The Neighbors – Part 2
The man in the big hat walked carefully to the Lady in Purple. He knew to be calm when he approached her. Her mind was still so fragile after all these years, and when she was at the headstone and her tears were flowing, it was even worse.
He glanced up at Cassie’s window to make sure the little girl wasn’t watching them anymore. When he was sure she was safely away and with her family, he reached his hand out to the Lady and tried to comfort her.
Cassie sat at the dinner table, pushing her peas around her plate and thinking about the Lady in Purple. Her parents prattled on about their day and things she didn’t care about. Grown-up stuff that seemed boring, and she told herself she’d never be so dull when she was bigger.
The little girl interrupted, “Mommy, can I go to the graveyard tomorrow morning?”
Her mother glared at her father and said, “Patrick, I knew moving into a house next to a graveyard would be a bad idea.”
“Laura, this house is historic. Piece of this town’s legacy,” Cassie’s father explained. “And that graveyard is the first cemetery built in this town. 1784. Those headstones, those people…so much there.”
“So, can I go?” Cassie asked again.
Her mother continued to ignore her, focusing on her father.
“It’s morbid, Patrick.”
Patrick sighed, “They are just people, Laura. Think of them as our neighbors. Really quiet neighbors.”
Cassie, annoyed, interrupted again, “Mommy? The Lady in Purple needs my help.”
“Who?” her father asked.
Cassie sighed, “I’ve told you guys about the Lady in Purple about a million times!”
Laura stood up and began clearing plates even though it wasn’t clear the family was finished.
“See? See?” she exclaimed, her voice becoming more dramatic as she clanked the dishes and condensed leftovers destined for the garbage onto the top plate. “Morbid. And she’s pretending to see ghosts.”
“I’m not pretending,” Cassie interjected. “She’s really there. And she’s sad.”
“Patrick!” her mother yelled. “Do. Something.”
Patrick looked at his wife, trying to read her mind for help, then looked at his daughter. Cassie stared back at him, hoping he’d let her visit and override her mother’s declaration.
“So,” he began. “Cassie, honey. You think there are people in the graveyard that need help?”
Cassie rolled her eyes and said, “I don’t think. I know.”
Patrick inhaled before speaking again. Laura stomped around the kitchen, obviously dissatisfied by the entire exchange.
“Well,” Patrick said. “How about you draw me a picture of what you see?”
“Why can’t I just go and talk to her? The man in the hat can’t seem to make her happy.”
“So, there are two people?”
Cassie sighed again and said, “I’ve told you about them. Please, Daddy. I just want to see what she needs.”
“Okay,” Patrick began. “How about this weekend when I’m home from work, I take you for a walk in the cemetery?”
Cassie’s mother dropped the plates in her hand and glared at her husband, not caring if she broke any. Patrick shrugged.
Cassie, not completely convinced he’d make good on his promise, nodded.
She was already making a plan for the morning.