The nature of a human being is complex; it is not as simple a physical body and a spiritual body, but rather a human being is comprised of seven distinct layers or doyens that, though unseen, all seven are vital to the completeness of a human being. The absence of just one of these layers would be detrimental to the individual and would by its construct be defined as something other than human. All other living creatures that share life on earth with human beings (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians) do not possess seven doyens; they possess only four. While human beings are individualized and upon death retain their memories and personality which are reincarnated into a new physical body, animals are not and upon their physical death return to the group-soul from which they incarnated.
Hauntings and ghostly apparitions can be simply explained as the appearance of the astral body of an individual or animal within the physical realm. The astral body is the evanescent layer of the non-physical body and is the conduit between the physical body and all other doyens of the living creature. This spiritual body develops as the physical body does and accumulates all life experience projecting itself into all realms of existence. Though of ethereal nature the astral body is limited and will only possess the memories and knowledge of the physical body. At physical death the astral body is no longer required to linger within the physical body and will therefore assimilate with the non-physical realms without need to be “crossed over” or “encouraged into the light” by a spirit medium or other psychic individual.
I walked through the foyer carrying the leather bound journals I had received from Elizabeth Bennet along with a large spiraled notebook. I intended to settle at the large table in our library where I normally sat for my lessons with Mr. Stokes to ensure that I remained focused and would not be distracted. I wanted to concentrate on the diary entries and absorb all I could about the women and men who wrote them. I planned to learn the secrets of our family that I was certain were being kept hidden within these old journals and being in the library would focus my mind on academic study, which was exactly the approach I desired to take when reading them.
My brother had met me in the upstairs hallway as I passed his bedroom. He was as curious as I was about what was recorded in the diaries and informed me that he would join me downstairs after he had showered. He wanted to learn about our family’s history and what role he was meant to fulfill in regards to our family’s future. I was more than pleased by his interest because it would give us an opportunity to rebuild our relationship and in some ways become even closer than we had been as children.
Daniel entered the closest of the three upstairs bathrooms as I walked towards the stairs hoping that my Mother, who was cleaning the contents of one of her antique curio cabinets that lined the upstairs hallway, would ignore me, but with no such luck. As soon as I was a few feet from her she turned to me, an opaque colored piece of her treasured glassware still in hand.
“Good morning, Angie,” she smiled. “What are your plans for today?”
I shrugged, clutching the journals tightly. I had no desire to engage in banal conversation with her. My mind was filled with the more exciting and mentally stimulating ideas of the occult. The leather bound books I held were written by women who lived during the infamous Salem Witch Trials; these women who were my family, my bloodline, and I was eager to read their transcribed words.
Mother carefully replaced the yellowish-pink glass basket in the vacant spot on the shelf, which she had just finished wiping down. She neatly folded the cloth she had been using and placed it next to the bottle of glass cleaner set by her feet on the hardwood floor.
She pointed to the diaries I held against my chest. “Will you be spending time reading those?”
“Yes,” I responded, determined not to give her any more information than what she requested of me.
Honestly I just wanted to get myself downstairs and into the library so I could open the journals and start reading. I didn’t want to get into a long drawn out conversation with my Mother because she never had anything positive to relay to me about anything I enjoyed. She always found fault with my interests; either they were childish, or morbid, or vulgar. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say about the journals and I didn’t want to have to fight her to read them. I wasn’t sure what she would say if she knew the contents of the old books and I didn’t want to find out.
“They look rather old,” she commented as she reached out her hands and gestured for me to hand her one of the journals. “May I?”
I wordlessly started at her outstretched manicured hands unable to form an acceptable response. I knew better than to be confrontational with her, but I couldn’t find anything agreeable to say.
“Angie. Really?” she sighed, removing the middle diary from the pile in my arms and examining the leather exterior presumably for a title, though she would find none.
She glanced at me before opening the front cover and reading whatever words were written on that first page. I watched her expressions carefully, attempting to determine what she was thinking. Her eyes skimmed quickly over the sheet of parchment as her brow furrowed and mouth puckered. She reached up to turn the page when the sound of a metallic ping filled the air. She looked up from the opened diary and over her left shoulder towards the French styled Louis XV curio cabinet. It was the one positioned directly next to the antique oak breakfront that held the Burmese glassware she had been attending.
While I was considering the possible causes for the noise we had heard, one of the gold trimmed glass doors of the hand-painted cabinet slowly creaked open.
“How peculiar,” she said, clumsily closing and handing the diary back to me.
Mother walked over to the opened door, bent over, and retrieved the small gold key that had dislodged from the lock and fallen to the floor. She closed the door and locked it before attempting to reopen the doors. Satisfied that the cabinet was once more secured, she admired the numerous Royal Doulton and Dahl Jensen figurines she kept on the shelves within, tapping her fingernails against the glass as if vying for the little porcelain figurines’ attention. The interior lights flickered twice then went out. My Mother frowned and reopened both cabinet doors before reaching in and examining the light fixtures on the inside. I knew she wouldn’t be able to determine what was wrong because this incident with the electricity wasn’t a new occurrence, that particular curio cabinet of hers was eerie.
I took advantage of the distraction and scampered down the hallway descending the stairs, eager to settle myself in the library to read. I walked through the foyer, passing the mahogany side table that usually held Mother’s house plants, but instead was now occupied by a large Edwardian silver bowl set on a white lace doily and filled with red and white dahlias from her garden. A large legal sized manila envelope hung slightly off the edge of the table beside the flower bowl. I paused to examine the printed label, but didn’t recognize the name or the Massachusetts address. With a shrug, I continued towards the library, passing the opened door to the morning parlor. I absently hummed along with Mother’s music box as the notes of a song from the musical Les Misérables drifted through the foyer as I passed by.
I paused just outside of the library door; the sound of my Dad’s voice caused me to hesitate. He had left the door slightly ajar and while I hadn’t made the conscious decision to eavesdrop on his conversation the mention of Aunt Rachel’s name caught my attention. My own fears concerning the well-being of my aunt kept me rooted in place and I justified to myself that if my Dad had really desired privacy then he should have ensured it by securing the library door.
“Rachel didn’t know what was best for herself,” I heard him snap. “She couldn’t know what was best for someone else, let alone my daughter.”
I pushed the door opened a few more inches allowing me to peer into the room. My Dad stood at the large windows overlooking Mother’s garden with his back towards me. He wore his usual business attire, dark trousers with a matching suit jacket, causing me to wonder why he was home and not at the office. He held the cordless phone in his left hand while his free hand rested on his hip. His opened laptop lay abandoned on the desk behind him, where Mr. Stokes often sat during our weekly lessons.
“It’s not my problem,” my Dad explained as he flung his free hand out in front of him, pushing the caller’s words away. “Gerald has a responsibility to her now and he will teach her.”
Who was he speaking to and why were they discussing me? Was the Gerald Dad mentioned Mr. Stokes? Who was on the other end of the phone line? Who did Dad know that also had any dealings with Aunt Rachel, me, and Mr. Stokes? I brazenly opened the door a little wider.
“No, she’s not,” he said, taking a few steps to the left while still gazing out the windows. “She’s Rachel’s … And I did, Gerald’s here.”
There was a long pause. I assumed it was because he was listening to the words of the mysterious person on the other end of the line. I wanted to know who that person was, but was unsure of how I would be able to attain that information without just asking my Dad.
“No. Caroline would never allow it.”
Mother would never allow what? What was it that the caller was suggesting?
“Alright. Alright. We’ll be there. The three of us,” he relented then pushed a button on the receiver disconnecting the phone call.
Three of us? Who was ‘the three of us’? Dad, Mother, and I? And where was ‘there’ exactly? I pushed opened the door to the library wide enough for me to walk through and entered the library.
“Dad?” I feigned surprise.
“Angie,” he smiled as he turned and place the phone receiver on its base set on the desk. He closed his laptop without turning it off. “I didn’t think you had lessons today.”
“I don’t. What are you doing home?”
He watched me with apprehension as I placed the diaries and my notebook on the table in my usual spot and sat down in the empty chair.
“Are you okay, Dad?” I asked with hope that maybe I could pry some information from him about his mysterious conversation.
“I’m good,” he picked up his laptop and checked his wristwatch as he walked around the desk and over to where I sat. He placed his free hand on my shoulder. “What about you? How are things with you?”
I looked up at his face, which seemed to have claimed a few more wrinkles since I had last studied him. He was clearly stressed and I contemplated the cause; did the phone conversation concern him or did my brother’s expulsion from Saint John’s stress him? Perhaps he was worried about the disappearance of his colleague, Peter Morrell, because it meant that he now had a heavier work load than usual. Or maybe he simply had too many situations in his life that created stress and what I was noticing was the overwhelming sense of anxiety about life in general.
“Things are good,” I responded. Of course I had my own concerns and yes, the one person I believed could have been a mentor and support for me in dealing with all the unusual shit I experienced was gone, or on a European Gallery Tour depending on who you chose to believe, but overall in comparison to my father’s life, my life looked good.
“Good,” he nodded. “Good.”
I had so many questions to ask him, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to without setting off any of his internal alarms he had about my mental health. How unusual or just plain bizarre could my questions be before he believed I was, yet again, mentally unstable and consult Mother? I didn’t want to be checked into the hospital ever again, but I had a strong desire to know just how much my Dad knew about our family and the abilities the women of our bloodline possessed.
“Do you know what these are?” I asked, placing my palms on the diary in front of me.
Dad glanced at the journals then looked me in the eyes and said with a nod, “Yes, I do.”