Thursday turned out to be a great day at work. You know the type; the ones were everything goes exactly right and it makes you feel that anything bad that has happened in your career was totally worth it. That was my work day. Everything went so smoothly. Everyone, from the customers to the executives to the coders beneath me, all had good things to say. I can’t imagine things running as smoothly as they did that day. And yet I had a hard time enjoying it. I felt that the gods were playing with me.
Near the end of the day, I sent just that in a text to Lyndsey, “Work was fantastic – the gods must be playing with me”. She answered, “I know exactly what you mean :- (“. I’m sure she did.
When I got home, I wasn’t surprised to see Jessica’s truck in my driveway, but there was a car I didn’t recognize.
As I got out, Jessica came around from the front of the house with a woman in tow. After a half of a second, I realized that it was Amy Lansing.
“Hi Jessica. Hi Amy. Are you still in town or are you back in town?” Jessica gave me an odd look.
“Hi Gill,” Amy said. “I’m back. I went home Sunday night, worked a few of days and then flew in last night. Dad is coming home tomorrow and I wanted to be around. I was driving my mom crazy this morning, so I decided to take you up on your offer and stop in for a visit. It’s been ages since I’ve been in Amesbury.” Jessica looked at her with an “if looks could kill” stare.
“Well, yeah, you’re welcome any time. How’s the garden coming along, Jessica?”
“Fine.” The word was short and sharp. She folded her arms across her chest and frowned. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell what was going on.
“Uhm, did you want to meet me here tomorrow and go over it? Or are you busy? Is there a better time? I do want to talk to you, but with a guest here, it doesn’t seem right.”
“I’ll work it in. I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye Amy.”
“Bye Jess! It was great seeing you. Don’t be a stranger.”
They hugged briefly, but something about it told me that Jessica was going through the motions. She then went to her truck and threw Amy a look full of anger. What had they said before I showed up?
When Jessica’s truck was gone, I motioned for Amy to follow me. She walked over and I hugged her. It felt different than when we had hugged in the store and I had to purposefully ignore her body against mine.
“It’s good to see you,” I said. I pulled slightly away. “How’s your dad?”
“Much better, thanks.” She let go, but stayed very close. “It looked awful at first, but he is impressing his doctors with his recovery. As I said, he returns home tomorrow, much sooner than anyone thought possible even a week ago. I’ll help get him settled, make sure Mom is all set and lend a hand when I can. I think Mom really wants to deal with it on her own and doesn’t want my help. I mean, she will have nurses coming by to visit, and therapy will be going on for a long time, but she wants to have an illusion of independence.”
“I’m sure she does. She needs to prove she can take care of both herself and him.” We walked into my house. “Did you talk to him today?”
“Yes. He was in great spirits. But it’s funny that you should ask.”
I lead us into the main living room. We sat, her on the sofa and me in the chair next to it.
“When I told him I was coming out to visit you, he told me to pass along something from him. It was so odd.”
“What was it?”
“Did you know that he died?” I shook my head. “He died twice, once just after the accident and once shortly after getting to the hospital. We don’t know much about the first time, but his heart and all vital signs stopped for over a minute the second time, closer to two.”
“That’s awful. I didn’t know.”
“Later he said he had an out of body experience. He said that he could see the living people as wraiths and dead people as solid. And he said he saw quite a few dead people.”
“He went to the Other Side, or whatever they call it. Something like that?”
“No, I don’t think so. I looked into it a bit. He was still here on Earth, but he was seeing it through the eyes of the dead. Just as it’s hard for the living to see the dead, it is hard for the dead to see the living.”
“Ok. That is very strange, but I guess it makes its own type of sense.”
“Right. For that minute or two, he said he explored a lot of Southern New Hampshire. He said it was like he journeyed for a day, but knew it was just a few brief seconds. He said he saw Amesbury and the spirits here. Not just Martha at the mansion, but many others.”
“I know there are several, and maybe many. And is that what he wanted to talk to me about?”
“In a way. Since then he said he still has a connection, though it is fading by the day. He’s mentioned it a few times, which really worries my mother.”
“I bet it does. It sounds a bit…”
“Whacked? Yeah. The doctors don’t think there is any brain damage, or at least not much, but this type of talk doesn’t help matters.”
“I’m sure not. You said he wanted you to warn me about something?”
“Right, when I told him that I was visiting you, he had a few things he wanted me to tell you. I guess he thinks there is something big going on in Amesbury and it’s coming to a head very soon.”
“I think he’s right. I can feel it.”
“That was the second part, that you are deep in the middle of it. So you know what he’s talking about?”
“I think I do. It’s hard to explain, but it has to do with the Martha and her so called father, Thomas. Anyway, I can’t explain it easily.”
“Don’t even try then. Do you know what he meant when he said that you needed to be very careful? That you’re heading the wrong way?”
“Maybe not. Can you tell me anything more?”
“He said that what you are doing is fine, but when it’s over, it will just be starting. Don’t stop being cautious just because you think it’s done. The first part will be the easy part. Something like along those lines. Does that make sense?”
“In a way. The entire thing is so odd, but…”
“So that was his warning, to be even more vigilant after it is all done.”
“Thank him for me. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I’ll try to pay attention.”
“Now that I have that warning out of the way, I guess we can talk.”
I laughed. “Yes. Did you want to stay for dinner? If so, do you mind helping as I prepare?”
“I’d love to stay and would like nothing better than to help.”
I smiled at her. “OK, let’s go into the kitchen and talk. I was scolded the other day for not finding out about your family or your job. Where do you work? You have kids? You said something about your husband before. How about we start there?”
“Sure, but let’s not talk about Brandon.”
“The guy who calls himself my husband. Sorry, a bit of a sore spot.”
“OK, so let’s start easier. How about your job? Or perhaps kids.”
As we got dinner ready we chatted and caught up on almost two decades worth of living.
I knew I had to keep track of everything for Lyndsey, but it was actually nice just chatting. We talked jobs and I discovered that she loved math, which I didn’t know when she was a kid. I tutored her in Calculus her senior year and I assumed she hated it. She was now an accountant and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
There was something very nice about having her help me as I got things together and cooked. A few times we reached for the same object and our hands touched. I could feel a bit of electricity pass through, and could feel her warmth whenever she was close. Our conversation didn’t change, and I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
We sat down to eat and continued. She was very animated when she talked about Jaydan and Sophia, her kids, but said very little about their father, Brandon Perkins.
I told her a little about me, though I enjoyed her side better. She pushed me on a few things, but not hard. She seemed content to just hear the basics and about my job.
Overall it was very pleasant and I enjoyed her company.
After dinner, she demanded that she helped cleanup. It was similar to our preparations. We chatted and got things together very efficiently. Her presence in the kitchen brightened it. A few times I thought back to the shy girl who always said “hi” when I got in my car and headed to work as she left for school. She was there, smiling, almost every day for those two years. As we worked, she still sometimes smiled at my with that same shy smile.
After cleaning, we went back into the living room.
“Do you have plans for the rest of the evening?” I asked.
“The other day you said I could stay here.”
“Yes, and that offer is still good, but we should go up and change the sheets on the bed in the guest room. I think it’s been a while, maybe years.”
She stepped closer to me and took a hand. “Why bother with that? Do we need to use that room?”
“Uhm, well.” My mind felt foggy. She was attractive and I could feel her very female presence next to me. I had noticed it all evening, on a primal level, but had ignored it. There was no more ignoring it.
Amy dropped my hand, but moved in closer and kissed me. I found myself kissing back without thinking about it. She wrapped her arms around me and pulled herself in tight. Her body, pressed against mine, felt right. I put my arms around her. I began to lose myself.
And then there was a spark. It was as if I was whacked upside the head with a two-by-four and the fog lifted from my brain. I released the kiss and pulled back.
“Amy, I’m sorry, but I can’t. We need to stop,” I said. She still held onto me.
“But Gill, I can feel you.” She used her hips to grind into me, so I knew what she was talking about. “I know you want to. Let’s go to your bedroom…” She looked closely at me, her face full of passion. But then, as she studied my eyes, her expression fell. “What’s wrong?”
“I just can’t. If for no other reason, there is always Lyndsey.”
“I thought she was down in DC. And it isn’t like you’re married to her or anything. Come on, who’ll know?”
I gentle, but very firmly, worked my way out of her arms.
“I will. It’s something I don’t want to do, even if my body seems to be saying otherwise.”
Her face contorted, first almost angry, and then unreadable. Tears grew on her eyes. “I guess I should go then, huh?”
“I’m afraid so. I did look forward to talking more, but…” I had a hard time keeping the impassive expression on my face.
She looked at the floor. “Yeah, you might be right.”
“I’m sorry, but… anyway, say hello to your parents for me. And say thanks to your dad for me, OK?”
She looked up and tried to smile through the tears. “Yeah, I will.” She looked down again and slowly headed for the door. Once there she turned to me. “I can’t imagine what you must think…”
“Don’t worry what I think. You’ve been through a lot. It’s been super emotional for you, I get it. Sometimes when we get emotionally worked up, yeah, I get it. And you were right, I did feel it, but I just can’t. I totally get it.” I stepped over and took the door from her hands and held it open.
“Thanks, Gill,” she said. She kissed my cheek very lightly.
“Bye, Amy. I am glad you stopped in and we were able to catch up. Sorry for the misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding? That’s an understatement. Bye, Gill.”
I watched as she got into her rental car and left the drive. I closed the door then walked back towards my little office. I picked up my phone as I passed through the kitchen.
“I love you, Lyndsey” I texted when I sat down, “more than I can say.”
It seemed to take forever for her text to come back. I was nervous, sweating bullets, as they say, but finally my phone “dinged”. “Thanks Gill. I love you too.”
I almost called, despite promising I wouldn’t. I laughed bitterly and typed, “you’ll never guess how close I am to calling you.”
“I would too guess, because I’ve been doing the same. Don’t. Nite nite.”
“Nite. Love you.”
“<3 <3 :-)”.