Fantasticoe 
2009

 

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Fantasticoe 
Home Page
Emily Weber 

Silence is Coal Black

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... "Why don't you ever consider leaving this town?" she asked me as she flitted around the kitchen straightening her cookbooks that I let get covered in dust since her passing. 

"Where would I go Abby? I've got no one besides you." 

"And you don't really have me. I'm hardly ever here. I can't tell you when I'll be back." 

"I don't care. I don't mind the waiting, the quiet." 

"You've never liked quiet. And you're the most impatient man I've ever met." 

"I've grown weary in my old age, maybe it's mellowed me." 

"I know that's not true." 

"You don't know anything! I could never leave this place!" I shouted bitterly at her. 

Her face was shocked, but still as beautiful as always. She didn't respond immediately and then I noticed, she was fading away like rain when it lands on hot asphalt. First she shimmered at the edges, and then she shrank into a haze. 

"Please don't go," I begged. She smiled prettily and sadly at the same time, and then she disappeared. 

When I am alone on the farm it is as silent as a catacomb. We used to have acres of rolling land, spotted with fat, smelly cows. Since Abigail died I have sold the cows. They had creepy eyes that bothered me, but she liked to name them and talk to them like the children we never had. People whisper that I'm lucky to afford my farm without any livestock or profit. Their remarks make me snort, for I am nothing close to lucky and everyone knows I have more money than God. If I wanted I could buy this whole damned town and make everyone leave. 

Then I'd be alone for when Abby comes and I'd have no concern for my sanity because no one would be around to care. When Abby is here I'm less bitter about the farm and the townspeople who think I'm crazy. She tells me that things will be okay. When she visits she looks like how I remember her when we were first married, freckled with tangled red hair. Somehow I ignore the fact that she is transparent, I don't think of her a ghost, rather someone who watches over me and keeps me alive. I always wait for her visits, but Abby hasn't come to see me in a long time. 

* * * 

"Abby!" I called to her in my childish, high-pitched voice. I had to roll my head back to see her standing at the top of the huge hill on the edge of her farm. She broke into an enormous smile when she saw me; I'd seen that smile a hundred times, stretched wide across her freckled cheeks. She started running down the hill towards me, her long awkward limbs flailing. Finally she ran up next to me, and she was giggling while gasping for air. 

"What are you doing Peter?" she asked as she brushed her windblown red curls out of her face. 

"Nothing really. Do you want to race?" 

Before I could shout "go!" she took off running and I chased after her. Our whole lives would be just like that, the two of us running, just the two of us trying to get as far away from where we were as possible. Sometimes I was chasing her and sometimes she was chasing me, but we would always be running towards what seemed like impossible dreams. At the bottom of the hill we fell down next to each other laughing uncontrollably. 
 
Finally she said, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" 

"I just want to get off this farm. I want to go to college where everyone will think I'm the smartest guy around. You can come too." 

She paused for one moment as a cloud passed over us and momentarily shaded the sun. "I want to travel the world and paint pictures. You can come too." 

I loved her even then, but I never told her that. 

* * *

I looked around her kitchen, which had once again fallen to despair in her absence. Dishes lay piled in the sink, crusted with old food. From where I sat at the kitchen table I could see my reflection in the refrigerator door. I liked to think that my appearance hadn't changed much since I was a young boy, but it was impossible to notice that my wide childish smile had been replaced with the frown lines of a lonely old man. I shook my head to rid it of the image of my wilted face, my sand-colored hair turned gray and my once energetic blue eyes dead, the color watered down. I let my head fall to the grimy table in frustration. 

Without Abby our house was so quiet. I remembered when I was young my mother used to cross-stitch well-known proverbs and hang them up around our house. For years she had one hanging above her sewing table that said "Silence is Golden? and she would point to it and hush me when I was disturbing her concentration. At the moment I hated that harmless saying, and I hated the silence that crushed my coal-black, lonely heart. 

Without Abby around I couldn't find a purpose for living. I couldn't keep the house looking nice when I was stuck alone on this stupid farm. Every time her ghostly-angel appearances happened I felt like I had a reason for being alive, I waited for those days. But when she was gone I had nothing to do with myself. The last time she came she warned me that it might be a very long time before she came back. In her warning she hinted that I had some control over when her visits happened, but I couldn't understand what she meant. I hated to hear that she was going to go away for a long time, but it was better than the visits ending all together. She implied before she left that I should look around for a more consistent reason to live. She offered to help me figure out my new purpose, but I wanted none of it. 

* * *

The very last day of high school Abby didn't show up for school. The last day was no big deal since we had already secured our diplomas and were merely biding our time until the graduation ceremony. But I had seen her the day before and throughout the day I wondered where she was. Just as school was letting out, with that glorious final bell signifying the start of new collegiate adventures, I saw her car pull into the parking lot. I ran out to her and saw her car filled with all of her clothes: dresses and sweaters and a handful of shoeboxes. 

"What in the world are you doing?" 

"I'm running away. You can come too." 

I waited for a moment before giving my answer. Every second that I waited I saw her eyebrows knit closer together and I realized how serious she was. She wanted me to come with her, and I wanted to have an adventure. I wanted to do something exciting with my life, and I could find that going to college or running away with the girl I loved. So, I kissed her for the very first time, that afternoon in the school parking lot. All too soon we broke away, but I knew we were supposed to be together and nothing else mattered. I've thought back to that afternoon many times over our years together. I was so young when I made that decision to run away from my future with her. I don't regret it in the end, but I've questioned it many times. 

I dropped out of college. We pooled the money from our college funds and bought plane tickets to Europe. We randomly wandered for as long as we could until our money was about to run out. Before we inevitably had to come back we decided to get married. At that point we had ended up in Italy, some random little village, I never learned what it was called, but we got married. I didn't listen to a word of the ceremony I just watched her stand in her simple yellow sundress while the colorful lights from the stained glass windows danced across her face. 

When we got home Abby took a job as an art teacher in a small Iowan town by lying about her degree. I had no passion as strong as her, and no talent worth lying for so I took a job in an insurance agency. I hated my job. I read lots of books and dreamed about the life I wished I had. Abby was the only thing that kept me present. When she painted in our sunroom she wore her wild, red hair in a bandana. We had a little vegetable plot that she lovingly tended to, always a farm girl at heart. I loved her but I felt trapped, young, and bored; I wanted to move us to New York City so we would have a chance to live the big dreams we had once planned on. 

"Peter don't you understand? The only reason I got this job was because no one else in town wants to teach art to little kids."She argued, "I'll never make it in the big city." 

"Don't you understand? I hate my job! I had ambitions for myself and I've ditched them all for a monotonous job in a dry small town!"I tried to explain, but she didn't understand. 
 

So I left. One morning I took a suitcase and I hitchhiked to the nearest train station. I got on a train to Chicago. I rented a flat. I was sure Abby would come looking for me immediately. But she didn't call. I was selfish enough to think she would follow me, and distraught when she didn't try. I got angry with her over time. I inconsiderately believed that she should give up her secure life and chase after an adventure, like I had years ago. For months I hardly fed myself, I wore the same set of clothes and let my flat get incredibly messy. I was full of self-pity. Eventually I had to get a job, so I started clerking at the public library. I enjoyed the job, but realized it wasn't enough to make me happy. I was more miserable than I had been before. One day the doorman buzzed that a woman was here to see me. 

Abby stood in the entrance of my apartment, her shoulders hunched and her eyes wide with concern. 

"I just got the news that your father died, she told me quietly. I stared at her blankly. My father and I hadn't talked in years, he hated my decision to "flit my life away" instead of going to college. 

"You've inherited the farm, and the entire estate," she continued. 

"Oh and along with it, a life I never wanted!" I shouted in anguish. "We should just sell that farm, get a little more cash out of it and travel some more." 

"Your parents left us their farm and with it a ton of money. We can finally have a stable life together, and do something normal. If we sell everything, and spend everything we'll just end up in this same situation in a few years." 
 

"Don't you care about any of our dreams anymore? You wanted to be a famous artist. I wanted to do something important with my life. Where did that all go?" 

"We were kids when we said those things. They're not practical," she told me frankly. 

"So none of that meant anything?" I mumbled pathetically. 

"Sure it did. We had our adventure; we'll have many more. All that matters now is that you come back with me. I'll paint some pictures, and you can find something to do that makes you happy. That stuff isn't what matters to me. I'll be fine as long as you don't leave again," the pitch in her voice rose, as if she was holding back tears. 

I decided to trust her and we returned to the farm. 

We grew old together on the farm of my childhood. I may not have had the thrilling venture I had once planned, but my life was full and complete. 

Abby died when we were sixty-seven of a strange immune system disease that I never understood and can't bring myself to talk about now. She still seemed so young and it broke my heart. I sold the cows and quit taking care of myself again. Sometimes I wouldn't eat for days. When I got into a particularly distraught state Abby's angelic ghost came back to see me. 

"I wish you'd find something to keep yourself busy Peter." 

"I don't want to do anything. I don't even have the will to live." 

"If you talk like that they won't let me come back." 

"Who won't let you come back? Don't they realize you're all that's keeping me alive?" 

"That's why they keep sending me." 

She went away. 

Sometimes when she visited we argued because she wouldn't tell me what I had to do to keep her with me. I spent so much of the time that she was with me wishing she would never leave. On a few occasions I told her that I wanted to die, but that always made her leave me, so after a while I stopped doing that. About a year past before I realized it was making her miserable to see me so unhappy so I tried my best to put on a happy face for her when she came. 

On certain visits she could tell I felt particularly cheery on her visit days we would go on long walks around the old farm. She always reminded me that she would have to leave, but it didn't matter when she was around. Sometimes she brought me things to distract my mind. I don't think she meant to come and leave, but I don't think it was something she could control. I think someone watching over me realized that Abby could keep me living, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to stay alive. 

* * *

"Maybe you should sell the farm." She told me once, shortly after she had passed away. 

"And do what?" 

"Go back to Europe. Live the life you always wanted before." 

"I don't want that life now!" 

"What do you want?" 

"Things to go back to how they were before, you to be here all the time." 

"I can't make that happen." 

"Then I want to die." 

"I can't let that happen." 

"Why not?" 

I blinked and she was gone. 

* * *

One morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the bedroom window, and I felt younger, like my heart started beating faster over night. Abby hadn't come in quite some time, but that morning I felt refreshed, like I knew she was coming. I went down to the kitchen and straightened a few things so I could make myself some breakfast. 

Then I decided to go for a walk. My legs felt good and for the first time in years I moved with purpose. I looked around me at the farm that I had let fall to waste. The fields stretched as far as I could see, but I hadn't let plants grow there since Abby died. We used to have a huge red barn, but a few years ago the roof had blown off in a storm and I hadn't cared to fix it. At the edge of my parent's land there was a small lake that Abby and I used to swim in when we were children, I decided to go there. I walked on trails that had weeds growing across them; past trees that blew in the wind, dead and lifeless. Finally I reached the old lake. 

Standing at the edge of the muddy lake was a boy who looked about nineteen. 

"Hey! What are you doing out here?" I yelled to him. He turned and for a moment he looked skittish like he might run away, but then his expression changed and he just looked plain terrified. 

"Honestly sir, I don't know what I'm doing here." I walked a little bit closer to the boy and studied his face. He looked so familiar, something about the look of distress in his face reminded me of myself when I felt desperate and trapped. 

"Well where do you come from?" I offered. He hesitated for a moment. 

"I'm from a town a few hours from here. My wife kicked me out, we had a fight." 

"I'd never guess you were old enough to be married, you look like you should still be in school!" 

"I dropped out of school." 

"Really?" 

"Yeah," he muttered, "I wanted to make something of myself. I know that won't happen, I was stupid and young when I ran off. Now I've got nowhere to go and she's kicked me out. I'll probably just go back to living with my parents." 

"Oh, I wouldn't think that quite yet." 

"Why's that?" 

"This girl-- you gave up everything for her?" 

"Yeah, my whole future." 

"And you love her, right?" 

"Absolutely." His eyes read confusion but he seemed sure of his answer. 

"Go back to her. She'll take you back. You'll be fine. Follow what you want. And if you need anything give me a call. If it doesn't work out I'll give you all the money I've got and you'll be okay. I've got a lot of money and nothing to do with it." 

"You want to give me all your money?" He asked looking even more confused. I laughed. 

"Only if your wife won't take you back. Here's my number." I wrote it down, and turned away from him. 

As I walked away, leaving the young man dumbstruck I turned my head to the farmhouse and I saw Abby waiting for me at the top of her favorite hill. Somehow I knew she would be there, and I smiled. 

The next day the young man called me. 

"I don't know how you knew, but I'm back at home. She took me back and everything's going to be okay now." 

I smiled into the receiver and said, "I knew it would be." 

"Yeah it worked out just like you said, and I'm thrilled. But I was convinced I was going to win your farm in that bet." 

"You wouldn't want it anyway. I think it's haunted." 

"Whatever you say, thanks though." 

"Silence is Coal Black"

"Why don't you ever consider leaving this town?" she asked me as she flitted around the kitchen straightening her cookbooks that I let get covered in dust since her passing.

"Where would I go Abby? I've got no one besides you."

"And you don't really have me. I'm hardly ever here. I can't tell you when I'll be back."

"I don't care. I don't mind the waiting, the quiet."

"You've never liked quiet. And you're the most impatient man I've ever met."

"I've grown weary in my old age, maybe it's mellowed me."

"I know that's not true."

"You don't know anything! I could never leave this place!" I shouted bitterly at her.

Her face was shocked, but still as beautiful as always. She didn't respond immediately and then I noticed, she was fading away like rain when it lands on hot asphalt. First she shimmered at the edges, and then she shrank into a haze.

"Please don't go," I begged. She smiled prettily and sadly at the same time, and then she disappeared. 

When I am alone on the farm it is as silent as a catacomb. We used to have acres of rolling land, spotted with fat, smelly cows. Since Abigail died I have sold the cows. They had creepy eyes that bothered me, but she liked to name them and talk to them like the children we never had. People whisper that I'm lucky to afford my farm without any livestock or profit. Their remarks make me snort, for I am nothing close to lucky and everyone knows I have more money than God. If I wanted I could buy this whole damned town and make everyone leave.

Then I'd be alone for when Abby comes and I'd have no concern for my sanity because no one would be around to care. When Abby is here I'm less bitter about the farm and the townspeople who think I'm crazy. She tells me that things will be okay. When she visits she looks like how I remember her when we were first married, freckled with tangled red hair. Somehow I ignore the fact that she is transparent, I don't think of her a ghost, rather someone who watches over me and keeps me alive. I always wait for her visits, but Abby hasn't come to see me in a long time.

* * *

"Abby!" I called to her in my childish, high-pitched voice. I had to roll my head back to see her standing at the top of the huge hill on the edge of her farm. She broke into an enormous smile when she saw me; I'd seen that smile a hundred times, stretched wide across her freckled cheeks. She started running down the hill towards me, her long awkward limbs flailing. Finally she ran up next to me, and she was giggling while gasping for air. 

"What are you doing Peter?" she asked as she brushed her windblown red curls out of her face.

"Nothing really. Do you want to race?"

Before I could shout 'go!' she took off running and I chased after her. Our whole lives would be just like that, the two of us running, just the two of us trying to get as far away from where we were as possible. Sometimes I was chasing her and sometimes she was chasing me, but we would always be running towards what seemed like impossible dreams. At the bottom of the hill we fell down next to each other laughing uncontrollably. 

Finally she said, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I just want to get off this farm. I want to go to college where everyone will think I'm the smartest guy around. You can come too."

She paused for one moment as a cloud passed over us and momentarily shaded the sun. "I want to travel the world and paint pictures. You can come too." 

I loved her even then, but I never told her that.

* * *

I looked around her kitchen, which had once again fallen to despair in her absence. Dishes lay piled in the sink, crusted with old food. From where I sat at the kitchen table I could see my reflection in the refrigerator door. I liked to think that my appearance hadn't changed much since I was a young boy, but it was impossible to notice that my wide childish smile had been replaced with the frown lines of a lonely old man. I shook my head to rid it of the image of my wilted face, my sand-colored hair turned gray and my once energetic blue eyes dead, the color watered down. I let my head fall to the grimy table in frustration. 
 

Without Abby our house was so quiet. I remembered when I was young my mother used to cross-stitch well-known proverbs and hang them up around our house. For years she had one hanging above her sewing table that said "Silence is Golden" and she would point to it and hush me when I was disturbing her concentration. At the moment I hated that harmless saying, and I hated the silence that crushed my coal-black, lonely heart. 

Without Abby around I couldn't find a purpose for living. I couldn't keep the house looking nice when I was stuck alone on this stupid farm. Every time her ghostly-angel appearances happened I felt like I had a reason for being alive, I waited for those days. But when she was gone I had nothing to do with myself. The last time she came she warned me that it might be a very long time before she came back. In her warning she hinted that I had some control over when her visits happened, but I couldn't understand what she meant. I hated to hear that she was going to go away for a long time, but it was better than the visits ending all together. She implied before she left that I should look around for a more consistent reason to live. She offered to help me figure out my new purpose, but I wanted none of it.

* * *

The very last day of high school Abby didn't show up for school. The last day was no big deal since we had already secured our diplomas and were merely biding our time until the graduation ceremony. But I had seen her the day before and throughout the day I wondered where she was. Just as school was letting out, with that glorious final bell signifying the start of new collegiate adventures, I saw her car pull into the parking lot. I ran out to her and saw her car filled with all of her clothes: dresses and sweaters and a handful of shoeboxes. 

"What in the world are you doing?"

"I'm running away. You can come too." 

I waited for a moment before giving my answer. Every second that I waited I saw her eyebrows knit closer together and I realized how serious she was. She wanted me to come with her, and I wanted to have an adventure. I wanted to do something exciting with my life, and I could find that going to college or running away with the girl I loved. So, I kissed her for the very first time, that afternoon in the school parking lot. All too soon we broke away, but I knew we were supposed to be together and nothing else mattered. I've thought back to that afternoon many times over our years together. I was so young when I made that decision to run away from my future with her. I don't regret it in the end, but I've questioned it many times. 

I dropped out of college. We pooled the money from our college funds and bought plane tickets to Europe. We randomly wandered for as long as we could until our money was about to run out. Before we inevitably had to come back we decided to get married. At that point we had ended up in Italy, some random little village, I never learned what it was called, but we got married. I didn't listen to a word of the ceremony I just watched her stand in her simple yellow sundress while the colorful lights from the stained glass windows danced across her face.
 

When we got home Abby took a job as an art teacher in a small Iowan town by lying about her degree. I had no passion as strong as her, and no talent worth lying for so I took a job in an insurance agency. I hated my job. I read lots of books and dreamed about the life I wished I had. Abby was the only thing that kept me present. When she painted in our sunroom she wore her wild, red hair in a bandana. We had a little vegetable plot that she lovingly tended to, always a farm girl at heart. I loved her but I felt trapped, young, and bored; I wanted to move us to New York City so we would have a chance to live the big dreams we had once planned on. 

"Peter don't you understand? The only reason I got this job was because no one else in town wants to teach art to little kids." She argued, "I'll never make it in the big city."

"Don't you understand? I hate my job! I had ambitions for myself and I've ditched them all for a monotonous job in a dry small town!" I tried to explain, but she didn't understand.

So I left. One morning I took a suitcase and I hitchhiked to the nearest train station. I got on a train to Chicago. I rented a flat. I was sure Abby would come looking for me immediately. But she didn't call. I was selfish enough to think she would follow me, and distraught when she didn't try. I got angry with her over time. I inconsiderately believed that she should give up her secure life and chase after an adventure, like I had years ago. For months I hardly fed myself, I wore the same set of clothes and let my flat get incredibly messy. I was full of self-pity. Eventually I had to get a job, so I started clerking at the public library. I enjoyed the job, but realized it wasn't enough to make me happy. I was more miserable than I had been before. One day the doorman buzzed that a woman was here to see me. 
 

Abby stood in the entrance of my apartment, her shoulders hunched and her eyes wide with concern.

"I just got the news that your father died," she told me quietly. I stared at her blankly. My father and I hadn't talked in years, he hated my decision to "flit my life away" instead of going to college. 

"You've inherited the farm, and the entire estate," she continued.

"Oh and along with it, a life I never wanted!" I shouted in anguish. "We should just sell that farm, get a little more cash out of it and travel some more." 

"Your parents left us their farm and with it a ton of money. We can finally have a stable life together, and do something normal. If we sell everything, and spend everything we'll just end up in this same situation in a few years."

"Don't you care about any of our dreams anymore? You wanted to be a famous artist. I wanted to do something important with my life. Where did that all go?"

"We were kids when we said those things. They're not practical," she told me frankly.

"So none of that meant anything?" I mumbled pathetically. 

"Sure it did. We had our adventure; we'll have many more. All that matters now is that you come back with me. I'll paint some pictures, and you can find something to do that makes you happy. That stuff isn't what matters to me. I'll be fine as long as you don't leave again," the pitch in her voice rose, as if she was holding back tears. 

I decided to trust her and we returned to the farm.

We grew old together on the farm of my childhood. I may not have had the thrilling venture I had once planned, but my life was full and complete.

Abby died when we were sixty-seven of a strange immune system disease that I never understood and can't bring myself to talk about now. She still seemed so young and it broke my heart. I sold the cows and quit taking care of myself again. Sometimes I wouldn't eat for days. When I got into a particularly distraught state Abby's angelic ghost came back to see me.

"I wish you'd find something to keep yourself busy Peter."

"I don't want to do anything. I don't even have the will to live."
"If you talk like that they won't let me come back."

"Who won't let you come back? Don't they realize you're all that's keeping me alive?"

"That's why they keep sending me."

She went away.

Sometimes when she visited we argued because she wouldn't tell me what I had to do to keep her with me. I spent so much of the time that she was with me wishing she would never leave. On a few occasions I told her that I wanted to die, but that always made her leave me, so after a while I stopped doing that. About a year past before I realized it was making her miserable to see me so unhappy so I tried my best to put on a happy face for her when she came.

On certain visits she could tell I felt particularly cheery on her visit days we would go on long walks around the old farm. She always reminded me that she would have to leave, but it didn't matter when she was around. Sometimes she brought me things to distract my mind. I don't think she meant to come and leave, but I don't think it was something she could control. I think someone watching over me realized that Abby could keep me living, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to stay alive. 
 


* * *

"Maybe you should sell the farm." She told me once, shortly after she had passed away.

"And do what?"

"Go back to Europe. Live the life you always wanted before."

"I don't want that life now!"

"What do you want?" 

"Things to go back to how they were before, you to be here all the time."

"I can't make that happen."

"Then I want to die."

"I can't let that happen."

"Why not?"

I blinked and she was gone.
 


* * *

One morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the bedroom window, and I felt younger, like my heart started beating faster over night. Abby hadn't come in quite some time, but that morning I felt refreshed, like I knew she was coming. I went down to the kitchen and straightened a few things so I could make myself some breakfast. 

Then I decided to go for a walk. My legs felt good and for the first time in years I moved with purpose. I looked around me at the farm that I had let fall to waste. The fields stretched as far as I could see, but I hadn't let plants grow there since Abby died. We used to have a huge red barn, but a few years ago the roof had blown off in a storm and I hadn't cared to fix it. At the edge of my parent's land there was a small lake that Abby and I used to swim in when we were children, I decided to go there. I walked on trails that had weeds growing across them; past trees that blew in the wind, dead and lifeless. Finally I reached the old lake.

Standing at the edge of the muddy lake was a boy who looked about nineteen.

"Hey! What are you doing out here?" I yelled to him. He turned and for a moment he looked skittish like he might run away, but then his expression changed and he just looked plain terrified.

"Honestly sir, I don't know what I'm doing here." I walked a little bit closer to the boy and studied his face. He looked so familiar, something about the look of distress in his face reminded me of myself when I felt desperate and trapped.

"Well where do you come from?" I offered. He hesitated for a moment. 

"I'm from a town a few hours from here. My wife kicked me out, we had a fight."

"I'd never guess you were old enough to be married, you look like you should still be in school!"

"I dropped out of school."

"Really?"

"Yeah," he muttered, "I wanted to make something of myself. I know that won't happen, I was stupid and young when I ran off. Now I've got nowhere to go and she's kicked me out. I'll probably just go back to living with my parents."

"Oh, I wouldn't think that quite yet."

"Why's that?"

"This girl-- you gave up everything for her?"

"Yeah, my whole future."

"And you love her, right?"

"Absolutely." His eyes read confusion but he seemed sure of his answer.

"Go back to her. She'll take you back. You'll be fine. Follow what you want. And if you need anything give me a call. If it doesn't work out I'll give you all the money I've got and you'll be okay. I've got a lot of money and nothing to do with it."

"You want to give me all your money?" He asked looking even more confused. I laughed.

"Only if your wife won't take you back. Here's my number." I wrote it down, and turned away from him.

As I walked away, leaving the young man dumbstruck I turned my head to the farmhouse and I saw Abby waiting for me at the top of her favorite hill. Somehow I knew she would be there, and I smiled.

The next day the young man called me.

"I don't know how you knew, but I'm back at home. She took me back and everything's going to be okay now."

I smiled into the receiver and said, "I knew it would be."

"Yeah it worked out just like you said, and I'm thrilled. But I was convinced I was going to win your farm in that bet."

"You wouldn't want it anyway. I think it's haunted." 

"Whatever you say, thanks though."

"Good luck."

We hung up. I turned around to face my sunny kitchen. Abby was sitting in her usual chair smiling at me. 

"I knew you'd figure it out," she said.

And this time she didn't go anywhere.
 

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