I had this boyfriend named Isaiah in high school, and he was the greatest guy I could ask for. He was a year older than me and we'd been dating all through his senior year. He went into the army right after he graduated though, and he was sent to Maryland for basic training, and we didn't know where he'd go after that.
I wasn't ready to be an army girlfriend at sixteen, and we broke up. We stayed on good terms, however, and he wrote me letters and occasionally called me. I was his only real tie to Missouri. He didn't talk to his dad and his mother had remarried and moved to California with her new husband, and really didn't talk to him much. He didn't have any siblings.
Despite keeping in contact with Isaiah, I started dating another boy named Jack. Jack was twenty-two and he worked as a mechanic at my friend's dad's garage. I stayed with him all the way through my senior year, and he knew Isaiah and I were friends and talked, but I never told him that I had dated him.
Isaiah came home in December, and instead of going to visit his mom he came and stayed with one of his friends in Missouri. Jack had been working a lot at the garage to save up for a new car, and I hadn't seen him as often. I hadn't planned on seeing Isaiah, but he encouraged me to visit him while he was home. Eventually, of course, I gave in, and we slept together.
Isaiah knew about Jack though, and after he returned overseas he didn't continue writing me, we basically cut off contact. His mother called me in early January to tell me that he had gotten killed in Afghanistan.
I never told anyone about what Isaiah and I had done, and around Valentine's Day I found out I was officially pregnant. Young and scared, I let Jack believe it was his.
Flash forward to the present and I'm married to Jack with an eight year old little boy, Eli, and a three year old, Parker. Eli is Isaiah's son, but I' decided to wait until he was older to address that with him. Parker, apparently, beat me to it.
He came running out of the room he shared with his brother to tell me that there was a man in there. It was a Tuesday and Jack was working the late shift, so I grabbed a baseball bat from the hall closet and hurried to the bedroom.
I opened the door and turned on the lights, and the room was empty except for a sleeping Eli. I had always been a superstitious person and, based on prior experiences I'd had in the apartment, I guessed that Parker had just meet one of the resident ghosts-scary, but harmless.
I took my three year old to the living room and had him tell me exactly what happened.
"Parker, what was the man wearing?" I asked, trying to figure out which ghost he's seen.
"Camo, but not the stuff Dad wears. It's the stuff GI Jane wears. But he was all bloody."
It took me a minute because I hadn't seen this ghost before, or one similar to it. The ones that hung around the apartment were a lot older - women in hospital gowns, men in suits.
"Did he say anything to you? What was he doing?"
"He was patting Eli's back. I asked him who he was, and he said he was Eli's daddy. I said that wasn't right, because he wasn't Jack, and then he looked kind of mad, so I went and got you."
I froze and looked over towards the bedroom door, and when I paid enough attention I could hear the klink of dog tags.
I shooed Parker back to bed, promising he could sleep in my room just for tonight, and he agreed. I could only conclude that my ghost was a friendly one, wanting his son to know about him.
When Jack came home later that night I told him the truth about Eli's father, and he was upset but I believe it's something we can work through. I still think telling Eli now would confuse him though, so Jack and I have both decided it's best to wait until middle school at least.
Sometimes Parker will show up at my bedroom door and ask to sleep with me, and when I ask why he replies that the man is back again. I don't mind Isaiah visiting his son, but I do wonder why it took him so long to make himself known, and why he hasn't presented himself to Eli yet.