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The Joy of Argument by Albert Navarra

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The Ghost of Emilio Estevez

by Kerry Winfrey

Sam was sure she’d seen Emilio Estevez in her garden that morning, staring back at her as she drank her coffee and looked out the window.

Emilio Estevez was actually Sam’s cat, not the actor, which made the whole situation slightly less strange. What made it stranger was that Emilio Estevez the cat had died last fall.

Naming a cat Emilio Estevez was one of those whims that seemed hilarious 12 years ago. Sam thought it would make people think she had a real joie de vivre, that she was one of those people who was in on the cosmic joke of life. “Oh, you know Sam,” people would say. “She has that cat named Emilio Estevez, but the thing is, she doesn’t really even like him all that much! She’s only seen Mighty Ducks one time, maybe, and she doesn’t remember much of it.”

As it turned out, it grew progressively less funny to explain to people every year that, no, she was not an Emilio Estevez super fan and that her cat was actually a girl. And anyway, Emilio Estevez was far too long a name to say on a regular basis, and so she’d shortened it to Em, which could’ve been short for Emma or Emily or any other name that had nothing to do with an actor who’d been in The Breakfast Club.

But now that Emilio Estevez was dead, things were much harder to explain. Things like how Sam still had exactly three cans of Fancy Feast (variety: Gravy Lovers Turkey Feast) that she could not throw away, or how she kept Em’s tiny red collar in a drawer that she opened at least once a day simply to stare at it, or how she was now convinced that Em’s ghost was walking the earth. 

Sam was sure, beyond reason, that she’d seen Emilio there, just a few feet from where she’d been buried back in October. Had she come back now in the spring, reborn again after a long and harsh Ohio winter? Had she not really been buried, but planted like a bulb? Had she just been waiting there, cold and frozen for so many months, ready to claw and hiss her way out of the softened soil? 

Sam had to know. She went out to the backyard and dug into the ground with her bare hands. She had a shovel somewhere, but the thought of trying to find it now just made her feel overwhelmed. Her thin fingers clawed into the spot where she’d buried Emilio months ago, her nails hitting rocks and the thin, tangled roots of hardy weeds. It started to rain and the dirt under her nails felt like a question that didn’t have an answer.

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