Life with the Aunts: Part 6

In the previous post, Jennie’s dead brother appears to her. When she worries he might be a demon, he asks why he can’t be an angel.

Jennie continues her story:

He was right. And he’d been a baby when he died, so what could a baby have done to make him go to Hell instead of Heaven? But that was just it. Mark died when he was a week old. This boy was a lot older. Younger than me, but no baby, for sure.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Five, the same age I’d be if I were still alive.”

“What am I going to tell Uncle Graham and Aunt Hilda?” I slid off my knees and sat cross-legged on the floor.

“That’s why I’m here. To warn you. Don’t tell them anything about your dreams or me. They won’t understand. Don’t even tell Ella or Lucy. They might not believe you, or they might tell by accident.”

I sighed. “Ella and Lucy already know about my dreams.”

“But they don’t know about me, so don’t say anything.”

“If you are Mark, you’re their brother too. Are you going to talk to them?”

“No. I’m here because Ma says you need me.”

“Ma sent you! Can she come too?”

“No, she’s busy with other work, and she thought you needed a brother now. Since Ambrose is grown up and married and living in New York City, she said I should come.”

Footsteps sounded in the hallway. I turned toward the door.

It opened.

We were caught. I looked at the bed. Mark was gone.

Aunt Hilda stood staring at me, her arms crossed. “Who were you talking to?”

I crossed my fingers and closed my fists as best I could to hide them. “To God. Uncle Graham told me to pray, so I was praying out loud. I thought He’d hear me better.”

“If you’re praying, why aren’t you on your knees?”

“They hurt.” At least that much was true.

“It’s time to help Ella with the dishes.”

My stomach growled then. I hadn’t been allowed supper. It was part of my punishment. I rose from the floor and followed Aunt Hilda to the kitchen. The smell of roast beef lingered in the air. I looked toward the pan with leftover biscuits. Ella was covering them with a towel to keep them fresh. I wanted one so bad, but I didn’t dare say anything.

Aunt Hilda left us alone.

Ella looked at me, her eyes sad. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I said. I wanted to tell her about Mark and how Ma had sent him to me from heaven, but I remembered how he told me to keep it a secret.

Ella washed dishes while I dried them and set them on the table. Then she put them away because she was ten and taller than I was. “Let’s go upstairs,” she said.

When we got to our room, she closed the door and pulled a package from her pocket. It was wrapped in a cloth. “Here.”

I opened it. It was a biscuit with a piece of beef tucked in the middle. “Thank you.” I felt like crying, I was so grateful.

Reminder

Undercurrents, The Adventures of Hannah True, Book 2 is on preorder and will be published April 30.