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He tried to scare her. She was worried about ghosts. He told her an old woman had died in the house they were renting. Nothing violent, she just died in her sleep.
One night he saw a white glow afterimage that had to be the old woman, he woke her and told her. It wasn't just his blurred 20/600 vision that may have garbled the light shining through the window from the street lamps. It was some old hag coming back to get them. To sit on their chests and smother them.
He only scared himself. He was prone to such superstitions and self-trickery. She turned on a small 4 watt lamp on the bedroom bookcase for him, to scare the old hag away, and she and he stayed up listening to the house settling.
She told him once about a ghost hand that used to come out of her wall as a child. The hand would visit at night sometimes to take her toys. She told him that the hand would talk to her, and tell her everything was okay, but that he just needed something, and he wouldn't lose it.
She shared a room with two sisters. They never talked about the hand as kids, but something came up and made them talk about it later, as adults. They had all experienced the same ghost and he had all told them the same things.
He made her throw out all her white gloves and her history books about Central American civil wars with references to the Mano Blanca death squads.
She had a scary dream. She woke up in the middle of the night screaming, "Get out!"
She felt disoriented.
He was in the middle of some dream too. Her dream becoming part of his dream, he yelled until something came out: "Nooo!"
His chest felt tight.
He could see her eyes open. Wide. But, she wasn't scared at all. She forgot her bad dream of some woman trying to get at her with a knife. She laughed because she thought it was funny that her dream scared him; because he wasn't the one who'd had it. He didn't think it was very funny. He glared.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"I need some rest," he said and went back to a dreamless sleep. She slept and dreamt of him.
Rod Garrett is a worrier.