The Loved Ones Who Haunt You in Technicolor Still

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September 23, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Lynn Mundell

 

Apparition
Bobby, the boy your parents fostered until he began running away. He had an old yellow afghan he’d wear as a cape. He’s captured in a year of family Polaroids. They’re so faded by now he’s just the outline of a brother.

Revenant
Rollo, the orange tabby whose golden eyes were your night light. He got sick and was taken to the vet. They called it being put to sleep, so you’d waited for weeks. Thinking he’d wake up, return to you.

Phantom
Paul, who sat across from you at the laminate table. He wore turtlenecks every day. Your favorite was the forest green that matched his eyes. In the self-guided reading levels, together you’d nearly reached Aqua. After spring break he failed to materialize. No one had ever told you people moved away during the school year.

Spirit
Your sister, back when she was happy. She was going to be an artist. Her red hair brushed her knees. She liked to say the color was Titian. One Halloween she arranged it over her face, put on her sunglasses, and took you trick or treating. Her hair is grey now, and short.

Shade
Delia, your boss from your first office job. She taught you how to transfer phone calls without hanging up. About proofreading symbols and the blue felt pens for correcting pages of copy. For 34 years she signed your birthday cards with those pens, until her sudden dementia. Last year her daughter sent the card. Delia signed her name in big capital letters with purple crayon, like a child just learning.

Specter
X, your former husband, who disappeared in parts. His right hand that held your left. His lips and blond mustache on your neck. His heavy feet. Coming, going. You’d think he’d never been there, if not for all of the paperwork you’d shared. Pink slips, leases, loans. Just last week, six years later, a bill in his name arrives. Past due. Another reminder.

Wraith
Your father, who died suddenly and was cremated within a week. A big man reduced to an emerald urn decorated with elk. When you were little, he owned a motorcycle. You’d hang on tight to his broad, warm back on slow rides around and around the block. You’d wondered what would happen if you dropped your arms. By now you know. You’d never let go.

 

Lynn Mundell’s writing has been published most recently in 7×7 LA, South Florida Poetry Journal, and Five Minutes. Lynn is co-editor of 100 Word Story and its anthology. Her fiction chapbook Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us was published by Yemassee at the University of South Carolina this year.

 

 

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