This is the first of four parts of my Short Story “My Child’s Ghost Dad”. This is the story of Mischa, a typical working girl whose life is irreparably changed. After a terrifying dream where she is visited by a Confederate soldier’s ghost, Misha discovers that she is pregnant. The only possible option is the impossible one and no one believes her story. In order to clear her name, Mischa takes a trip across the US in search of other women who share her plight. I must thank my older sister for giving me the inspiration to write this piece of absurdity.
I hope you all enjoy!
Mischa wakes from her sleep in a cold sweat, her heart racing. Without a doubt, she has just had the most odd dream of her adult life. Mischa pulls up the covers over her head, searching the sheets and underneath the bed, but there is nothing there.
“It was a dream. It was just a dream.” Mischa calms herself by chanting. When she closes her eyes, she can still see the ghostly man’s bright blue eyes. Their icy gaze pierces into the depths of her soul, even as they attempt to appear kind.
But Mischa has had enough of the weird man and her weird dream. She pulls back the covers and welcomes the brisk morning air against her skin. She can smell breakfast cooking downstairs and hear the clatter of pots and pans. Downstairs, the world makes sense.
Mischa hops out of bed and hastily throws on her work uniform. If there’s one good thing about waking up from such a weird dream, it’s that it disturbs her usual routine of laying in bed until the last minute and rushing out the door. Mischa puts on her nametag and heads down the steps.
In the kitchen, her mom is serving up a bowl of porridge for herself and her grandmother. She looks surprised seeing Mischa in the doorway.
“You’re up early?”
“Breakfast was calling. Morning Mama, morning Babushka.” She plants a kiss on her grandmother’s cheek then makes a beeline for the stove. Her grandmother is by far her favorite person. She’s old, friendly, and her English is about as good as Mischa’s Russian. They compliment each other. Mischa takes a good whiff of the porridge while pulling a bowl from the upper cabinet.
“You see, that’s what happens you don’t stay up all night watching bad reality shows.” Mischa’s mom says with a laugh. “You can get up in the morning, take your time, have a nice breakfast-“
“For your information, my shows are amazing and I was up last night watching them as usual. Actually, I had this really weird dream that woke me up.”
“A weird dream?”
“Yeah, it was… It was,” Mischa looks around and then says in a hushed tone, “like a sex dream.”
“But Mama, it was weird. It wasn’t fun it was scary.”
“Mischa I don’t need to hear this.” Mischa’s mom throws her hands over her heart in exaggerated horror. From the corner of the room, her grandmother asks her mother in Russian, what is going on.
“It was scary Mama. It seemed so real, like, way more real than a normal dream. And the guy, he was a GHOST!”
“Like, an old timey ghost. I think he was a Confederate soldier. I was sitting in the living room watching T.V and then he’s there standing next to me. I didn’t realize he was a ghost at first, he just seemed like a cute guy in a costume. He asked me if I’d like some company while I watched my shows and, since he was cute, I said ‘yeah why not?’ But when he got close, he was see-through.
“So then I freak out, I’m like ‘hey, you’re a ghost, you shouldn’t be here.’ But he’s like, ‘I was just here for the T.V they didn’t have T.V in my time, can’t I just sit and watch with you as friends?’ So I’m like, ‘fine, but after the show you gotta go because ghosts freak me out’ and he seemed ok with that. So we’re watching the show and he was really into it, you know, like he understood me. Then when the show went off we were talking and it just seemed – he just seemed so nice, but he was getting way too close ya know? But he was all ‘relax, have a drink’ and before I knew it…”
Mischa’s mother and grandmother stare at her blankly.
“Alright, time for you to go to work.” Her mother says, pushing her towards the door.
“But I didn’t finish eating.”
“Yes, ok. You too. Bye bye.”
Mischa steals another spoonful of porridge before leaving.
“Don’t get so bent out of shape mama. It was just a dream!”
*** 6 Months Later***
“I’m telling you mama, it was the soldier! It wasn’t a dream! It wasn’t a dream at all!” Mischa pleads with her mother through the bedroom door but her mother is having none of it. Frustrated, Mischa rubs her ever-expanding baby bump.
“Oh you’re right! THAT is most certainly not a dream.” Mischa’s mom yells through the door. Suddenly the door bursts open, sending Mischa toppling backwards. She quickly regains her balance and checks her belly. “But if you think we’re just going to go along with your crazy story and support you and that baby, you ARE dreaming!”
“But Mama, this is something incredible. I should be telling people about this. Doctors, scientists, religious leaders! This is an immaculate conception. I’m like Virgin Mary… I’m the Virgin Mischa!”
“You’re a virgin?” The disbelief on her mother’s face is so strong.
“Well… Not exactly, BUT I haven’t been with a guy in ages! Over a year, at least. Except the soldier but –
“Mischa! Give it a rest. You find that idiot that got you pregnant.”
“The Confederate soldier ghost – “
“I don’t care if he’s a giant purple dinosaur. You bring him here and make him take responsibility for this. We are not supporting you!”
The door slams with a violent rattle. Mischa, left alone once again, sighs deeply. Unsure of what to do next, she heads downstairs to the living room and flops down on the couch. As she flips through channels aimlessly, her grandmother shuffles in and takes a seat next to her on the couch. She speaks, mostly to herself, in Russian. There is disapproval in her tone.
“I know Babushka, I know. Everyone is disappointed in me. But I’m telling the truth. It’s not like I wanted any of this to happen. It’s been one setback after another. I lost my job at the store. They said it was unrelated to my pregnancy but it’s a little suspicious that I get three disciplinary actions suddenly after I tell them I’ll need maternity leave. Assholes. I’ve got no boyfriend, my friends think I’m crazy, mom and dad don’t believe me. I’ve got no money, no support, no clothes that fit, and my baby daddy is a friggin ghost!”
Her grandmother continues to speak in Russian, her volume increasing. Although Mischa doesn’t understand most of it, she does understand a few words. ‘Shameful’ and “Leave’ are amongst them. However, seeing as to how she and her grandmother have such an amiable relationship, Mischa chooses the more optimistic translation.
“I know,” She replies. “It’s shameful what that ghost did. Just scared me half to death, got what he wanted, and left. But where am I supposed to go? How am I supposed to find him?”
“My child’s father is a real man. He fought and died by his principles. He’s a ghost but he’s twice the man you’ll ever be.” The voice from the television is followed by jeers from the audience. It turns her ear.
On the television a large blond woman stands from her chair. A young baby, only a few months old, is swaddled in her arms. She riles up the audience, which applaud and jeer from their seats. The slug line at the bottom reads: ‘You Are Not the Father! 26 year old Amber claims her child fathered by ghost.’
“Oh my God!” Mischa gasps. “Babushka, do you see that?” She points with excitement at the screen. “That’s what happened to me!”
Suddenly, Mischa is hit with an amazing idea. She sits transfixed watching the t.v program until it’s conclusion. In between commercial breaks she searches the internet on her phone. By the end of the program, she has found a few news tabloid articles featuring the same woman, Amber. In it, she gives the same story of being impregnated by the ghost of a confederate soldier. This is the break Mischa has been waiting for.
“This is it Babushka. Proof. This girl, Amber, our children are siblings. And if I can’t find that no good ghost dad, I’ll find her. Maybe there’s even more women out there.” Mischa stands and kisses her grandmother on the forehead. Her grandmother shoes her away and says something else in Russian that Mischa can’t understand. “Thank you for believing in me.”
Mischa skips out of the room with a new sense of purpose. She runs up the stairs and begins to pack a bag. She is filled with a newfound sense of hope. There are others out there. Other women. And they can clear her good name. The first, Amber, is in Alabama. If she can get this woman to corroborate her story, her parents will have to believe her.
Mischa looks towards the sunlight flowing through her bedroom window. For the first time in months she has hope.
“Time to hit the road!”