100 Themes 015 - Silence

I was in a pub with my wife the other day, and there was a poster up advertising a 'Psychic Event'. One-to-one psychic readings for just £30. Seems like a lot of money, but I guess sometimes there can be a certain amount of catharsis in the things they say. We were reading one of those crap magazines, and one of the readers had written in saying that she was upset as she had slept through her husband's last breath, and it was torturing her with guilt. The psychic replied that he had waited until she had slept so that he knew she was peaceful through it. We thought that was actually a really nice thing to say, and might have removed a huge weight of guilt from that person.

Anyway, I was inspired by that and the theme to write this. Enjoy.

There was only silence from beyond the veil.

Oh, I know that’s a poetic way of putting it; it’s more like what I’d use with customers than anything else. It’s just that, today, there was only silence. Nothing at all, no messages for people in the audience, no reassurances that Aunt Mabel was fine in the Next World.

I coughed to fill the suddenly oppressive, and all too physical, silence that had descended on the room. There were four of them, holding hands round the table. Quickly I groped for something to say.

“Has anyone here lost anyone close t them, recently perhaps?”

The man opposite me, with teeth like breeze-blocks, sneered. “Aren’t you supposed to tell us that?” His voice could have been used as toffee.

I fixed him with my good eye. They’re both good, I suppose, but the monocle is part of the paraphernalia. “Young man,” he could only be a couple of years younger than me, surely, “There are many spirits in this world. I require only a little information to focus my gift.” There, no lies in that sentence.

Next to him was a quiet one. She had the potential, I think, to be the most believing of the lot. Her brown eyes were wide, and she hunched like a mouse in the cat’s eyes. The obese lady next to me huffed sweatily and nudged her.

“Come on, Laura, ask about Chloe.”

Laura licked her lips, looking even more like a nervous rodent, and quietly spoke.

“I… I lost someone. Chloe; is she ok?”

That was more like it. Running a séance is, I always say, nine-tenths psychology. I closed my eyes and put on a bit of a sway. Frustratingly, there was still nothing. Not even Brian had turned up to perv on me.

“Chloe… are you there?”

Still nothing. I found myself falling back on things from years ago, back before Mother Sybil took me under her wing. Old habits die hard.

“Chloe is here, in the room. She was… very close to you, yes?”

Those brown eyes lit up. “Oh yes, my best friend.”

“She likes it in this room. You had many good times together in here?”

A vigorous nod. “She lived here.”

Strange. Ok, now what? “She says she is very happy, playing her favourite game with her other friends. The Other Side is a glorious place, she says, and the food is fantastic.”

The toffee-voiced man sneered again. “Oh (snort), they have Pedigree Chum in Heaven too, eh?”

Laura blushed. “Thank you for telling me my dog is fine, Madame.”

Phew, that was a close one. What I really wanted to do was clear everyone out and try to work out why my talent had gone deaf, but the poor dears had paid good money to be here. Now for something a bit more mystical.

“There is a spirit here, wearing something… something red.”

“My Alf had a red sweater; he wore it all the time.” It was the woman who hadn’t spoken, the wife of Mr Toffee. Mrs Toffee was a florid woman in her fifties, well-proportioned where her husband was thin.

“Is your name… Alf?”

Dramatic pause. Then:

“Alf is here, my dear.”

“Oh…” she sniffed, and then the tears started to come. Well, that was sudden.

“Is there anything you’d like to say to… Alf?”

“I’m so sorry we parted on an argument, Alf… can you ever forgive me?”

Oh, the poor woman. How many years had it been? “Alf is speaking… he says that he would not have felt comfortable leaving this world had he not known, in his heart, that he loved you. He says… that you don’t need to earn his forgiveness, as you’ve always had it. Instead, you need to earn your own forgiveness.”

That did it. The eyes that had been watering as they looked at me suddenly overflowed again and she was sobbing into Mr Toffee’s shoulder. He looked disgusted by the whole thing, but laid a hand on her shoulder.

The mobile phone that I kept in the pocket sewn into my cushion vibrated. Time’s up.

“The spirits, they are departing the room. They are waving goodbye, and ascending  back to the Other Side.” I let my head slump forward, and then sat up again.

“Thank you all for attending. I trust that you feel your time here was well spent?”

They nodded, murmured words of thanks, paid and left. Thank goodness. I sat back down in my chair and cracked my knuckles. The noise was loud in the silence.

“Right, you bastards,” I muttered, “Where are you?”