What We Hear
©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?”
“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.
“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.
“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!”