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Texting the Dead
by Michael C. Keith

There’s a ghost in the new machine.

                                –– Tracy Kidder

Martha Lambert was devastated by the death of her husband of thirty-five years. For weeks she would not leave the house, and then suddenly her children noticed a remarkable change in her mood. She was bright and cheery and seemed almost like her old self.

“What’s up, Mom? You seem so much . . .?” asked Martha’s youngest child, Carol.

“Better?” answered Martha.

“Yeah, I’d say,” said Carol’s older brother, Jonathan. 

“Well, I feel much better, kids.” 

“Ah . . . why? I mean just yesterday you were so . . . “

“Miserable, Carol? Yes, I was, but then something changed that, and I’m really feeling . . . well, less depressed and lonely.”

“It’s so wonderful to see you like this. Mom. We were so worried about you. What happened to . . .?” 

“A message,” said Martha, smiling. 

“Message? Who from?” asked Carol. 

“Well, maybe you two better sit down.”

 Jonathan and Carol did as their mother suggested, taking a seat on the couch

 “What’s going on, Mom? This all sounds so mysterious.”

 “Your father . . . I got a text from your father,” said Martha, her eyes welling up with tears of joy.

 “Huh? A text? Mom, are you all right? Maybe we should take you to see the doctor.”

 “You’ve been under a lot of stress since dad died. It can cause you to imagine things,” added Jonathan, looking at his mother with growing concern.

 “I’m not going crazy, kids. I’m getting texts from your father,” protested Martha.

 “Look . . . get your coat, Mom. We’ll take you to see someone to make sure nothing . . .”

 “Yes, let’s go right now. Maybe you’ve had a mini-stroke,” appealed Jonathan.

 ”I’m not having hallucinations, for Heaven’s sake! Your father really did send me a . . .”

 “C’mon, Mom. We’ll get you checked out,” said Carol, fetching her mother’s coat from the hall closet.

 Suddenly Martha’s cellphone began pinging and she looked at its screen.

 “There, you two. See!” said Martha, smiling and holding her phone up for her children to see.

 Their expressions instantly changed to one of incredulity as they read the text.

 “Mind your own damn business, Dad!”