Avenue and pleasure, Joe’s Scrabble words, hovered above the board. I was curious about the first one and blushed at the second one. Joe got mad his tiles wouldn’t stay on the board—that’s so typical of him. He’s quick to get angered by the spirit world, while for me and Grandma it’s as regular as putting on socks, left foot before the right.
The Scrabble words shook, then grew steady. I wondered how long they could hang in the air by themselves, and as if in answer they dipped and swayed. Grandma called out for Joe to do something about his visitor. I grimaced. Joe walked out of the room. The letters followed him, slapping at his back, his neck, his hands—making the same kind of thud against his skin that a Frisbee used to make when we’d accidentally hit the sliding glass door in the backyard. It hurt me to watch, but Grandma said to mind my own business. That it was all between Joe and his spirit.
I smelled flowers and felt relieved. I knew that smell. It had to be Lilly, his girl. She’d had terminal cancer. Lilly didn’t want to wait around for death. She ran up to the pearly gates and opened them herself – at least that’s what Grandma said. As for Joe, he didn’t take this visit of hers too well. I told Lilly to be patient. He’d come around.
Lilly straightened her tiles as if a skirt. I could almost see it billow in the wind like her soft pink wedding dress, the one I picked out with her. I teared up a little, and the tiles scooted by my feet. She’d always be my would-be-sister-in-law. The tiles circled my big toe as if hugging it, and then I said I’d go get Joe.
The Scrabble tiles lined up in the hall blocking my path. Well, not really blocking—they are quite small. Let’s just say the closer I got to knocking on Joe’s door the more those tiles of hers seem to bump against my big toe. After tripping a couple of times I took the hint and went back to playing Scrabble with Grandma. Of course, by then she didn’t care much for the game, so I scooted back round to see what was up and kept a close ear on Joe’s door.
I heard what sounded like pillows being thrown from one end of the room to the next, accompanied by feathers floating out the cracks of the door. Grandma passed me in the hall. She mouthed to get back to my own business.
“This is my stuff. I’m the greeter when a new spirit visits the house.”
She said, “So you are, child. But Lilly’s hardly a spirit. Just a girl who misses her love.”
Springs creaked on the bed, and Joe despite himself called out for Lilly. I heard his deep breaths and noticed how the smell of flowers grew stronger the more I leaned onto the door, and when I stepped back a ways toward my room I hardly smelled it at all. Still, I made it to my room and tried to go to sleep, though I couldn’t help but listen to the knocks against our adjoining wall. They made pleasure thuds all night. And at my desk calendar when I gave up on sleep I saw why. It would’ve been their wedding day. So I marked on my calendar June 25th is Lilly’s Day and hoped it’d be just once a year. But you never know with Love Spirits, as Grandma’s taught me—with them you just never know.