Today was the day.  After months of fighting and then mediation, Jasmine was going to her lawyer’s office to sign the divorce papers.  Her marriage would finally be over.  She would finally be free of Ben.  She had suspected he had been cheating on her a little over year ago.  She had been right in the middle of her second round of chemo treatments for the leukemia that had once again invaded her body.  When the doctor had given them the news that it was back and that she would have to go through chemo again, Ben hadn’t been the supportive husband he had been the first time around.  He became angry at her like it was her fault the leukemia had come back.  He started drinking, staying out late, and eventually cheating on her.  By the time she found out about Beckie, Jasmine had had enough.  She was fighting for her life and she didn’t need his negativity.  If he didn’t want to stick to his vows, than so be it.  Jasmine’s heart was broken, but staying with him was out of the question.  She had plenty of family and friends to support her through this.  She had finished her chemo and the minute she was feeling strong enough, she had marched into her lawyer’s office and started the process of divorce.

She signed the papers and walked out feeling like a weight had been lifted off her back.  She felt lighter and happier than she had in months.  Fighting with him had taken it’s toll, but today it was done.  She got in her car and started it up.  From the radio, she heard the soulful voice of Nina Simone singing “Feeling Good“.  Jasmine smiled and turned it up as she pulled out of her parking spot and just drove.  It was the perfect song.  Someone was watching over her today.  She started singing along at the top of her lungs not caring how she sounded or looked to anyone around her.  She was feeling the music run through her veins.  She felt unstoppable.  She started thinking that she had to do something to celebrate.  She couldn’t let this feeling go.  She wanted to do something spontaneous and crazy.

When she got home, she jumped out of the car, ran up to her office, and found her map of the US that she kept track of all the states she had visited on and took it downstairs to Ben’s dart board in the garage.  She taped it up right in the middle and stepped back.  She held the dart close to her ear and said, “Wherever you land is where I will go” and let the dart fly.  It  hit the floor.  She laughed.  She had never been good at darts.  She retrieved the dart, stood back and tried again.  This time it stuck.  She walked over to the board and found it smack in the middle of San Francisco, CA.  The board had spoken.  She would be heading back to her hometown.  She hadn’t been back there in 25 years.  Once she had left for college, she had never felt the need to go back.  It wasn’t the city that kept her away.  It was the memories.  Should she really go now right when she was feeling this good?  Something in the back of her mind said yes.  She had put her fate in the throw of the dart.  She would stick with it.  But things got weird when she checked AirBNB for a place to stay and her old house was on top of the list.  Fate wasn’t being subtle, she was speaking loud and clear with this one, so she booked the house, a plane, a car, and packed her bag.

She arrived in San Francisco still feeling energized.  All the signs leading to San Francisco had scared her a little, but the more she thought about them, the more she began to wonder what was in store.  What would she find here?  She pumped herself up on the way and was ready for anything as she drove into the driveway of her old house.  She grabbed her bag from the trunk and headed up the stairs of the little Victorian she once lived in.  Memories started flooding in.  Memories of her high school boyfriend walking her home and kissing her before her sister opened the door and spoiled the moment.  She thought of the nights she had sat out on these steps with her Dad as he smoked his cigarettes and the time she had run up them crying when she had fallen off her skateboard.  She turned the key and walked in.  Immediately everything was different.  The new owners had painted using a lot of bright colors and the furniture was so modern.  It was shocking, but it made it easier to be here.  She found her old room and saw that it had been turned into an office.  Her sister’s room looked to be a guest bedroom, clean and hardly used, such a stark contrast to the time her sister had spent here.  Then she got to her parents room.  When her parents had occupied it, it had seemed so dark in here, but the new owners had put in new lighting and it gave a whole different feel to it.  She put her bag on the bed and went into the kitchen to see if there was something to snack on.

Jasmine opened the door to the fridge and started rummaging around for some cheese or fruit or something along those lines.  She just needed something to tide her over till the Chinese food she had ordered arrived.  She was startled by the sound of music coming from the living room.  She closed the fridge and ran in there searching for the remote to turn it off.  How had it come on in the first place?  Was this now one of those futuristic houses with buttons all over the place the activated the windows, the lights, the TV, etc.?  As she frantically searched, the song that was playing gradually permeated her thought stream and she looked up at the TV.  It was on one of those music channels and the song was “Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac.  She couldn’t remember how many times her Dad had come home blasting this song in his car.  You could hear him coming from all the way down the block.  Her legs gave out and she fell back onto the couch.  What was Fate trying to tell her?  Why had she come here?  The hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end as Stevie Nicks belted out the song.  The room was getting cold, the song was getting louder, and fear was growing inside her.  She jumped when she heard a knock at the door.  The music stopped.  Her heart was racing, but she found the strength to  get up and answer the door where she found the delivery guy standing there with food in hand.  She took the food and ran to get her purse to pay him.  Once she had him all squared away, she closed the door.  She walked back over to the couch and sat down.  She just sat there staring at the now quiet TV.  Nothing happened.  The music didn’t come back on.  She waited a full ten minutes, but as her heart slowed down, her nose smelled the food, and her stomach groaned.  She took the food into the kitchen and dished it out onto a plate.  She grabbed a beer from the fridge and headed back out to the living room.  The TV was still on and tuned in to the same music channel, but there was no sound.

Jasmine sat there in the silence eating her food just staring at the TV.  She thought about her father.  He had died here in this house.  She had been the only one home at the time.  He had been sick for awhile, so it wasn’t unexpected, but she hadn’t been ready for him to go.  He had called out to her and she came in the room.  He had asked her to put on the mix tape she had made for him.  She did.  He didn’t look so good, so she sat next to him and had held his hand.  He tried to say something, but couldn’t seem to get it out.  He smiled and closed his eyes.  A few minutes later he took his last breath.  She had cried and cried to Phil Collins singing, “In the Air Tonight“, a song that she slowly started to hear now.  Goosebumps began to pop up all over her body.  The air grew cold.  So cold this time that she began to see her breath.  Her heart was racing again.  She put the plate on the coffee table and wrapped herself in the blanket sitting next to her on the couch.  Fate had lead her here and she was determined to find out why, but she was terrified.  Just as the song was getting to the climax of drums, the words on the TV screen began to spin like a record and then stop and when they did, they were different.  The screen now read,

“Hey Pumkin”.

Tears started rolling down her cheeks like a dam had been opened.  Only her Dad had called her that.  She started shaking she was so cold, even under the blanket.  “In the Air Tonight” came to an end and “Hotel California” by the Eagles started.

The words “Hey Pumkin” began blinking on the screen to the beat of the song and Jasmine quietly said, “Hey Daddy.”

In the cold air, a figure began to appear, a figure she would never forget, it was her father’s ghost.  She was scared and could hardly breath, but she smiled.  Oh how she had missed that face and the smile she saw there.  Her Dad had the best smile in the world.  She wished she could run to him and hug him.  What she would give for his big arms around her now.  As she watched his face, it seemed that he was going to say something, but instead more words appeared on the screen.

“I’m so proud of you.  I just want you to know that.  You are the apple of my eye and I love you.”

Jasmine warmed at the words and said,”Thank you Daddy.  I love you too.  I have missed you so much and worried that I shouldn’t have let you go.  That I should’ve called 911…”

Before she could go on, the words on the screen changed and read,

“Stop.  It was my time.  There was nothing anyone could’ve done.  Thank you for playing the music and holding my hand.  That’s all I wanted.”

She let out a breath she didn’t know she’d holding and for the second time that day, a weight had been lifted.  More words began to appear.

“I’ve been watching over you, making sure you found the strength within just like your sister did, and now it’s time for me to go.  I will stay with you tonight, but in the morning I must leave.  I can’t keep communicating through the TV though.  It’s draining me.”

Jasmine was disappointed.  There was so much she wanted to say, but she remembered that Fate had brought her here and she would take would she could get and asked,

“What will we do all night then?”

He smile and the words “Shall we play a game?” appeared.

She started laughing.  It was a line from a movie they had loved watching together.  A line that had always been theirs because they loved playing games.

“Really?  You can do that?” she asked.

He nodded and pointed toward the office.  She got up and walked in there.  He appeared next to the closet door.  She slid the door open and found stacks and stacks of games.  She scanned them all and found her two favorites, Kismet and Scrabble and freed them from the stacks carrying them to the dining room table.  He sat at the chair opposite and smiled.  Not his I love you everything’s going to be alright smile, but his get ready to be defeated smile.  She opened the Scrabble box and began writing their names on the score card as his ghostly hands reached out for the Scrabble tiles and started putting them on his rack.  It was strange to see like she was living in a scary movie.  She chose her letters next, but before they started the game, she jumped up and ran to the bedroom.  When she returned she had a little speaker and her phone.  She opened the music app on her phone and chose her playlist called “Daddy’s songs” and first up was Bob Seger singing “Night Moves“.  Her Dad smiled.

“Oldest starts.”

He shook his head and pointed at her rack.

“Okay, but I hope you’re ready because I’ve gotta a good one.  Are you ready?”

Smiling, he nodded.

“Juicers.  Double word score plus I used all my letters.”

He mouthed the word, “Wow!” and the competition got rolling.

They played all night.  Jasmine had made a pot of coffee around 2 in the morning to keep herself going, but the sun was coming up and they both seemed to be slowing down.  He put his hand on hers at the end of their Kismet game and she knew it was time.  She didn’t want him to go, but this whole night was a gift and she had to accept it.  He lead her back to the living room where the words, “I love you” slowly appeared on the TV.

“I love you too Daddy.”

His figure began to fade as his hand came up and waved.  “Bye Pumkin” appeared on the screen.  She wished she could hug him one last time, but instead she waved and kept saying “I love you” over and over as he disappeared completely in front of her.  She felt like she should be sad, but instead she felt like she could take on the world.  He had told her she was strong and she felt it now.  Leukemia and divorce would not destroy her.  She had more to do on this Earth and now she really knew she had it in her to get it done.  But first, she needed some sleep.

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