by Michele Finn Johnson


The fog was so thick, Jolene couldn’t be sure that the figure in the doorway was really her father. It looked so much like Mo, but the thing was, he’d died in 1978.

I’m glad you didn’t move, Mo said.

Jolene held onto the door jam to brace herself. His thunder crack voice.

Don’t mind if I look around, do you?

Jolene blinked rapid fire, looked toward the bottle of Merlot to find its meniscus. Three quarters gone. Mo poked at a bookshelf, slid a boney finger across the spines.

Do you want to sit down? Jolene stopped herself short, didn’t call the man ‘Dad.’

Everything looks so different, Mo said.

Mo had that same look about him that he’d get on their family trips to the Albuquerque state fair; exasperation with something or other—the summer heat, backseat quarrels, Mother’s squawks about Mo’s heavy braking.

It’s all pretty much the same, I think.

Mo pointed at the sectional couch. That? You think that’s the same? The flat screen TV above the beehive fireplace. That thingamajig? Mo zigged and zagged throughout the living room, intermittently touching post-1978 objects and throwing his twiggy arms up into the air.

Jolene couldn’t stop looking at Mo, the way he seemed spun out of both skin and clouds.

Is there something in particular you’re looking for? Can I help?

Mo increased his momentum of exploration, now moving at the speed of a New Mexico dust devil.


Jolene felt the chill all at once as Mo reached for the copper urn that contained her mother’s remains. Mo turned toward her, lips moving. He mouthed something over and over, the same words, but his thunder crack voice was gone. His lips and face and frame melted slowly, like cotton candy on a wet tongue.



Michele Finn Johnson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, SmokeLong Quarterly, Necessary Fiction, The Indianola Review, Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction won an AWP Intro Journals Project award, and her fiction was long-listed by Wigleaf’s Top 50 and twice-nominated for Best of the Net in 2016. Michele lives in Tucson with her husband, Karl, and a few stray gila monsters. She tweets @m_finn_johnson and procrastinates blogging at