All I was asking was.
And now the wind drops, and the clatter of the rain against the windows lessens, and I'm aware of her again. Rapid breathless soft speech, only I can't hear it. She and the other dead come around often on nights like this. They cluster at the window. But all I understand is their urgent desire to be heard. And opening the window only lets in the wind and the rain.
The voice runs on, yearning, pleading, explaining, temporizing.
Dear one, I say gently. I can't hear you. You're not in this world any more.
The wind shakes the window violently, and then it all goes quiet. Only slow-spaced drips from the eaves punctuate the sudden silence.
You should have said all this before you crossed the river, hon. It really can't matter now.
It's hard to know what gifts to give the dead. They are even worse than the living at distinguishing between veil and substance. And there is not much here, anyway, that passes for currency there. Not that you can convince them of that. If I could hear them, I'd hear them asking for meth, for hugs, for undying love, for new cars, for health insurance, for fame, for good red wine, for justice.
I only wanted to say. I never meant to. All I was asking was.
It doesn't matter now, hon, I whisper. Though I'm not really sure that's true. How would I know? They're the ones who should know. But I don't think they really know anything. They're just driven by the wind of habit, swirling up to my window in rustling drifts.
I don't even know if listening is a gift. Maybe I'm just reinforcing the delusion that they still have business here. But I listen. It's what I do. If I was sent into this world with any gift, it was the gift of listening. I don't have much else I could even try to pass on.