Ayden came into the house a few minutes after ten in the evening. He decided to take a part-time job at one of the local fast-food establishments after his father passed away to help out. The hours were such that what homework he didn’t complete before his shift, could easily be finished once he got back home again. He was carrying a high GPA and didn't wish to lose it. Patrice, who had graduated from high school already was now steadily employed. He knew their mother was getting on in days and wouldn’t likely be with them for too much longer, herself, let alone manage to pull off a promotion. Without Erik's income, things were looking bleak.
Now, he if could just convince that lazy, mean brother of his to pitch in a bit, things might get a tad better around here. Ayden shook his head. Who was he kidding? Braylon was flat out spoiled. A monster-child, who grew into a rather obnoxious teen. He did hope that should he someday become a father himself, that he would do a slightly better job of it.
As was his habit, Ayden cast a glance toward the piano in the corner of the long living room to the left of the foyer as he came passed by the archway. Spying something slightly luminescent, he did a double take. What the heck? Swallowing, he ventured into the darkened room. Dad’s urn was still on the floor beside the antique instrument. Nothing seemed disturbed in any way, but he felt a bit of a chill in the air. Systematically, he went from one window to the next, checking to be certain they were all closed. As he turned his back on the piano to check that last window near the corner, he shivered with the sudden cold. Then he felt something on his shoulder! Curiously, it felt just like a hand. Swinging around he could swear he saw his father shimmering before him. Auntie Bree and others in the family had the Gift of Sight, so he shouldn’t be so surprised if he shared it, too. Is this what it was like? Creepy, much.
“Dad? Is that you?” His inquiry was met with an echoed laughter, as if the entity were laughing through a well. Both eerie and alarming, the youth took a step backward and all but fell over the couch facing the dark fireplace.
“Ayden!” said the translucent aqua-colored image, arms open, inviting a hug. Again, the echo-effect. Certainly, it sounded like Dad — except for the echo. Weird.
“Dad? Wh-what are you doing here?” the boy said. “Not that you aren’t welcome in your own home. That is to say, aren’t you supposed to find some kind of light to walk into? Or something. I know you did some crazy things in your life, but still. You’ve always Believed. I always thought that counted for —something.”
Erik Cantrell smiled and chuckled again. “I spent so much of my life in the wrong pursuits, I’ve decided to spend more time here, instead. I’m just not ready to leave my family. That is, if you don’t mind. In just a short time you’ll be taking over as Head of the Household.”
“What are you saying? You mean you’re here to collect Mom?”
“Not yet. But, I do hope you’ll allow me to hang around for awhile.”
“Oh sure. Sure. Glad to have you back,” the boy said, walking around the couch, clinging, to the back of it.
“You don’t have to be afraid, son. I’m not here to hurt you. You’re my son.” At that moment they heard a noise out in the foyer as Zoe came in from work. Ayden could hardly believe so much time had passed. His mother didn’t get off until two A.M.. Yet, the clock didn’t lie.
Hearing voices, Zoe walked right into the living room. Without hesitation, she flung her arms around her ghostly husband and hugged him tight. “Erik. Oh, Erik, it’s so good to hold you again. Please stay. I want you to move in, permanently.”
“Ah, Mom,” Ayden tried to interject. But Zoe was singularly focused on Erik. “Wait, wait, wait. You see him? How … Are you sure? You’re inviting him to stay. Like forever? Mom, wait. Don’t you think you ought to reconsider … what will the neighbors say? Who wants to live near a haunted house? Because that’s what it’s just become. We have a ghost in our midst. Mom, are you serious?”
“Oh, relax, Ayden. It’s your Father. This is his house, after all. Personally, I welcome his company.”
Ayden sat down on the couch, cradling his head in his hands.
“What’s the matter, dear?” Zoe said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Ayden looked up at her, shook his head. “When a man becomes a man, he looks forward to living on his own —without his parents constantly looking over his shoulder! I suppose now, after you — go, that you’ll be back to hang around, too. I don’t think I can take that. This is not what is supposed to happen! I want my own life!”
Erik patted his son’s shoulder. “I’m not here to interfere, I promise. I just want to work, paint for a bit and make sure you’re financially set.”
“The time to do that is before you die, Dad. Not after. You’ve got it all backward.” With that Ayden jumped up from the couch. Zoe glanced over at Erik, who returned her look with a shrug.
“What’s gotten into him do you think?” Zoe said.
“Don’t know. And all of this time I thought he’d be happy to see me.”
Ayden threw his hands over his ears and stomped about the large living room. “You’re doing it again. You’re talking about me as if I’m not in the very room with you. Stop it. Both of you just stop it!”
Patrice came straggling into the room, her long blonde hair tangled from her sleep, her eyes bleary. “Daddy!” she cried, giving Erik a huge hug. A moment later, Braylon was in the room, frozen stiff with fright. "I thought I heard … voices."
After a few reassuring words from Erik, he was soon hugging the entity. Ayden stood back from the group.
“Has everyone gone bonkers? Does no one here think it odd we’re being visited by someone who belongs,” he gazed pointedly at Erik, “in the after life?”
Erik smiled broadly, hanging onto two of his children, with Zoe close by. “Looks like I’m staying, by majority rule,” he said.
“Okay, fine. I’m going to bed.” Ayden said, as he backed out of the room. “Guess I’ll see you in the morning, then.” he said to Erik. “And just for the record, it’s not that I mind having you here, it’s just weird.”
“Understood,” Erik smiled.