to hear you whisper
 

Chapter 3: Spend the Night

November 21, 1958

“Everything’s all set, Trixie,” Honey called out, following Fay into the kitchen. “I told Fay we’d toss for which one of us is going to sleep in the armchair.”

Fay fidgeted a moment, seeming suddenly shy. “I offered to sleep on it myself, but Honey says that’s not fair.” 

“Oh, okay.” Trixie’s response lacked her usual enthusiasm.

“Is everything okay, Trixie? Is there anything the matter?” Honey asked.

 ”I ... I thought I heard something. That’s all.” Trixie shook her head. “Well, it’s probably just this old house.”

“I know it’s a creepy old place,” Fay admitted. “I just want to thank you again for staying here. I know we don’t know each other that well, and it’s not the most welcoming place. It’s real nice of you both to keep me company.”

“We’re only too glad to help out a neighbor,” Trixie replied easily.

“I just had a flash. Are you hungry?” Fay suddenly asked, looking from Trixie to Honey. “I could make us a snack before we turn in. Or how does some hot chocolate sound?”

“Hot chocolate would be nice.” Honey thought it sounded so comfortingly normal. She was glad Fay had suggested it.

“Sure,” Trixie agreed. “Say, Fay, is there anyone else in this house besides us?”

Fay caught her breath sharply. “Someone else? Why, no. Mr. Gregory is out of town on business. And Zeke—he doesn’t stay at the house. It’s just us tonight.”

“Zeke?” Honey queried.

“Oh, he’s just an odd-job man, you know? Does handy work around the place, fixing things up,” Fay explained.

“In that case,” Trixie continued, “could we look over the house? Tour the place? If you don’t mind, I mean.”

“Tonight?” Honey couldn’t help asking.

A worry line creased Fay's brow as she thought it over. 

“I’ve always wanted to, and this seems like such a terrific chance,” Trixie pleaded.

“Can’t it wait until the morning?” Honey whispered.

Fay hesitated. “There’s really not that much to see. Most of the rooms are shut up. Besides, it will all still be here tomorrow morning, so why don’t I show you around then?”

“I suppose if I have to wait, I will.” Trixie grinned. “I know I’m eager, but it will be easier to actually see the place in daylight anyway.”

Fay actually laughed, although it was a sarcastic laugh. “This place is so dark and gloomy, I’m not sure the daylight will help. But I’d sure feel better about waiting.” She pulled a bottle of milk from the fridge and a canister of chocolate from one of the cupboards.

It wasn’t long before the girls had finished the hot chocolate and were back in Fay’s room. Trixie lost the coin toss and ended up on the armchair, although Honey told her she didn’t mind taking the chair or having Trixie squeeze into the small bed with her.

Fay sat on the edge of her bed, brushing her hair repeatedly as if using the rhythmic motion to calm her nerves, but Honey could tell she was still very anxious. As if to prove Honey’s point, Fay suddenly dropped the brush and turned toward Trixie, a quaver in her voice. “You’ve lived here a long time, haven’t you? In Sleepyside, I mean.”

“All my life,” Trixie affirmed.

Fay stared at Trixie for a moment and then shifted her eyes downward. “Then you probably know ... could you tell me, and without all the colorful rumors and exaggerations, the story of Sarah Sligo?”

Honey shuddered. She’d heard the legend of Sarah Sligo a couple of times, usually around Halloween when the kids at school liked to tell ghost stories. She’d always been able to dismiss it as a tall tale told to frighten the trick-or-treaters.

Trixie shifted a pillow and repositioned herself on the armchair. “I take it you know the story, then? There’s really not much to tell.”

“I’ve heard the story. But what I don’t know is how much of it is true.” Fay frowned. “It’s hard to tell what’s been added on to make it more interesting and what the facts are.”

“Do you really need to tell it tonight?” Honey gave Trixie an imploring look as she sat up against the headboard. “It’s spooky enough in this place without adding the atmosphere of a spooky story on top of that. I’d rather think about ... I don’t know—horses and flowers and bunnies or something.”

If Trixie was disappointed, she masked it well. “Honey’s right. I can tell you the story in the daytime—when we tour the house. There’s no need to go through it all tonight.”

“But the part about her burning alive in one of the rooms—that part is true, isn’t it?” Fay persisted.

“I, yes, as far as I know, that part is true.” Trixie sighed and then slid under the covers some more. “But the story has been told and retold for years. It all happened so long ago, it’s hard to know what else is really true.”

“And now I’m going to change the topic,” Honey announced. She wasn’t sure what Fay’s fascination with the ghost story was, but she couldn’t help feeling like it was a really bad idea to talk about anything even remotely scary.

“And what topic would that be?” Fay asked.

Honey shrugged her shoulders. She watched Fay’s face which was already relaxing into a smile. “Oh, I know. Something that will absolutely terrify Trixie—makeup!”

Trixie laughed good-naturedly. “Anything but that!”

Fay looked confused for a moment, her eyes scanning over the other girl. “What’s wrong with makeup?”

“Nothing at all,” Honey confirmed. “And I’ve been admiring that pretty shade of pink lipstick you usually wear. What brand is it?”

Fay stood up and walked over to the dresser and then pulled open one of the smaller drawers at the top. “I have a few, but they’re all pink. Here.” She pulled out some of the small tubes and handed them to Honey. “Oh, and I have some Miltown in here. Do either of you want any? I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep without it.”

Trixie shifted on the chair again. “Miltown? What’s that?”

“It’s medicine, for anxiety.” Fay picked up the bottle and quickly twisted off the top. “It’s actually my, um, mom’s. This place makes me so tense; I’m glad she has it.”

Trixie frowned. “Oh, I don’t think I should take that. I’m not sure you should, either, if it’s your mom’s. Don’t you need a prescription for that?”

“Well, sure, I guess. But it’s perfectly safe.” Fay shrugged a slim shoulder and then quickly dry-swallowed one of the oblong tablets. “She doesn’t mind if I take it. We can’t afford to have two prescriptions filled, so we share.”

The information didn’t sit well with Honey, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it right then. She liked Fay, but she started to worry about just how well they knew her. She’d have to talk to Trixie about it alone, later, or maybe even Brian, since he’d probably be more knowledgeable on the subject of those pills. “None for me, thanks.”

There was an awkward silence in the room, so Honey looked at the three tubes of lipstick Fay had handed her. “Colour Créme–Rosy Pink. Hmm.” She opened the tube and drew a thin line on the back of her hand. “That’s pretty.”

“I’ve never seen you wear lipstick,” Fay commented. “But maybe I just haven’t noticed.”

“No, I don’t usually. Not to school, anyway, but I do if I go out in the evenings.” Honey picked up the next tube.

Trixie yawned, and Honey felt slightly guilty that she’d switched the topic to something she knew her friend wasn’t interested in.

“So,” Fay sat on the edge of her bed and grinned. “Where do you go out and, more importantly, who do you go out with? And is he the cat’s pajamas?”

Honey giggled. “He’s cute. But no, my parents still think I’m too young to date. I meant mostly going out places with my parents—like dinners and stuff.” She tried the next tube on her hand.

Fay glanced at the tube Honey had just sampled. “That’s my favorite.”

Trixie half-heartedly reached for the gold tube and then looked at the bottom when Honey handed it to her. “Pink Minx.”

“Go ahead and try it,” Fay encouraged. “That color should look good with your complexion.”

Honey watched, her eyes a bit bleary from being tired, as Trixie opened the tube and looked askance at the bubble-gum pink color. Then Trixie closed it again and shook her head. “Maybe some other time.”

Fay shrugged and turned back to Honey. “You said he’s cute. So, who is he? Does he go to our school?”

Honey blushed. “No. He lives in Brooklyn.” She stifled a yawn. “No one you’d know. But what about you, do you have a boyfriend?”

Fay shook her head. “No, I’m not the going steady type. Besides, I just moved to town three weeks ago.”

Honey settled back on her bed—or rather on Mrs. Franklin’s bed, she supposed. She felt her eyes drooping as she struggled to stay awake. She was glad Fay had left the lamp on the nightstand turned on and hoped she would keep it on all night. She yawned for what was probably the third or fourth time. “Have you gone to Wimpy’s yet? Or to the Cameo for a movie?”

Fay answered her, but Honey had already fallen asleep.

 

The scream woke her up with a start. She was pretty sure she’d only been asleep for a minute or two; although it might have been more. She rubbed her eyes and looked around the small, windowless bedroom. 

Fay was sitting up in bed, her eyes wide open. “Did you hear that, too, or did I just dream it?”

“I heard it. What about you, Trixie?” Honey turned to the armchair. The blankets were pushed to the side and partially pooled onto the floor. Her friend wasn’t there. “Trixie?!”

“She’s gone,” Fay choked out. “She’s disappeared.”

“She can’t be gone.” Honey got out of bed, but there wasn’t anywhere in the room for anyone to hide.

“Maybe ... maybe the ghost got her.” Fay seemed serious.

Honey had been nearly ready to panic, but the thought of Trixie being taken by a ghost, especially after some of their more hair-raising escapades, brought her to her senses. Her own anxiety along with the lack of sleep was making her cranky, and she turned on Fay in inexplicable anger. “If this is some kind of stupid prank you’re playing on me, forget it. I’m not falling for it!”

“I’m not playing no prank! Don’t get in a twist.” Fay got up out of her bed and then knelt on the floor. She peered under both beds and then looked up at Honey. “Say, would Trixie try to fool us?”

“Never.” Honey shook her head. She was certain Trixie would never play such a cruel joke.

As if to prove her point, the bedroom door opened, Trixie ran in, and then she slammed the door shut behind her. She was pale and trembling, and Honey could see she was truly terrified.

“Trixie? What’s happened?” Honey guided Trixie to the bed and sat her down.

Fay sat on the other side of her. “It was so awful waking up and seeing you were gone. Why did you scream? I mean, it was you that screamed, right? Did you ... did you hear something?”

“N-no. It wasn’t anything I heard.” Trixie was quickly recovering from whatever had frightened her. “At least not just what I heard. It was something I thought I saw.” She frowned and clasped her hands together. “Of course, I couldn’t have seen what I thought I saw. What I thought I saw was something that nobody in their right mind could see, so I couldn’t have seen it. Do you see?”

“No,” Honey replied flatly. She knew she and Trixie often talked in a round-about way and she usually had no problem following her friend’s sometimes circular logic, but she was far too tired to try and make sense of that speech right then. “I haven’t got the faintest idea what you’re talking about. Why did you leave the room in the first place?”

Fay was looking apprehensive at the answer, and for a moment Honey wished Trixie would say something normal, like she was thirsty and had gone to get some water. Of course, Trixie, being Trixie, would likely have a far more interesting reason to have left the room. Honey remembered the hazy figure Trixie had seen earlier in the evening and shuddered.

“I went to see if the back door was locked,” Trixie said in a rush.

Honey felt her shoulders relax at the normal-sounding explanation. She listened as Trixie recounted her tale. She had checked the doors and noticed a light on in the kitchen. Honey’s eyes started drooping again, but Trixie was tense, so Honey knew there had to be more to the story.

“You were about to go into the kitchen and turn off the light,” Fay was saying, “when you saw—what?”

“A mouse.”

A mouse! Honey’s eyes shot open and she stared at her friend long and hard. “You saw a mouse?” There was no way her friend had screamed like that over a mouse. Not Trixie. Di maybe—and even that was just a maybe—but never Trixie. Honey lay her head back on the pillow. “I can’t believe that’s all it was.”

“It—uh—startled me,” Trixie supplied. 

It was a lame excuse, and Honey knew it. She’d have to ask Trixie what she really saw, but she didn’t want to know the truth until it was morning. She had a feeling the answer would be more palatable in daylight.

In the other bed, Fay both sighed and yawned at the same time. “Is that all it was? You scared the hell out of us. I thought—that is—well, maybe it was just a field mouse. They do come in from the marsh all the time.”

Whatever Trixie said in answer to that, Honey never heard as she drifted back to sleep once again.


chapter 4: when the morning scares you