Chapter 14


Tracey sits across from Ward in his office. It’s a familiar scene—we saw Alina in that same chair at the beginning of the story. He has Tracey’s next revisions in front of him, flipping through pages to peruse the hand-scribbled notes. “They loved the rewrite on the beauty parlor scene,” he says. Tracey beams behind her glasses. She looks more buttoned-up than usual. “You really nailed Alina’s voice here,” he says as she ties her hair back. “Really well done. And– if you’re up for it, they want to add a chapter at the beginning, for some backstory. Obviously they’ll compensate for the addition.” // “You answered my next question.” // “Great work, Tracey. I mean it.” He pauses, and studies her: “Are those Alina’s clothes?” // “Helene was getting rid of them, so she let me pick some outfits.” // “Her fragrance, too?” // “No, she’s too attached to it. But I woke up there today, so.” Now, with her hair pulled back, Tracey looks like an Alina reincarnate.


“What’s gotten into you?” Helene asks Ward as he aggressively shoves the rest of Alina’s clothes into boxes. She’s not alarmed by his behavior, but more fascinated. “Are you a cross dresser now?” Ward is carried away: “Helene. This is selfish of me but I need Alina’s stuff out of here.” // “It’s all very expensive. I should know; I made it. Can you at least take it to a nice boutique?” She rummages through the boxes. “Now, wait a second, some of this is still salvageable. I know people who would wear this.” // “No. It all needs to go. I don’t want to see any of this again.” // “What’s it to you? And how will you see it if it’s tucked away in my closets? I know it seems like I’m moving on with my life, but I’m not ready to just exhaust the place of her presence. What’s this really about?” Her tone implies that she knows what it’s about. He searches for a different excuse: “I can see Alina. The same way I kept seeing Amanda.” Helene is shocked. “Where?” // “Here.” // “Here?” Helene’s eyes dart around the room. “She’s… here?” We can see that Ward feels bad for lying, but he runs with it. “Yes. And, she’s just as agitated as Amanda.” // “Why can’t I see her?” // “You don’t want to see her. She’s screaming at me right now. We need to get rid of her ghost, we need to remember her happily. I can’t stomach another round of this.” // “But that means something is unresolved? What is it?” // “The book.” // “Of course. Tell her about Tracey! About the book!” // “I will. But first, help me get these boxes out of here.” // “Yes, yes. Oh Alina, love, I’m so sorry to do this.” She shouts into the living room: “You hear that? I’m sorry. We’ll take care of you yet, darling!” She’s buying it.


Ward is on a date; he’s signing the check as they finish dessert. It’s a small restaurant on Vanderbilt Avenue with romantic lighting, and lavish entrees at surrounding tables. She is a stunning Spanish woman, and seems very happy on this date. “Maybe we could get another drink nearby?” Ward says. She thinks for a second, flirtatiously smiling. “I…should probably get home. But I’d love to see you again.” // “I’ll walk you.” They stroll down a quiet residential street in Park Slope. “It’s here,” she says, pointing up to a brownhouse. Ward is awkward as he slowly moves in for a kiss. She chuckles, but allows it. He puts his hand on the small of her back, bringing her closer. After a few seconds, she ends the moment. “I had a really nice night,” she says. “Can I come up?” Ward asks. It feels… amateurish. “Sorry,” she says, not making him feel foolish. “My… my babysitter is here.” // “Oh!” // “Yeah. I hope that doesn’t change anything.” // “Not at all. I’ll leave you to it, though. Tonight was nice.” With a quick, awkward kiss, they say goodbye and part ways.


Take 2: Ward on another date. The restaurant is a little divey, and his date is younger—a cute hipster 20-something. He’s paying the check as she thanks him. “My pleasure,” he says. “Want to go get another drink?” // “Sure, that’d be lovely.” // “I’ve got a great cabernet at home, if that’s of any interest.” She understands the invite, and chuckles: “That IS of any interest.” Their eyes sign the contract. Cut to: She’s putting her clothes on, in his bedroom. She readies to leave, and Ward stops her: “Wait, I have something for you.” He runs into the kitchen, only in his boxers. He returns with a bottle of wine: “I wasn’t lying about the cabernet. Take it.” // “Keep it,” she says. “I’ll come back for it.” They kiss, and she’s gone.


Ward and Tracey work quietly at Helene’s apartment, as Helene and her assistant Kyle discuss business across the room. Tracey keeps glancing nervously in their direction; it’s distracting to Ward that she keeps turning her focus. Annoyed, Ward takes his tea mug to the kitchen for a refill. Tracey watches him go that way, as does Helene. In the kitchen, Helene appears behind him: “Any sign of her?” she whispers. “Not since I told her about the book. I think she’s resolved.” // Helene doesn’t know how to react. “It’s good news, Helene.” // “Right. OK.” She heads into her bedroom as he finishes preparing his tea. Once he sits down next to Tracey again, she summons his attention. “Psst. Ward.” // “Hmm?” // “Helene told me.” // “Told you what?” // “That you can see her.” // “She’s gone now, don’t worry.” // “No, she’s not.” // “What makes you say that?” // “Because I can see her, too.” Ward turns, looking for Alina. He still sees nothing, even though Tracey is now staring at a point just near the doorframe. “And she is realllllly pissed off,” Tracey says anxiously. Ward frantically scans for Alina—staring where Tracey is staring—but still, he doesn’t see her.

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