Monday, July 30, 2007

In Plain Sight

Mrs. Plunket closed the curtains and lit the single black candle. “There,” she said, laying out the lexicon cards on the parlour table, “We’ll see if your Wilfred’s up to a chat from the Other Side.”

She had the knack, that ladies achieve when they’ve hit seventy or so, of pronouncing capital letters. Her friend Edith nodded. “That was his chair,” she said, pointing to a sagging wingback next to the unlit gas fire. “He used to sit in that for hours.”

“Let’s pull it up to the table,” Mrs Plunket said. “He’ll feel at home then.”

The task completed, Edith went to the sideboard. “Would you care for a tipple?” she said. I’ve got Sherry, port or amaretto.”

“I don’t mind if I do.” Mrs Plunket smiled and helt out her thumb and forefinger. “Just a small amaretto, please.”

Edith poured that and a glass of sherry for herself. They sat on opposite sides of Wilfred’s chair and Mrs’ Plunket began the incantation. “Is there anybody there?” she said, her voice rising into a falsetto trill. “We’re looking for Wilfred Penkerton. Are you there, Wilfred?”

“I am, as it happens.” The voice came through clearer than any she’d ever encountered. Mrs Plunket opened her eyes to see him sitting at the table with them, though Edith’s form had become almost transparent.

“You’ve bin’ at my amaretto, haven’t you?” said Wilfred patting her hand. “She’s a sly one, my Edith. She worked out that the best way to hide the taste of bitter almonds was in almond bitters.”

© Rachel Green 2007
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