Friday, September 17, 2010
What We Hear - Chapter 9
What We Hear
©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.
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.