TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Ghost continued trying to explain his feelings to Steve. His lips quivered, and he brushed the wetness from his face. He took a breath.
"I haven't even got to write very much, and I never get to sing, anymore...and, and...too much, things get in my head and gets me messed up. I try to be ok. I try and try, and it's never good enough." He glanced up at Steve, and whispered, "It's never gonna be good enough." Putting his head in his hands, he sobbed.
Steve sat close, hugging him. It was breaking his heart, to see Ghost in so much pain. "Cry, babe, go ahead, let it out, it's ok," Steve said softly, as he rocked Ghost in his arms.
Melody heard them, and came out of the tent. She came over and hugged both Steve and Ghost. "Oh, hon, it's ok. We want to help you feel better. I don't know much about why you're upset, but I can feel it. I've had some really down days, too. We're here for you, with you."
Ghost nodded. "I know. It's ok...I'll be ok."
Linda had joined them, taking Ghost's hands. He looked into her eyes, and she knew in that instant, she would do everything she could to help and protect this fragile child, her brother's love, no matter what. She loved him like her own kids, unconditionally and forever. She didn't have to say a word; Ghost knew. He took another shuddery breath, and she heard the words clearly in her head... Thank you, Linda, thank you..
"Ok," she said, standing up. "Are we all gonna go back to sleep, or just go ahead and have breakfast, and get on the road?"
"I'm for staying up, eating, and getting the hell outta here," Steve said. "How about you, Ghost?"
"I'm hungry. I'm ready to eat."
"Ok, then. I'll get it started, " Linda said. She went to get more wood for the fire. "Melody, get some eggs and bacon out of the cooler. We're getting this party started."
Ghost got another cup of coffee, and sat staring into the cup awhile longer. Steve checked out the U-Haul and the van. As the food was done, Linda woke the kids. "Time for breakfast, you two." They came out of the tent, and grabbed juice boxes to sip on. They'd had enough sleep, and were now teasing each other. With everything set out on the picnic table, they all gathered in the morning light, made hazy from a soft mist that was rising.
Steve and Linda were at one end of the picnic table, going over the route they'd be taking through Tennessee, and into North Carolina. The road would be more familiar now, as he and Ghost had travelled it the past summer.
Ghost felt around in his backpack, and pulled out his Jesus rock. He rubbed it a bit, then set it on the table in front of him.
"What's that?" Melody asked.
"This? It's my Jesus rock," Ghost said. "I found it a long time ago. See, it looks like Jesus on it." He handed it to Melody.
She looked closer, and smiled. "It does. This is a special rock. Do you always have it with you?"
Ghost nodded. "Yeah, but I thought it was lost one time, then it came back."
"Wait a second, I'll be right back," Melody said. She went to the van and got out her purse.
"Here, I want you to have this," she said, draping a long necklace around Ghost's neck. "It's a rosary. I have one already, see?" She pulled out the one that was around her neck. "It's almost the same, and it has the cross, and Jesus on it. It's so you will always have Him with you." She smiled. "You'll never be truly alone, and he'll protect you."
Ghost ran his fingers over the shiny beads and the silver cross. "I like it, thank you." He looked up at Melody, meeting her eyes, so like his own. He could hear her wish...that she get to know everything abut him. "Maybe someday," he whispered. "I'll tell you things, but you wouldn't want to know others."
"Whenever you're ready, Ghost. I'll be ready to hear," she said.
Breakfast over, and everything put away, cleaned up, and packed, they were ready to leave.
"I'm riding with Linda for awhile, ok?" Melody asked.
"Uh, sure," Steve said. "Let's do this."
They pulled out onto the little road that led back to the highway. In the U-Haul, Ghost stretched out as best he could, and played with the beads around his neck.
"What's that ya got," Steve asked.
"It's a rosary. Melody gave it to me."
"Um-hum. Steve, she wants to know things...about me."
"Yeah? Well, sure she does. Why...does that bother you?"
"No, yeah, well maybe. Some of it bothers me. I mean, how can I do this? Maybe she don't need to hear about everything," Ghost said.
"Oh, I see," Steve said. "You don't have to tell her things that you'd rather not. It's ok to leave parts out. In fact, it's probably best you don't say certain things. Not everything has to be for everyone to know...ya know? So don't worry about it, just let things happen naturally, in conversation. You don't have to make a special speech or anything."
Ghost was nodding along with Steve's words. "Yeah, that sounds a lot better. I was scared to say it all, anyway. She might not understand...at least not yet." He smiled, feeling relieved. "I'm gonna sleep awhile, now, unless you need me to keep talking to you?"
Shaking his head, Steve said, "Naw, I'm fine. I'm going to turn the radio on, anyway. You take a nap." He turned the radio on, and found an oldies station that came in pretty clear. Ghost closed his eyes and slept.
In the van, Linda had given Stevie and Mandy some crayons, and a coloring book each, to keep them busy awhile. She kept her eye on the road, but could see that Melody was fidgeting, like she wanted to talk about something. For some reason she could sense that Melody felt awkward, or shy about whatever it was.
"Ok, what's on your mind, hon?" Linda asked.
"Huh? Oh, just wondering...about...oh, never mind," Melody said, and sighed.
"It's ok, no problem," Linda said, "but if you want to know something, don't hesitate to ask, or say what you want. This family you've landed in don't have many secrets. We're pretty much an open book." She left it at that. Melody would talk to her or not...her choice.
After a few minutes, Melody tried again. "Ok, I love this family already. I just want to know all about y'all, but I don't want to pry, you know. I mean, only if anyone wants to tell me things. Shit, I can't even say what I mean," Melody said, and laughed. "I guess it's so new to me, to have a family, that I feel I have to hurry and catch up with y'all's history, or something." She shrugged.
Linda laughed. "Oh, I know what you mean. I'm kinda new, too."
Melody looked confused. "But, I don't get it. You knew your family all along."
"Yes, I did, but we lost contact for a really long time...like fifteen years or so. I never knew what happened to Steve, so we're still catching up, too. It's only been a few months, we got back with each other."
"Wow, that's kinda sad, but I'm happy you've got each other, now," Melody said, after hearing Linda's story.
"Me too," Linda nodded.
"So, what about Ghost?" Melody asked. "How does he fit in? He and Steve met at school, and got to be friends. Then what?"
"A lot, from what I've heard," Linda said, feeling a bit like this part wasn't her place to tell. "I can tell you some, but even I don't know the whole story, and it's not for me to be telling it. I wasn't there, so you'll have to ask Ghost. He'll have to be the one, if he wants to. I'm sorry, Melody, all I can say is that Steve saved Ghost's life, and they've been together ever since, just as friends, then later as lovers. There was some bad, bad times between them, and even though it looks like they are fine now, they are still working hard at making it work out, again. But, I've said enough. Ask Ghost, ok?"
"Yeah, I did, sort of, and he said he'd tell me some things, someday, but not yet. I want to know, now...what's he waiting for?" Melody asked.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing