She stood at the funeral looking down at the coffin with the body in it. At the reception, she stood and listened to condolences.
Then afterwards, she stood by the grave again, now it was covered with dirt. She stood, but then she fell to her knees, quietly, carefully.
That’s when she felt it.
It was soft and subtle, but it was unmistakable. A light brushing of fingertips across the back of her neck. It was just like him almost as if he was—
But he wasn’t. He couldn’t be. There was nothing between her and the willow tree thirty feet away. Nothing but grass and gravestones.
She went home. Alone. In the rain. Some friends had offered to accompany her, but she told them no. She was fine. She was good. She could take care of herself.
She closed the door behind her, and there it was again, like he was taking her by the neck to spin her around for a kiss.
“Stop it,” she said, and the sensation ceased.
Was she talking to herself? Or had an outside force obeyed her?
She took a shower. She needed it—oh, but there it was again, the memory washing over her, comforting and warm and cleansing, before gathering and pulling down the drain. But were those hands upon her, encircling her, folding her into memorable embrace? A kiss on her shoulder? It couldn’t be, but couldn’t she just pretend?
For here? For now?
She hadn’t brought herself to sleep on the bed since it happened.
In the kitchen, she cut fruit. She wasn’t paying attention, though, and her hand slipped. Just before it happened, though, before she was going to slice herself open, she felt something in her other hand that made her move away.
It happened so fast, she could’t be sure of anything–Had some part of her seen the danger and self-corrected? Or was there something else?
Had the something else caused the danger by making her aware of it?
She sat on the couch. The TV was on, but the sound wasn’t. The case was next to her on the end table by the lamp, but the ring was on her finger.
It had all happened so fast.
“Are you still there?” she whispered into the silence.
There was no sound, just the flickering light from the screen.
“It’s okay,” she said, “It’s okay, really. It would…” She knew it wasn’t a good idea. She wasn’t sure how bad it was, but whatever it was, she knew that she deserved it. “If you’re still here,” she said, “Whatever you want, it’s all right.”
It started on the back of her neck, like it had before, like it always had. It massaged the top of her head—she could feel it in the tiny muscles even though it didn’t move her hair. It worked her shoulders and without thinking, she lowered the strap of her bra.
Should she move it to the bedroom? Surely they would be more comfortable. But no. She was comfortable here, and she was already going to feel guilty in the morning for cheating on her fiancé with a ghost.