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Stories from the other side
September 8Th 1903
Why didn’t you tell me you were moving back to New Hampshire! You could have at least let Edgar and I Throw you a going away party. Actually I would let you nowhere near Edgar. You also didn’t tell me you were getting married. We used to tell each oTher everything but now you tell me nothing. Can I not trust you anymore? Well, I hope you have a lovely life in That fussy place but I still prefer it here in Vermont where women can do as much as a man. I love you my dear,
Mary Yvette Southern
80 years later: Abby
“Abby? Would you come in here for a moment?” I heard my grandma’s raspy voice coming from her room. Most people her age in my family were dead by now but she was hanging in there just barely. Her hair which used to be as black as night was white as snow and fell out in huge clumps when she brushed it, her reddish-brown eyes had grayed so much with age you could hardly distinct the iris from the white she couldn’t see the E at the top of the eye chart unless she was standing 2 inches away from it, she could barely hear and looked so thin and frail that touching her would turn her to dust. Tears formed in my eyes, I knew what she was going to say. “Abby, you have to go live with my friend Mary….” She said.
“But you haven’t spoken with her since 1903!”
“I am aware of that but it needs to be done. I can’t even get out of bed and you are taking more care of me than I am of you. I’m sorry Abby.”
She was right. “Yes Grandma.”
Then I heard a soft snoring and snuck quietly out of the room so I wouldn’t wake her up. I went into the garden and wept. I had never known my mother because she left while I was still young and my dad died in a car accident when I was eight so the only one I had left was Grandma. Bubba, my pet Basset hound waddled over and stuck his face in mine.
“Hey boy,” I whispered scratching his ears. “I’ve still got you.”
He licked my face and waddled/trotted onto the side walk I grabbed his leash and we walked down to the coast which wasn’t all that far. Every kid here in Marcia kept a swim suit on them at all time because the ocean was that close. Mine was blue with black paw prints on it. “Stoker!” Some boys called from down the beach. For some odd reason I had always been one of the boys. My hair had been cut that summer so it barely grazed my ears and I liked mud wrestling big dogs and going to the beach with Bubba. “Hey guys!” It was a burning hot day. So Bubba was first one in followed by Sam a chubby redhead, Dylan a skinny albino looking kid, and Freddy who looked like Michael Jackson. I was last one in and grabbed the rope. We had tied a rope swing to a tree that hung over the sea. I swung out then just before I went under I heard sirens.
“You might want to make sure your Grandma’s okay, Stoker,” Sam said. I was out of the water faster than you could say Jack. When I got to my house it was what I had dreaded most, our next door neighbor had come over to check on Grandma and apparently she had died while she was sleeping. So I was on the next train to Vermont. Bubba was sleeping on my lap, he hadn’t wagged his tail since we left and I didn’t think if I had a tail I would want to wag it right now, either. Although it was a long train ride that went late into the night, I couldn’t sleep so I made a list.
I’m an orphan (not new, not surprising)
Grandma died (new, not surprising)
I’m going to go live with a total stranger (very new, very surprising)
Bubba isn’t wagging his tail. (New, Not surprising)
It was a short list but it helped me sleep when I woke up I was still really confused about how New Hampshire and Vermont were right next to each other but looked so different. The tall mountains engulfed us and you couldn’t see ocean water at all. I didn’t hear any city sounds at all and there were no street lights. The only signs of life were the train tracks and cows mooing in pastures. I could handle this. I’m Abigail Mary Stoker no one mess with me or Bubba I could handle a bunch of loggers and some farmers. To tell the truth I’m completely terrified. The train came to a complete stop and I had to get off and wait for my ride. When I was the last one on the platform a sandy colored Buick pulled up. The woman who was in the seat got out and walked up to me. She had long gray hair which she had turned into a bun. Sharp green eyes with gray flecks which looked strangely like mine and was taller than any women I had ever met.
“Come on, Abby, Bubba it’s time to go home.” She said her voice crisp like an apple yet more like apple sauce in some places. She picked up my suit case and put it in the trunk. I hopped into the backseat with Bubba and nearly sat on a note. I quickly pretended to be asleep and read it under the blanket Mary had laid out for me.
I will need you to take Abby in when I die. She has no one else to go to. I am sorry we got into an argument like that and I hope you are having a good ever after. I am glad that I grew up with a friend like you even though we were as different as night and day. I love you Mary,
Abigail Maureen Stoker
Grandma had been right, my nosiness would tell me things I didn’t want to know. “How’d I get myself into this?” I thought. “And why did Grandma say that she hoped she was having a good ever after?” I thought.
“Here’s the house,” I heard Mary say as I drifted off to sleep. I caught a glimpse of a rundown Victorian house. It had probably looked large and stately, when it was new but now it looked like a tornado and a hurricane had hit it at the same time. “This is where we live?” I said.
“It’s not the nicest but we could fix it up.”
“How long has it been like this?”
“It started about ten years ago.”
She was so calm about it was frightening.
“And it doesn’t bother you?” I asked in disbelief.
“Oh it does, but I cannot do anything about it, the town doesn’t know I’m here anymore,”
That made me even more confused. She must have seen the confused look on my face. She lifted her hand off the steering wheel and it turned translucent. “Ever after,” She smiled and I stared blankly at her.
“What in the heck am I getting myself into?” I thought. Time for another list.
Mary’s a ghost. (Where in the heck did that come from?!)
Grandma knew. (Why didn’t she tell me?)
I’m probably going to be called a hobo living in the ghost house. (WHY ME?)
“Edgar’s the same way,” She said as we walked to the door.
“I could help you fix the place up, if you’d like,” I said. But I really was hoping social services would show up soon. I can’t live with a dead person. Bubba seemed just fine with it but I was still wondering why Grandma hadn’t told me about Mary. I can’t wait for fall. Good god! I’m going to be the psychopath of Vermont if I tell anyone. Why couldn’t I stay in Marcia? The house looked even worse on the inside than on the outside. The refrigerator had rust and lime scale everywhere and the floor had disappeared in some places. This place was a crap hole. I had just seen a bat fly over my head and was completely grossed out.
“I would appreciate if you would stop saying such vulgar things about my house,” She said flatly. I had just realized I was thinking out loud when Mary’s other half walked in. Great there’s another ghosty. I thought.
“Mary I’m tired can you show me were my room is?” I asked.
“Upstairs, to the right,” She said as she drifted up the stairs ahead of me into a room with fogged glass French doors.
“Do ghosts sleep?” I asked her.
“Not really we just go through the motions we don’t actually need to sleep. I thought you were tired, head off to bed now.” I heard the loud snoring of Edgar who it seems like never talks and the soft breathing of Mary ,who talked a lot. I cuddled Bubba close to me and kissed his nose.
1.This place needs to be cleaned up(No duh)
2.My bed was slept in by Mary when she was my age (creepy)
3.I just heard a cat. (Um very big cat)
Bubba was growling at the window for some odd reason when my bed started rocking and I screamed, Bubba was barking at whatever it was when Mary came floating through the wall.
“Edgar! Leave her alone and go to bed, it’s three o’clock in the morning,” She said. Her long white hair hung loose, softening her sharp features were mixed in a didn’t talk much but he was a regular imp! In fact, in the six hours I’d been here, I haven’t heard him even say hello.
I soon drifted off to sleep and realized I was in the big dancing room at Grandma’s.
“This is why I ask you to wear dresses more often,” I heard a familiar voice say.
“Grandpa! What are you doing here?” I asked as I stared at him he looked like his old self, a fat old man with a curly white mustache and a red face. He always looked like he had just finished laughing at something which was a lot. I preferred to remember this Grandpa rather than the sad, sick Grandpa from when I was ten. He had a deep Southern accent since he had lived in North Carolina until he met Grandma.
“I’m showing you why Mary and Abigail got in their fight, and why I almost didn’t marry her,” He said as he started walking across the ballroom.
“Look! There’s Grandma and that’s Edgar!” Those two were kissing each other ridiculously. “But where are you and Mary?” I asked.
“Mary is coming to split it up and I am still in the carriage on the way there from the hotel.”
I looked at Grandma just in time to see her being slapped by Mary.
“Is that what happened? Grandma cheated with Edgar?” I asked.
“Yes, and Mary was in your life more then you realize. She was there when you were born, when you came to live with us with your Dad and there when your Dad died.”
“But when did Mary die?”
“Edgar died in 1922 and Mary died in a fire in 1968.”
The ballroom vanished and we were on the front porch of the house drinking lemonade.
“I miss you, Grandpa why can’t you be a ghost like Mary and Edgar and we could go live down south?” I asked.
“That’s a great idea Abby I’ll talk to the big man in the sky about it,” He smiled and sipped his lemonade.“I have to go now I’ll talk to you tomorrow night.”
I woke up with the bright sun in my eyes. “It isn’t fair!” I thought as I wept bitterly. “”I hope the plan works, Grandpa.” Bubba was licking my face with his big wet tongue, it was almost if he knew what I was thinking.
“Would you like to see Grandpa again boy?” I whispered into his ears. “You do look like Grandpa except he looked a lot happier.” I was waiting for the familiar pinch on the elbow I usually got when I teased Grandpa about looking like Bubba. Bubba had been a Christmas present from my grandparents when I was four. He was only eight weeks old and he had the biggest brown eyes you would ever see. Now he was 10 years old and as Grandpa had said the last time he came home, Bubba was the new old man of the house. I closed my eyes tightly hoping that I would be able to talk to Grandpa or Grandma again. I bowed my head and prayed. “G-d, please bring Grandma and Grandpa back to me, I would do anything if that would be possible. I really miss them and so does Bubba. I understand that you took them back for a reason but we would really like them back. I know that since I’m not rich or famous you are less likely to listen to me, or at least that’s what Sam said. G-d, if you could do this for me I promise I would never ask for anything again for as long as I live. Amen
I finished my prayer and looked up to see Mary looking at me blankly.
“If you’re done, it’s time for breakfast.”
“What are we supposed to eat?”
“Just get dressed and get in the car, we’re going out.”
I obediently got dressed in my red dress, which was Grandpa’s favorite. It was also my warmest because it was always cold in here. I ran a comb quickly through my hair even though that wasn’t really needed.
“You really do need to grow your hair out,” Mary said shaking her head.
“It’s fine.” Two words out of his mouth two! Maybe if Mary didn’t talk so much he would talk more. Or maybe he misses Grandma considering how they were kissing!
“Can Bubba come?” I asked.
“I suppose,” Edgar said. The guy’s only said four words the whole time I’ve been here. I hope Grandpa’s plan works because I really need less of these parrot conversations and talking to a basset hound isn’t that fun after a while. It’s like talking to a baby before they learn how to talk. We got into the Buick and it felt like we were driving for hours when we pulled up to a small coffee house.
“Guten Morgen, Mary, Edgar.” The woman who called from the door was a short, fat German woman who didn’t even notice me and Bubba.
“Guten Morgen, Hilda,” Mary said as she sat down at a table. I had a feeling they were regulars because they didn’t even have to grab a menu. I looked at the women. Then I said to Mary, “She can see you too?”
“No, she’s speaking to thin air!”
“You don’t need to be so sarcastic.” I crossed my arms and looked at the menu. Something called a gray mare sounded good. I ordered it with a glass of orange juice.
“Is this another just going through the motions things?” I asked.
I got a nod for affirmation. Bubba stared up at me expectantly asking for scraps.
“No, Bubba! You can’t have anything.” Mary looked down at him and laughed.
“He looks just like your Grandfather!” She reached her hand full of sausages down to him. Greedily he ate them out of her palm and if she had been living he would have caused her to bleed. She patted his head and then Edgar grabbed her arm and they disappeared into the red vinyl of the booth.
"What are you guys doing?" I asked. Just then a fancily dressed couple came in. The man looked like Edgar and the woman looked like an evil snob. Bubba started to growl. "Stop that it isn't polite!" The woman walked by and Bubba lunged at her,fangs bared. The woman started screaming and beating at Bubba with her purse. I sat there,to dumbfounded to do anything. Thankfully Hilda came out and got Bubba off of the woman and took us outside where Edgar and Mary were waiting for us.
"What was that all about?" Hilda asked Mary.
"That,horrid wretch, is our daughter-in-law" I was still really confused. So Mary explained to me what happened.
"Beatrice,our daughter-in-law,married George,our son, for his money. She pushed Edgar into the river by the house with his tackle box so it looked accidental. We all thought it was an accident until I heard her one night asking George when they would get the rest of the money,she said 'We already killed Edgar,why can't we just kill your Mother,too?' She heard me gasp and then she and George caught me and locked me in a wardrobe and set it on fire." Mary's thin, straight lips quivered and she leaned on Edgar for support. I was furious,
"Why didn't anyone call the police! How come no one did anything?"