Ghost Apples

My father returned from war on an unseasonably warm afternoon in early April. That evening we ate pork chops with applesauce at the corner table in our cramped apartment and then walked along the shore of the Mississippi River. My father held my mother’s hand, and when we stopped walking to watch a kettle of turkey vultures circle high above the water, my father put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me to his side. A cold breeze rolled through the valley and under my T-shirt, and the temperature tumbled the way it does in spring in Minnesota when winter still refuses to concede.

We passed a lot of evenings walking along the river or, on colder days, listening to my mom read aloud the book she was writing. She lit candles and Dad and I sat on the couch with our eyes closed, listening to her tell the story of a brother and sister traveling back in time, seeing dinosaurs and cavemen, and later meeting Michelangelo. And when she finished reading her most recent edit, my father would say, “Sophie, you spin quite a yarn. Quite a yarn.” And he’d turn to me and say, “Champ, you got yourself one heck of a talented mom. Now go brush your teeth. It’s bedtime.”

Everything was complete until Dad started having nightmares.

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