The teenagers watching my children told them a ghost story tonight. It's all my oldest, Sophie, talked about on the way home - disregarding my empty threats and vague exhortations. We ran into a thunderstorm on our way, but we were still able to catch glimpses of a full moon through dark clouds.
I repeated myself, "Ghosts aren't real. No, she didn't lie to you, she was telling you a story. Not all stories are real. Some are pretend, just like you tell stories when you play with your Barbie dolls."
Lightning momentarily illuminated the woods around us as we drove through the countryside.
Anna said, "I just saw a ghost in the trees."
"No, you didn't, Anna." I said. I didn't want her scaring everyone. I didn't want her scaring me.
"Maybe we'll see Mommy in the trees," Sophie said.
"Mommy is treasure hunting, Sophie. We will not be seeing her in the trees." I said, now thoroughly uncomfortable.
"I don't like ghosts," Sophie said. "They scare my head off."
"Dey scare head off?" said Avery, who was sitting next to Sophie in the back seat.
"I don't want to talk about it anymore, Avery," Sophie said. "Just go to sleep."
The rain continued tapping on the windshield. Thunder grumbled west of us as we drove south.
We got home and I put them to bed and tucked them in by myself. They were insecure, wondering about ghosts and fretting about bad dreams. They wanted to know that Mommy would be home soon. We prayed.