9/17: Having departed by drowning only last week, I am still waterlogged and weak. I’m also desperate to catch my adored Ava’s attention, but unfortunately, her household doesn’t believe in Ouija Boards or seances.
9/18: I dared to touch A. on the shoulder tonight… I only grazed my fingertips along her cashmere shawl as she nestled in the wing chair by the fire, heartsick, no doubt, over my untimely demise. She shuddered, drew the wrap higher around her neck, and continued to flip pages of the U.S. 1 Wedding Planner supplement. How tragic that my time ran out before A. was able to accept my ardent proposal! I weep for both of us.
9/19: A. tends to misinterpret every signal I send from the other side. The delicate cobweb chain of hearts I draped across her vanity mirror fell to a blast of Cleo’s window cleaner this afternoon.
9/20: For future reference, it is supremely uncomfortable to be walked upon, particularly when kneeling by the garden bench beside one’s would-be fiancée. As I recited Rilke’s love poems and reassured A. she was not to blame for losing control of her oar and swiping me overboard, she ground my kneecaps into the gravel, and rushed off to meet a zippy yellow sports car at the gate. I nursed my bruises as she jumped inside the car, slammed the passenger door, and sped away.
9/21: I’ve contrived another device to make contact with my beloved, despite this infernal, still-fragile state. There, in a wicker basket on the floor, along with soiled facial tissues, I’ve spied my last surviving 15-page letter to A. With supreme effort, I’ll tip the contents and then blow this reminder of my eternal love across her bedroom carpet. What a perfect signal to draw her attention and stir her heart again! I can already picture A’s eyes welling with tears.
9/22: She has scolded the toy Pekingese, gathered up my scattered letter pages, and burned them in the fireplace. What could this mean? Were my pages a too-painful reminder of our never-shared passion?
9/23: The yellow car arrived again this morning, but the weather was too foul for me to follow A. out the gate. Thanks to gusts of autumn wind, I was nearly punctured by the arrow-tipped railing beside the front door.
9/24: A. did not come home again last night. I am pale with worry.
9/25: My darling returned this morning. I concentrated harder than ever on making myself visible to her. I waved my arms so vigorously I levitated to the ceiling, almost sideswiping the chandelier. If only I were strong enough to topple teacups… I did manage to hum directly in Ava’s shell pink ears, however. She called for Cleo the maid to bring a flyswatter.
9/26: Today, at long last, I found I can now moan, however faintly. If only this talent hasn’t come too late! Now I must find a secluded spot to practice my scales and trills.
9/28: For the past two days, I’ve been concentrating hard on appearing in mirrors. So far, I’ve only achieved the look of mist from a steam kettle. A. spent her entire day before the glass, brushing her hair, trying on pearl tiaras (with impossibly long poufs of netting attached), various rouges and lipsticks. I ache to catch her eye, as my image, with practice, now grows gradually more distinct.
9/29: After three hours of moaning practice in the stable, I returned to find, to my horror, Ava clad in ornate wedding dress and veil, moving toward the garden, which is filled with folding chairs and behatted guests in morning attire! My brain convulsed; my breath escaped in one tortured scream of at least 30 seconds duration. Five maids dropped their trays of champagne. The effect was so draining, all I could do was float listlessly up the stairs to A’s room.
Stumbling on a slick pile of Hawaii travel folders on the floor beside the bed, I fall headlong into Ava’s large open suitcase. Here I lie weeping amidst the silken peignoirs until…Cleo drops a pair of sandals, then a beach towel on my head and…(Heavens, no)… lowers the lid….
Patricia Rusch Hyatt, a former journalist, is co-author of a non-fiction history, “American Women on the Move: The Inside Story of the National Women’s Conference, 1977,” to be published in March, 2017, by Lexington Press, of Rowan and Littlefield.
A Princeton writer specializing in history-based fiction for juveniles, she has also published the travel memoir, “Coast to Coast with Alice,” (Carolrhoda/Lerner), and a picture book, “A Quite Contrary Man, A True American Tale” (Abrams Books for Young Readers).