TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Steve was quiet for a minute, as they continued on to Linda's house. Then he asked, "Is Lisa upset that you and the kids are leaving?"
Linda shrugged. "No, not really. She has her teaching job, and a wedding to plan. We plan on visiting back and forth. She agreed with me, too, that the kids would love it in Missing Mile. It's all ok."
Steve was relieved that all was good between his sisters. He gazed out the car window, amazed at all the traffic and big highways. He knew it would be a nightmare to drive here. The last time he was in L. A. , he didn't notice any of it. He was only searching for Ghost. He looked over into the back seat, at Ghost, who'd not said a word since they had gotten into the car.
"You ok back there?" he asked.
"Mm-hmm..." Ghost said. He wasn't even looking out the window; he had his eyes closed, and was leaning his head back on the back of the seat.
"Trying to sleep?" asked Steve.
Steve felt something was bothering him, something he didn't want to talk about...and Ghost knew Steve was getting concerned about it.
"I'm ok, Steve...there's just too many things in my head right now...you know...from before. I can still see it all...everything..."
Linda glanced over at Steve with a worried look.
"What can we do to help you not think of those things?" Steve asked.
"Nothing," Ghost said. "It happened, it's over, and I know that. I just need to make nice memories from now on. Like this trip is nice, and getting to see your family is nice...that will help." He finally smiled, and opened his eyes to look at Steve.
Nodding, Steve said, "Yes, it is nice."
"Ok, guys, we're on our street. Get ready to see everyone," Linda said. She was excited.
Steve looked at the houses on this street. They were not fancy mansions, just a regular, middle class neighborhood. He thought to himself that this didn't look scary...it could be anywhere, even back home.
Linda turned into a drive-way, and stopped the car. "We're here." There were two other cars parked there, Lisa's and her fiancé's, and up by the porch, were a few kid's toys. They all got out of the car and went up to the door. Before she could open it, though, it was opened by her son, Stevie.
"Mama, you're back," he hollered. Peeking around from behind him, was her daughter, Mandy, looking shy to see strangers at her house.
Steve and Ghost were still standing there, feeling awkward, but smiling at the kids. Then, Lisa was at the door. She looked a bit hesitant, but came onto the porch, reaching her arms out to Steve.
"Steve, oh my God, it's you." She gave him a big hug. She was laughing and tearful at the same time. "I thought I'd never see my brother again."
Steve was so happy to see her, he couldn't stop smiling, and staring at her. "I know, same here...and you're all grown up...and so pretty." He laughed.
"You're all grown up, too, Steve, and I've just always thought you'd stayed that little boy, all this time." Looking behind her, she said, "Oh, here's my fiancé, Bill." She introduced him.
He was tall and athletic looking, but was wearing a plaid, flannel shirt, like a lumberjack, which he technically was. Linda had mentioned he did work in the forestry industry.
Steve and Bill shook hands. He liked him, already. Ghost was still just standing there, a bit behind Steve, who'd not introduced him yet. He was feeling out of place, like Steve had completely forgotten he was even there. But, he understood this was Steve's family reunion, and he was the outsider here. He was happy for Steve, even if he did feel left out.
It was Bill who asked. "And, who is this, Steve?"
Steve's heart skipped a beat...didn't Linda mention Ghost to them, at all? But, he was relieved, when Bill reached out to shake Ghost's hand.
"You must be Ghost. Linda told us all about how you and Steve were meant for each other. It's a pleasure to meet you." He was smiling. Ghost smiled too, a bit shy now.
"Yeah, this here is Ghost, y'all," Steve said, shoving Ghost forward into the circle of his family. Ghost was feeling like a prize cow, or something, which rubbed him the wrong way a bit, but he made himself not care...at least for now.
The kids began asking him about his funny name, and saying 'boo'. Ghost just laughed with them...he was used to this kind of reaction.
They all went inside, and were given the grand tour of the house, modest though it was. Steve and Ghost were shown the bedroom where they could put their suitcases. Steve went back to the car to get them.
Ghost was being surrounded by the kids, and their demands to play with them, and the strangeness of the situation was getting to him. Linda kept telling the kids to leave him alone, to go play in the back yard. It was so noisy and chaotic. He really needed to be alone for a bit, to sort of smooth down his nerve endings, after being bombarded with so much. He felt twitchy.
Steve came back in, taking their belongings down the hall to the bedroom. Ghost followed. Steve was beaming. "What did you think, Ghost? Aren't they all fantastic?"
"Yeah, they're great...I already like them..." Ghost said, but his words faded off.
"What?" Steve asked. "You sound funny or something." He actually looked at him, this time.
No, I ..well, it's so much to see and hear...and it's all so new, and I'm just all tensed up."
"Oh...come here..." Steve said, and gave him a hug. "I know, I am too. It's a lot to take in, but it's only for a few days, then we'll be back home...back to normal again."
"Yeah, I know, it's ok, really," Ghost said. "And, I don't want to be rude, but I kinda need to be by myself for a few minutes. Is that ok?"
"Sure, you do whatever you need to. I'll go out and visit with everyone. You just rest a bit, and come out when you're ready," Steve said.
Ghost nodded, and lay down on the bed. Steve closed the door, and went back to his family.
Linda and Lisa had gone into the kitchen to start fixing supper for everyone, chattering away about the new developments. Steve and Bill sat on the couch, watching the kids play. They were dragging out toys to show Steve. He'd never been around kids much, and he laughed at their antics.
"Tell them to knock it off, if they get to be too much for you," Bill said. "They're pretty persistent, but good kids."
"Oh, ok, but this is all new to me. I'll get used to them, I'm sure."
Bill cleared his throat. "Steve, Linda and Lisa have told me about everything...from when y'all were kids. That must have been hard on you. I know it was for them. I'm really glad y'all found each other, again."
Steve nodded. "Thanks, Bill, I'm glad, too. Linda remembers more of it than Lisa does, I guess." He paused a minute. "You know, Missing Mile is a great little town. It was just the situation back then. They'll be fine...we'll make sure of it."
"I know, Linda has been ready for a change, anyway. This came along at the right time I think. And, we'll come visit soon," Bill said. "Who knows, we may follow y'all out there after the wedding, and the school is out for the summer." He laughed.
They played with the kids for a few minutes. "Where's your young man...Ghost? He's ok, isn't he?" Bill asked.
"Yeah, he just needed to rest a bit. He'll be out soon." He hesitated for a second, then asked, "Um...you said Linda told you about us?" He looked down at the floor, not really sure how Bill felt about Ghost and himself.
"Yeah, she did...pretty much everything, Steve, and what all you and Ghost have been through, it must have been hard sometimes. But, the main point she got across, is that you two love each other. That right there is good enough for me. I don't hold any prejudices against anybody, unless they give me reason to. So don't worry about it."
Steve looked up, nodding. "Thanks, man...I appreciate it, and I was a little worried. I mean, it was hard telling Linda everything, too."
Bill smiled. "It's fine, and you let Ghost know it is, too."
"I will. Guess I should go check on him. Maybe the girls will have our food ready soon, anyway," Steve said, getting up. He headed for the bedroom, and Bill went to see how Linda and Lisa were doing in the kitchen. As he entered, they looked up, a question in their eyes.
"It's all good," Bill said. "We had a nice talk."
"Thank you, Bill," the girls said, and both gave him a hug.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing