I smile at the sincerity in his voice. “Thank you.”
“No, thank you for keeping the ghosts away. ”He’s no longer looking at me. Instead he watches our friends leap into the air, laughing and screaming as they chase the fluttering glow bugs.
I think about his words. That’s exactly what he has done for me … keep the ghosts away.
I lay down in the tall grass, my head tilted to the night sky, the moon full over our heads.
“Alrighty,” he says, filling the void next to me. “What are we doing?”
“For?” he asks.
His hand seeks mine through the blades of grass, our palms flat against one another’s. My heart starts to race. I’m listening to the song of the crickets mixed with our friend’s laughter, and in that moment I want nothing more than to crash into Leo and make the world stop turning. Instead, I settle for the moment, touching a friend’s hand, quietly keeping the ghosts at bay for one another.
“Do you think he’s there?” he asks.
“Who?” I forget what we’re talking about, distracted by his touch.
He doesn’t move his hand away. “God.”
I swallow. I’ve wondered that a lot, especially as a little girl, on those nights that Daddy would visit my room. “I don’t know,” I answer in barely a whisper.
“It’s a nice thought.”
“The whole heaven thing. That people are waiting for us,” he says.
“What? You don’t believe in heaven?”
“I don’t know,” I say again honestly. “If that’s all real, it just seems hard to swallow.”
“Suffering,” I reply.
He’s quiet, and I wish I hadn’t rained on the moment. “Yeah, it is.”
I want to tell him I hope there’s a heaven because he deserves to see his brother again. I want to tell him that I hope hell exists because people like my father deserve to go there. I want to tell him that through all the bull, I still have hope it’s all real and this being is out there, loving me with all the blemishes others have placed onto me. But instead I lay there, content with the touch of his hand.
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