Bron Roberts is attending her first séance in Mrs Isla Nelson’s house. Isla, a self-styled medium, is known as Madam Tinte. The setting is not as grand as in Blithe Spirit and Madam Tinte is no Madam Arcarti but she is charismatic and has a coterie of devout followers.
The room is dark except for a small electric spotlight set on a table in front of Madam Tinte, illuminating her face so that it seems to float in space. Madam Tinte welcomes Bron as a new participant and asks, Who are you seeking in the afterlife?
I’m only here tonight because our son, Daniel, is at home caring for my husband, Russell, who’s dying. I know I won’t cope without my husband so I want to find a spirit guide to help me find him when he’s dead. Madam Tinte scoffs at such an idea. You’ll have to wait until he’s passed. Come back then and I’m sure we’ll be able to track him down then.
Disappointed, Bron returns home to discover her son in tears; Russell has died in her absence. Bron is riven with guilt. Daniel is enraged by what he regards as her gullibility. Don’t you realise it’s all mumbo jumbo, mum? When you’re dead, you’re dead, and that’s it.
Daniel is seventy-five and his beloved mother is long dead. He never risked forming lasting relationships: having watched his father die an excruciating death over many years and witnessed his mother’s anguished, and fruitless, pursuit of his father’s spirit, he was unwilling to take the risk.
It’s late afternoon and Daniel is sitting by the wood-burning stove, reading. A sudden sound and movement diverts him and, looking up, he sees the white tail of his dog as it runs from the room. For a moment he thinks he’s imagined this but he’s certain the dog was there. Greta used to sleep on his feet as he read in the afternoon. He wishes she wasn’t dead. It’s like being an amputee, he thinks: the limb’s gone but it’s still present – and it hurts. The memory of the day when Greta was ‘put to sleep’ overwhelms him. As he walked to her, where she sat waiting in the vet’s garden, a catheter fitted to her leg, her look was one of total trust – love, even – and hope that he would save her. Then we killed her, he thinks. It broke my heart.
He stares at the doorway. A shape hovers, as fragile as gossamer. Is that you? he asks. His mother, Bron, wears a white and peppermint green striped dress that he’s never seen before. You’re beautiful, mum, and you’re so young. Why come now? Oh, I see. You want me to go with you? Bron nods. Daniel walks to the door where Greta waits. He kneels beside her, and asks, Am I forgiven?
He blinks. He’s alone. There’s no sign of Bron or Greta. He smiles. I’m pleased to be wrong about ghosts.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2022
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Well Phil, that one broke me! Keep scribbling.
Thanks Jane. Go well. I’ll keep scribbling. P