Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Three Hundred and Ninety-two: To the other side

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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO

“Mommy?” Katy asked. “Is that you?”

“Katy,” Jill’s voice dropped with relief at hearing her daughter’s voice. “How are you?”

“We’re okay,” Katy said. “Don’t worry, Mommy. We’ve been working and we’re a little bit hungry but we’re okay.”

“They’re okay,” Jill said to the adult in the parent waiting room. Everyone brightened.

“Paddie wants to know if his mommy is waiting for him or if she’s too busy with baby Connor,” Katy said. Katy looked at Paddie and he nodded.

“She’s right here,” Jill said.

“She’s waiting for you, not with the stupid baby,” Katy said with a nod.

“Katy!” Jill said.

“Well, it’s true Mommy!” Katy said. “She spends all her time with that stupid baby.”

“Gosh, Katy, do you think that of me?” Jill asked.

Katy didn’t respond.

“Are you seriously fighting with Katy over the telephone?” Sandy asked. “Give me that phone.”

“She said that I spent too much time with the boys!” Jill said.

“You are insane,” Sandy said.

Sandy wrested the phone out of her best friend’s hand.

“Katy?” Sandy asked. “It’s Auntie Sandy.”

“Hi, Auntie Sandy!” Katy said.

“Your mother is having a moment,” Sandy said.

“Oh, okay,” Katy said in a sad voice. She sniffed back a tear. “I thought maybe I hurt her feelings and I was really missing her and if it wasn’t for her, I might be one of these ghosts and …”

“No,” Sandy said firmly. Tears started streaming down Jill’s face. “You did not hurt her feelings. You know how she gets.”

“Oh, okay,” Katy said. In a softer voice, she asked, “Are you sure?”

“Trust me,” Sandy said. “I’m sure.”

“Okay,” Katy said.

“We’re working really hard to try to get you out,” Sandy said. “Your father is being annoying as usual.”

Katy giggled. Jacob winked at Sandy.

“Delphie’s here and Paddie’s Mom,” Sandy said. “And a bunch of the guys from Lipson. Noelle’s daddy had to work but he’s here in the building doing phone calls and stuff.”

Sandy gestured for everyone to say something and they said, “Hello!” or “Hi!” or just her name “Katy!”

“That sounds good,” Katy said.

“Did you need something?” Sandy asked.

“Hey!” Edie the fairy stuck her head in the room. Seeing Jill, she asked, “Where are the boys?”

Jill waved Edie into the room. Wiping away her tears, she updated Edie.

“I wanted to know how send ghosts to the other side,” Katy said. “My daddy can do it but I don’t know how.”

“Hang on Katy. Jacob?” Sandy asked. She didn’t dare give him the phone for the possibility of him doing something stupid. “Katy wants to know how to send ghosts to the other side.”

Jacob turned toward Sandy. His hazel eyes blinked.

“Do you know how to do that?” Sandy asked.

“I can,” Jacob said. “It’s just something …”

Jacob turned to look at Delphie. He gave her a little shrug.

“When Jacob was a baby, they lived in this ratty apartment downtown, when downtown was pretty bad,” Delphie said. “There were so many lost souls that … He just did it.”

“You can’t teach your daughter?” Sandy asked. “Seriously?”

“I can,” Edie said.

“You know how to do this?” Sandy asked.

“No,” Edie shook her head vehemently. “It’s not something that …”

Her eyes scanned the people she didn’t know. She rubbed her fingers together and the men shifted away from them.

“Fairies can’t do that,” Edie said. “But I can teach anyone to do anything.”

“How will that work?” Jill asked.

“Easy,” Edie said. “Jacob will show me how he does it and I’ll teach Katy.”

Sandy blinked at Edie. She put the phone to her ear.

“Katy?” Sandy asked into the phone.

“Can any fairy do it?” Jacob asked. “I always thought it was my fairy blood that made it happen.”

“Um …” Edie tapped her cheek with her index finger.

“We’re talking it through,” Sandy said to Katy. “Edie’s here but …”

“She can’t do it,” Katy said.

“You’re right,” Sandy said into the phone.

“My sister Aife might be able to,” Edie said. “The Blue Fairy is charged with escorting child souls to the afterlife.”

“She seems to have missed some,” Sandy said.

“None of us is perfect,” Edie said.

Delphie smiled and Edie disappeared. The Lipson Construction team were released from the spell and turned to Jacob.

“Maybe it would be best if we call you back,” Sandy said to Katy.

“Wasn’t your nanny here?” Jason the project manager asked. “I wanted to ask her if she could help us out sometimes.”

“She …” Jill started.

“Okay,” Edie said after she appeared out of nowhere.

“Hang on, Katy,” Sandy said. “I think we have an answer.”

Jason’s mouth fell open. She snapped his fingers and he turned back to the Lipson Construction team.

“Aife is on her way,” Edie said.

“Can she do it?” Sandy asked.

“Sort of,” Edie said. “She can lead them to the opening, but she can’t make it happen. I’ll get Jacob to show me what he does and then teach Katy.”

“What if it’s not in her skill set?” Jacob asked.

“We’ll figure something else out,” Edie said.

“Are you still there, Katy?” Sandy asked.

“If Edie’s coming, can you ask her to bring us something to eat and some juice or something?” Katy asked.

“You bet!” Edie said.

“You can hear her?” Jill asked.

“Of course,” Edie said. “I wish you’d called me. I could have helped.”

“You can’t get in,” Jill said. “They sealed the building.”

“You can if you’re really small!” Edie grinned. She looked off into space. “Okay, Aife’s ready. I’d better meet her or Paddie will probably slice her in two.”

Edie disappeared with a wave.

“Edie’s coming to you, Katy,” Sandy said.

“Okay,” Katy said and hung up the phone.

Shaking her head, Sandy looked at the phone and scowled.

“She just hung up,” Sandy said.

“She’s five,” Delphie said. “She has the manners of a five year old. A polite five year old, but still …”

“What’s your excuse for your phone behavior?” Jacob asked Delphie.

Delphie laughed.

“She didn’t learn how Jacob does it,” Jill said.

“She pulled it from his mind,” Delphie said.

“Did you know she was?” Jill asked.

“When she asked me how I did it,” Jacob nodded. “Then Delphie mentioned how I learned. She was pulling memories all of that time.”

“Oh,” Jill said. “You think …”

Rather than respond, Jacob hugged Jill tight. Still holding the phone, Sandy stared off into space. After a moment, she left the room. She rushed to the wall where the schematics said the utility space was located. She pulled a chair over to the wall. Since she’d lost weight for the wedding, she was easily able to sit down in the child’s chair.

“What are you doing?” Jill asked.

“Noelle learned Morse Code with Paddie and Katy in one of those survival classes,” Sandy said. “I only learned how to say ‘help’ and ‘I love you’. I thought I’d tell her …”

“Let’s do it,” Jill nodded.

“I love you,” Sandy tapped on the wall.

“I love you,” Noelle tapped back.

Sandy smiled and stood up. Jill and Sandy were hugging when Delphie came in.

“This seems like the best place to wait,” Delphie said with a smile. “Let the men do what they need to.”

Jill gave Delphie a nod and they settled in to wait.

~~~~~~~~

Tuesday afternoon —3:35 p.m.
Denver, Colorado

“Why did you use Morse Code on the wall?” Paddie asked.

He was on the second floor coloring in a puffy cloud. Katy was on other side of the second floor near the outer wall. Noelle was a floor above them working on the portal.

“My Mom told me that she loved me,” Noelle said. “I told her that I loved her back.”

“How did you know if was her?” Paddie asked.

“Because she always does it wrong,” Noelle said with a smile. “She says ‘I you love.’”

“You said it back!” Paddie grinned at Noelle, and Katy giggled. “That was nice.”

Noelle smiled and nodded. They fell silent as they worked.

“Oh wow,” a tiny voice came from below.

“D-d-did you h-h-hear s-s-something?” Paddie asked in a loud, terror-filled whisper.

“Oh my goodness,” another tiny voice said from below.

“Careful Paddie,” Katy said. She put her hand out to create a force field to keep him on the wall. When she was sure he was secure, she yelled down, “Who’s down there?”

“Is that the child?” the second tiny voice asked.

“Yes,” the first tiny voice said. “Katy, it’s me, Edie. I’m here with my sister, Aife.”

The children heard a flap of wings and two five inch big fairies flew up. One fairy shone a bright blue light. Edie looked like herself.

“We had to get really tiny to get through the wall,” Edie said. “We have to stay this size to get out.”

“Why is she here?” Paddie asked about Aife. “She tried to hurt Katy.”

“I didn’t try to hurt her,” Aife said. “I just wanted to see her.”

“Oh,” Paddie said. He looked at Katy and asked, “Should I cut her in half?”

“Eeep!” Aife’s tiny voice screamed.

“Let’s see what they want first,” Katy said with a nod.

“What do you want?” Paddie asked.

“She’s the blue fairy, Paddie,” Edie said. “Look.”

Edie pointed. The ghost children had assembled around the blue light.

“She’s a magnet for lost children, particularly child ghosts,” Edie said. “She wanted to help the child ghosts get to where they belong.”

“But I don’t know how to do it,” Katy said. “And my Daddy can’t teach me.”

“I can,” Edie said. “Do you trust me, Katy?”

“No,” Paddie said at the same time Katy said, “I guess so.”

“Wait a minute,” Noelle intervened protectively. “Why would Katy need to trust you?”

Edie looked at Noelle and cringed.

“Why are you glowing?” Edie asked.

“Who is that, Edie?” Aife asked.

“It’s Noelle,” Edie said. “You remember the human child, daughter to Aden.”

“Why is she glowing?” the Blue Fairy whispered.

“I don’t know, Aife,” Edie said. “Do you, Noelle?”

“She always does that when she’s painting or drawing,” Katy said with a shrug. “It’s a human thing. My mommy says that when a human is doing their God given talent, they glow with the light of the Universe.”

“I will protect Katy and Paddie,” Noelle said.

“Yes, I see that,” Edie said. “Do you trust me, Noelle?”

“Not at all,” Noelle said.

“This isn’t going to work,” the tiny Blue Fairy said in a loud whisper. “I thought you said these kids liked you.”

Edie scowled at her sister.

“Why don’t you trust me, Noelle?” Edie asked.

“Why should I?” Noelle asked. “I don’t know you at all. You take care of the babies. I don’t think I’ve spent more than a minute with you.”

Edie blinked at Noelle. She would have never given this human girl another thought, but she was clearly drawing some kind of power here.

“But I do trust Paddie’s Uncle Jimmy,” Noelle said.

“He’s great,” Paddie said. Katy nodded.

“He loves you, so that’s got to matter for something,” Noelle said.

The children nodded in agreement.

“Will you allow me to teach Katy to open the portal?” Edie asked.

“Is that okay with you, Katy?” Noelle asked.

“I want to go home,” Katy said. “If we finish this, we can go home.”

“Paddie, you stand at the ready, in case things get weird,” Noelle said.

“It’s already weird,” Paddie whispered to Noelle.

“Weirder,” Noelle said.

“Got it,” Paddie said.

“Come down and we’ll start,” Edie said. “It’s really not safe up there.”

Katy and Paddie started climbing down to the ground.

“You too, Noelle,” Edie said.

“I’m not done,” Noelle said.

“I bet you’ll have time to do it later,” Edie said. “I know Mike is on his way here to help.”

“Plus, you don’t want to be in the way of the ghosts.” The Blue Fairy’s voice came from the center of a mob of child ghosts.

“Good point,” Noelle said.

She climbed down behind Katy. When they were all safely on the ground, Edie looked up again.

“I have to tell you,” Edie said. “This is truly magnificent. You drew all of this, Noelle?”

“Uh-huh,” Noelle said. “Paddie and Katy helped with the colors.”

“It’s stunning,” the Blue Fairy’s voice came from somewhere above them. “Edie? Can you hurry?”

“Oh, right,” Edie said. In a softer voice, she said, “Aife has to hold all the ghosts. It’s a lot of work.”

“What do I have to do?” Katy asked.

“Let’s start,” Edie said. “Paddie bring your sword. I have a feeling that you’ll need it before we’re done.”

“What do I do?” Noelle asked. She was leaning against the wall where Sandy had tapped.

“Why don’t you take a nap, Noelle?” Edie asked. “We’ll need you to draw a way out of here for yourself, Paddie and Katy. I don’t know what that will take. It might not be easy.”

“Oh good,” Noelle said. “I’m exhausted.”

Noelle slid down the wall until she was sitting slumped against the wall. Katy and Paddie moved to the side of space with the five-inch Edie. Noelle fell asleep before Edie started teaching.

~~~~~~~~

Tuesday afternoon —3:55 p.m.
Denver, Colorado

“You said something about an Orphan Train?” Jill asked Delphie.

“I think that’s where these child ghosts came from,” Delphie said.

“What is an Orphan Train?” Sandy asked.

“It’s a train of orphans,” Delphie said. “It started as a charitable idea. In the late 1800s, there were more than thirty thousand of orphans roving the streets of New York City. A group of people got together and created this Orphan Train. They would take orphans and send them out of New York City to the farms, fields, and factories to the west. Most of the kids ended up in Indiana early on, but there were quite a few here in Denver.”

“Along the Trans-Continental Railway,” Sandy said with a nod. “Nash and Teddy did a presentation on the railway. Went from New York City to San Francisco. But, I thought it didn’t go through Denver.”

“There was an off shoot that stopped in Denver,” Delphie said with a nod. “We talk about it like there was one Orphan Train, but it was common practice to ship orphans out of orphanages across the country. If you were an orphan in Chicago, you could be shipped off to a farm.”

“Wow,” Sandy said. “That’s so … They didn’t check who got these kids?”

“No,” Delphie said. “No background checks or questions, and no records either. No one really knows how many kids or where they went. The train would stop at a station. A farmer or factory owner would pick up children at the station and put them to work. Nameless children could be placed on the Orphan Train at any stop. There weren’t child labor laws so lots of Orphan Train kids worked in factories throughout the Midwest. They also worked the farms, built roads, and worked in the coal mines of the Midwest and the gold mines of the West. Kids went as far as Canada and Mexico.”

“Were they all orphans?” Sandy asked.

“Of course not,” Delphie said. “When you’re talking about his many children, you’re bound to have kids from poor families or unwanted kids along with orphans.”

“Abortion wasn’t legal,” Sandy said. “There was no birth control.”

“No foster care either,” Jill said.

“Right, the Orphan Train pre-dates foster care,” Delphie said with a nod. “Also, they took kids as old as eighteen years. Some kids joined the train just to get out of New York and find work. Opportunity lay out west. The Orphan Train was a way to get there.”

“You said these kids were in a stock car,” Sandy said.

“The Children’s Aid Society of New York City put kids in passenger cars,” Delphie said. “They had money and wealthy backers. But orphanages in Nebraska or Minnesota or wherever couldn’t afford passenger cars. They stuffed the kids into stock cars.”

“And the kid ghosts here at the school?” Jill asked.

“The train cars derailed on its way to Denver’s Union Station,” Delphie said.

“Any idea why?” Sandy asked.

“No one seems to know,” Delphie said. “I was lucky to find information about it at all. The railroad kept careful records so we know about the train derailing. There’s a mention that one of the stock cars had orphans in it. But no one kept track of where the kids came from or who they were.”

“It’s hard to imagine that no one cared,” Sandy said.

“Our past was brutal,” Delphie said with a nod.

“Still is for some,” Sandy said in a wry voice.

“You’re absolutely right,” Delphie said with a nod. “We can only hope to make the future great for those we love.”

“That’s what this school is about,” Jill said with a nod. “We want to help all the kids become the biggest and brightest they can possibly be.”

Just then, there was a loud “Whoosh” and the entire building shook. The vibration was so intense and severe that Sandy and Jill were knocked out of their seats. Delphie fell to her knees. They heard the men yell from down the hallway. The shaking stopped as suddenly as it started.

“What was that?” Sandy asked.

~~~~~~~~

Tuesday afternoon —3:55 p.m.
Denver, Colorado

“Did you get it?” Edie asked.

“I think so,” Katy said.

Paddie nudged Noelle and she opened her eyes.

“What’s going on?” Noelle asked.

“Katy’s going to try it,” Paddie said. “But …”

Katy turned to look at Paddie.

“I don’t like it,” Paddie said. “You have to do all this stuff and that’s just not how thing work.”

“What do you mean?” Edie asked in an exasperated voice.

“Katy and I do everything together,” Paddie said. He stuck his chin out stubbornly.

“Katy has fairy blood in her,” Edie said.

“I thought fairies couldn’t open the portal,” Noelle said.

Edie gave Noelle a frustrated look.

“Why don’t we let Katy try?” Edie asked.

“Because Katy is a little girl,” Noelle said. “Not a pet or a science fair project. If something happens to her, she will be hurt or maybe die.”

“What if she gets sucked inside?” Paddie asked. “I wouldn’t like that very much.”

“Why don’t we let Katy decide?” Edie asked.

Katy looked at Paddie and then at Noelle. With a shrug, she waved her hand at the place Noelle had placed the portal.

Nothing happened.

“Didn’t work,” Katy said in a discouraged voice. “I can’t do it.”

The little girl scowled.

“I don’t feel very good,” Katy said.

Katy’s knees buckled and she dropped to the ground.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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