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Thursday, July 29, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 3

What We Hear

Chapter 3

©2010 Rebecca Rhielle

Walking gingerly toward Marjorie’s chair, Sadie said a silent prayer that today would be one of the ‘good days’. She had no first hand knowledge of the woman’s condition, caused by head trauma sustained in the same accident that had taken Arnold’s life, but from what Arnold had told her it was always a gamble. Marjorie could be lucid and clear, but more often than not she would rant wildly and strike out at anyone near her. Sadie’s ghostly pal had also informed her that Marjorie had a deep, abiding faith – one that didn’t exactly align with the practice of talking to dead people, so this was likely to be a difficult conversation.

She sat in the chair across from Mrs. Walker, noting the youthful smoothness of her face, though she had to be in her late seventies. Her whiskey-colored eyes were focused somewhere far-off, and Sadie was certain she saw nothing beyond her window.

“C’mon girl,” Arnold prodded. “Talk to my lady. Tell her I’m here, I’m okay. Tell her I love her.”

Sadie took a deep breath.

“Hello, Mrs. Walker. My name is Sadie. You don’t know me, but I know … er … knew your husband, Arnold. I wondered if we could talk about him for a moment?”

No reaction.

“Keep going,” Arnold pleaded.

Gently, Sadie laid a hand on Marjorie’s clasped ones.

“Marjorie?” she inquired softly. “I just want to help.”

“Help?” came the terse reply, as Marjorie jerked her hands away. “And just how do you plan on doing that, girl?”

She turned her sharp gaze toward Sadie. “My husband is dead. There is no help to be had. Now I’m just waitin’ my turn so I can see him again.”

Saying no more, she turned her head and resumed her study of the window.

Well. I guess this would qualify as a ‘good day’, then, Sadie thought ruefully. She seems lucid enough to me. Time to try it out.

“Mrs. Walker, what if I told you there was a way to communicate with your husband – right here, right now – and that he is always around you? That he never left you, even for a moment?”

The woman’s hands squeezed together so tightly that the knuckles went white. She moved slowly, turning her whole body to face Sadie.

“Get. Out.” The fierceness of the statement left no confusion as to how she felt about this subject.

“Marjorie, I … “

“Do I know you?” the elder woman retorted.

Answering her own question, she continued, “No, I don’t. And I don’t believe you knew my Arnold either, girl. So you take your heathen, spirit-talkin’ ways and exit my presence. Do I make myself clear? Or do I have to call security?”

Her eyes had gone hard, clear as a morning sky and just as unreadable.

What now?

“Tell her you know about the edelweiss,” Arnold said quickly, “About the time we went to Austria when we were young, before Henry was born. Tell her you know what she told me, and you know that I tried.”

At that moment Marjorie stood from her chair, a formidable form, and placed her hands on her hips defiantly.

“You have exactly three seconds to leave this room, missy, or I’m calling security and having you thrown out on your skinny white butt! Do you hear me?”

Sadie stood and took a step backward before she realized what she was doing. She could only imagine what a force this woman had been before the accident.

“Tell her!” Arnold was screaming in her head.

“I … I know about the edelweiss,” Sadie managed to stutter. “I know about your trip to Austria before Henry was born.”

Arnold’s wife went stock still, her face a few shades paler than before.

“What did you just say to me?” she whispered.

“Yes,” Arnold whispered back. “Yes, keep going, girl. You’ve got her now!” he chuckled.

“Arnold told me. He told me about your trip, and something about edelweiss, and what you asked him to do. He said he did the best he could. Do you know what that means?”

Marjorie took a few shaky steps forward, staring hard at Sadie.

“How do you know that? How can you possibly know …” she trailed off.

“Arnold told me,” Sadie repeated.

“When? When did he tell you this?”

Sadie breathed deep. All or nothing, now.

“About thirty seconds ago.”

Confusion twisted Marjorie’s face, making her look more her age.

“Mrs. Walker, please … just hear me out. I’m not here to cause trouble, I promise you. Give me a chance to explain.”

Marjorie studied Sadie for a moment, seeming to consider what she had said.


“Okay? Really?”

“I said okay.” She walked back to the chair and sitting down, arms crossed, chin up.

“Now start talkin’.”

Arnold’s booming laugh echoed through Sadie’s head.

“That’s my girl. That’s both my girls! Now this is gettin’ good!”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 2

What We Hear

© 2010 Rebecca Rhielle

Chapter 2

Sadie looked around at the gray, institutional walls, taking in the sterile, antiseptic atmosphere. This was called an assisted living home, but she didn’t see how anyone could honestly call this “living”. Hopefully she would have the good fortune to die a quick and painless death when her time came, with no hope of hanging on in a place like this. A girl can dream.

Walking up to the info desk, she stood waiting impatiently for the woman behind it to notice there was someone in need of her attention. After a full thirty seconds of watching the pages of a People magazine flip by, Sadie cleared her throat pointedly.

Setting down her tome, the terribly friendly creature sighed heavily and looked up at Sadie over her bifocals.


“Sadie Johnson.”

Nimble fingers tipped with inch-long, bright green fingernails typed it in. “We got no Sadie Johnson, miss.”

“No,” Sadie replied patiently, “that’s my name.”

Another large sigh, this time accompanied by an eyeroll. “Name of the patient?”

Sadie heard Arnold mumble, “She’s not a patient. She’s a resident.”

Silently Sadie begged him to keep his cool.

“Marjorie Walker.”

“Mmm hmm,” clucked the nurse sarcastically, without even typing in the name. “And what do you want to see Ms. Walker for? You can tell you ain’t related … you’re a little too pale to be in her family, child,” she finished, chuckling to herself, “and we only let family in to visit.”

Sadie knew the truth would never work. Time for Plan B.

“For your information, my pale mother was adopted as an infant by Ms. Walker, who therefore happens to be my grandmother. So I would appreciate if you kept your comments to yourself, and direct me to my Granny’s room immediately. Unless you would prefer to have your manager escort me?”

Sadie stared down the nurse, one eyebrow raised, as Arnold’s belly laugh resonated in her ears.

“That’s my girl,” he chuckled.

The nurse’s demeanor shifted considerably, and she began to apologize profusely as she walked them down the hallway. “I’m sorry, Miss Johnson. We’re just trying to protect our guests, and with all the media that covered Mrs. Walker’s car accident …” she let her words drift off.

“It’s okay,” Sadie replied magnanimously, “I appreciate you taking such good care of my Granny.”

“It’s our pleasure, miss.” She turned a key in the lock of a non-descript door, and it swung open to reveal the stately Mrs. Walker staring out the window, humming “Just As I Am” softly to herself.

The butterflies in Sadie’s stomach turned to hornets. “Arnold, you had better know what you’re doing,” she whispered. “‘Cuz here we go.”

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What We Hear - Chapter 1

What We Hear
© 2010 Rebecca Rhielle

Chapter 1

“Get up! C’mon sleepin’ beauty ... rise and shine!”

Sadie rolled over and groaned, pulling the pillow over her head.

A good-natured chuckle sounded in her ears. “You know that don’t work, girl.”

“Arnold, please!” Sadie pleaded, voice muffled by the covers.

His laughter filled the room - big and booming, like everything else about him.

Sadie sighed, sitting up finally and casting the useless pillow aside.

“Okay, okay! What do you want, Arnold? Why, in the name of all that’s holy, are you waking me up at this hour?”

“I need you to go with me somewhere.”

She looked around the room, even though she knew there was no one to see. If anyone walked in now, it would appear Sadie was talking to herself, when in fact she was having a perfectly normal conversation with a ghost named Arnold. Well, normal for her, anyway. Sadie talked to ghosts all the time.

And they talked back.


After stumbling through the whole shower-dressing-coffee routine, Sadie grabbed her bag and headed to the car. The minute she shut the door of her sedan, she felt Arnold beside her in the passenger seat. At least he had the decency to have made himself scarce during her shower. Sighing, she pulled out her notebook and a pen.

“Okay Arnold. What will it be today?”

The dead man’s spirit gave off an air of anticipation, and it made her wary. She had a feeling she knew what was coming.

“I want to visit my wife.”

A warm wave of nostalgia washed through the car, bringing tears to Sadie’s eyes. Overwhelming responses to the emotions of those on the other side were a side effect of being both a medium and an empath. This was one of those times she wished she had not been quite so blessed in both areas.

“Arnold,” she began gently, “we’ve talked about this. Your wife is not strong enough. If she even recognizes what’s happening, she’s likely to have me exorcised or locked up in the looney bin or both. You know that, right?”

“She’s ready. I know she’s ready. Please, Sadie. I need her to know I’m okay.”

She never actually saw the spirits that spoke to her, except in her mind’s eye. But Sadie was completely convinced that had she been able to see Arnold’s eyes right then, they would be filled to the brim with desperation and hope. Dammit. She should say no. No way, no how, not happening.

“Okay, Arnold,” came out of her mouth instead. “Let’s go see Marjorie.”

Sadie could feel his smile radiating toward her. She started the car, reversed out of the driveway, and headed toward the Silver Leaf Assisted Living Center. This was not going to end well.