Just When You Thought You Knew
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Dear Mrs. Petrie
It was the eve of Halloween, I was sitting with one of my elders on a home healthcare assignment. Her name was Mrs. Petrie, a kind, sweet but an unusual old woman who had a bad heart and was confined to a wheelchair because she was paralyzed from her waist down. She was quite wealthy and was willing to trade all that she had to be healthy and to be able to walk again. “Nothing is more valuable than your health,” she would say. She lived in a beautiful aged 18-century-styled manor that had been in her family for generations. Many had lived and died there, as the souls still roamed the spectacular premises I was told, but fortunately, I wasn't spooked by her ghastly presage.
She was one of my evening patients and when the day-sitter left for the day, I would sit with her for several hours until her son arrived home around 9:00 pm. It started to rain a heavy downpour then a thunderstorm emerged and Mrs. Petrie became frightened by the lightning and refuse to get into bed. Instead, she rather sits by the cozy lit fireplace where it was warm and comforting in her beautiful bedroom of vintage Edwardian décor with the Scandinavian interior. I brought up some ginger tea with her favorite gingersnap cookies and sat the tray on the table next to her when I poured her a cup and she smiled at me. The lightning strike and the loud thunder flickered the lighting in the room when she panicked.
“It's okay Mrs. Petrie, don't be alarmed! We're just having a major thunderstorm that's all! But it should blow over soon.” I consoled.
“Oh, my! Would you stay here with me? Please don't leave this room and go downstairs! I would hate for the lights to go off and you're down there stumbling in the dark all alone! It would be quite horrendous for you! I'm just so terrified of the lightning!” She beseeches.
“Of course I will! I'll be right here by your side!” I assured her.
"Oh thank you!! You must think that I'm a panicky, delusional old woman who should be ashamed of herself being afraid of little lightning!”
“Oh believe me you're not the only one Mrs. Petrie, lightning gives me the willies also! It's very dangerous and we shouldn't take it's power lightly beside, we all fear something so don't feel ashamed! I wouldn't!” I smiled at her then walked over to the bookshelf to get the candle holder.
“Oh you're so kind and I don't know what I'd do if you weren't here with me!”
Suddenly a loud thunder popped frightening her as she spilled her tea down the front of her clothing in a panic.
“Oh my goodness!!” She quaked trembling as she held her cup.
“Here let me help you! It's okay!” I hurried to wipe away the spill from the front of her satin robe.
“Oh thank you, dear!” She approved when they both noticed the flickering of the lights.
Within a blink of an eye, there was no lighting in the room, only the dim lit fireplace could be seen.
“Oh my God! I can't see! I can't see!!” She yelled out.
“It's okay Mrs. Petrie! I'm right here!” I assured quickly lighting the candle in the candle holder I held.
“Oh thank God!! Thank you! It's a good thing you had that candle holder in your hand or it would have been too late!” She informed.
“Too late! Too late for what Mrs. Petrie?” I chuckled lighting another candle in the room.
“Oh, it isn't funny dear! In fact, I wish I can laugh about it and maybe it will go away!”
I came over to sit near her and poured her another cup tea when I asked, “Make what go away Mrs. Petrie?”
“I've told you about all the souls that roam around this place didn't I?”
“Yes, you have!”
“Well they are the good souls, there has been a lot of good memories in this house. There was once happiness and joy all around this place! The children and grandchildren filled this place with music and laughter. You could hear the frolic of little feet running down these halls and the stairs. And they all loved to be around me!” She chuckled then added, “It's not them that I fear, I do believe they are here to watch over me! Why my dear they wouldn't harm a fly! But there is this evil sinister among them and it's filled with vengeance and hatred towards me! And it wants to do me harm!”
“Oh Mrs. Petrie, do you harm! I can't believe anyone would want to do you any harm! And why?”
“My dear it's true! And I've come to realize who it could possibly be reflecting back all those years. You see next to my sisters, I was my grandfather's favorite. He would always allow me to accompany him on the horse and buggy rides down to the stables, which I enjoyed so much! He would always put me on his shoulders and bring me bags of jelly beans and fresh baked cookies from the bakery. He bought me my first puppy, she was the cutest little thing. I named her “Muffin” because she was so soft and fluffy. I remember times when he'd push me on the swing while we talked. They were fun times, I loved my grandfather but he didn't have much luck with women, though. He had married a few times, my original grandmother died when I was just five years old. When I turned age seven, he remarried but I was told within six months she ran off with another man. Then he remarried for the third time, I was about eight and a half years old. She was a mysterious woman, always quiet, never smiled hardly. She wasn't that attractive, just a basic looking woman compared to the prior beautiful women he'd married. I often wondered what my grandfather saw in her. She had a frigid spirit and when we came to visit, she kept her distance and only spoke a few words to us that was mainly “hello” and “goodbye”. She chuckled.
“We would run and play but she kept her eye on me because she envied the attention my grandfather gave me for some reason! One day I was sitting on the porch playing with my dolls and I felt a little uneasy when I noticed her evil stare at me from a window. Her eyes got bigger the more she stared at me, it was quite eerie so I went to play with my sisters out in the yard. I remember laying awake in bed in a room with my three sisters one night, I watched her shadow beneath our door as she would stand there and listen. I guess to make sure we were asleep. Oh, I'll tell you she was very strange! She wasn't a very good cook either and I swear she tried to poison me!