Fleeting Phantoms and How We Overcame Them


No one told me this would happen, before I got married.

No one shared the deep, dark secret with me. No one warned me. No one whispered a kind preparation or fortified me for what lay ahead.

But the day came anyway.

It started as a phantom lurking. A shadow that could not quite be caught. 

I turned; it was gone. I reached; it vanished. I resumed my normal life, I went about my day, to work and back again, to dishes and laundry and homework - and there it was. Like a nagging, haunting specter. 

A shudder.

 I begged my husband for help, but he knew nothing of wherefore I spoke. His experience lies in realms beyond; this was new to him. He pleaded ignorance. Well, actually, he said, "I can't see it. I don't know what you're talking about."

I despaired. 

It would go away for a few days. And then come again. Creeping back to vex me, taunting me. The worst times were immediately after the longest kind of showers, the hair-washing showers. It was not enough that I would be rushing about the house, worried that I might be late for work. Oh no. This was there too.

And in distress I b owed my head; there was no peace on earth, I said. 

I went back to my parents' house for a family birthday party. Surely in this happy time I could be safe - but no. It returned.

I told my mom. And suddenly... a ray of light. A spark in the darkness. 

"It's right here," she said, pointing. And she grabbed at it - and it was gone. Flicked into the trash can. Nary a second thought. 

"THANK YOU," I said. "Rob can never find them. He doesn't even know what I'm talking about, why it's so irritating."

"Well, why would he?" said my mom. "He's always had short hair. Men don't have to deal with the loose hairs that get stuck on your back or cling to your clothing."

"He ought to know by now," I grumbled. "He's been married to a long-haired wife for months. Surely he has to at least understand vicariously how irritating it is to have it touching your elbow every so often, in short sleeves, and not being able to see it or find it to get rid of it."

"He'll learn," said my mother comfortingly. "Eventually."

Time passed. And then - the other night - it happened.

"You've got a piece of hair sticking to the edge of your sleeve there," Rob said nonchalantly, in the middle of eating dinner.  And he reached over - and grabbed at it - and it was gone. Flicked into the trash can.

I stared at him in wonder and joy. Understanding. The scales have fallen from his eyes. Peace.

The ray of light is a sunburst.

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