a question mark, the closing punctuation of their marriage.
        Lauren ate the last two bites of egg, ignoring the queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. In a few moments - as soon as she placed her dirty dishes in the sink - he would vanish. She kept her eyes focused on her plate as she filled its emptiness with the glass and the silverware. Habit allowed her to cross the room without glancing at its other occupant.
        In twenty years of marriage, she and Peter had eaten breakfast together almost every morning. That last morning was a notable exception, and Lauren suspected that was the source of Peter's persistence. He'd made one of his rare stubborn gestures, insisting that she stay to eat with him. Had he sensed, somehow, the fleeting opportunity for goodbye? But she, equally obstinate in her way, had blown him a kiss and handed him a list of chores as she went out the door.
       It was a friend who had called her on her cell, told her to come home right away. But all the speed in the world changed nothing. Lauren leaned against the sink, her fingers flexing over the stainless steel. She clung to that complete absence of Peter. She was learning to understand it.
        "I'm sorry, all right?" She turned, but the chair was empty. No body, no blood.
        No Peter.
        The rest of the day she could manage; her deceased husband hadn't appeared at work or in the store or under the trees at the park. Lauren found herself constantly watchful, though, in case he decided to expand the horizons of his haunting.

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