Ch. 62 – Good Things From All the Bad Things (3)

Final Fugue_Ithaka O._horizontal

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Junior and the other Steeles had a hard time believing what Angeline told them. She didn’t tell them everything, of course not, just the necessary parts:

That she was going to look like she was dead, again.

That she wanted to look like she was dead.

That they shouldn’t worry, that she loved them all very, very much.

And just a little bit about a hotel—where, she knew for a fact from a reliable source—all dead people ended up going. So, Junior, you shouldn’t be afraid of death. It’s not as abrupt as it seems from this side. On that side, everything’s handled in a kind, professional manner—unless you’ve killed somebody.

Junior called the doctor again. Three doctors, actually. The doctors came and went. What more could they do? They could say that she was going crazy, that she was senile, that she needed rest. Whichever version of explanation they chose, the fact that they were mere beforeworld doctors didn’t change. They didn’t understand. They didn’t see Flip and Flop, the weak shadows looming behind them. They didn’t know what Angeline had seen in the chaos.

That night, after more tears and more hugging and some hot soup and extra-warm blankets, Angeline said goodbye to her son, who still refused to believe that this was the actual goodbye.

They held hands until Angeline fell asleep.

All things of beforeworld, after that point, existed beyond Angeline’s awareness.

She was in the room with the window overlooking the timeless cornfield, once more. She sat on the chair. Flip and Flop, in dense worm shapes, slithered on the floor around her feet.

Together, the three of them hummed, with Angeline taking the lead and the reapers following. The air vibrated with possibilities. Angeline added some rhythm to the music, using her hands and feet.

One, two, three; two, two, three.

Um-pah-pah; um-pah-pah.

This had been the rhythm of the waltz that Zach had played at The Underwater Palace on the first day they’d met. She’d “rescued” him in her emerald car, with Seamus, that treacherous boy.

One, two, three; two, two, three.

Um-pah-pah; um-pah-pah.

The spiderweb filling the room jittered. All the people whom Angeline had hung over the years shook. Nora and the doctor danced. They were free. And Angeline was going to be free.

One, two, three; two, two, three.

Um-pah-pah; um-pah-pah.

And there was the grand piano. She’d seen it so many times in her mind’s eye ever since Zach’s death. She’d thought that it was purely imaginary. It wasn’t. There was a whole world where that piano lived.

Continuing to hum, tap, sway to the rhythm, Angeline waited for Zach to appear by the piano.

He didn’t.

© 2022 Ithaka O.

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