Mamie was roasting marshmallows by the fire while Tatiana told her about the tragedy that was Professor F and the school’s escapades of the day. Tatiana’s collection was getting bigger and she was becoming more and more concerned that she would never be able to fix it and that the three souls on their dresser would remain figurines forever.
“Do not beat yourself up mon ange, you cannot ‘elp it, ‘ormones coupled with a new path, you are bound to slip up from time to time, it is expected.”
Tatiana was appalled! These were people’s lives she was stunting! There was nothing OK about it, “Mamie! These are not mannequins we are talking about, these are human beings with lives and families, they have people that love them and will miss them, what am I to do?!”
Before Mamie answered a car pulled up to the house and a polished Mortimer Goth made his way towards them, Mamie nodded at Tatiana as an indicator that she would leave them to their discussion.
“I will make some lemonade if you are thirsty, perhaps if you get ‘ungry later we can ‘ave some supper, you too Mortimer.” Juliette’s subtle invitation to stay for dinner was noted.
Mort and Tati sang in unison, “Thank you.”
Mortimer turned to his classmate ready to say hello but was muted by her sheer presence. He started wondering if Tatiana knew how ethereal she looked. Then he mentally slapped himself for allowing his brain to wander when he was in a relationship. A relationship he really hated and now with his parents gone…he interrupted his morbid train of thought with a simple hello, “Hi Tatiana, I am sorry you had to stay after class today. I feel like it is my fault.”
Tatiana’s hands started to sweat and heart began drumming restlessly. Just the mere thought of school got her adrenaline on max levels. ‘Get your crap together Tati’ she scolded herself inwardly. “No, it’s n-not don’t worry about it, listen…we haven’t talked since, well you know, how you holding up?”
Mortimer, grateful to be away from his prude of an Aunt, she meant well but was annoyingly nebby, it was infuriating. He ran his neatly manicured hand in his full head of hair and forced himself to relax. He noted that being in Tatiana’s presence was calming. However, there was a question he was wanting to ask since his last visit, “How’d you know Tati? About my house?”
Tatiana knew exactly what Mortimer was asking about. Her vision or ‘now-vision’ whatever the hell that was that she hated she could do. Does she deny it and change the subject or does she go with it? Who would believe Mortimer if he told the truth to someone else? Would it be risky? ‘The heck with it’ she determined, “I don’t really know how to explain it Mort, I just saw it.”
Mortimer placed more wood on the fire, and both the kids said nothing for what seemed like forever. After much thought he turned back to Tatiana with urgency, “Look I believe in the supernatural, I think you and I have that in common.” He said without judgment in hopes it would be reciprocated.
Tatiana felt weirdly at ease after that comment. Truth be told, she hated that she thought so much about what others thought of her. Knowing such a pillar in the community thought her ‘normal‘ was a nontangible gift he gave her. Even still she had to probe further, “What are you talking about Mort?”
Mort squirmed in his seat with her questioning. “Don’t laugh and please don’t judge me for what I am about to share.” he somewhat pleaded.
Tatiana almost laughed out loud, if anyone needed to be judged it was her, she thought, “Trust me, you get no judgments from me!” She promised wholeheartedly.
“I went to my old house a week after the fire, I wasn’t supposed to since it is still classified as a potential terrorist act, but I had to.” Tatiana wondered if the FBI had anything to do with the classification of terrorism, but she quickly brushed away the thought to focus on Mortimer’s confession.
“I was rummaging through some debris when I heard some strange voices that weirdly sounded like my parents fighting. I thought maybe I was cracking, my therapist said…”He paused realizing all of this was too much information. He was a little embarrassed he admitted to seeing a shrink and was kicking himself.
“Mort,” Tatiana caught on that he was a little abashed by his previous comment, “It’s ok really.”
Mortimer nodded his head in thanks, closed his eyes and continued, “My Therapist said, I still may be going through my denial phase of grief, but it was so real.” Mortimer’s pause was deafening. Yet, Tatiana refused to interrupt, “I walked down what use to be the hallway leading to their bed chambers when I saw them.”
Tatiana sure as heck had to interject now, “Them?”
Mortimer nodded and looked at the green blades of grass dancing by his boots, “Yes Tati, I saw my mother and father.”
His eyes finally found bravery enough to meet Tatiana’s “No very dead…they were ghosts. I-I know its crazy…” He stood up quickly, he realized verbalizing it sounded like lunacy! “I am sorry to burden you Tati, I should probably go.”
Tatiana stood up with him in support, the cool afternoon air wiping the sweater around her knees and her hair undulated behind her neck hugging her very actions, “No, Mort I believe you, really I do, what happened next.” Her words requested for him to continue.
Relief washed over him like a wave would a surfer, “Oh thank the Creator you believe me, because I…” Tatiana patted his shoulder for encouragement.
The two faced each other and he resumed his story, “They said something about the Reaper not being around to collect them or something…then they asked about Gunther. They kept trying to tell me he wasn’t there. I was so scared I ran away like a wuss. I feel like this is all a bad dream, I mean if I could just figure out where Gunther is I will feel some restitution, some closure but Tati…I feel like I have lost everyone I cared about in one fell swoop! So if you know anything, anything at all about Gunther please let me know.”
Mortimore began to sob quietly in Tatiana’s presence. If she could turn Gunther and the rest of the collection of souls she had sitting on her dresser back to human form right now she would do it, to hell with whoever knows the truth about her. She was willing to pay the price for who she was. Ironically, she was just like her multiple great grandad in a way, she too was a collector of souls.
To Be Continued…