The Spaces Between the Places, Part 2

This is the second and final part of The Spaces Between the Places. Part 1 is here.

For the next month, if she wasn’t at work, Maeve was somewhere around Matthew’s building. She sat for hours in the Peet’s Coffee where Matthew picked up his morning fuel on the way to work. She thought since he was here everyday, she had a good shot of seeing his ghost. When she didn’t see anything there, she headed to Kasey’s Tavern, where Matthew liked to hang out with his friends on the weekends. Again nothing.

She even took to just walking around the building—up and down the sidewalks—circling around the alley. She stood with her back supported by the building across the street (a Halloween store in October), and stared at the entrance to Matthew’s building. Nothing. She was staying out until all hours of the morning— most of the time she came home with enough time for a shower before heading to work.

The other day (other week?) her boss told her she needed to pull herself together. Whatever she was dealing with needed to be dealt with on her own time, not the company’s. Maeve barely kept back the snort and sharp retort she wanted to shoot back at the woman. She was dealing with it on her own time: that was why she was so damn tired. If she could go look for Matthew during the day, she could get some sleep at night.

Later that night at Kasey’s, Maeve looked at the display of her ringing phone. It was Sarah—probably wondering what hole Maeve had fallen down. She let it go to voice mail. She’d started ignoring calls from her friends a couple of weeks ago. They wanted to know what was going on with her—where was she? What was she doing? Why was she ignoring them?

What was she going to tell them? That she was looking for her dead twin? That she started seeing ghosts on St. Patrick’s Day, and now she was doing everything she could to see Matthew? Talk to him? Stop being so alone? Stop being only half of a person? They would think she was crazy. Hell may be she was, she thought as she started on her third margarita.

After almost two months, she still saw the other ghosts. She knew they were real. So if she could see other people’s ghosts, why couldn’t she see Matthew? What would it take to see him again? Talk to him? Feel whole again?

She looked at her margarita and sighed. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at the glass: it was almost empty. Hadn’t she just started drinking it? She sighed again and rubbed her eyes. Checking her phone she saw it was almost midnight. She’d been staking out Matthew’s building for almost two months. If he was here, he was staying in the building. She wasn’t going to see him out here. She paid her tab and went home. May be it was time to get a good night’s sleep.

She started crying as soon as she laid down. She wished she had never went to Fado’s on St. Patrick’s Day. If she hadn’t then she would’ve never seen the ghost. She’d never known ghosts were real, and she wouldn’t have lost Matthew all over again. She curled up in a ball and eventually cried herself to sleep.

***

Maeve woke up and was blinded by white lights. Her head felt like it was going to split open, and her throat was on fire.

“Miss Andrews?” she heard a voice saying. “Miss Andrews, can you hear me?”

Maeve’s eyes slowly blinked open, and she saw a woman leaning over her. “Can you hear me?” Maeve nodded.

“Welcome back,” the woman said looking at the monitors Maeve was hooked up too. “You had us worried.”

“Why?” Maeve managed to croak out through her painful throat.

***

“You almost died!” Sarah yelled at her. “How long have you been downing the booze and pills? For God’s sake Maeve, your place was filled with empty bottles. You haven’t been to work for over a week! I haven’t heard from you in over a month! Your mother hasn’t heard from you! How long have you been at the bottom of a bottle?”

Maeve still didn’t remember the last week. The last thing she’d remembered before waking up in the ER was having three margaritas at Kasey’s then going home and going to sleep. She didn’t remember buying all of the booze found in her apartment, much less drinking all of of it. She didn’t remember taking the pills. She didn’t even remember having the pills—they must be left from right after Matthew died when she couldn’t sleep.

Sarah was standing in front of her with her hands on her hips. “You need help Maeve,” she said.

“I need Matthew.”

Sarah gasped and said, “Oh Maeve,” then her friend was next to her squeezing her tight.

***

Maeve looked at the bottle next to her bed like she’d never seen them before. Prescriptions for anti-depressants and sleeping pills from a doctor she was supposedly seeing but couldn’t remember. What the hell was happening to her? She’d never seen a psychiatrist. Her doctor had prescribed the sleeping pills, but that had been six or seven months ago. This bottle’s date was two weeks ago.

Maeve was still sitting on her bed when Sarah came in and asked, “Are you OK?”

“How long have I been seeing a psychiatrist?” Maeve asked.

Sarah looked hesitant and bit her bottom lip before saying, “Since a couple of weeks after the funeral. You don’t remember?”

Maeve swallowed hard and shook her head.

Sarah gnawed at her lower lip and wrung her hands before asking in a whisper, “Do you remember being in the hospital…not just now, but a couple of months ago—February and March. Do you remember that?”

Maeve felt her eyes widen and all the air gush out of her lungs before shaking her head no. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t even take a breath.

Sarah took two steps to the bed, sat down next to Maeve, and put her arm around her. She rubbed Maeve’s shoulder a couple of times before saying, “You had a nervous breakdown. You were in Northwestern’s psychiatric hospital for almost three weeks.”

Maeve looked down at her hands. She had them clasped so tightly her knuckles were white. “Was I there over St. Patrick’s Day?” she whispered, afraid of the answer.

“No,” Sarah answered. “You were released a few day before then. Why? What happened on St. Patrick’s Day? Is that when you started forgetting things and…” Sarah trailed off leaving unsaid is that when you started drinking like a fish?

“I’m not a crazy drunk,” Maeve whispered, shrugging Sarah’s arm off and getting up to pace the room. “I know what I saw. I’m not crazy. And I never saw him. No matter how long I looked I never saw him. If I was crazy, I would’ve seen him—he’s all I wanted to see—not the rest of them. I never wanted to see the rest of them.”

“Maeve, what are you talking about? Who did you see? Who were you looking for?” Sarah was still sitting on the bed, but she was wringing her hands again.

“I saw a ghost at Fado’s,” Maeve said, “and then after that I saw ghosts everywhere—except for Matthew! And I looked Sarah! I looked so hard and waited all around his building and his favorite places. But I never saw him! I see every other fucking ghost in this city but not Matthew!” Seeing the look on Sarah’s face Maeve yelled: “I’m not crazy, and I’m not a drunk! If I were crazy I would’ve seen him because he is the only person dead or alive that I want to see! But no I see everyone but him.”

Sarah was crying. The only thing she said was, “Oh Maeve.”

 

 

Maeve slammed down the phone. No more! She wasn’t doing any of it any more. No more pills. No more shrink. No more “help.” Of course Sarah had told her mother, and now her mother was trying to convince her to go back in the hospital. She wasn’t crazy. She wasn’t seeing things. And if any of this nonsense was really helping her, would she be seeing ghosts? That hadn’t started until after the so-called treatment—so no more. She threw out the pills, and she wouldn’t be seeing the shrink again.

One of the condos in Matthew’s building was for rent, and she could afford it. She wasn’t crazy. She saw ghosts. And she would see Matthew again. She didn’t care how long it took: she would see her twin again.

The End.

©2013 S. R. Atteberry

The Spaces Between the Places, Part 1

This is part 1 of a two part short story. Part 2 will be posted next Monday, Nov. 13.

Maeve walked through the door of Fado’s. What appeared to be a small Irish pub on the outside morphed into a three story wonder of wood, stone, and sails. She especially liked the second floor where the pictures of the saints in stain-glass style looked down benevolently on the crowd of revelers. Maeve was sure that the icons of Patrick and Brigid would join them in celebration if they were able. After all they were celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day.

Maeve was a regular at Fado’s. It was on her way to the Grand Red Line stop from work. She often stopped in for a drink on the way home. The last couple of months saw her stay longer and drink more than usual, but she supposed that was to be expected after losing Matthew. She pushed her way to the bar, and was surprised to see an empty stool. The bar circled around the entire first floor with nooks and crannies for tables splintering off of its circumference. She pulled herself onto the stool, caught the bartender’s eye, and ordered Irish Cream and milk.

She took a sip of her drink, and leaned back in her chair watching the bartenders and other patrons around her. She let all the conversation and music drift around her like water flowing over her in the shower. Every now and then a cold gust of air tickled her legs. She must be sitting by a vent, although she couldn’t figure out why the air would be cold. It was March, and in Chicago that meant it was still winter with more snow in the near future. One would think the air would still be heated.

It had been a long day at work. Even with the huge, very loud crowd yelling over the very loud band, it was good to be here. The last thing she wanted to do was sit in her apartment alone. She’d only think about Matthew. If she was going to do that anyway, she might as well be here where at least she could pretend not to be so alone. Who knew? Maybe she’d get hit on. She might even say yes. Stranger things have happened.

The cold air hit her legs again, but this time it kept blowing. The gust grew into a breeze, coming from under the bar. Why the hell would anyone put a vent there? How much did it cost to ventilate under a bar? Someone had left part of today’s paper on the counter. She grabbed it and dropped to her knees. May be she could block part of the air flow. As she groped along the bar, her hand suddenly slipped through a hole. A really big hole. What in the world? It was pitch black–why couldn’t she see inside the bar area? The partition wasn’t that thick. She should see the legs and feet of the bartenders who were trying to keep up with all the orders.

There was nothing but darkness.

The cold breeze was blowing her hair off of her face. She started to crawl forward under the bar.

Maeve didn’t know where she was, but she knew it wasn’t the bar. She remembered her grandmother telling her about the “spaces between places”: spaces where ghosts, spirits, sprites, and all sorts of “the otherworldly kind” lived. She also remembered that Fado’s had its own ghosts. She remembered hearing about the woman in a nightgown on the third floor who was blamed for flickering lights and slamming doors. Some of the servers swore she’d touched them, and that part of their body went numb from the cold. There were also two male ghosts on the first floor dressed up in 1950s suits. She overheard servers talking about odd noises and the alarm going off when no one was here.

The blackness ahead of her was turning into a shimmering green. As she entered the green light, she saw a beautiful redheaded woman lying on the floor of the bar, her throat slit, a large pool of blood under her. Her robe was partially opened and Maeve saw part of a bra, and her stockings and garters. Her hair and make-up placed her in the 1950s. It was empty, dark, and cold. She and the dead woman were the only two here. Apparently, Fado’s had one more ghost. She swallowed and began to crawl back out.

The green went back to darkness then her feet hit her bar chair. She slowly stood up and perched back on the tall chair. She polished off the rest of her drink in one gulp.

If she were honest, her plan was to get drunk.

It kept the memories at bay, dulled the pain. But her plan had been to ease into it. Of course, she hadn’t planned on finding out a woman had been murdered here by finding a space between the places either. She waved her hand and caught the attention of one of the bartenders, “An Irish whiskey, please.”

***

Maeve gently held her head after throwing up. She hadn’t been this hung over since the weekend after Matthew’s funeral. She leaned back against the tub and gently massaged her temples. Her stomach wasn’t turning end-over-end any more, so she took a couple of deep, slow breaths and using the edge of the tub slowly rose to her feet. She shuffled to the kitchen to make the strongest pot of coffee she’d had in the last six months.

***

By Palm Sunday Maeve was sure she was going crazy. She saw ghosts everywhere she went. Apparently once you experienced the spaces between the places all sorts of things popped out of the woodwork. It didn’t help that Chicago was one big freaking haunted city. She thought it was cool when she was a kid: all of the ghost stories that resulted from the really weird shit that the city seemed to attract. Now it was just infuriating.

It wouldn’t be so bad if she could see the one ghost she wanted to see: Matthew. He must’ve been the only ghost in Chicago she didn’t see.

It appeared the ghosts stayed close to the places they died: soaking wet victims of the Eastland disaster wandering around the river, the victims of the Iroquios Theater fire haunting the alley behind The Delaware Building, and of course the woman who started it all—the women murdered at Fado’s.

Matthew died in his apartment. She highly doubted the current tenants would let her in to see if she could commune with her dead twin’s ghost. They probably didn’t know anyone had died in the condo, not that it was violent or gruesome. Matthew had had an aneurysm in his brain. The doctors said he didn’t feel anything. Maeve wasn’t sure that made her feel any better. But still whoever lived there now probably didn’t want to know someone died in their home.

Anyway the ghosts Maeve saw were mobile: they didn’t stay in the exact spot they’d died in. May be she could see him if she was by the building. It was worth a shot.

The End….for now.

©2013 S. R. Atteberry

Part 2 can be found here.