Chapter 28. Taking back control.
Waking up the next morning, keeping Kim’s advice in mind, Maeve decided it was time to think differently. Ada had lost her ability to communicate with spirits so it was time to talk to someone with more recent experience.
Maeve thought of Anne. It was less than a year ago that Maeve’s next door neighbour Anne, who had been suffering from early stages of dementia was murdered. Her spirit had come back and often spoke to Maeve, when Maeve was in the garden. As a spirit Anne didn’t suffer any memory loss or confusion, so she might have the insight Maeve needed.
Autumn had moved to winter, the trees had lost their leaves, and the recent rain had put paid to much outdoor activities. Maeve had put her garden to bed around Halloween so hadn’t been out there much since then. She hadn’t forgotten about Anne, just hadn’t had the occasion to pop out for a chat.
Leaving Marianne, Orla and Adam to tidy up after breakfast and make a second pot of coffee, Maeve went outside. Even though it was winter and things were closing down, she could see the cherry tree was already gathering strength and preparing to make buds for next spring. The robin was shouting out his territory and the blackbirds were picking something juicy from the ground. Maeve had a bird feeder, which they could see from the breakfast-come-work table, through the French windows. Since Anne died Maeve had taken to keeping an eye on the bird feeder next door too. Ray, Anne’s husband wasn’t much of a gardener, it had never really been his thing and he was inclined to let the feed run out. Maeve had a look to check the levels of grain and fat balls.
Turning back, there was Anne, leaning over the fence expectantly, gardening gloves on and a trowel in her hand.
“It’s always so nice to see you dear. I know you have some questions for me but first can I ask you to do something?”
Well Maeve could hardly refuse, could she. She had a fair idea that it would be a message for Ray.
“You are always so helpful, Maeve dear. Yes, you are right. I’ve been watching Ray. And by the way, the birds appreciate your keeping an eye out for them.” She smiled. “Could you tell Ray what when he sits out in the garden on that bench, I sit beside him? I think he feels it, but I just want him to know it.”
Anne relaxed a little, she had been using the trowel to punctuate the conversation and point to the bench in question, now she was swinging it by the long loop for hanging it up.
“Maybe tell him again that I am happy here, and I stay around for him.” She did look happy with her soft but generous smile “ You know. I am ready to go, whenever he is ready to let go. No rush, but he shouldn’t cling on to the past. He still has time and grandchildren to see as soon as he can. He shouldn’t waste his time.”
Maeve reassured Anne that she would talk to him, at the same time she had no idea how to explain the pandemic and lockdown to someone on the other side. She knew that Ray couldn’t go visiting anyone at the moment.
“No need to try,” said Anne, “the spirits are bringing their stories with them, so much sadness.” She shook her head at the thought of what she had seen. “I mean when he can, he should go right away.”
She turned to face Maeve. “Now, you have questions for me. It’s important that you think carefully how you want to ask your question. Go on.”
Anne put her on the spot, lots of thoughts were running through Maeve’s head, she needed to take a moment to straighten them out.
“No rush.” Said Anne, “I’m not going anywhere” as she twirled the trowel looking over both gardens.
After a moment Maeve was ready, “You probably know that I have two areas to ask you about.” She said looking at Anne, who was nodding affirmation.
“Let’s start with the child in the woods. She doesn’t seem to be able to tell us what her problem is. Why?”
Anne was pensive for a moment, she spoke slowly,
“You remember how for me, once I passed over, the fog lifted and I could remember things clearly?”
It was Maeve’s turn to nod, how could she forget it.
“Well I think this child has had the opposite experience. The shock of what happened has made her speechless. Or at least just left her with those two phrases, nothing more.” Anne had let the trowel hang from her wrist, crossed her arms and was rubbing her chin thoughtfully.
“She knows something. There is some urgency.” She was looking for the right words to express what she was feeling, “Back when I called you, I knew I needed to stop that dreadful man, my guess is that she needs you to help someone in your world.”
Maeve folded her arms and leaned back as she took this in. Once processed, she was formulating her next question when she realised that she was on her own again.
Back inside, the house was warm, and the smell of the freshly made coffee was deliciously pervasive. The three sitting round the table stopped talking as if Maeve had interrupted some secret planning. Equally they were anxious to hear what Maeve had found out.
“It seems like it's one question at a time. But our child in the woods may be more urgent than we thought. I can’t see the connection to the body I found, but they must be one.” Pause.
Are you going to tell me what I interrupted?” Maeve looked at each in turn. They had a sheepish air.
“Adam, now’s the right time.” Marianne was gently encouraging him to speak, nodding, to confirm what she had said.
Adam had already called home and his mother was excited at the idea that they would come out Greece to their island home on Foligandros, she had immediately gone through the list of wonderful things she would prepare. Fresh bread from the bakery delivered 7.30am, Greek yogurt and local honey stocked in their kitchens, daily refresh of the pick of ripe peaches. Wine, olives all on tap. He had to stop her. It was making him hungry.
Adam was so profoundly grateful to Maeve and her family that he had difficulty getting the words out. He mumbled his way through the offer to Maeve. Worried it might not be something she would like, without giving her time to reply, or taking a breath, he was describing all the wonderful things that he hoped she would enjoy. Orla tugged at his sleeve.
“Enough. Give her a moment.”
They waited with baited breath.
Of course Maeve loved the idea, the images of sun drenched beaches and delicious food had won her over immediately, she only had one niggle,
“What a lovely idea!” She was smiling with pleasure, “When you said, ‘you all’, who exactly were you referring to?”
Adam was beaming, this was a mear detail,
“All of you, this family” gesturing to the group around the table, “and Ada, and Steve.”
“Ah.” That made things clearer, “have you mentioned this to the others already?”
Adam was almost hopping off his seat with pleasure at his good idea. Clearly Maeve was happy with the plans.
“Well we” indicating himself and Marianne “were talking to Steve when I got the idea. But Steve said to ask you first.”
So that’s why Steve wanted them to go on a trip on their own, Maeve decided, actually given the conversation with Anne, she thought it might be a really good idea and they should probably go sooner rather than later.
Remembering herself she said,
“Adam, that is a fantastic idea. Thank you. Let me talk to Steve and separately to Ada before we finalise any details.”
Marianne and Orla had picked up from Maeve’s tone that this wasn’t a done deal yet. Or maybe it was who exactly would be going wasn’t a done deal.