By Edele Winnie
“You’re going to have contact.” Marge swirled her pale hands over the crystal ball one more time. “Tomorrow.” She looked up at Loretta. “Halloween.”
Loretta’s legs began to quiver and she swallowed hard. “Thank you Marge.”
Marge smiled. She was not some artful gypsy but rather the stretch and strength exercise class instructor for the senior’s home where they both lived.
I’m going to have contact. Lortetta could not stop thinking about it at dinner that night, about her beloved husband Leroy, dead twenty-two years now. How she’d missed him. She’d been in a strange state of late- feeling isolated and alone, even though she’d lived in the senior’s home for the past seven years. She was no longer connecting with the others, staying in her room more, listening to sad music and remembering. The nurses had decided it was depression and added a little something to her daily barrel of drugs but it hadn’t changed anything. So Marge and the cane gang had decided to take matters into their own hands and cheer Loretta up.
After much discussion they’d decided to ‘arrange’ a ghostly contact with Loretta’s husband. She had spoken of him more often lately, of how sensitive and caring he’d been. Marge’s crystal ball act had been part one. Part two involved some flowers and chocolates with a ghostly letter from her departed partner. The gang knew that Loretta would figure it out- but either way she’d know that someone cared about her.
Halloween day’s dawn was a dark one. Black clouds obscured the struggling sun. Soon lightning attacked the sky, and thunder quaked. Loretta watched it all through the window of her room in the senior’s home. She was so anxious she could not sleep. Something stirred inside her- a warm hope that seemed an end to her growing unhappiness. Contact. Leroy.
The cane gang were also up at that dark sunrise, tittering about their secret project. Marge had the flowers and the chocolates and the letter hidden behind the big fern pot beside the fire extinguisher in the hall way. They just had to wait until Loretta left her room for breakfast.
But she didn’t leave her room for breakfast. It frustrated the cane gang but there was no cause for alarm, as Loretta often skipped the first meal – but she didn’t appear for lunch either. Marge knocked and Loretta answered through the door that she was fine.
The nurses had dressed in costumes for the day and were passing out tiny chocolate bars. The cane gang was getting antsy. There was no rush, but they so seldom actually did anything that they found the waiting extremely taxing. Two of the caners grew tired and had to go lay down. Another had a blood pressure emergency. Still another with memory problems kept forgetting what they were trying to do. Soon only Marge was left.
The supper hour came and went. Even though she was limber from the stretch and strength classes Marge’s body ached from the tension and the waiting. When night came, Marge could take no more and she knocked on Loretta’s door. There was no answer. The poor woman was probably asleep. Perfect time for leaving the flowers, chocolates and note.
Marge creaked open the door. The room was empty. A wisp of white nightgown was snagged on the window where Loretta had wormed her way out. Marge sounded the alarm and together with nurses and orderlies they tried to track the old woman outside.
Loretta had not gone far. The beautifully landscaped grounds held a shallow pond. The shallow pond held Loretta, floating face down, white night gown angeling around her. She’d gone to make contact with Leroy.