Back Porch Saga
After their dinner at the hotel, Sean brought Mary, Emily, Tina, and Edwin out to Tina’s farm.
“It’s not the way it used to be when Henry was alive, he had always kept the place looking real nice,” said Tina.
“It’s wonderful,” said Emily, visibly moved. Taking a moment to regain her composure, she continued, “It really hasn’t changed much at all. If you don’t mind, I’d like to sit out here on the porch for a while.”
“Edwin, come inside with me, I’ll see if we can’t scrounge up some lemonade,” said Tina, pulling Edwin along by the arm. “It won’t be fresh, but if the refrigerator is still running, we’ll have ice.”
Emily and Mary and Sean sat down.
“Emily, if you don’t mind talking about it, what was it like when you were in suspended animation all those years?” asked Mary.
“It only seemed to be a short while. It wasn’t as if I was experiencing much of anything, I seemed to be ‘beside’ regular space-time. Sometimes, it seemed as if I was dreaming. That’s when I would see Tina—she’s probably told you about my ‘visits.’ When Mary became pregnant I became able to contact her,” Emily said, “Really, I feel as if I have only been gone for only a couple of days. I’m still in 1946. A person out of synch with the times. That’s why I wanted to come back here—to Iowa—I needed to get grounded.”
“How did you come to be under the control of The Brotherhood?” asked Sean.
“It wasn’t The Brotherhood yet, it was a ‘spirit’—a hostile animus—if you will. It had escaped from Germany at the end of the war. This teufel was one of many who had found the war in Europe to be an especially fertile breeding ground for their hate-fueled existence. It had taken over the body of a displaced person. John Regelind Jr., who was involved in post-war reparations, had seen something special in the man and brought him back to the U.S. He sensed that he possessed powers similar to mine, although he greatly underestimated the amount and their capability for harm. In 1938, I had taken up with him after his father had died from a heart attack a few years earlier. We had often used The Chamber House as a trysting place. One day, after I returned from Iowa in ’46, I met him there, but he was not alone. I sensed right away who, or rather what, John’s ‘friend’ really was, and that I was in grave danger. I knew a spell, however, one which could prevent the animus from harming me. In doing so, I put myself in that state of suspended animation—the state from which Mary released me. The Brotherhood must have thought that their power came from the animus, that he kept me under the spell.”
“And the animus? What became of him?” Mary asked.
“I don’t know. The spell must have worked,” said Emily, “The tricky part was finding someone who could break it. Thanks again, Mary.”
Mary smiled, “It was my pleasure,”
Emily smiled back.
“My mother’s death, perhaps that had something to do with The Brotherhood?” asked Sean, who had completely missed that interaction between Mary and Emily.
“That is something I just don’t know anything about,” said Emily, “I had never connected with your mother, she was only an infant when I returned to New York City.”
Tina and Edwin emerged from the house with a pitcher of lemonade and glasses filled with ice cubes.
“It wasn’t easy, but we did manage to scrape something together,” said Tina, “I’m afraid the FBI made a bit of a mess in the kitchen when they did their investigation.”
“Mary told me about your ‘night visitor’,” said Emily. “You’ve been staying with Edwin ever since?”
“I’ve been out here a few times, to pick up some things, but I haven’t spent the night since then,” said Tina, “There hasn’t been anything else strange that has happened since then. Has the FBI told you anything?”
“They are pretty sure that The Brotherhood was involved with the intruder on your farm; they couldn’t talk about it,” said Sean, “We left Virginia as soon as we could.”
“And you, Emily? What did they tell you?" asked Tina.
“They don’t know that I’m back!” said Emily, “I managed to make myself ‘invisible’ when they came around to talk with Sean and Mary.”
“You can make yourself invisible?” asked Edwin.
“She hid in the closet when the FBI came to talk to us the day after the Chamber House exploded,” Mary said, with a laugh, “She’s a person without any modern identity papers, so I guess you could say that, in a sense, she’s still invisible.”
“And I like it that way. No taxes, no obligations, no baggage. Living off my relatives… ” Emily said with a laugh, “Now that I’m back among the living, however, I can feel myself aging rapidly. Every morning I find new wrinkles and more gray hairs. I can’t cheat time forever. Not many people get a second chance at life, and I intend to make the most of it.”
“Are you really aging that fast?" asked Mary. “You look fantastic for someone who is well over one hundred years old.”
“One hundred and thirteen, thank you. I do look good—today. But I am changing. I don’t know how much longer I have. A week, a month, maybe a year? What I do know is that my end is coming quickly.”
“Is there anything that you still want to do in life?” asked Sean.
“To be able to breathe fresh air, smell the flowers, see the sun and the clouds in the sky. All the good things, the things I have right now,” said Emily. “But there is one special thing I would like to do. I’d like to hold my great-granddaughter. Just for a minute.”
There was a prolonged silence. Finally, Edwin spoke:
“We’d better be getting back to town.”
“You kids go back. I’m going to spend the night here,” said Emily, “One more night in the place where I grew up. You can come back and pick me up in the morning. Go on now… let me be alone with my memories for a little while.”