Today my ex-husband showed me an opal set in sterling silver he intends to give me as a gift. For our former wedding anniversary.
But we don’t even kiss. We haven’t for probably almost a year. We still care about each other as friends though… And, we still celebrate our former wedding anniversary. Our lives are less depressing that way. It’s a grieving process.
…And we won’t kiss on our anniversary. Or hold hands. Nothing romantic other than possible pleasant, thoughtful gifts. …I’ll get an opal ring this year I guess. It was $20 at Goodwill. It’s probably worth more…and it looks 1950’s or 60’s…and it’s my ring size. He found it wasting time to unwind shopping there online.
My ex-husband isn’t a bad person and thoughtful gifts like the ring…remind me of why I once fell madly in love with him over ten years ago in 2010. …And the fact that it’s not at all my style and feels almost alien to my usual aesthetic other than it’s authentic parts and vintage patina remind me of why we didn’t last. I hated the ring earlier tonight so much I almost wanted to cry and I never usually cry. I found it so ugly it was actually triggering… He never understood my tastes and I often felt deeply unseen in our marriage…
Then tonight I watched Tik Tok again. And a late 20-something young man who reminds me a startlingly amount of Lem Billings…showed-up live on my feed.
I’ve followed him for a short while. Prayed for him… He reminds me so much of Lem. And I find that utterly delightful as more people like him should be alive…but also…it scares me. Lem was used a lot. His kindness was often taken advantage of. His brilliance ignored or maligned. His rare masculinity misunderstood and disrespected. You could call it homophobia…in a way.
And I’ll have to pray for him. And Catholics would claim I should pray for Lem too.
…Wait. He reminds me of Lem?
“Yes. And you think he’s good-looking. But truth be told, you’re worried about us.” Michael says.
“What if you’re real?” asks Lacey.
“You’re not manifesting us right now, by the way. You’re confused.” says Lem. “And no, he could never have been or be your son, in case you’re wondering. You’re too young for that.”
“Well…if you’re not demons…and you’re seemingly real…what does God expect of me? Of this?” asks Lacey.
“I know.“ says Lem.
“He’s probably too young for me and I rationally doubt he even knows I exist. But he begs a question of God.” Lacey decides.
“You’d like us more.” says Michael with a smile.
“But you’re both dead.” says Lacey.
“Do you hear us?” asks Lem.
“Yes. And trying to explain that to anyone is terrifying.” says Lacey.
“You smelled my old cigarette the other night in your kitchen.” Lem responds.
“Did you smoke it in my kitchen?”
“No. But I wanted you to smell what I smelled like.”
“I think it smelled like you…and smoke. It was surprising smelling actually.”
“And that’s the thing. If I’m a demon it’s a very clever trick. Like when you heard my audible voice and then heard the recording of me that sounded quite similar. …Or other even more irrefutable things. Things that might scare your readers. …And, of course, you’ve prayed me away if I’m a demon. Repeatedly. But I’m not a demon, Lacey.”
“We’re praying for you.” says Louis to Lacey.
“And I have no way of knowing.” says Lacey.
“He does look like me. And sound like me. You’re right. He’s less messed-up than I was though. Far less messed-up. Thank God.” says Lem.
“I’ll pray he stays that way.” she says.
“What would would you do if our situations were reversed?” she asks Lem.
“I’d haunt the Asmats.” says Michael sweetly “Or I’d be obsessed with them to try to figure you out.“
“I relate to that.” says Lacey.
“I’d love you. But wish you were just slightly different.” says Lem with a smile. He means he’d love the living likeness of Lacey but sense she wasn’t quite Lacey.
“That’s brutal.” says Lacey, feeling bad for this woman.
“She’d not be you, dear.” he looks at her.
“But you’d marry her anyway?” asks Lacey.
“Who ever said I’d marry this woman?” asks Lem.
“Well…I know you. I bet you’d win her heart. Easily.” Lacey responds.
Lem smiles. Michael looks suspicious.
“He’s-He’s not me.” says Michael.
“Am I really that romantic?” asks Lem.
“You are to me.” says Lacey.
They disappear and Lacey possibly senses the Holy Spirit bringing a moment of peace.
And in the distance a light glows near her window like a static spark…and then it disappears. She rebukes demons in the name of Jesus as per usual.
Jesus from Heaven…not somewhere in Pennsylvania. No matter how great Pennsylvania was or is.