Chapter Four: Meeting Mrs. Meade
“Wow Tilly. You look amazing!” Lydia gushed. She sat down at the table overlooking Knightsbridge’s busy high road. “I see you’re back to your old self.”
Lydia had made the short journey to the trendy bar after receiving a hurried phone call from her friend to meet with her there.
“Thank you sweetie.” Tilly replied assessing her friend’s attire. “You know beige really suits you. Is that Stella McCartney?”
“I take it you’re referring to this blazer. And yes it is by Stella – I love it!”
A waiter came to take their orders.
As soon as his back was turned, Tilly started chit-chatting about the frivolities of her everyday life.
It soon dawned on Lydia that this was not a social call…
She let a friend talk for a few moments more before interrupting. “Tilly. You didn’t invite me here to talk about Frieda Kahlo exhibiting at the Tate, did you?” she said dryly.
If Tilly felt slighted by the remark she didn’t let it show. Instead her bright eyes widened with her smile, and it seemed all her words came rushing out at once.
“Lydia! Lydia! You must give me Christine’s contact details!” she breathed. “My God! That girl has a gift! A gift that could benefit so many people!”
“What people?” Lydia said with suspicion.
“Well, my yoga class for new mothers for a start!” Tilly quickly replied. She watched her friend’s face descend into a scowl but that did little to impede on her rolling excitement. “Oh Lydia darling pleazzze just listen! There’s a really good friend of mine - Hannah - she’s in dire need of some help. It’s her only child. Oh please!”
“Look! I’m going to have to stop you there. Christine, as good as made me promise not to utter a word about her to anyone. And I, as good as gave her my word.” She glared at her friend then sighed. “Tilly. I don’t think it’s something she particularly wants out there.”
“I don’t see why not!” Tilly scoffed. “She seems like a reasonable person I’m sure if you tell her about - no hear me out!” she said over Lydia’s attempt to cut her off. “It’s just a small group of women I know. And believe me they will pay her handsomely for it…”
“Look. I don’t think she’ll be interested.” Lydia said bluntly. “I did tell you not to tell anyone. I’m sorry Tilly but I’m afraid you’re just going to have to let this friend of yours down gently.”
Lydia shrugged and stood up. “Now. If you’ll excuse me, I have to use the ladies and when I return please for the love of God! Let’s talk about something else.”
She gave her friend a quick smile even though she felt Tilly was not deserving of it. She picked up her clutch purse and went indoors.
Lydia quickly made her way to the ladies rest rooms.
As the washroom attendant opened the door, she suddenly stopped to wonder if maybe she was being a bit rash in rejecting Tilly’s proposal.
‘Who’s to say Christine won’t change her mind at the mention of money?’ She mused. ’Did she even know what she stood to gain from this? Mmmmm…Maybe if someone were to bring this to her attention, she may very well warm to the idea of working for a fee…’
Lydia took a sharp breath. Why was she so concerned about this anyhow? She, herself, was no fan of the supernatural, simply, because she wasn’t stupid enough to believe in it! Fortune-telling - was clearly for the ill-advised, and tarot cards - for the deluded!
Such illusions she left to her gullible peers; her old school chum - Charlotte Ball - being one of them. Who, on one drunken evening, had informed Lydia & Co. that she would only find everlasting happiness if she got back with her emotionally-abusive, ex-boyfriend, who also happened to be a son of an Earl.
According to Charlotte’s predictions - as relayed to her by her trusted psychic - her cold, unfeeling, ex-boyfriend would eventually ditch the frosty exterior, and exactly nine months down the line, they would marry, and from that union she will produce two male heirs.
‘It’s true!’ Her friend Charlotte pleaded as they rolled about themselves with laughter, ‘I believe her!’ she maintained. ‘This psychic knew all about my plans to open a funky patisserie on my High Street - I never told her about that! And she knows I still have reoccurring dreams of my dog, Honey, who died in the fire! Again, not a word was mentioned to her about this…’
Poor Charlotte. Her claims did little to quell their laughter. They laughed so hard the window panes in the stately dining room began to rattle from the noise. It was a comical reflection which further spurred on their laughter.
Nonetheless, Charlotte continued with her protests. ‘She also told me about the…the abortion I had...’
Raucous laughter soon morphed into coughs of embarrassment.
She continued. ‘Nobody...Well…until now that is…’ she said sternly looking back at them, ‘…knew about that….’ She sighed before continuing, ‘I believe there are many things in this world which cannot be simply explained away by science, no matter what they claim.’ She slowly looked around her group. ’Listen. We are all in the creative industry, right? The way I see it, if we are able to make things, then, equally, something out there has made us. Why is that so hard to believe? It’s sheer arrogance to think that we are the only form of superior intelligence out there. Until we understand our existence, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss any type of mediation, especially, between us - and this so-called ‘spirit world’…’
Lydia smiled in contemplation. Following her friend’s private admission, an evening of decadence, silly games, and drunkenness had suddenly spiralled into sobriety.
Surely it should have been the other way round? Lydia grinned to herself.
And what of her friend, Charlotte Ball?
Well, as Charlotte uncannily professed she did, indeed, return back to her relationship with her cold, unfeeling, ex-boyfriend. And as predicted his frosty exterior did begin to thaw somewhat. Not only was he more responsive to her, he also took to warming the beds of several willing ladies including one of Charlotte’s dear aunts.
The last time Lydia checked in on her old school chum, she had effectively moved on, and moved in with her new love interest. He was an aging Prog Rock musician who owned two cats and lived in a cramped apartment on Brixton Hill. Three years on: she was unwedded, childless and deliriously happy!
Pah! So much for the fortune-tellers’ predictions!
Lydia quickly inspected her gums in the mirror.
People have their scams she reasoned. But for the life of her she couldn’t understand how Christine had worked out what was troubling Tilly’s son, and then to turn around and say the baby actually told her…
What on earth?
She shook her head ‘It can’t be real! Babies talking? No way!’
She dismissed her wonder with the washing of her hands.
All the same a proposition had been made. Being herself an entrepreneur of sorts she was always keen to look at every opportunity, ‘And this Baby Whisperer’ Lydia quickly resolved ‘should do the same!’
Note to self: Give Christine a call. I doubt she’d be overjoyed to hear from me again. Find out if she’d be interested in doing - whatever it is she does - for a fee. God knows the dear girl might as well get paid for the hassle!
Lydia gave herself a brief smile in the mirror; she thanked the washroom attendant before exiting the ladies rest rooms.
On her return she saw that Tilly was half way through her Peach Bellini. Lydia also noticed she’d left her mobile phone on the table.
She sat down at the same time the waiter appeared with their orders.
“Honestly Lydia - their Seafood Salad is to die for!” Tilly said briskly unclasping her cutlery from the bleached white napkin holder. “Just look at this. So leafy and luscious, it’s almost too pretty to eat. Have you tried the Salad Niçoise over at The Ivy?”
“I couldn’t say that I have,” Lydia replied inspecting her plate. Tilly quickly dove into another topic. “And have you heard the news? Carlita’s getting married.”
“Who? Carlita Hulmes?”
“Yes, little Carlita who slept her way through the rugby union at Exeter. That Carlita! Well get this: she’s set to marry a Russian ‘Gazillionnaire’. A crazy ’Gazillionnaire!’”
“A ’Gazillionnaire?’” Lydia laughed at her friends touch for the dramatics. “Oh Tilly, I swear you’re too funny.”
“Yes. Yes. But never mind all that,” she quickly returned. “This time I’m more concerned about the crazy!”
And so the two fashionably-dressed women picked at their salads and continued with their chit-chat on the frivolities of everyday life…
Sleep when the baby sleeps is one of many instructions given to new parents
But what if the baby is no longer there?
Despite the glare of the summer sun Christine slept on
Old habits die-hard...
The mobile’s shrilling ring-tone shattered Christine’s dream. She opened one eye. In that instant it seemed the day came rushing at her like a lively pup. Siren’s blaring; children hollering, vehicles honking, and someone outside her bedroom window playing their car radio at an impossible level. She groaned. All this action, all this noise, it was too much - too soon! She hadn’t fully awakened yet.
Christine yanked off her duvet and crept over to the window. She recognised the culprits right away. They were a couple of lads who lived in the building next door to hers. Not only was the volume up too loud, they were also trying to conduct a conversation over the thumping racket. Christine thought of a number of cutting remarks to rain down on the pair but knew she wouldn’t utter one. Instead she quietly peered through the curtain netting; observing the two of them as they went about clearing out their cluttered car.
Her phone rang again. She frowned. The number which flashed before her was anonymous.
“Hello” The greetings was exchanged simultaneously.
“A-am I speaking to Christine?” The female voice enquired.
“Yes, you are.”
“Hello Christine my name’s Hannah Meade....”
Christine’s mind boggled.
A Sloaney accent…mmmmm, now where have I heard that recently?
“A friend of mine gave me your number....I-I’m terribly sorry…but…I really could do with some help…”
“A friend?” What friend? Did it matter? Christine swore under her breath, she would have slapped her forehead if she wasn’t holding the handset.
The voice continued. “They told me not to say.”
“How can I help you?” Christine said curtly already knowing the answer to that.
“It’s my baby girl...she’s very young…She’s only six weeks old. I know babies are supposed to cry - I get that part! But there’s something extraordinary going on...I-I can’t explain it…I’ve consulted some specialists but none of them can tell me what the matter is.”
There was silence.
“Please! She’s all I’ve got!” It was a heart-felt plea but even with that Christine seriously thought about hanging up. But something stopped her in her tracks.
What if this woman knows where I live? Or worse! Turns up at the building where I work?
Christine knew she couldn’t put if off. She’d have to deal with this now.
Once Christine had come to terms with her ability she often helped families who were more than happy to guard her secret with their lives. She was discreet, so therefore had to be quite selective with whom she assisted. But against her better judgement she helped a desperate couple she had happened upon last year in her local park.
The pair of them were sat a few benches away from her. However despite their best efforts to keep their voices down it was clear they were bickering about something. It was over their baby boy who kept falling ill for no reason anyone could think of.
Christine believed her secret would be safe with Jillian and Matthew Simmons. And, for a time, she guessed it was. But later, Jilly had shared her secret with her cousin Lydia, and of course, the very persuasive Lydia - with the double-barrelled name - had called her up asking her to help her friend Tilly...And now this phone call…
Christine strongly suspected this call came from this particular circle of people…
She shuffled over to her dresser and opened the top drawer. She took out a notepad and pen. She was going to see this Hannah Meade. See, if she could be of some assistance but also find out who exactly had supplied this woman with her details. She had to stem this tide before it broke the dam.
A mad dash for their hearts,
One last breath, then it’s dark.
So many times, too little, too late.
What did it matter?
A flood is coming…
An hour later Christine found herself on South Kensington’s busy high road. As described earlier to her, she had taken a left turning just before the start of the main street.
She scanned the area for a sign showing the name of the avenue but couldn’t find anything. All she could see were two expansive rows of houses with identical doors.
I give up!
She was just about to turn back when one of them opened.
A woman stood at the top of the steps. She was tall, thin and unusually pale. She had the longest hair Christine had seen; it practically fell around the woman’s elbows. And it was bright orange - the colour of a freshly washed carrot.
The woman waved Christine over. She then quickly wrapped her arms around her willowy frame. The way in which she rubbed the sides of her arms made it appear as though she was thoroughly opposed to the cold, which was strange, as there wasn’t even a wisp of it about.
Christine wondered how ‘Hannah Meade’ she assumed, knew who she was. But then she quickly gathered that the friend ‘who did not want to be named’ probably gave an apt description of her.
As Christine drew nearer she was a little taken aback by the woman’s striking features. She had exceedingly faint eyebrows and eyelashes. However despite the sun’s glare her milky blue eyes didn’t flinch from the light.
“Hello,” she said in a low voice. “You must be Christine.” Her tone was hard and direct. There was no trace of the panicked voice that had greeted her earlier. Instead she stared back at Christine, her eyes wide and glacial.
“I-I am,” Christine answered her “and you must be Hannah Meade,” she replied, as she always did, with a smile.
“Thank you for coming.” Hannah said curtly. “Do come in.”
This was another seemingly wealthy household Christine had been invited into. Before she’d taken three full steps she was accosted by two heavy-breathing English Setters.
“Thatcher, Bailey - down boys!” Hannah gestured. “Over here.” One of the dogs followed, while the other continued to sniff Christine’s hand.
She took an instant liking to the patchy-eyed dog. She made to pat the top of its head but it growled at her.
A door opened at the far end of the corridor followed by a sharp whistle. Both of the dogs darted in that direction.
“That’s my husband, Kennedy,” said Hannah. “He’s working from home today.”
Hannah led Christine to a small dark room. “This is my office,” she announced as they stepped in.
It was bright outside yet the heavy set curtains remained partially drawn.
Although it was difficult to see, Christine could faintly make out that the walls were adorned with contemporary works of art. “I’m a gallery curator,” Hannah stated as if reading Christine’s mind. Or maybe she felt the need to volunteer some information about herself. She silently looked at Christine, so Christine did the same.
“I-I’m a sub editor. I work for a publishing company.”
“Do you have any children?” she asked directly
“No. I don’t” Christine replied. “…Errr Hannah…Mrs. Meade. How can I help you?” She quickly fired the question. Christine knew she could sometimes be a little short, a little tetchy at times - but that was her!
What was this woman’s excuse?
Christine had come across many red heads in her time but was strangely drawn to the rather pale, hermetic face that was stood in front of her. So much so, she surprised herself by jumping when Hannah finally spoke.
“There’s something the matter with Daisy,” she blurted out. “Please. Just look at her and tell me what you think.”
“Okay I will,” Christine warmly assured. “That’s why I’ve come.” She sat on the chair that was offered to her. “If you can tell me a bit more about her behaviour.”
Hannah, again, hugged herself in the same way Christine saw her do earlier. She breathed in deeply “Our baby Daisy. She flies into these awful crying fits every night and exactly the same time,” she knotted her hands together and swallowed. “But when she cries it’s not tears of hunger or frustration…It’s not that…It’s definitely something else…” Her pale blue eyes were wide, yet lucid. Something flickered across her face but just as quickly Hannah resumed her glacial-like mask. Not quick enough for Christine, however, Hannah was afraid, she perceived.
Hannah looked down at her hands again. Her red hair slide over her face like a fine drape. “It isn’t just the crying,” she said shaking her head, “when she gets like that she’s inconsolable. I think Daisy’s frightened.”
“Where is she now?”
“She’s with her nanny but it will soon be time for her next feed.”
“How long has this been going on for?”
“Ever since we brought her home.”
Hannah was not one for big gestures Christine noted with growing curiosity. Here was a woman who was very much in control of herself, possibly, even her everyday life. But her voice betrayed her, it was not one for yielding. It trembled as she formed faint sentences; going up a few octaves then dropping down, as if tossed by the sea. Sometimes Christine could scarcely hear her at all. It was a bit of a struggle but she poured all her energy into listening to Hannah chronicle her personal torment.
She began. “When we first brought Daisy home we placed her in the big Moses basket right next to our bed. We thought it best she stay with us for a while before transferring her to the nursery room. But on her first night at home, at around midnight, she started with this…this…excessive crying. We didn’t know what to make of it. So we quickly made the decision to move Daisy into her own cot, since, it’s much roomier than her basket. But again, at night time, she still woke up in hysterics. This went on night after night until Kennedy and I made the decision bring her into our own bed…” Hannah looked sheepishly at Christine. “I-I know it’s not advised, but the idea was to give her some kind of comfort - physical comfort - from whatever it was that was tormenting her. Although it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. Come midnight she’d wake up in a flood of tears and her clothes were soaked through with sweat. Oh my God - the sweat!” She shook her head, looking confounded. “I never knew babies could produce so much sweat. She was drenched in it - our poor Daisy!” Her grey hands flew to her mouth. She looked like she was going to be sick but after a moment she swallowed and continued. “As soon as we saw this, we immediately moved her out of our bed and back into her own basket. The following day we arranged for somebody to come over and search the entire room. We wanted to find out whether there was a draft coming in from somewhere or possibly a sound in the wall that was disturbing her sleep. But still nothing; the crying persisted.” Hannah sighed. “The paediatrician said it could be a severe form of colic and that Daisy was probably having difficulty adjusting to…” She petered off.
Colic? Colic? The big C of all newborn ailments. They were lame excuses and both of the women knew it. But what could anyone say on this matter? Sometimes the human body performed in ways which nobody understood. Why would a baby clench its fists and cry? Why would they prefer to cry than to sleep? Why would they cry in a high pitched voice? Why would they cry for 3 hours without stopping? Why? Why? Why? Why?
And so, eventually the carer is given a reason. But a reason - no matter how feasible - is of little comfort to someone in need of a solution. Thus, leaving Christine to privately surmise, that was why some people still got down on their knees and prayed… There was a tap on the door.
“Come in.” Hannah said. A blonde woman with short cropped hair stuck her head around the door.
“Mrs. Mead. The nanny wants to know if you would like to feed Daisy, or should she do it herself?”
“Thank you Natalie I will be up shortly.”
Hannah switched on her desk lamp. It looked like it belonged in the 1920s. “Daisy drinks formula milk,” Hannah said lowering her eyes. She flipped through some paperwork on her desk. “She didn’t take to breast-feeding - allegedly. I was told I wasn’t producing enough milk.” She said it quickly but her words still hung in the air like guilt.
Christine was flummoxed as to why some mothers were so apprehensive about the subject of breast-feeding. After all, they had just given birth to another life - and now they were responsible for it! As if they didn’t have enough to deal with...
Hannah didn’t look like she was seeking reassurance but Christine offered it all the same. “Ideally…” she said softy, avoiding eye contact. “Of course breast milk is the best for babies. But if the milk doesn’t come - what’s a mother to do? You’re still the primary care-taker of your baby, right?” She looked to Hannah. “The way I see it, feeding is - in itself - an act of love. Whether that comes from the bosom or a bottle - it doesn’t matter how it gets there - just as long as it comes from the heart,” she quickly rounded off before turning her attention to the cluster of pens on the desk. “Well, that’s the way I see it anyhow.”
Hannah stood up from her chair. Christine followed her movement but her eyes were instantly drawn to an ancient looking tapestry which was hanging up on a wall behind her.
It featured a goat in a bright red tunic dancing with three laughing women. She found she couldn’t take her eyes off it.
“I collect all types of art work,” Hannah suddenly divulged, following Christine’s gaze. “As you can see in that corner I have a vast collection of gothic artifacts. And over there books on witchcraft and various cabalistic practices...Do any of these interest you?”
“Mildly,” Christine answered. But in truth she didn’t quite understand Hannah’s meaning.
Did she mean interested in reading about the occult? Or practicing it?
Christine could feel Hannah’s expression-less eyes burning into her.
“There’s an energy about you Christine, it’s palpable. I think you are a lot more gifted than you realize.” Hannah didn’t say anything more but walked over to the door. “If you don’t mind, please wait here for me. I’m just going to give Daisy her bottle - I won’t be long. Natalie will be back shortly with some refreshments.”
She then left Christine all alone in the room. All alone with her thoughts. But looking up at the leering red and gold Venetian mask, with black sockets for eyes, to a reprint of Edvard Munch’s terrifying portrait of The Scream, Christine was forced to contend she didn’t, altogether, feel quite alone.
She said I had energy? Christine quietly thought, sinking further into her chair She must be mistaken - it’s bouncing off the walls here!
It was 11.55pm, precisely.
Hannah had led Christine into the bedroom to inspect the sleeping baby. The lights were dimmed but bright enough for Christine to see that Daisy would one day grow up to possess the same colour hair as her mother. She looked pretty and rested.
11.58pm. Hannah took a few steps back from the vintage-style Moses basket. Christine continued to peer down on the sleeping form. She saw that Daisy’s ginger eyebrows were much fainter than her eye lashes, and her pink lips were slightly parted. Although Daisy was frightfully still, Christine could vaguely hear a slight rush in the air as the baby took in breath.
11.59pm. Christine didn’t move, so she didn’t see Hannah taking another further two steps away from her and the basket.
Christine continued to gaze down at the sleeping baby.
On reflection, Christine would find it hard to believe that someone, so lost in sleep in one second, could be wildly howling with fright in the next. But that’s exactly what happened. Daisy was so overcome with fear she didn’t see Christine standing right beside her as she screamed into action. Her face was matted with tears.
Christine stole a quick glance back, only to see that Hannah had almost retreated to the doorway. She was forcibly biting down on her clenched fist, as if to thwart her own cries.
Christine turned to the sobbing baby. “Daisy, darling. What’s the matter sweetheart? What’s the matter?”
Daisy continued to howl but looked directly at Christine. “It’s so cooold,” she whimpered. “But…they still want me to come with them.”
“Who does?” Christine said.
Christine paused for a second. She knew she wasn’t going mad. There was nobody else in the bedroom except her, the baby and Hannah who had placed herself firmly by the door by this time.
Christine lifted Daisy from her soft linen basket. She said her next question very carefully. “Daisy, where are they now?”
Daisy whimpered. “They’re playing over there,” she answered. Her eyes darted towards the end of the basket. “They want me to go with them inside the freezing light. I would if I could. But it’s just too cold.”
“What are they doing now?”
“That one,” Daisy gestured with her little fingers “has just pulled the other one’s hair. Now they’re both laughing at each other.”
“Are they now?” Christine slowly smiled. “Do you find them funny?”
“Yes,” she softly hiccupped. “They are funny”
“Do you like them?”
“Yes, I do,” she answered.
“Okay then. Listen carefully Daisy. I want you to tell them something…”
Hannah suddenly became aware she had both her hands over her mouth. She gradually let them slide down her face. At the same time her frantic look of distress suddenly morphed into one of puzzlement.
What was this woman saying to her baby? She wondered but just as quickly she recounted the thought.
Did it matter? Right now she was just grateful for the relief.
She continued to look on as her precious daughter slowly dipped, and then burrowed her teeny head into Christine’s neck. The baby had fallen into a deep sleep, long before her tiny hands had completely unfurled…
Christine continues to cradle the silent bundle as her mind wanders back to another time…
She shuts one eye before opening the other…
‘Ah that’s better,’ she smiles to herself, ‘he thinks I’ve gone to asleep but I don’t miss a single thing.’
Christine’s laid flat out on her bed and had a perfect view of her eight-week old son. He’s perched high up on her chest. Her arms firmly support his fragile neck and back…She continues to observe him through partially closed eyes; greedily taking everything in, watching him soaking up the wonders of his new surroundings…
Her son is wearing a soft blue onesie. In her hands his body feels like a well-used cushion. She resists the urge to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. She’ll do that later. For the moment, Christine conceals her excitement. She is smiling but doesn’t let it show.
Through partially-closed eyes she continues to gaze up at her son, Jerry. He’s only a few weeks old but is already showing signs of inquisitiveness well beyond his age: He wants to climb up, he wants to get down; he wants to stand up; he wants to reach for the side lamp. He wants to do all these exciting new things. All these exhilarating thoughts at play, in his lively brown eyes...
Jerry lets out a gurgle. He leans forward then makes a clumsy attempt to grab the strings of her night-dress. Christine’s’ eyelids begin to flicker. Through squinted eyes she continues to watch, as her son tries with all his might to secure a button. She can’t hold back any longer. Christine ends her pretense with a dazzling smile…
They were back in Hannah’s study now. In their absence someone had thoughtfully pulled apart the curtains and cracked open a window. Natural light now replaced the eerie glow from the arcane lampshade. Christine didn’t feel as on edge as she did earlier.
“I’ve not done anything like this before,” she said in amazement. “I think Daisy had seen a ghost - I mean two of them!” She looked to Hannah for some answers, and judging by the candid look on Hannah’s face, she was about to get them.
“Three years ago I lost my twin boys.” She paused. “They were five months old. They died in their sleep. They died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“When they found us - my husband and I - we had traces of the poison in our system. But besides feeling a little light-headed, we we’re alright…The twins....” She turned away, “I guess it was painless…”
Christine flinched from the force of tears that came rushing to her eyes. She painfully swallowed them back, as though she was taking down needles. And then, with a determination that no one could see, she ordered her body to feel nothing.
She looked at Hannah, whose face was void of any painful expressions. Christine quietly commended her on her composure. As for herself; to this day, she refused to talk about it…She couldn’t…And she wouldn’t...
Hannah quickly continued. “I guess you can say it was after the death of my twins, that I began to take a real interest in spirituality.” She let out a long sigh, as if glad to finally get this off her chest. She looked around her office; at the macabre paintings on the walls and the bookshelves heaving with literature on the supernatural, and various faiths of the world.
Something about Hannah had mellowed, Christine instantly felt it. There was no trace of the chill that greeted her earlier.
“I-I think I was searching for something,” Hannah said, her milky blue eyes gliding from Christine back to the bookshelves. “There had to be something out there, some explanation for my loss…Then I realized it was I who was lost...”
When it came to the many faces of grief, Christine was certain she could write an encyclopedia on this subject matter. She looked to Hannah. “I know,” she said softly interrupting her host. “You don’t have to explain it to me Hannah. I know how it is...”
Hannah’s pale hands slowly curled around her neck, she shook her head. Her eyes were moist with unshed tears. “I survived the only thing I thought would kill me…I survived the death of my children...” She let her hands drop in front of her, she continued to peer down at them. “I can’t describe the pain I feel, only to say I couldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, and believe me,” she said with a dry laugh “I have a few of those,” she looked down at her hands again. “When you experience that kind of loss, a part of you joins the dead, and the rest of you comes back a zombie. After their deaths I really thought that was it for me. But then Daisy came along - another life! We were so happy but I also realized something…”
She looked at Christine in a strange wonder. “I know it sounds weird to say this, but I realized Daisy was not a replacement - not at all! It was different. What I had in my arms was another life…Another light…Because, this is what Daisy is - what I believe we all are, in fact - burning bright lights, bringing some kind of clarity in an unseemly dark world…” Christine studied Hannah’s expression, she spoke as if she’d finally come home. She continued. “Our life is our own, but at the same time - it is not. It is a contribution, a cohesion, towards something far greater than any of us can comprehend right now… But…” She paused for a second, “…it is our only contribution, and it is up to us to choose whether to participate in it or not.” She looked to Christine, her reticent smile instantly warming her features. “And today - thank God! I have received confirmation why I should.” She openly smiled then. “My boys – they’re alive! Do you think they will come back to speak to Daisy again?” She gasped, her teary blue eyes could not conceal their excitement. “Do you think they will?”
“I-I don’t know.” Christine answered her in the same fervour “I-I can’t say for sure.”
Hannah couldn’t stop smiling. “If you don’t mind me asking, what exactly did you say to calm her down?”
Christine settled further into her chair. “As a matter of fact,” she smiled back “I said a number of things. First of all, I told Daisy not to be afraid. I said she should tell her brothers all about me, and that I said that she was not allowed to go and play with them, as her time had not yet come. Nevertheless, they shouldn’t be discouraged as this is only a trial separation. One day the whole family will be together again. But in the meantime, their sister will continue to think of them fondly, but will remain obedient to her loved ones - as should they!” Christine said imparting a short laugh with her affable caution. She continued. “Daisy then said her brothers agreed with her and apologized profusely for the commotion they had caused. Then before departing, they hugged her warmly and wished her well…So I guess…” Christine shrugged she faced Hannah with a querying look on her face, “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next. But I get the strangest feeling you won’t be having these problems with Daisy crying anymore.”
Christine didn’t recall Hannah saying much else after their brief discussion. Apart from the fact that Hannah tried to give her money, which Christine instantly declined. And later, Hannah tried to smuggle in more cash, than the requested cab fare, which again, Christine refused. What came next was probably a little out of character for the stoic red-head, but Hannah leaned forward and clung onto Christine.
It was a hug and it said it all.
“It’s okay Hannah,” Christine whispered consoling a bruised soul very much like her own, “you don’t have to be afraid Hannah…It’s going to be okay…”
And later, as the black cab pulled away from the residence, Christine realized, she too, was starting to feel…a little…okay…She allowed herself to cry, like she hadn’t done in a long while. In spite of her own personal tragedy, Christine discovered there was much relief to be had in talking to babies.
And in relation to her overall wellbeing, Christine was most definitely right of course. There was much relief to be had. However, it would be of even greater benefit to the rest of the world, if my descendent let the babies…do more of the talking…