What We Hear
©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.
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!”
“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?”