Janie and Miriam

JOY1690.0LI looked first at the rifle and then into his eyes. He had the look of crazy there, but not the kind of crazy that would shoot someone.

“You came to visit last night too didn’t you!”

“Yes, were you here? Why didn’t you come to the door?” Put the rifle down please!

“I was sick. You’d gone before I was able to come downstairs.”

“What are you doing with the rifle?” I asked, still a little nervous, unsure of whether to stand my ground or turn and run.

“Hobby of mine. I collect antique rifles, not for use, just because I like them. Sometimes I’ll sell one, just to keep food on my table.”

“You don’t work?”

“Odd jobs! Yard work. Minor home repairs.”

“Don’t you get lonely?”

“No, I have no time for people. Just biding my time until I join my girls. Nothing to live for.”

“You must have other family, brothers, sisters?”

“Not worth mentioning!”

My hand clasped around the locket. I knew it was significant. “Can I come in?”

He gestured to the door at the end of the hallway. “Coffee?”

Although I’d had more than my fill of coffee already, I nodded. The door led into a bright kitchen. Spotlessly clean, but dated. He pulled a chair out for me and I sat and watched as he prepared the coffee. Neither of us spoke until he sat down. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence more of what my English teacher used to refer to as a “pregnant pause.”

“I’m Jack, don’t think I ever told you my name,” he said as he placed a cup of coffee in front of me.

“Sheila.” I said and smiled. “Funny how we’ve been thrown together.”

“Why did you come to see me last night, and why are you here now?”

Gazing into my coffee I wondered how much to tell this man. I didn’t want to scare him with my crazy dreams and premonitions. I put the locket on the table between us. “Ever seen this before?” I asked.

I watched a turmoil of emotions cross his face, sad, happy and finally confused. “Where did you get this?” he asked. His hands reached out to touch it, but stopped short, as though he was afraid to.

I didn’t answer, just opened it and pushed it across the table towards him so he could see the worn images inside.

At first his eyes remained focused on me. Finally he looked down at the open heart in front of him. He touched it briefly, and then put his head in his hands and sobbed.

“Where did you get this?” he asked.

Before I could answer, I felt a cool hand stroke my cheek. It wasn’t unpleasant, or scary. It wasn’t even unexpected. Someone was here watching. Jack felt it too.

“Janie, is that you?” he whispered. I feel you!

The smell of freshly baked bread filled the room. I heard laughter. The locket moved slightly on its own.

“Miriam?”

 

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