The road is clear and the skies are bright. Mischa, filled with resolve, bounces to “Love is a Highway” as her car speeds down the road. According to Google Maps she has another hour before she arrives at her destination but every mile seems to stretch along forever. Perhaps it’s her nerves getting the better of her.
Mischa is not ready to think about what can go wrong with this crazy plan of hers. She knows, she can feel in her gut, that this woman has had the same experience as her. Her child is the proof Mischa needs to convince all of the doubters. Surely, this Amber woman, is looking for the same thing she is. What other reason could she have for telling her story on television? Mischa feels confident in her logic.
Filled to the brim with nervous excitement and anticipation, Mischa loudly sings along with the song. That’s when she feels it. Mischa initially takes the slight churning feeling as gas, but a distinct repetitive tapping in her abdomen causes her to realize what she is actually feeling. THE BABY IS MOVING!
Mischa immediately pulls over. However, by the time she puts the car in park, the kicking has stopped.
“Awe man!” She taps her tummy lightly, hoping for a response. Nothing. Mischa sighs and closes her eyes. She couldn’t even take the time to appreciate her ghost baby’s first kicks. She should be the one kicking, Mischa thinks aloud. Kicking herself that is. Since the car is parked, she decides to take a break. She has been on the road for hours without rest. Mischa opens her eyes.
When she does, there is another pair staring back at her.
“Holy Shit!” Mischa screams.
There he is. Her ghostly baby daddy. He sits in the passenger seat, fully adorned in his Confederate regalia. His icy blue eyes show a hint of mischief.
“How do?” He says with that oh so familiar drawl that Mischa once thought was charming.
“How do? Is that all you have to say to me? How do? Where have you been? Do you have any idea the kind of trouble you’ve put me through? How are you real? But first… Why are you in my car?”
“Woah, woah, slow down little miss. I was just callin’ on ya cause I missed ya. I’ve thought about ya every day. You are by far, the most beautiful woman I ever laid eyes on. In all my years, I ain’t never seen someone like ya.”
“For true little lady. So… wanna fool around?” The soldier leans in close placing a hand on her waist. When he feels her protruding belly, he looks down, coyly at first. Then he does a double take. He pulls his hand back as though shocked by electricity. “Woah! What in the world?”
“Finally noticed?” Mischa is not at all amused.
“Yes I am.”
“… Well then,” the soldier recedes back into his seat. He looks on the brink of flight. “Congratulations are in order I suppose. I wish you ‘n your beau every happiness.”
“This is YOUR child, you dead asshole!”
“No it ain’t!”
“What do you mean, no it ain’t? You’re the only –“
“Ma’am, I am a GHOST! I ain’t of this world no more. You caint blame me. No ma’am you cannot! And what’s more, I don’t much appreciate these unfound’d allegations.”
“Unfounded? You – you know what, it doesn’t even matter. In an hour I’ll have all the validation I need. Does the name Amber ring a bell?” Mischa says crossing her arms.
“No. No it don’t.”
“Oh really, well I saw her on the t.v. She has a little baby too, and a very familiar story.”
“Amber’s a Got damned lie!”
“I thought you didn’t know that name.” Mischa crosses her arms again, amused this time.
“Well,” the ghost stutters “you just said it. And whoever this person is — is prob’bly a little conniver!”
“Is that a fact?” Mischa shifts the gear into the DRIVE position with indignant flair. “Well I guess I’ll find out when I get there.”
Before Mischa can even take her foot off the break, the soldier is gone. She looks around, as though expecting to see him again in the backseat or in the road but she is alone. The entire exchange has left her a little unnerved but more sure than ever that she is on the right path. She rolls back onto the road and begins the final leg of her journey.
After a relatively peaceful drive, Mischa comes upon a humble house on the outskirts of town. According to her Google research, this is the address on file for Amber Hart, the woman she is searching for. She vaguely recognizes the outside from the news report she found online. It’s a house that has definitely seen better days. The front porch has caved in in spots and there are a few shutters that look to be on their last legs.
Mischa parks her car just outside the house and takes a moment to evaluate. There are cars in the driveway and on the yard so she’s willing to guess that someone is home. Although she has been anticipating this moment, she hasn’t thought very much about how she’ll introduce herself. Every potential conversation starter she can think of sounds extremely awkward.
“Forget it! Just gotta do it Mischa!” She gives up on trying to figure out the least awkward way to broach the subject and gets out of the car. She takes care to hop around the various toys and debris scattered across the yard and approaches the front door.
Mischa takes a deep breath and knocks.
On the other side of the door, a large dog barks incessantly. She can hear life inside. Her stomach twists around in knots. The dog is scratching and whining at the door.
“Knock it off! Stupid dog!” Mischa hears a woman yell inside. There are heavy footsteps. The door opens swiftly. On the other side is Amber, in all her fleshy flesh. Amber, oddly enough, is a hefty woman but doesn’t look quite as round in person as she did on t.v. Her hair is also shorter than it was before and she wears glasses, which glare back at her with annoyance.
“Yes, who are you?” The Doberman by her side is ancient and quiets as she speaks.
“My name is Mischa Feldman… I’m not quite sure how to say this… I saw you on t.v and I decided to find you because I think our children have the same father.”
Amber stares at her for a long time. Mischa stands at the porch, fidgeting nervously. She wonders if there is something else she needs to say to clarify her comments. Just as she is about to, Amber finally responds.
“Is this a joke?”
“No, not at all. You see?” Mischa rubs her pregnant belly. “Six months ago I had a dream – well I guess it wasn’t a dream – where I met a ghost in a Confederate soldier’s uniform and well, this happened. No one believed me but then I saw you on that program.”
“Who put you up to this? Huh? You like making fun of me?”
“I told you it’s not a joke!” Mischa insists. The elevated voices cause the senior Doberman to begin growling. Mischa backs up a bit, not willing to take a chance with the old dog. “I was hoping to talk to you. My family doesn’t believe me. No one believes me. But if we both tell the same story then maybe…”
“Look, if you stepped out and got yourself knocked up that’s your own fault. I don’t need you bringing me and mine into your issues.” Amber attempts to close the door, but Mischa jams her foot in the way.
“Wait a second! You said on t.v and on the news that your child’s father was a ghost. And not just any ghost, a soldier from the confederacy.”
“Yeah, so what?”
“Well I just said, mine was too.”
“Bullshit. Get off my door!”
“You don’t believe me?”
“No! You think just ‘cause my story is a little weird Imma believe every weirdo that comes to my door? Dream on little girl! Now get off my door before I shoot you dead. I know my rights!”
“Are you insane! I’m pregnant! With your son’s half sibling… Unless… He was right. Maybe you are a liar?” Mischa let’s go of the door. Her stomach plummets to the floor. In all her scenarios she never even considered that as an option. It was too much of a coincidence but her quickness to dismiss her as a fake is weird. “You lied, didn’t you? The Confederate Soldier, he’s not your child’s father at all, is he?”
“You got a lot of nerve calling me a liar.”
“But you are, aren’t you?”
“I’m not lying. You’re the damned liar. I can prove it… What color is his hair?”
“Brown, like super dirty blond or brown.” Mischa struggles to recall. She just saw him and yet his image is vague when she’s put on the spot. “What color are his eyes?”
“Blue! The brightest most piercing blue you ever seen. Skinny or fat?”
“Neither, he’s athletic looking and tanned like he’s a farmer or something. Clean shaven or beard.”
Mischa and Amber look each other over. Neither is willing to give in to other completely but it is becoming more and more apparent that they are both describing the same person. Amber grips the side of the door. Mischa nervously pats her belly. Finally, Amber opens the door fully. She turns and walks inside, motioning for Mischa to follow.
“So I guess you have seen him.” Mischa says, tentatively following Amber inside. She closes the door as she steps in. This job is made considerably more difficult with the Doberman’s face in every unwanted crevice. With the door secured, she follows Amber into the living room.
A baby boy, no older than a year old, sits upright on the couch. He is a cute baby, in his footy pajamas. He drinks from his bottle with no assistance and looks at the new person with interest.
“Seems you’ve seen him too.” Amber says. She picks up the baby and sits him on her lap as she speaks. “I ain’t seen him in a while, not since Carl here was born. I was afraid something happened to him. I thought maybe, he’d finally made it over to the other side. I guess not. So he really… with you?”
“Yeah…” This situation has suddenly become far more awkward than Mischa anticipated. Like herself, Mischa believed that this other woman would have felt angry, violated. Instead, she looks heartbroken at the news of ‘another woman’.
“He told me, that I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on. We’d spend hours just watching the soaps on t.v and talking about life. Most of the guys I meet are deadbeats, ya know, but he was different. He asked me about myself. It wasn’t all, Amber do this, Amber fetch me that. Yeah, he’s different than the others… And I don’t care what sweet words you might’ve used on him, he’s mine and he’s coming back for me. For us!”
“That’s what this is really about isn’t it? You want me to back off? Well I won’t, he may have fooled around with you but this is home.”
“You actually want that freaky womanizing ghost around?” Mischa stares at her, slack jawed.
“Don’t you call him that. Not in my house! Not in front of our son!” Amber clutches her baby protectively.
“Sorry.” Mischa apologizes. She looks into the little boy’s big doey brown eyes and can’t help but pity them both. Mischa is desperately searching; not for the Soldier Ghost to swoop her off to a magical new life, but for proof. Proof that he is real, and that she is not a liar.
“Yeah well, the other girl had the same reaction. She spoke all kinds of nonsense about my guy.”
“What other girl?”
“I dunno, some girl from Shreveport. Byrdie something. She came knocking on my door too just after I did the talk show. Said my guy got her pregnant too and she was lookin’ to get him for it. I told her to get lost. I didn’t need some angry ex around, chasing him off.”
“There’s another girl he got pregnant. Dear Lord!”
“Look, that girl was obviously a mistake. She’s rude and just plain angry. She don’t deserve him.”
“Wait, what’s her name? You said she’s from Shreveport? Louisiana?”
“I already said, I dunno. It was Byrdie something or other. Something common. Johnson maybe. Or Thompson. Something with a ‘son’ at the end of it. What? You want to find her too?”
“Of course! I have to talk to her.”
“Well whatever you two decide to do, keep me and my family out of it. He’s coming back to us and when he does, I don’t need you two getting in between us.”
Up to this point, Mischa has been patient. She hasn’t said anything out of turn because this woman is obviously delusional and capable of anything, but the absurdity of her claims becomes too much.
“Do you even hear yourself?” Mischa asks with incredulousness. “You’re talking about a ghost here. A GHOST! He’s not coming back for you!”
“You take that back, jealous cow!”
“Jealous? Of what? He USED you! He used me! You said he told you that you were the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen? Well, guess what, he told me the exact same thing. He said lots of very sweet things but they’re not real. Maybe you believe that nonsense he’s selling but I don’t. And it seems like maybe this Byrdie girl feels the same.”
“Yeah, well you two have fun together. Away from me. Now get out of my house. You ain’t welcome here anymore.”
Amber stands, child in hand, and physically moves Mischa from her seat. Mischa shakes off Amber’s grasp violently.
“Fine.” Mischa walks to the door, but before she leaves she turns. “Oh and by the way, I saw him, just about an hour ago. Good luck with the whole ‘he’s coming back for us’ thing, because when I mentioned I was going to see you, he pretended he had no idea who you were.”
“You’re a damned liar!”
“That’s exactly what he said about you. And I can see why. That isn’t his baby!”
Amber stops short. Her face turns beet red and fuming.
“How dare you!”
“Middle school biology Amber. I wasn’t the best student but I remember enough. Blue eyes are a recessive gene. Brown eyes are dominant. You have blue eyes and your son’s eyes are brown.”
“So fucking what?”
“Two blue eyed people can’t have a brown eyed baby. Idiot.” Mischa opens the front door. There is a spring in her steps as she walks out victorious. Back on the porch she turns to look at Amber once again and revel in her triumph. However, when she does she is confused.
Amber is laughing.
“Well no shit. He used my husband’s body to get me pregnant.”
“He’s a ghost! He ain’t got no pumping blood, he ain’t got no little fishies… We had a lot of fun times together but that ain’t gonna make you pregnant. He’s dead!” Amber leans in close to Mischa and smiles wide. “And a dead man can’t make any babies. Blue eyed of otherwise. IDIOT!”
With that, Amber slams the door shut.