These tough juvie kids are scared of everything—mice, roaches, ghosts. The mice don’t bother me. Never did. Same with the roaches. And the thing to know about ghosts is that they’re only here because somebody’s keeping them here. I don’t mean like with a Ouija board or any of that kids’ stuff. I mean literally someone is keeping that ghost around. Caring for it. Feeding it. Blowing on that last spark of life that keeps the dead from being all-the-way dead. They can hold on for a little while on their own, but not long. They need our help. Until they don’t.
• • •
I was eight when Mom died. Died most of the way. At first, our windy house on Lake Michigan was filled with people. People with lo mein casseroles and platters of fruit. People saying things like, “We’re your family now,” and “Your mother loved you very much.”
They said things they thought I couldn’t hear, too.
“You kinda always got the sense the art came first.”
“Still, to lose a mother so young?”