A Visit From Paul


Milford, Delaware (Photo: Ray Hennessy on Unsplash)


“He comes to visit,” a man’s voice jarred her out of her reverie.

She’s been watching a waterfowl in the sparkling water. It’s been staring back, she felt.

“The bird?” she turned. The speaker was a frail-looking man who still managed a bearing that stated “military.”

“If it is that.”

She glanced at the crane. The oldster sounded neither confused nor joking.

“Tell me,” she rose to make room on the bench.

The man extended a hand to shake. “Smith. US Navy.”

“Marcia,” she returned.

They used to build ships in Milford, he told her. Built the four-masted Albert F. Paul, too. Launched it from the Abbot shipyard in 1917.

“174 footer, she was,” Smith sighed. “I would’ve been onboard, you see, if I hadn’t been injured. Would’ve gone down with my mates when the Germans torpedoed her in 1942.”

“The fallen seamen,” he lifted his chin toward the bird, “they visit me.”




For What Pegman Saw: Delaware


16 thoughts on “A Visit From Paul

    • Thank you, J. I believe him, too.
      I have a friend whose father would have silent conversations with a chipmunk by their cabin. It couldn’t have been the same chipmunk over decades … but they all ‘behaved’ the same. My friend’s father was not prone to foolishness or magical beliefs but the chipmunks were indeed uncannily unafraid. It got to where when one “showed up,” my friend would go get his dad with a “Chip’s here for you again.”


  1. Such a touching story. I can feel the man’s survivor guilt and sadness, but also the sweetness of the coping mechanism, how he finds peace in seeing his friends and compatriots in the beautiful birds who visit. Wouldn’t we all like to have another chance to interact with the spirits of those who have passed on?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story. Like many coastal cities, Glasgow where I live used to be central to the shipbuilding world and now has very little left, leaving many communities decimated. The old guy felt like a very familiar character to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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