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Please feel free to visit my more 'personal' blog here, while I'm working on making this into a novel. Yeah, right here. Just click one of the 'here's, okay? Trust me on this.

All material copyright of Rebecca Rhielle

Monday, March 21, 2011

Changes to Come

Hello all! I have decided to flesh out this story and re-work it into a proper novel. I'm glad that everyone has enjoyed the little blurbs so far, but I really think this piece could be something special if given the right amount of attention.

So there will not be any more updates, but hopefully sometime in the next year you will be able to purchase the book version in stores.

I will keep everyone updated on my progress, and thank you all sincerely for your interest and for following Sadie's story!

~Rebecca~

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What We Hear - Part 2 - Chapter 2


What We Hear
Part 2
Chapter 2
©2010 Rebecca Rhielle

  Standing with her back against the doorframe, Sadie sipped absentmindedly at her wine. Artists mulled about, talking about this piece or that. She knew some of these people were important in the art community, and knew that many of the pieces displayed in her formal room were coveted by local galleries, but she just did not get art. The canvas that Gale was commenting on now, for instance – it was of a nude woman, lying in an arid desert, clutching a phallically shaped cactus. From what she could overhear, it was supposed to signify the plight of today’s woman, living in a harsh, exposed environment at the hands of men. But honestly it looked to Sadie like a really, really bad porn drawing gone wrong.
  “Ah, that’s because you are only looking on the surface, love,” came a clipped British voice. “You must dig deeper to see the intent of the artist.”
  Hello Philip, Sadie addressed the spirit. I should have known you’d show up here.
  “But of course! I wouldn’t miss an art exhibit in my favorite medium’s house for all the world!”
  “There you are!” William’s scolding voice sounded suddenly in Sadie’s head. “I don’t know why you think you can run off like that and hide from me!”
  Phillip sighed.
  “A man can dream,” he said wistfully.
  “Dream all you want, lover. You’re stuck with me for eternity. That should teach you to shoot first and ask questions later. Brute.”
  His voice changed tone as he addressed her.
  “Sadie, darling, how are you? It’s so good to see you again. This old windbag wasn’t bothering you, was he?”
  No, no, William. He was just showing me how to see past the surface and look for the artist’s intent in that painting.
  She inclined her head slightly toward the piece in question, and William snorted.
  “Poppycock. That is pure garbage. The only intent of that artist was to shock his audience, or possibly because he just wanted to paint breasts. Honestly, Phillip. You cannot assign value to something just because an ‘artist’ created it!”
  “And what do you know about art, exactly?”
  “Virtually nothing. But I know what I saw you create, and it was full of beauty and light, not some woman clutching a penile cactus.”
  “You think my work was better than this?”
  William chuckled. “Love, one canvas from your collection would make all of these pretentious pricks green with envy.”
  “Oh, William,” Phillip sighed.
  Hey, lovebirds – if you’re going to have some sickly sweet lovers moment could you do it somewhere else? I’m trying to pretend to pay attention here.
  “Oh, dear. Yes, of course,” William said apologetically. “Come on, old man. Let’s go see what mischief we can get up to on our own.”
  “Right behind you, love.”
  “You always were,” William chuckled suggestively.
  And with that they were gone, leaving Sadie smiling at the fact that after all the bickering and sniping at each other, there was still love there.
  I hope we can be the same way on the other side, she thought wistfully, watching Gale work the room in her manic manner. But maybe with just a little less bickering and sniping.
  “I thought you were taking a night off,” Gale said as she breezed over to Sadie. “I know that face. You were talking to dead people again.”
  Sadie had to laugh.
  “You caught me. But don’t worry – I sent them on their merry way.”
  “Good, because there’s some people I want to introduce you to.”
  Before Sadie could protest, her partner had her by the elbow and was guiding her toward a terribly wealthy-looking couple in their mid-fifties.
  “Martha, Edmund,” Gale said in her best please-indulge-me-Sadie voice. “This is my partner, Sadie Johnson. Sadie, these are the Delacroix’s.”
  “Darling!” Exclaimed the impeccably coiffed woman as she took Sadie’s hand in her own. “What an honor to meet you! You know, you have a very special woman here. Her art is so…so…Edmund, what’s the word I’m looking for?”
  “Inspiring, love.”
  “Yes, yes. Inspiring. Do you paint as well, Sadie?”
  “Oh, no ma’am. I leave all the artistic creation to Gale. She has enough inspiration for both of us.”
  The couple laughed good-naturedly, and Martha finally dropped Sadie’s hand.
  “I can certainly believe that,” she said. “What is it that you do then, my dear?”
  Sadie looked helplessly at Gale. This was a question she hated answering, especially to strangers. They always meant well, but when she told them the truth their responses were generally less than cordial.
  Gale smiled wide. “It’s alright, love. This room is filled with people the ordinary world would consider crazy. Go ahead, tell them.”
  Taking a deep breath, Sadie braced herself for the inevitable.
  “I’m a medium.”
  Silence greeted this disclosure, which was relatively common. Now she only had to wait for the strange looks, skepticism, and/or religious condemnation to appear. The reaction of the couple could not have been more unexpected.
  Martha raised one eyebrow slowly, then looked to her husband. They shared some silent communication, and then both returned to studying her intently.
  Sadie squirmed in place, wondering what exactly was happening, and then Martha spoke.
  “My dear, first let me commend you on your bravery. Not many people would admit such a thing to complete strangers. Sadly, this world has closed their minds to so much that is all around them, and they tend to look upon those who do not as abnormal.” She glanced at Edmund once more, and he gave a slight nod – to what, Sadie could only imagine.
  “And…” the woman paused, seeming to weigh her words carefully, “if you aren’t opposed to the idea, we would very much like to employ your services. At double your normal rate.”
  Gale squeezed her hand when she did not respond immediately, but Sadie was honestly dumbfounded.
  “Well, of course I’d love to help you,” she finally sputtered. “But I assure you it’s not necessary to double my fee.”
  Again, the couple exchanged a meaningful glance.
  “We think,” Edmund began, clearing his throat, “that when you learn what it is we need you to do, you may find that double your rate is actually rather cheap, considering.”
  Sadie looked at Gale and – not for the first time – wished that she shared the capability to speak through thoughts alone.
  Oh, dear, she thought, looking back and forth from the couple to Gale. What in the world have I gotten myself into now?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What We Hear - Part 2 - Chapter 1


What We Hear
Part 2
Chapter 1
©2010 Rebecca Rhielle

  “And what about Fluffy? Bradley always took care of Fluffy’s day care. I don’t know the schedule, the caretakers, nothing! Oh, how could he leave me like this?”
  Sadie tapped her pen against her lips, mentally counting to 254 to keep from strangling the woman before her.
  Her husband is dead and she’s worried about the poodle’s daycare? Seriously?
  Loretta’s face was buried in her hands yet again, sobbing uncontrollably from what Sadie could only assume was the unfairness of it all.
  Looking up finally, the woman launched into a new stream of inquiries.
  “Or the cars! Oh, how will I ever pay for the cars? I’m not sure if you realize this, but Bradley handled all our finances.”
  I had an inkling, Sadie thought ruefully.
  “How could he be so selfish? How could he just die like that, and leave me alone to deal with all these details? Am I supposed to magically know what to do and how to do it? Did he even think about me? Why aren’t you answering anything? Isn’t he here? Can’t you talk to him? Why did he leave me?”
  A strong male voice sounded in Sadie’s head, forcing her to stifle a smile.
  “Because you questioned me to death, you helpless thing!”
  “Loretta,” Sadie began gently, “I’m sure Bradley didn’t die on purpose just to cause you distress. We have no control over when we go. And I know he’s sorry he has left you in such a precarious position.”
  “Hogwash,” Bradley snorted. “I’m finally free! No more sniveling, no more ‘Bradley, please’ or ‘Bradley, how could you’ or ‘Bradley, why…how…when?’”
  The spirit chuckled.
  “If I’d have known how wonderful death was, I’d have done it long ago! I should have listened to my father – he warned me not to marry for looks.”
  Loretta stared at Sadie through slitted eyes.
  “You’re very quiet. He’s here, isn’t he? What’s he saying? Why aren’t you talking?”
  I see your point, Sadie admitted to the ghost.
  “He’s saying he never saw it coming, Loretta. And that he realizes things might be difficult for you right now, but that he has faith that you can handle it. You’ll get through this eventually.”
  “But how!” the woman lamented, dropping her head into her hands for the umpteenth time.
  Sadie sighed. The rich paid well, but it wasn’t always worth it.
  Bradley, is there anything I can do to stop this? I know you can just poof off somewhere, but I’m stuck with her. And I would really appreciate some assistance.
  She heard the spirit sigh loudly, then offer a begrudging answer.
  “Tell her there is a bank box downtown, with all our information in it. Regardless of how irritating she might be, I don’t want her to suffer. She’ll just torture my family in my absence. She will find the key and bank address in the top right-hand drawer of my desk. That should provide enough answers to keep her busy for a while.”
  Sadie relayed the information to the woman, amazed at the change in her demeanor as she spoke.
  “Oh, thank you. Thank you!” she exclaimed. “I knew my Bradley would never leave his little Banana Muffin without providing for me!”
  Banana Muffin? Really, Bradley?
  “Don’t ask,” the spirit lamented. “It’s too painful to revisit.”
  Walking the now-grateful woman down the stairs, Sadie bid her goodbye, ushering her through the door as fast as possible. Bradley had gone as well, and she had a few moments of rare, blessed silence. She entered the kitchen to dig up some lunch just as Gale breezed in through the side door.
  “Hello, lover,” her partner called cheerfully. She was struggling under heavy bags of groceries and Sadie quickly moved to help her.
  “What’s all this?” Sadie asked, dumping bag after bag of food onto the bar.
  “For tonight.”
  “Tonight? What’s tonight?”
  “Sadie, don’t you remember? The Artist Gathering? The showing in our formal room? Art, wine, pretentious people? Any of this ringing a bell?”
  It all came back to her now, and she groaned audibly.
  “Oh,” she replied flatly. “That.”
  Gale smiled and patted her on the hand.
  “It will be alright, love. You don’t actually have to talk to anyone. It’s a group of artists, after all. They’ll all be too wrapped up in themselves to notice.”
  Sadie grinned and kissed her on the cheek.
  “It’s okay. I could use a change anyway. Better to be ignored by live people than bombarded by dead ones.”
  “Exactly. Now c’mon. There’s more in the car.”
  Following Gale out the door, Sadie found herself hoping that she would, indeed, get a night off from the spirit world.
  Somehow, though, she doubted it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 10


What We Hear
Chapter 10
©2010 Rebecca Rhielle

  Hold it together, hold it together…
  Sadie was desperately trying not to faint in front of a hundred mourners.
  “Whoa, easy there, sport,” Harold’s voice sounded again. “Let’s not make this a double funeral.”
  Har..Harold? She asked silently.
  “In the flesh! Well…not in the flesh, but you get the idea.”
  His laughter filled her ears, causing her heart to skip a beat.
  “Hey, you’re not lookin’ so hot.” Harold’s voice took on a tone of mock sympathy. “Is it the earrings?”
  I just…I’m just happy. To hear from you, she distinguished quickly. Not that you’re dead.
  He chuckled, that contagious sound that Sadie was so worried she’d never hear again, and she could almost see him shaking his bald head the way he always had when he laughed.
  “Not bald anymore!” he answered her thoughts. “Those guys at admin are pretty okay! Now if they can just get my movies piped in we’ll be set…hey, you wanna sit down?”
  Yes, Sadie answered gratefully, I think that’s a great idea.
  “Okie dokie…let’s find somewhere we can really talk. These people are bummin’ me out anyway.”
***
  Settled down the hall in the casket showroom, Sadie tried again to catch her breath. Thankfully, Gale had recognized her ‘medium face’, and knew her well enough to let her go alone.
  “So,” Harold began. “How’s it goin’?”
  “Are you serious?” Sadie replied, incredulous. “It’s ‘goin’ awful! Why did you leave, Harold? So many people here needed you.”
  He materialized then, and Sadie was shocked into laughter at his appearance. Sweatpants, house shoes, football shirt, glasses (glasses? really?)…that was Harold, all right. But his head! Where once there had been a struggling patch of hair around the sides and a few rebel strands up top, there was now a full, dark brown, Elvis-style pompadour.
  He smiled wide.
  “Like it? I had Elvis sit in for the fitting. He was pretty flattered. Oh, and he really is dead, by the way – in case you were wondering. Nice guy, kinda dramatic. Always talking about his mother.”
  Harold’s grin faded then, and his face grew very serious.
  “I know you were all sad to see me go. I was sitting right with you guys in the hospital. What a cluster that was. Back and forth, everybody wearing themselves ragged. I tried to tell you guys I was already out, but I guess I didn’t have the strength yet to get through. Wish I’d have known you could talk to spirits then…maybe I’d have tried a little harder.”
  Sadie’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled the myriad of feelings that had passed through her in that hospital room. Through all of them, she supposed.
  “But what happened, Harold? Why did you have to go?”
  She saw his broad shoulders sag as he sighed.
  “I don’t know, Sadie,” he said sadly. “That’s the honest truth. One minute I was standing in the garage, and the next I was waking up on the floor. I didn’t feel quite right when I got up, and I tried to tell Darla I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but the ambulance came anyway. By the time we reached the hospital, I was fading out, and next thing I know, I’m looking down at my body and wondering what the hell happened. Took me a while to even realize I was dead. Well, mostly dead, I guess. My body was still ticking away, but I wasn’t in it. Kinda thankful for that – they put that poor thing through so many tests… But that wasn’t what you asked. I don’t know why I had to go. I had – have – a wife, a son, a daughter…grandchildren…nieces, nephews, relatives all over. Personally, I think I had a few kickball games left in me, but I don’t make those decisions.”
  Sadie felt anger bubbling up in her at the injustice of it all.
  “Then who does?”
  “I don’t know that either,” he answered, shaking his head, the pompadour swaying with his movement. “I haven’t met whoever’s in charge yet. Don’t know if I ever will. You know, I always thought we’d get all the answers once we’re dead. But it only brings up more questions.”
  Tears brimmed in Sadie’s eyes. It was all so unfair! Here was this man who was so full of life and joy and compassion. Why couldn’t whoever-was-in-charge take someone else? Someone who was already planning suicide or hated their life?
  “It doesn’t work like that, tiger,” he replied quietly to her thoughts. “I do know that much. When your number’s up, it’s up. Nothing you can do about it. I was happy to see so many people show up today, though,” Harold said, brightening. “I just wish they weren’t all so down – I’m not really gone, you know. Just relocated!”
  “Yes, but we can’t hug you, we can’t see you. It’s not the same.”
  “I know that. But it’s what we have for now. And I’m always around. I like to hang out and watch my grandsons…Steven and Scott are so funny now, like little adults. And the twins are always making me laugh. They can see me, too, you know. The babies. I go and play with them all the time, and they think it’s a riot. Especially my hair. They like for me to make it jiggle,” he laughed.
  Sadie thought back to the few times she had seen the twins since Harold died. It was true, there were plenty of moments when they seemed to be giggling at something only they could see, but she had just chalked it up to normal baby behavior.
  “Yeah, little kids are like that. I’ve talked to lots of folks who visit their relatives, and it’s always the babies that see them. Hey!” he changed course suddenly. “Did I tell you they gave me a job already?”
  “No,” Sadie sniffled, smiling at the same time. “What kind of job?”
  Harold sat up and puffed out his chest. “I am the official Head of Sports Acquisitions!”
  At his niece’s confused look, he elaborated.
  “You know, I take in all the sports figures that kick the bucket. The old, retired ones…the ones who just played one to many times without a helmet…that kind of thing. Kind of like Markie, only with a specialty.”
  Sadie had to laugh. “Well, that sounds just perfect for you. You always were the sports nut.”
  “Yeah. I’ll tell you one thing. I’m glad I was already dead by the time the Texas/OU game came around. I’m pretty sure I would have stroked out then if I wasn’t.” His expression clouded, and his mouth turned down at the corners as he looked at her over his glasses. “Frickin’ idiots. Handed the game over with a bow wrapped around it. Pitiful.”
  Raising an eyebrow, Sadie grinned at him. Her smile faded quickly as he began to grow transparent, however, and she felt panic flutter in her belly.
  “Harold?”
  “Sorry, Sadie. It’s tough hanging on to this form. Besides,” he continued as he completely disappeared, “they’re calling me back anyway. Seems a second-string linebacker just bit it. I’ve gotta get up there. He’s screaming and kicking and threatening to call his lawyer if we don’t get his agent up here. Idiot.”
  “Will you come again?” she asked softly, afraid of his response.
  “Oh, yeah. Can’t get rid of me that easily, champ! Now, you go on back there and try not to let those people drag you down. They just don’t understand. And if you get the chance, trip that preacher guy for me, will ya? He’s just annoying.”
  “Will do,” said Sadie, smiling again. “And Harold?”
  “Yeah?”
  “I love you.”
  “I love you too, tiger. See ya on the flip side!”
  Then he was gone, leaving Sadie with only the overpriced caskets for company. Walking out to the lobby area, she realized the funeral had ended, and now people were milling about again, hugging and crying and kissing.
  Gale found her in the crowd, slipping her hand into Sadie’s with the ease of many years together.
  “Everything okay with Harold?” her partner whispered quietly.
  Sadie leaned over and kissed her cheek, grateful once more for not having to explain herself.
  “Yeah,” she answered. “I think he’s gonna be just fine. Elvis thinks so, too.”
  Gale looked at her with a mixture of amusement and confusion, and Sadie laughed aloud.
  “I’ll explain later. Now, let’s go find that preacher,” she said with a wicked grin. “I have a present for him from Harold.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 9


What We Hear
Chapter 9
©2010 Rebecca Rhielle

  “Come, now. What’s all this blubbering?” A clipped British voice filled the room suddenly.
 Sadie answered without lifting her head, mumbling into her folded arms.
  “Go away, Phillip.”
  She really couldn’t deal with the narcissistic middle-aged man from across the pond right now.
  “Certainly not,” he retorted in a huff, “I am not leaving until you tell me what you are going on about!”
  Still sniffling, Sadie managed a sigh.
  Phillip was well-intentioned but insufferable. He had been an artist and poet, and was still given to the egocentric thinking of the creative personality that had cost him his life. During a nervous breakdown, he murdered his lover and then turned the gun on himself. Phillip had caused quite a stir in 19th century London society – a fact that pleased him to no end.
  He probably would have thought twice about shooting William though, if he had known they’d be stuck with each other for eternity, she thought with amusement.
  As if on cue, William’s spirit arrived just as Sadie was lifting her head to more clearly explain to Phillip exactly where he could go and how.
  “Stop badgering her, you brute!” he scolded Phillip.
  “There, there, love…” William soothed to Sadie, and she felt his cold, soft touch as he brushed the hair from her face. “Tell William all about it, now.”
  Phillip made a disgusted noise, but said nothing.
  “Well,” Sadie began, the tears starting again. “My uncle…he…he’s…” But she couldn’t say the word. Her mouth simply would not form the sounds.
  “Ah,” came William’s understanding sigh. “I see.”
  “Oh. Oh, dear,” Phillip said with shame in his voice. “I’m so sorry, love. I didn’t know.”
  William barked a laugh. “Of course you didn’t know, you self-absorbed ninny.”
  “See here, you…”
  “Guys!” she shouted over them. “Hello? Crying, despondent woman over here!”
  “Sorry, Sadie,” they apologized in unison.
  “Say,” Phillip said in a surprised tone. “Your uncle wouldn’t be Harold, would he? The new guy?”
  Surprised, Sadie nodded.
  “Well, fancy that!” William chimed in, laughing. “He’s a bit of a nutter, yeah? I say, he’s got the lot of them rollin’ over there! Oh, you must miss him terrible.”
  Sadie gave a choked sound, tears welling up in her eyes once more.
  “Now who’s the brute, you dolt?” Phillip said harshly.
  She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over their bickering. They obviously cared and were trying to comfort her, but it was only making things worse.
  “Phillip, William, I really appreciate what you are trying to do, but if it’s all the same to you I’d like to be alone right now.”
  “Of course, love,” William answered kindly. “We’ll leave you be.”
  Phillip was not in agreement. “But she –“
  “I said we’ll leave her be. Come on Nancy-boy. Lets go haunt the football changing room. That always makes you feel better.”
  “Oh, all right. But if you need us…”
  “I’ll shout, yes,” Sadie finished for him. “Don’t worry, you two – I’ll be fine. I just need a little time to myself.”
  “Okay, then,” said William. “We’ll check on you later, love. Ta ta!”
  The room felt empty again, and a huge rush of relief flooded through Sadie. Before she could get too comfortable, however, she smelled the very distinct scent of Arnold’s aftershave.
  “Sadie girl, I just heard. I am so sorry!”
  Just as she was about to answer, Sadie realized the room was quickly filling with spirits, all presumably there to offer condolences, and all talking at once. She sighed deeply and realized she wasn’t going to have the option of solitude anytime soon.
  Life with the dead, she thought. So it goes.
***
  The next few days were filled with phone calls from relatives, plans for a funeral and more visits from the Spirit World. Sadie was exhausted, and although Gale tried to keep her strength up by cooking all of her favorite foods, Sadie realized she wouldn’t really have any peace until she heard from Harold himself.
  Wearing a loud shift dress and the biggest earrings she could find in honor of Harold (who always loved to tease her about wearing ‘dinner plates’ on her ears), Sadie stood in the funeral home, watching friends and family mill about aimlessly.
  “Horrible things, funerals,” William’s voice sounded softly in her ear.
  She had to smile. William was always there to give humor and comfort…like a favorite uncle. That thought had her tearing up again, so she quickly shifted into conversation mode.
  Where’s Phillip?
  Sadie didn’t dare speak out loud to him in the midst of all these people. Her family was already convinced she was a bit off as it was.
  “Oh, he saw something he liked in the locker room the other day, and now he’s off doing research on how to become an incubus,” William answered with a combination of disgust and amusement. “He’s an imbecile.”
  She found herself swallowing a laugh. Now would certainly not be the appropriate time for that.
  Shoo, William, she said affectionately. You’ll give me away.
  His laugh rang in her ears, and she could almost feel him smiling. “Okay, love. But I’ll be close by if you need me.” Then he was gone.
  The funeral itself was standard, with the preacher predictably abusing the opportunity to proselytize even though Harold hated that sort of thing. Sadie found her mind wandering back to all the fond memories she had of her uncle, and trying to reconcile those with the lifeless shell at the front of the room.
  As expected, the family and friends in attendance were led past the casket to view Harold’s body. Sadie had never liked this part, because it was so very obvious that the spirit was gone, but she followed suit out of respect. Pausing by the coffin, she took a moment to say her own personal goodbye. Only halfway through her mental speech, a new voice sounded in her head.
  “What’s happenin’, tiger? Nice earrings! Ooo, I look awful! Could have done a little lipo while they were in there, couldn’t they?”
  Sadie had to grab the edge of the casket to keep from fainting. Her uncle had finally come for his visit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 8 (a very special chapter)

What We Hear

Chapter 8**

©2010 Rebecca Rhielle


As they were clearing the dishes from lunch, Markie popped back in. She didn’t say anything, but Sadie could feel her in the room. Stopping to tilt her head, Sadie earned a confused look from her partner.

“Who is it?” Gale asked matter-of-factly.

Sadie was momentarily distracted from Markie’s presence by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

How many people get to live their lives with someone who accepts them so completely? I am a very lucky woman.

Aloud, she answered, “Markie. But it’s strange…she’s not saying anything. I know she’s there, though.” Shaking her head, Sadie called to her.

“Markie? What is it? You’re back awfully soon…everything okay?”

Gale patted her hand and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll leave you two alone,” she said. “I’ll be up in my studio if you need me.”

Sadie was barely aware of her exiting the kitchen. She was too confused by Markie’s uneasy silence. Moving back to the table and taking a seat, she tried to talk to the girl again.

“Whatever it is, you can tell me, you know. After this afternoon I’m not sure anything will come as much of a surprise.”

Her attempt at humor fell flat, and she almost fell off her chair as the faint figure of a girl appeared across the table from her.

Mouth agape, she sat staring at the apparition. Sure, she had heard the spirits all her life, but had never actually seen one!

What the hell…?

Markie’s huge brown eyes were focused sadly on Sadie.

“I do have something to tell you, Sadie. It’s good that you’re sitting down, I guess.”

Her words should have gotten Sadie’s attention, but at the moment it was focused on her appearance instead. Short brown hair swung just below Markie’s chin, and she was still dressed in the worn blue t-shirt and faded jeans she must have had on at her death. She had freckles, which surprised Sadie a bit, because Markie didn’t seem like the freckly type. Forcing herself to rein in her thoughts, she finally responded.

“I’m sorry…I’ve just never seen…I mean, I didn’t know…”

“It’s okay. We don’t usually see the point in showing ourselves. Besides, it takes a lot of energy, and we don’t really look like this anyway. We’re all spirit, so it’s more like an amoeba than anything else.”

A small smile touched the corners of her thin mouth, but it faded quickly.

“Sadie, I need to tell you something, and it’s not easy for me,” she started to explain.

Sadie was still contemplating the thought of an afterlife full of amoebas, but she tried to concentrate.

“Okay, honey. What is it? I can see it’s upsetting you, so just let it out.”

“Well, you remember how I had to take off a little while ago? Because of the new spirit and all?”

“Yes,” Sadie answered patiently.

“That new spirit was…I mean, he is…oh, stars, I don’t know how to say this…”

As Sadie watched the girl fumble for words, her skin began to tingle with apprehension. Somehow, she knew whatever came out of Markie’s mouth was not going to be good news.

Her spirit appeared to take a deep breath, then blurted it out in one quick word as only teenagers can.

“ThenewspiritwasyouruncleHarold.”

It took Sadie a moment to break apart and process what Markie had said, but when she did the tingles became waves of disbelief that flooded through her.

“Uncle Harold? My uncle Harold?” she managed to squeak.

But that’s impossible! I just spoke to him a week ago! I mean, sure…he wasn’t the picture of health, but who is? There must be some mistake.

“I’m not mistaken, Sadie,” she answered sadly. Her form began to shimmer and then just disintegrated. “I’m sorry,” her now-disembodied voice rang out. “It just takes too much to stay solid like that.”

Tears welled in Sadie’s eyes. Her uncle was one of those people whose voice could fill an entire room, and whose stories could always make her laugh. He was one of the lucky ones who lived life with joy and love, someone who was actually happy to be here on this planet, and always brightened any space he occupied. The idea that he could be gone from this world was intolerable to Sadie. And incomprehensible.

But she had come to know Markie quite well over the past few years, and she knew the girl wouldn’t lie to her…especially about something like this. She took a deep breath to steady herself, and tried to focus on logistics.

“So, if you helped him, then he’s okay now, right?”

Markie’s tone brightened considerably. “Oh, yeah. He’s got everyone in Admin rolling right now. He’s quite the storyteller!”

Sadie had to laugh, despite the pain in her heart. That he is, indeed.

“And he’s already caused a hilarious uproar in Acquisitions, too. We get to choose the physical form we take when we visit this side, and most of us choose our regular selves. That makes it easier for our loved ones to recognize us, you see…whenever they actually let down their walls and see us, that is. But your uncle!”

Markie laughed loud. “He agreed that taking the physical form he had in life would be the best choice, but he absolutely insisted that be given a full head of thick hair, and a specially-made jersey that has the Texas Longhorn logo on the front and the Houston Astros logo on the back! With sweatpants and house shoes, of all things! He said he died in a hospital johnny, and that if the shock of one of his family members seeing his ghost didn’t kill them, the shock of seeing his bare ass hanging out surely would! I swear Sadie, I haven’t laughed that much in years!”

Her voice turned solemn again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make light of something so tragic.”

But Sadie was smiling and laughing, too. “I’m sad, Markie, yes. Of course I am. But I am also glad to hear that he’s the same old Harold he always was, and that he’s still making people laugh. That was his most favorite thing.”

“Oh!” Markie exclaimed. “I forgot to tell you…Harold also said that he would only hang around his Spirit Space if they piped in show-tunes and doo-wop music.” She laughed out loud again. “Can you imagine their faces? I mean, we all get to pick out the d├ęcor and stuff for our Space, but show-tunes and doo-wop? From a big man like that? I tell you, they’re really getting a kick out of him over there.”

Sadie grinned again. But the reality of the situation was beginning to descend on her.

I’m never going to get to hug him again, or hear him poke fun at me. I’ll never see those baggy sweatpants and slippers shuffling into a family gathering. Anger bubbled inside her.

This isn’t fair! We weren’t done with him! I want him back – here – not there. We’re his family, not them! Dammit-all-to-hell, how did this happen?

Markie answered her last thought.

“He hit his head, Sadie. It was bad, and he tried to hang on, but you have to understand that his Spirit was out even before he passed away. He didn’t hurt, and he wasn’t afraid. In fact, he thought the whole thing was kinda cool, like a movie or something. Well, that’s what he told me, anyway.” She paused for a moment.

“I know you’ll miss him, Sadie,” she said quietly. “But he’s happy now, please believe me. He has no pain, no fear. What he does have is hair, comfy slippers, and supernaturally piped-in doo-wop music. And he seems quite content with his afterlife. So please don’t be angry. He tried to hang on for all of you because he loved you guys so much, but it was time.”

Sadie didn’t know what to say. She heard Markie’s words…she even believed them. But it didn’t stop the hurt from pounding through her body with a sickening rhythm.

Markie spoke up again. “Hey, I know…once he gets settled in, I’ll bring him to see you. Would that be okay?”

“Oh, yes,” Sadie said, hope blooming in her heart a little. “Oh, please. Do that. When do you think it will be? How soon?”

“Pretty soon. He’s adjusting rather well, I would say. Speaking of, I really need to get back. Are you sure you’ll be alright, Sadie?”

“Yeah,” she answered, although she wasn’t. “You just go take care of my uncle.”

“Will do!” the girl called out. “I’ll check in later, okay?”

Sadie turned suddenly in the direction of Markie’s voice.

“Oh – and Markie?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you. For everything.”

“No problem. I’ll be back soon!”

Sadie felt Markie’s presence leave the room.

Alone with this new knowledge, and struggling to comprehend a world without Harold in it, she laid her head down on the table.

And she cried.

***

**In loving memory of Hal Corley, 7/26/46 – 9/10/2010…beloved father, husband, uncle, grandfather, brother-in-law, co-worker, friend, and fellow traveler on this journey. I really hope you got your hair back, man. We love you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 7

What We Hear

Chapter 7

©2010 Rebecca Rhielle

“Now then, Mrs. Davis,” Sadie said as they sipped their tea, the picture safely covered. “Is there anything else you want to know from your daughter?”

The woman considered for a moment. “Yes,” she said finally, setting down her cup. “I want to know what happened the day she passed on.”

It was all Sadie could do to keep from rolling her eyes.

“We’ve been over this, Noreen,” she said patiently. “The spirits don’t like to talk about their deaths. They let that pain and fear go when they cross over.”

“I am not interested in her pain and fear,” Mrs. Davis snapped, then quickly changed her tone, voice becoming sickly sweet. “I mean, of course I care about her feelings –“

“Yeah, right,” Markie interjected.

“– but what I really want to know is what she was doing on that side of town to begin with. And at that time of night! I think I deserve an explanation at the very least. After all, can you imagine how embarrassing it was for me when the officer came to my door? I told him there must have been a mistake – my daughter was sound asleep in her bed! But lo and behold, he was right. I was so humiliated.” She sniffled again, reaching for her hanky.

Sadie was floored. At the time this woman was told her daughter was dead, her thoughts were all for her own embarrassment.

“Welcome to my life,” said Markie ruefully. “Now you see why I like being dead so much?”

I understood that the moment I met her, honey.

“So I think,” Noreen went on, “that I deserve to know the truth of what she was doing that night.” She paused for a moment, staring at Sadie with a haughty expression.

“Well, let’s have it, then!”

This is just not worth the money. I think I’d rather live under a bridge.

“Okay, Mrs. Davis. Just give me a minute to talk to Markie.”

Mentally she reached out the girl, asking for something – anything – to tell this woman. Strangely, her question was answered with silence.

Markie? Are you still here?

“Yeah, I’m here.” Her voice was sullen, and Sadie was immediately sorry that she had put her on the spot like this.

I can just make something up, you know. She’ll never know the difference.

“No,” Markie replied. “Might as well tell her now, maybe it will get rid of her for good.”

Sadie’s brow furrowed in confusion, and she noticed Noreen staring.

“What? What is it? Did she give you a good reason for why she humiliated me like that?”

“You know what?” Markie spat angrily. “Fine, you want the reason? I’ll give you the reason. I was visiting my girlfriend!”

It should have been a no-brainer for Sadie to accept this, but it shocked her beyond words.

“So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Noreen,” the girl added venomously.

Um, Markie? Just so we clarify…you mean a girlfriend as in…?

“As in I was in love with her. As in her kiss was the only thing that made life with this harpy bearable. As in girlfriend.” Markie explained.

Oh, dear.

Noreen was watching her expectantly, and Sadie was wrestling with what she should tell her. The truth? It would get rid of her, that much she was relatively sure of. But could she really sully Markie’s memory like that?

“I don’t care, Sadie,” came Markie’s soft reply. “I’m happy. I know who I was, I know who I am. I don’t need her approval.”

Sadie was touched by the girl’s strength, and awed at her confidence. Then again, she was dead. Not much to fear after that I suppose.

Smiling, mostly because she realized it would be the last time she saw this horrible woman, Sadie decided to tell her the truth. The whole truth.

“Markie said she was visiting her girlfriend.”

Not comprehending, Noreen looked confused. “But she can see her friends during the daytime. Why would she sneak out just to visit one of them?”

Sadie shook her head. “No, Mrs. Davis. Her girlfriend. As in lover, partner, soulmate. Girlfriend.”

Her smile grew wider as she watched the woman process the information, her mouth opening and closing but no sound coming out.

“But…but… That can’t be right! My daughter was not a…les…les…”

“The word is lesbian, Noreen. And it seems that she was.”

“That is sick!” the woman screamed, standing up suddenly. “It is a sin in the eyes of the Lord. A first-class ticket to hell!”

“I’ll save you a seat,” Markie laughed.

Sadie laughed too. What did she have to lose now? “I think not, Mrs. Davis. Markie hasn’t mentioned a single thing about eternal fire or torturing demons.”

“I cannot believe you are making light of this,” the woman said seriously. “It is no laughing matter. My daughter is damned for all eternity because of this…sick perversion!”

Now Sadie just sighed. “Um, didn’t I just say she was not surrounded by the fires of hell?”

Noreen was pacing back and forth across the room.

“If she thought she was embarrassed before…” Markie said wickedly.

It seems the woman was thinking along the same lines. She turned to Sadie sharply, her eyes feverish.

“How much will it take for you to never let this get out? I’ll pay whatever you ask.”

Disgusted, Sadie shook her head. “It is nothing to be ashamed of, Mrs. Davis. And I will not take hush money from you.”

Noreen’s face colored with anger. “Fine, then. Spread your nasty little rumor. No one will believe you anyway. I am an upstanding member of society, my church, and the Quilting Guild. Do you really think they’ll take some dried-up old maid’s word against mine? A woman who couldn’t find a man to put up with her, so she lives with her sister and talks to dead people?”

She laughed cruelly. “Your word will be no good against mine, so go ahead and try it. I, for one, am done with this whole business.”

“Yippee!” shouted Markie, and Sadie laughed again.

“Well by all means, let me show you out, Mrs. Davis.”

She followed the woman as she stomped down the stairs, then paused with her hand on the doorknob.

“Oh, one more thing, Noreen,” she said sweetly.

“What?” the woman bit off.

“Gale? She’s not my sister. She’s my partner. As in lover, girlfriend, soulmate. Partner.”

The look on the elder woman’s face was worth every penny she would lose. Caught somewhere between astonishment and fury, Noreen grabbed at the door handle and let herself out, scurrying down the walkway.

“Have a great day, Mrs. Davis!” Sadie called out as she closed the door.

“Woohoo!” Markie yelled. “If you could see me right now, you’d know I’m doin’ a happy dance!”

Sadie chuckled.

“Uh, oh,” came Markie’s voice again. “Gotta fly. Someone just kicked the bucket, and I’m up for orientation. Thank you, Sadie. Seriously. You just made my afterlife. I’ll come visit later after I get the newbie settled. Give Gale a big smooch for me!”

And with that, she was gone, off to help a new soul through those first furious moments after death.

Gale appeared in the foyer, smiling wickedly.

“Hey, baby. How’d it go? Did she like the tea tray?”

Sadie laughed again, pulling her close, and planting a big, wet kiss right on her lips.

Pulling back, her partner grinned wide. “Well. To what do I owe that pleasure?”

“A very brave little spirit named Markie,” Sadie answered, proud of the girl…and of herself. “Now, how about some lunch?”