18

During all this time I was in touch with Edmond. Strange as it sounds, he visited me, not exactly like god visiting Moses or angels telling Mary she’s knocked up with the Christ Child, but come to think of it not completely unlike that either.

I had to be in a certain state of mind—quiet, distracted, sometimes half asleep—and then I might feel a kind of aura, a lightening of the space behind my eyes and I’d know he was there. I could smell his smell of tobacco and earth and something radiant and spicy like amber; could feel the smooth glide of his skin, though I never exactly saw him. Once he had a cough, and his breathing sounded slow and heavy. Another time on a cold night when he kissed me I could feel his body shivering against mine. Sometimes I could just feel his eyes on me, holding me with his quizzical wise-dog gaze, and I would push off with one foot and try to coast for hours on that feeling.

Once, in a trance that wasn’t quite a dream, an image appeared in my head and I knew it was the place he and Isaac were living, and I could see the people living with them, and how they passed the time. Another time I heard the frail scratching cry of a newborn baby and Edmond seemed tired and cheerless and disappeared before I could find out what had happened.

Whether I could feel his presence or not, I talked to him constantly, telling him about Piper and Jet and the McEvoys and our life the way it was now, and then in the middle of some rambling monologue I might get the feeling that he was there listening, as if I’d conjured him from thin air, pulled him out of a hat by the ears like a magician’s rabbit. I was happiest when he just came and lay down next to me, and I could almost feel the weight of his body against mine. His presence silenced, if only for a few seconds, the crackling anxiety that made my blood grate against my bones and for a little while I’d feel melted and soft.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to write a scientific paper about this. I believe in the spirit world about as not at all as the next person. I’m just saying what happened.

In retrospect I have to think it was the kind of connection that makes people decide to phone each other at the same instant after fifty years of not talking. You hear about siblings adopted at birth into families thousands of miles apart who both name their first child Vera, dogs that begin to howl the instant their owner is killed in a war, people who dream plane crashes. It’s the sort of communication there’s no particular reason to believe in under ordinary circumstances and I’m generally not big on ghosts. Ouija boards and black cats are way down the list of neuroses I suffer from.

So you’ll understand why I didn’t make a big song and dance about my meetings with Edmond. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to talk about it with Piper.

I was trying to revamp my reputation. This time around I thought I’d be the sane one.

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