“You mean marriage?” Noah gulped. “Wow, okay, I didn’t see that one coming.”
Olivia didn’t like the expression on his face. It was as if he was about to have a tiring conversation with a five year old, who wanted to get a toy and he was the dad about to try and reason with her before either of them lost it.
“Olivia, this thing with my job hasn’t even started. I don’t know how things will work out in the long run. It would be impulsive not to mention careless, to start making plans for……that, now.”
“I’m not saying grab your coat and let’s go to city hall and do it. I’m talking about making a plan. You know maybe set a potential date so we can start saving money. Maybe we could go together and look at houses. I love this house but I want us to start in a place of our own. I’m doing fine at my job and I’m pretty sure we could apply for a loan. It’s just we have never before talked about marriage. I’m proposing we do.”
Her hand reached out for her glass of wine and she gulped down what was left of it. Tracy had warned her that Noah, or any man for that matter, would not jump at the idea and say, “Sure honey, I wonder why I didn’t think of it before.” Tracy’s words had been, “The moment men come in close contact with a female uttering the feared “M” word, their brains shut off. It’s genetically programed.”
But whatever Noah was truly feeling made Olivia uneasy and insecure. It was what she couldn’t read in his face that worried her the most, what he wasn’t saying.
“Ollie, this is not a decision we can make on lightly. We’re both still very young, there’s just so much you and I need to do before taking on a commitment as big as that one.”
I hate it when you call me Ollie. Olivia made a mental scowl. She could stand in front of a group of teenagers and have their attention, but God knew why she had never had the guts to tell Noah she hated it when he called her Ollie.
Noah’s avoidance of the word marriage at the end of his sentence made her want to reach for the wine bottle between them and quaff down its entire contents. His posture signaled not discomfort per se but something even worse, dread. Like he’d been really praying this talk would never happen between them.
“I know it’s a huge decision, but what else do we have to do before we get married? This is the prefect moment for us. I feel it.”
Okay, Tracy had strictly forbidden her to take on a pleading tone. After all, she wasn’t proposing to him, let alone begging him to do so himself. Olivia would be merely voicing what she wanted to happen between them in a not so far future.
Olivia definitely was beginning to feel like that five year old girl who wasn’t going to get the shiny new toy.
“Look, I’m not saying I wouldn’t want it to happen in the future.”
“All I’m saying is, let’s take it easy.”
Yeah, because we’ve been rushing things for the past ten years.
“Just so you know, I do see us together, Ollie. Let’s just be patient. Marriage is a commitment that needs more tangible things to function than you feeling ready. You know that, don’t you honey?”
The rational person in her sighed, agreeing with Noah’s words. Besides, what were a few more years after all?
Maybe he is right. Maybe I am rushing things up.
“No, you’re not! This is what you want, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Olivia’s eyes went huge with panic. Had she spoken out aloud?
Great, nice going Olivia.
Only, that hadn’t sounded like her voice at all. Throwing Noah a quick glance to see a sign if any of her thoughts had indeed come out of her mouth, she relaxed her body as all he did next was get up and start clearing their plates from the table.
What the hell? Emilia had witnessed the change in the woman’s expression the second her desperate plea left her mouth.
My God, did she hear me? That’s impossible. I’m not here. I don’t exist anymore.
What was she doing here, by the way? Was this His version of hell? Emilia the ghost, witnessing two people going through the same thing she and Sam had gone through?
“I want to get out of here.” Emilia whined turning her head up to the starless sky.
Olivia’s body froze in place. Her hand holding the half empty bottle of wine began to shake as she heard a voice, definitely not hers, complain. There was a horrible crawling feeling at the back of her neck, like someone was standing behind her, watching her intently.
Taking a deep breath, she turned her body around until she stood facing the window. The noise that came out of her mouth was so sudden and drenched with fear, it caused Noah to drop the plates he had been loading inside the dishwasher.
Emilia assumed that if she were alive, her face would’ve turned a sickly shade of gray, similar to the woman standing inside the house. She was now positive that she’d heard the woman’s thoughts. The conversation they’d been having was one Emilia could have recited by heart from all the times she and Sam had had it, too.
This woman’s thoughts had boomed out into the air around her, as if a microphone had been planted inside the other woman’s head.
“Jesus, Olivia what’s wrong?” Noah came rushing out from the kitchen grabbing her trembling hands.
“I…..” She pointed with her finger to the woman currently gaping at her with a mixture of shock, bewilderment and curiosity. Or at least that’s what she thought she saw. Maybe it was all the wine she’d downed tonight. Because there was no way what she was seeing was real. Especially since she could make out the shape of Ms. Lopez’s house through this woman’s body.
“What?” Noah went to stand next to the window to see if could catch whatever had caused Olivia to scream like she’d just seen a freaking ghost.
“You don’t see her?”
“A woman, I’m sure I saw….”
Noah’s puzzled face turned one more time to stare outside but found nothing. The only people on the street were Olivia’s neighbors walking their golden lab. Somehow, he doubted they’d make her scream like she’d seen a dead person outside her window.
“There’s no one out there.”
“I….really? There’s no one outside the house?”
“Honey, I think you had too much wine tonight. Maybe I should go. I have to work late tonight anyway.”
“There’s no one?……Wait a minute. You’re leaving? But, but….we aren’t done talking and, and….” And you haven’t given me an answer.
“And you won’t get one any time soon, trust me.”
Call her crazy but Olivia saw the woman’s lips move. The woman Noah said was not there.
“Olivia, I’m tired. It’s been a long day. And clearly you are, too. You don’t look well. I’ll just take care of the mess in the kitchen and get going. We can talk another time.” Noah bent down to kiss her forehead and disappeared back inside the kitchen. Seconds later, she heard him open the small closet where she kept the broom and dustpan.
“I know you can see me and hear me, Olivia.”
Emilia felt ridiculous being here outside talking through the glass. Well, more ridiculous than being dead and having some strange woman she’d never met before, be the only person able to see her.
“No, you’re not real. Noah is right, I’m tired and little bit drunk.” Olivia hissed at the strange fixture of her imagination currently sulking at her from outside her dining room.
“Well, I don’t know if being dead disqualifies me as being real but you’re neither drunk nor tired, believe me.”
Walking over to stand face to face with the woman with the very disturbing appearance, Olivia touched the glass with her hand. The strange apparition mimicked her move. The minute their palms were pressed against the cold glass, the feeling of loss and despair she’d felt earlier tonight shut through her, making her entire body shiver.
“You’re not real. I’ve probably passed out from all the wine I had and Noah is taking me upstairs to my room and all of this is happening inside my head.”
Olivia started backing away until with a shake of her head, she began heading back to the kitchen.
“Wait! I know this sounds so Ghost Whisperer and you definitely do not look like Melinda Gordon, but you’re the first person to see me since I died, please, just……can we talk?”
Talk? Sure, Emilia. Why don’t you just ask her to grab a cup of coffee and you two can chat about the mysteries of life and dead.
Noah came out from the kitchen and almost collided with a petrified and distracted Olivia. He knew she wasn’t a drinker, but could two glasses and a half of wine cause her to act this weird? With growing concern he took her face in his hands and stared straight into those huge pools of chocolate that were trying to avoid his inspection.
“Hey, you want me to stay with you? Seriously, you don’t seem fine.”
Right at this moment she wanted nothing more than for him to stay but the least she needed now was to think about his evasion of the whole marriage topic, or her wanting to talk about it, which would without a doubt lead to a late night argument. They always made her feel worse than if she’d had three bottles of wine by herself.
“No, no. I have to work, too. Papers to grade and such. I’ll just drink a glass of milk and I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Okay. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Noah grabbed his coat from the closet next to the staircase and kissed Olivia lightly on the lips before opening the door and vanishing into the dark, chilly night.
Her heart was hammering hard against her chest as the sound of Noah’s car meant she was now truly by herself. Which she was. And before going to bed, she was going to grab that glass of milk and a pack of Oreo’s and eat them while she read her book club’s latest choice for this month, Ink Exchange, by Melissa Marr. They had their next meeting this Wednesday before going away for Thanksgiving. She was already halfway through it.
Inside her kitchen, Olivia reached for the cupboard above the white granite countertop and took out a glass, then she stretched her other hand back to open the fridge. Her kitchen was insanely small, she could extend her arms and almost touch each wall with her fingers. Pouring a nice cold glass of milk and taking out a pack of cookies from another cupboard, Olivia turned off the light switch and avoided directing her gaze to her dining room’s window.
But a familiar and over developed instinct, which always helped her when her students were lying about not doing their assignments assured her this time when she focused her attention on the window in front of her, she would find it empty. Strangely enough, a part of her could still feel the other woman out there somewhere.
Faster now, Olivia started going up the stairs while she began humming to herself, as she had done countless times as a kid after her parents had checked inside the closet for the monster from her nightmares and she would still be afraid. She chose to hum one of Colbie Caillat’s newest songs and made her way up the stairs to her bedroom.
It wouldn’t hurt if she slept with her bedside lamp on. Just in case the monster came back again tonight.