So I decided to change the storyline this week because it’s October!!! Let’s get spooky this month! Hope you enjoy the new storyline!
Prompt ~ I love soccer.
She sat down on the soft, wet grass and hugged her arms around her knees. The coldness seeping through her jeans didn’t register. The sharp bite of the wind hitting her face didn’t bother her. Nothing did. Not when the turmoil twisting her insides like a raging tornado consumed her.
A lone tear slid down her rosy red cheek.
“Oh, Dad, why did you leave me? Momma’s a…well, you know. She can’t take it. I can’t take it. The department can’t take it.” Her breath hitched as she tried to hold back the steady stream of tears that threatened to let loose. “I need you to come back.”
“You really don’t want that.”
She jumped at the voice, springing to her feet and taking a fighter’s stance immediately, ready to defend herself as her dad taught her since she was five years old.
The man standing before her wore all black, from his dusty cowboy boots to the well-worn cowboy hat that sat perched atop his head. She was almost surprised she didn’t see a gun belt with a holster slung around his trim waist, completing the picture of what she could only describe as a gunslinger. Even the fierce, stern look on his face painted a scene from the old west.
“Can I help you?”
He looked shocked at her words, only for a brief moment, almost as if he was surprised, then masked it just as quickly, making her wonder if she even saw it at all.
No. Now wasn’t the time to doubt herself. She saw the expression. The question is why did he look so surprised at such a simple question? He scared the daylights out of her. She had a right to ask that question.
She just wanted to come here and talk to her dad and find some sort of peace that she’d been struggling to find for the last three weeks. It seemed elusive, as if she’d never find any ever again.
“You can…” His eyes glided to the ground. “Crying doesn’t help, you know.”
“Who the hell are you?” Her eyes narrowed. “And what right do you have to say that to me?”
He met her gaze, his bright blue eyes burning a hole straight to her soul. At least, that’s what it felt like. The look unnerved her to her very core. “I don’t, you’re right. My apologies, ma’am.” He tipped the front of his hat in a gesture that almost knocked her off her feet.
She couldn’t even explain why that simple action affected her as it did. Maybe because he sounded like he actually meant what he said. Most men she worked with, or even dealt with, never seemed sincere. Not like he just did.
“I’ll leave you be. I didn’t mean to scare you. I didn’t think…nobody ever…” He looked toward the gray sky looming with dark clouds. “Looks like rain soon. You should leave before you get drenched. Have a pleasant day.”
She watched in awe and shock, and strangely, disappointment as the man walked away. Glancing toward the sky herself, she had to admit he was right. The rain would hit soon. When the roll of thunder echoed in the distance, she knew she should leave. Instead, she sat back down.
“Well, that was weird, huh, Dad?” She chuckled, trying to shake off the melancholy that slapped her in the face as soon as her butt hit the ground once again. For a minute, she hadn’t been overwhelmed with grief. Another small laugh slipped out. Yeah, because her heart had been pumping with adrenaline, wondering if she would have to defend herself against a stranger.
Although, as she replayed the entire encounter over in her mind, she never got the impression the man wanted to hurt her. Then what was the point of bothering her? What had he wanted?
“I love soccer…but it’s just not the same without you, Dad. I haven’t been able to watch a single game since…” She blew out a wretched breath and stood up. “I think that’s enough for today. I just can’t…”
Making her way slowly back to the entrance, she saw the mysterious stranger leaning against the fence to freedom, or was it more like continued torture? Would she ever feel truly free from her sorrow?
“Ms. Turner, I hope you have a lovely day,” Gary, the groundskeeper she saw every time she came for a visit, said as she neared the exit.
“Thank you, Gary. You, too.” She stepped a little closer and lowered her voice. “Who’s that guy?”
Well, she hated to be rude and point, but really? Gary didn’t know what she was talking about? The man was still leaning against the fence not even twenty feet from them.
“The guy by the fence.”
Gary slowly turned his head in that direction, his brows dipping in concern. “A rough day, Ms. Turner? It’s okay. I understand. You miss your dad.” He met her gaze. “I don’t see anyone standing there.”
She whipped her head to the man, her eyes growing large when he tipped his hat in that same friendly and apologetic gesture he did earlier.
“But…” She looked at Gary again, eyeing his concern that was slowly morphing into alarm. The last thing she needed was people thinking she was crazy. Hell, maybe she was. Why couldn’t Gary see this man and she could? “It has been a long day, Gary. I’ll see you later.”
“Bye, Ms. Turner.”
She started walking away from Gary as fast as she could, unable to handle the worry in his eyes any longer.
“You okay, darling?”
“You’re obviously not real. I have officially gone crazy. My grief has turned me into a loon where I’m seeing a handsome cowboy from the 1800s. Nuts.” She shook her head as the corner of his lip curled up. “Don’t. Don’t smirk at me.”
“My apologies once again, ma’am.”
She didn’t even dignify that with a response, completely flabbergasted she was losing her mind and seeing things that weren’t real. With quick, long strides, she walked through the exit and stopped. Turning around slowly, she looked at the cemetery, wondering if she’d be able to come anymore. Each time she came, she lost another piece of her soul, the pain inside of losing her dad just too much to bear.
Her cowboy still stood by the fence, although within the confines of the cemetery. Her cowboy? Why would she think that?
Well, if she was the one who created him in her mind, then she could call him anything she wanted. Her cowboy it was.
“I ain’t a figment of your imagination, darling. I was a real flesh and blood man once.” The small grin he had withered to nothing as his features fell into sorrow. “And you’d be the first person who’s ever seen me. I’m sorry about your father.”
Her mouth dropped open. No. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be.
She was talking to a ghost.