Supernatural Fiction posted June 11, 2013


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The last seance

The Client

by GWHARGIS

My grandma talks to the dead. She also reads tea leaves, tarot cards, and the occasional palm.

I love to watch her work. Grandma likes to help people reunite. It doesn't matter that one person is paying and the other is dead. But Grandma's especially soft on lost loves.

"What are you doing, Gram?" I ask. I hover close enough to smell her Jean Nate' cologne.

"Hush now, Christian. Go on about your business. I have lots to do today."

"You got a client coming over?"

"Yes. A sad woman who lost someone very special to her."

"When's she coming? Can I stay and watch you work?"

"Go on up to your room," she says softly as she points to the staircase.

It used to be a grand staircase once upon a time. The red carpet was lush and thick, but now it's threadbare and stained.

Grandma says the house is aging like her. She's only sixty or seventy but she looks much older. Her hair is white as snow and soft as spun silk.

I love to touch her hair, but Grandma says it bothers her. She usually sends me to my room when I bother her.

My room is the most boring room in the house. I just have my bed, a dresser and a bunch of boxes that Grandma stacked against the wall.

There's a picture of my mother and me that hangs on the wall. It hurts me to look at it.

My mother was beautiful, and boy, did she know it. She had men calling on her all the time. Most were nice to me and would try to sweep my mother off her feet. But then Lionel came along. Mr. Lionel was what I had to call him.

Mr. Lionel was nice enough until he got liquored up. Then he got crazy jealous.

Some nights he'd come over and bang on the front door.

"Marion! Open the goddamned door. I know you ain't alone in there."

My mother would drag me with her to her room and cower.

Now I was fifteen years old. I was nearly a full grown man, and a man would defend his mother. So this one time I shrugged her off and stormed down the stairs to confront Mr. Lionel.

No sooner had I opened the door than Mr. Lionel shoved me. That shove sent me sliding on my back and into the stairs. It stunned me and took me several minutes to get to my feet.

I raced up the stairs and there was Mr. Lionel straddling my mother. He was pummeling her with his fists. All sorts of filthy words were coming from him.

"Get off her!" I yelled at him over and over. When he wouldn't stop, I reached for the door and slammed it as hard as I could to get his attention.

Mr. Lionel looked around and it was as if he was pulled out of a trance. He looked down at my mother, saw what he'd done, and started crying like a baby.

"Oh, God, Marion. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm so sorry," he moaned as he pulled her into his lap like a child.

Her mascara left dirty tracks down her cheeks. She didn't cry at all, just stared up at him while blood trickled out of her nose.

My mother didn't press any charges against Mr. Lionel. I remember hearing her tell the police that I must have slipped. I just stood at the top of the stairs and listened. It was then that I knew she had already started to forgive Mr. Lionel for hurting her like he did.

And over the course of the next few months, Mr. Lionel lavished my mother with expensive gifts.

Eventually she forgave him completely and accepted his marriage proposal.

Grandma didn't go to the wedding and she didn't let me go either.

When my mother came to visit after she and Mr. Lionel got back from their honeymoon, Grandma wouldn't let her in the house.

I can't even remember how long ago that was. But I know it was before Grandma's hair went all white.

The shadows on the wall and ceiling are long and it's then that I hear the chimes of the door bell.

Grandma's client is here.

"Thank you for seeing me," a woman's voice drifts up the stairs. She sounds nice, but there's a distinct sadness in her voice.

"Come on into the parlor," Grandma says. "I'm not going to take your money."

This must be special because Grandma never refuses payment.

Curiosity gets the better of me so I steal down the stairs. I slip behind the ratty velvet curtains that separate the parlor from the entryway.

Grandma places her hands on the table and lifts her face to the ceiling.

"He's here, Marion."

The woman looks around, wide eyed. She looks a lot like my mother, except older. Her dark hair is streaked with gray. She sits hunched and nervous.

"Christian, it's Mother, darling. I need to make amends. I need to make sure you understand. I have to set things right."

I push the curtain aside and look over at my grandma in disbelief.

"Is this really her?"

Grandma nods her head and smiles.

"Go ahead, Marion, talk to him."

Marion turns her head from side to side.

"Christian, can you hear me?"

A sudden surge of anger rolls through me.

"Tell her to go away," I say.

"He's upset, Marion."

Marion cowers, puts her hands over her ears.

"Tell him I'm sorry," she shrieks

The lights flicker when I smack the wall with my fist. All this time I've been waiting for her. All I had was a picture. Mr. Lionel got her.

"What's happening?" Marion cries.

"He doesn't know he passed. He's been waiting all this time for you to come back."

The lights continue to blink on and off.

"Please, Christian, stop. I'm sorry. I love you. I still love you. I think about you every day."

Grandma pushes back her chair from the table and turns to look at me.

"You can go now, Christian. Let go of your anger. She knows how you feel. Forgive her. Forgive your mother and go in peace."

Just as quickly as the anger started, it is gone.

The lights start to swirl and dance. They are more beautiful than any lights I've ever seen before. They feel warm and inviting.

As I draw closer to them, I look back at my grandma and see her holding my mother in her lap like a child. Neither is saying a word. Mascara leaves dirty tracks down my mother's cheeks as she weeps silently...


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Odd little story that popped into my head. Hope you enjoyed it. Feedback. Thank you to Darrin Stevens for the killer picture. It was just what I was looking for.
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