by Melissa Davis
“It worked,” he thought. “I can’t believe it worked.”
Henry stood outside his door, staring at the footprints in the snow. In disbelief, he ran his fingers through his long, tangled grey hair.
* * *
It had been a hard fall for Henry, and he’d feared that winter would be worse. His beloved wife Delilah had lost her battle with cancer in September. Henry couldn’t bear being in their suburban home any longer. After the funeral, he packed a few clothes, some canned food, and his shotgun. He drove east, toward the Appalachian Mountains.
Once firmly planted in Appalachia, he rented a cabin and hunted daily. He rarely caught anything, but a deer every so often would last him a while.
The solitude became suffocating. No one to talk to, no one to comfort him. Henry made the only logical decision for a man of his age and situation: he would get a dog.
One morning in early December, he drove down the mountain and into the nearest town. There wasn’t much to offer. Just the bare necessities. He would not find a dog in this town; perhaps he’d have to make a road trip out of it. He stopped in the diner for a solitary lunch, bought some supplies, and decided to drop by the library. He thought that he could get a book about dogs and do some research on the best breed for him.
He entered the library and quickly signed up for a library card. He browsed the limited offerings of the shelf. Maybe he should get a few books while he was here, especially now that he was alone. Well, a book about dogs led to nature books, and then the occult section.
A title caught his eye: Loved Ones Lost. He grabbed the book and opened it up. In the book it told of how loved ones never leave us but watch us daily. We can guide them and communicate with them through séances. The book told exactly how to do so.
Just think: Henry could see his Delilah again. He could speak with her and make sure she was okay in the afterlife. Henry hustled to the check-out with only one book in his hand, the only one that could really cure his loneliness.
That night, Henry skipped dinner. He lit some candles and concentrated hard, following the directions in the book. He chanted, he called upon Delilah’s spirit, he prayed, and he begged. Nothing happened. Henry cried himself to sleep. It began to snow outside.
* * *
The next morning, he planned to return the stupid book as soon as possible. He opened his front door and saw them: footprints. But whose? Delilah! Henry would recognize the deep soles and stamped SAS of her orthopedic shoes anywhere.
“It worked,” he thought. “I can’t believe it worked!”
“Delilah!” he called. But there was no answer.
“Delilah!” — louder and more urgently this time.
Still no answer. In happier times, Delilah had jokingly complained about not being able to wake him up, about his satisfaction in small places, and his lack of focus. She must have seen all this in his sleeping figure, in the isolated cabin. If only she knew!
Henry fell to the ground, despair written on his face. She had been here, but she had left. She had left him again.
After the cold had numbed his bones, Henry rose to his aching feet, stretching out his tight legs, and brushed off the snow. He thought for a moment. Then he realized he’d have to make that road trip for a dog.
Copyright © 2014 by Melissa Davis