“I didn’t do it, Mommy,” seven-year-old Winnie said, looking up at her mother with those pitiful green eyes.
Pooch, the white mutt, leaned his head against Winnie’s.
Sandy stared down at her daughter. “What am I going to do with you? You need to come to Jesus, young lady.” Her hands were on her waist. She had that mother look that was anger. More than that, it was frustration.
Winnie reached around Pooch’s ear and scratched it gently.
“If you didn’t do it, who did?”
Winnie had an answer, but she wasn’t sure her mother would believe her. She gathered up her courage and said, “It’s a ghost.”
“A ghost? C’mon, Winnifred Ambrosia Mason. What are you talking about?”
“Mommy, it’s a ghost,” Winnie insisted as Pooch licked her ear.
Sandy wheeled around and went off into the kitchen. She poured a cup of coffee. Then she sat down at the kitchen table.
Winnie was quiet. That wasn’t good news.
Sandy yelled into the other room, “Go to your room before I kill you. If you don’t, I swear I will.”
She heard Winnie and Pooch head into her room.
Sandy drank her cup of coffee, then another, then another. Finally, she picked up the phone. “Bess, can you come over? Please.”
Bess was Sandy’s sister. She knew how to put the fear of God in a child. She had done it with her own three.
Fifteen minutes and Bess came through the front door. “Anybody home?” she called.
“I’m in here,” Sandy yelled back.
Bess walked past Sandy and went into the small cubicle that was the kitchen. “You drank all the coffee.”
Sandy was in no mood for Bess’ sass. No mood at all. “If I had a bottle of scotch, I would drink that too.”
Bess brought Sandy a new cup of coffee. “Here. Drink this.”
“No wonder Mom drank.”
Bess sat down across from her sister. “Okay, what has Winnie done now?”
“She says it’s a ghost.”
“A ghost?” Bess laughed. “That’s a new one. My kids never said anything about a ghost. Where did she get that idea?”
Sandy shook her head. “God only knows.” She sipped her coffee.
“You think she’s right.”
“Honest to God, no.”
“She’s a good kid.” Bess said, then took another drink from the cup. “Mostly.”
“It’s the mostly part I’m worried about.”
“So what are we going to do?”
“We?” Sandy said, then went silent.
Her sister reached over and squeezed her hand.
Sandy squeezed back. “One thing is for sure. I am not giving her to her father.”
“You want me to take her with me? Keep her for a couple of weeks.”
“No. This is something I have to do.”
Bess went home and Sandy continued to sit at the table. Finally, she made a decision. She got up and walked to Winnie’s room. The room was straightened and everything was in its place. Winnie was on the floor. Pooch lay across her lap. She went to get up.
“Stay where you are,” Sandy said softly, then took a seat on the floor beside Winnie. She ran her fingers through Winnie’s hair. “Look. If you say it was a ghost, it was a ghost. As long as I have no evidence, I am going to think you’re telling the truth. Okay?”
“Yes, Mommy,” Winnie said, leaning her head against her mother.
“Unfortunately you don’t have a sister to blame things on the way I did.” Then she leaned over and kissed her daughter on the head.