It’s not a haunting, but what is it? When you’re left with memories. Left alone. When the other one dies, when it’s just you, carrying the weight of the things now only you know.

It’s not even always dire, or monstrous, or poignant. The mundane also is heavy. No one else will ever know how he ushered me out, into the dark, or the way she and I danced with the ancient cowboy. Only I see her, when I’m standing at the stove. Her ghost appears, the one who taught to make an omelet, the one I caught kicking her dog. I stand barefoot, sipping my coffee, tilting the pan, and forget to unclench my jaw.

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Gunnysak

The campus was mostly deserted. Late afternoon, fall, getting dark. One of the popular boys was still hanging out in the quad. Alone. Smoking.

“Hey!” He yelled. “You! Girl! YOU!” He stepped out to block my way as I walked by. “Hey, hey.” I looked up to see him shuffling toward me. “Let me put this in there for you.” He was waggling his dick at me through his open fly.

When I backed up, he charged at me, holding his dick like he was going to jab me with it. Big, broad-shouldered, grinning but angry — a wall between me and the way home.

I was 15. It was the first time — and last — I wore a skirt to school. After that, my uniform was oversized men’s cardigan sweaters from Decelle’s and jeans.

There’s a memorial plaque to him in the town square.

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