Monthly Chapter – September 2021: Chapter 20

On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Moves In. This is the first book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series.

Chapter 20

Tansy stared at the file.  She asked herself why a woman would sue her sister instead of talking it out and received an answer in her head. ‘Well that’s not normal.’ She thought.

Tansy took a deep breath. ‘Why did you sue her?’ Tansy thought looking at the file again.

‘Because she slept with my husband.’

The answer came again, just as clear as the first time.  She flipped through the pages wondering if there was anything special about this file.  Her eyes skimmed the words but in her head she heard two voices arguing.

‘He was mine first.’

‘But he married me.’

‘After you stole him.’

The words were dim but clear, like an argument heard through an air vent.  Tansy took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  ‘The book id mention different senses,’ Tansy recalled.  ‘And I did smell the grass and the goat when I made the picture in the magazine move.’

She wondered if this was her hearing kicking in. She wasn’t certain how to control her hearing.  She closed her eyes and heard the dim whisperings of an argument.  It reached a stage where the two sisters were simply hurling insults at each other. 

‘That is enough of that,’ she decided.  ‘I am going to type in this file and you are going to remain quiet as I do so.’

The voices faded into nothing.  In the silence, Tansy opened her eyes. ‘Just text typed into paper,’ she reminded herself.  ‘No talking.’

She set the file next to her computer and turned it to the first page.  She typed in the first page.  No voices rose up.  Slowly Tansy went through the information, transferring it from the old paper copy to the digital file.  As she typed there was no mention of husband stealing or infidelity.  There was nothing to show that this was anything other than a land dispute between sisters.

Tansy finished typing up the file and set it to the side.  She moved to the next file.  It felt lighter in her hand.  Tansy frowned.  The files were about the same thickness and contained roughly the same number of pages.  There was no reason for the second one to feel lighter. 

Tansy glanced around and saw that no one was looking in her direction.  She heard the clickty clack of keyboard keys as others typed in information and she heard Ms. Abbot’s voice as she answered a call in polite, professional tones.  Tansy picked up the file from the completed land dispute in her right hand and the new file in her left.  They felt the same in her hand.  The same paper, the same width, but yet the file with the bickering sisters felt more substantial, weighted.

Frowning, Tansy put the completed file back on the cart and resumed her work.  This time she didn’t have to focus on not getting the file to speak as there were no voices in her head.  The file dealt with a breach of contract.  While the terms were all official, there seemed to be something personal behind it.  Wondering if her question would be answered Tansy thought a question at the file.

‘Was there something personal?’

She kept the question fairly generic.  There was no response from the file.  ‘Maybe I imagined the first one,’ she thought.  Normally she would just believe that her imagination was playing tricks on her, after all as a child she imagined all sorts of things.

‘And not just when I was small,’ she reminded herself.  She remembered sitting in a lecture in college and thinking her teacher looked drawn and more tired than usual.  The lesson was boring and she day dreamed that her teacher’s sister and their small child was visiting and the child was altering sleep patterns.  She remembered how the idea simply sprung into her head.  Things like that were always happening when she wasn’t paying attention. As soon as she allowed her attention to drift, little thoughts about the inner workings of those around her would pop into her head. She imagined love affairs and broken hearts as well as health issues and noisy neighbors.  There was never a logic to her day dreams, it would just be a story there in her head.

‘But I was paying attention this time,’ a small voice inside her said.  Tansy shook the thought way and continued with her data entry.  The next few files flowed smoothly and Tansy was able to put some of the strangeness behind her.  Then she picked up a file.  Like the first one it seemed heavier than the others despite not outwardly looking any different.  This time as soon as she opened the file she heard the voice.

‘It was mine,’ the voice said.  ‘He had no right.’

Somehow the voice was not as big a shock as the first file.  There was no answering voice from the second person, just one male voice complaining bitterly about how he was cheated. Tansy took a moment and concentrating on blocking the voice out of her head.  It quieted and faded.  Eventually Tansy heard nothing. 

The file still felt heavier than the others as she began typing it in.  Sure enough, it did deal with the theft of property. Even though Tansy managed to keep the voice quiet, the file still felt as though it wanted to speak.  She hurried through her data entry, relieved when she could close the file and set it with the other completed ones.

With some trepidation, Tansy reached for the next file.  Compared to the other, it felt almost light as a feather.  This file had nothing to say that wasn’t typed into the page.  The next five files were the same.  Another weighted one came out of the stack.  Tansy’s eyes watered at the broken hearted voice she heard before she managed to block the voice from her head. 

As Tansy worked, the stack grew smaller.  Only a few of the files were heavy in her mind and those were the only ones she had issues with voices rising.  By the end of the day, Tansy felt as though she could tell which files would speak before she even touched them.  There was a feeling in her mind, a weight before she even felt the file’s heft in her hands.

‘Luckily there aren’t that many,’ Tansy thought. 

As the day wound to a close, Ms. Abbot returned, thrilled with Tansy’s progress.  Work day complete, Tansy went back to her apartment.  After a quick dinner, she resumed her packing.

‘Maybe it’s like the paintings,’ Tansy thought.  The oil paintings locked up in the house felt like they wanted to leap off of the canvas whereas the goat had required a great deal of effort in order to get him to move a single step.  Tansy was pretty sure the paintings at the house were created by those with magic.  They just felt different. 

‘I can’t imagine why else they would feel different.’  Tansy tried to recall if the ship painting in the bank felt different and couldn’t. She shook it off to continue her thoughts. ‘The files that wanted to talk felt heavier than the others so maybe those had something to do with people who had magic while the others didn’t.’ Tansy wondered if she could get the files that weren’t heavy to talk the way she got the goat cheese advertisement to move.

‘That might not be a good idea at the office,’ Tansy decided.  ‘Maybe I’ll just practice the control of not getting the voices to talk to me at the office, while I practice getting thigs that don’t want to talk or move to talk or move out of the office.’

To her mind that sounded like a much better plan.  ‘Now that I’m not causing damage, I’d hate to be let go because I’m the nutter talking to files in the back room.’

Tansy glanced at the magazine, but decided to continue with her packing for the night first.  ‘If I get everything packed up I can fit everything in the car and take it down Friday. Then I can come back, clean on Sunday and turn my keys in on Monday. ‘  Tansy placed another bag by the door.  If anyone went through her things while she was at work, she couldn’t tell.  When she arrived home, Chris hadn’t been waiting so she didn’t know if the Weathersby’s were regrouping or just taking the night off.

Tansy shoved the thought to the side.  With as little as she kept at the apartment, she wouldn’t actually need the entire week to pack.  She tried to decide if there was anything she needed to pick up in the stores here before she headed out to Oak Hill.

After she finished packing for the night, Tansy sat down in front of the television and began making her list. By the time she was ready for bed, the list wasn’t long.  Tansy didn’t think she’d need much, but she felt as though it would be easier to pick up some basics before she had to contend with the Weathersbys.  She knew that by the highway there was a strip of big box stores she could patronize however they were also likely to be the ones the Weathersby family visited and Tansy felt It might be better to pick up things like extra socks and whatnot in a place where she didn’t have to dodge the couple. 

‘And thus far Chris has only bothered me here at the building.’ Tansy shrugged.  ‘Although I haven’t really gone anywhere in a while.’ Her on again off again employment kept her budget pretty tight.  While Tansy wasn’t entirely certain which of Eunice’s funds she could use without causing damage to the system, knowing that the money was there gave her a little bit more freedom.  She didn’t need to go out and have a large shopping extravaganza but replacing a few worn out items wouldn’t be bad before her time was spent more in commuting.

Satisfied with her list and her reasoning, Tansy slipped easily into sleep.  The next morning she rose, and dressed for work.  While she would normally leave her phone at home during the day, today Tansy bundled it up along with its charging cord and after checking to make certain the ringer was off, she put it into her work bag.  She shook her head at her own behavior but left the phone in the bag anyway.

Leaving the building was almost a repeat of Monday with Chris greeting her in the hallway as the two walked to their cars.  Again the topic of choice was weather.  The rain threatening the night before never arrived but the sky still looked gray and low.  Clouds scuttled across the expanse as though they were being chased. While the breeze below was slow and steady, above the wind appeared to be blowing fiercely.  The air was wet enough to ring yet Tansy somehow suspected they weren’t going to get any rain today either.  She wasn’t certain why she felt so, and decided to keep her suspicions to herself.

‘But it will be tomorrow before the rain actually hits,’ She decided as she slid into her car and began the drive to work.  She made a mental note to get out her rain boots and umbrella when she got homs to they would be ready for the following morning.

In the office, Tansy was once again settled with files.  She braced herself, but the morning passed with none of the weighted files appearing.  At lunch she was invited to sit with a couple of the other office workers. As she accepted, Tansy wondered if she had finally gone long enough without mishap for the others to want to associate with her or if she had passed some sort of invisible line that marked her as possibly sticking around long enough to be worth knowing. Either way she decided not to question it and spent a companionable lunch hour instead of sitting alone.

Back at her desk, Tansy continued to input the files.  She only went a short way before she could feel a weighted one come to the top of the stack.  Tansy reached out and before her hand touched the stack she could feel that it was going to be one of the ones that spoke to her.  Tansy pulled her hand back and the weight faded.  She blinked and slowly edged her hand forward.  It was at about eight inches distant that Tansy could feel the weight, as though the file radiated the feeling of weight.

‘But I can’t hear the voices until I touch it,’ she thought.  ‘If I can feel the weight earlier then maybe I can block the voices completely.’

 Tansy stared at the file.  ‘You will not speak,’ she told it.  ‘I don’t want to hear you speak right now.  Stay silent.’ She focused her will on the file, directing it to keep silent.  Slowly she eased her hand forward. As she touched the file, Tansy could feel it wanting to speak.  It was almost like a person barely containing a secret they desperately wanted to whisper.

‘No,’ she told it firmly.  The feeling of wanting to speak faded although the files weight remained.  Tansy opened the file and began to type in the information.  She deliberately tried not to think too hard about the information.  She tried not to let questions surface in her mind as to why actions were taken and decisions made.  Several questions rose in her mind but she squashed them, knowing they would simply be invitations to the voices.  She wanted to give them no opening. 

Tansy completed the file without a single voice in her head and carefully set it on the cart to be returned to the archives to await transfer to more permanent off site storage. As the file left her hands and a normal, ordinary file awaited her, Tansy let herself relax slightly and feel a small sense of accomplishment.  She told the file to stay quiet and it did.

‘Progress,’ She thought. ‘Maybe I won’t end up setting all of the sheep loose from the painting as well.’

There were two more heavy files that day and Tansy managed to silence each of them before they managed to say a word.  At the end of the day, she left the office feeling victorious.  The feeling that Rain would arrive in the morning settled heavily upon her as she left the office and Tansy decided that she would take her shopping list out tonight instead of waiting for the following day. 

It felt good to be breaking her routine and Tansy realized how long it had been since she had actually been shopping.  She picked up several outfits for office work when she left Oak Hill and found her apartment and her first temp job.  She routinely picked up groceries, but Tansy couldn’t really remember picking up anything beyond that. 

Even if she was only picking up a few necessities like socks, Tansy decided to take her time.  She placed the items on her list in her cart and even added a couple of new shades of nail polish to her cart.  Remembering that one of her work shirts and pants were stained with ink from a previous incident, Tansy added a new pair of pants and a nice shirt to go with it to her cart.

‘That way I can ditch the ink stained ones before the move and not move clothes I can’t wear to the office.’ Tansy was certain that there were ways to get ink out of cloth, in fact she knew Eunice knew several of them.  She had set them aside in the hopes of getting her great aunt to help her remove the ink stains. Tansy felt a tight band constrict across her chest as she thought of it.  Eunice couldn’t help her now.

‘It’s just an ink stain,’ Tansy thought sniffing back sudden tears. In no more of a mood to shop, Tansy took her purchases to the check out, paid and left. Tansy stowed the bags in her back seat, made certain her necklace was tucked into her shirt so that it wouldn’t get tangled up on her seatbelt and drove back to her apartment. 

As Tansy moved to pull into the parking lot her eyes widened in surprise.  She was later getting home than usual so more people were home.  Most of them were standing in the lot watching two firetrucks and a team of men arch water onto the burning building.  Her burning apartment building.  Seeing her car enter the lot the manager of the building trotted over to direct her towards a section of parking lot safely away from the emergency vehicles and the still burning building. Recognizing her, he waited while she parked.

Tansy parked, exited her vehicle and walked over to the manager.  Her eyes kept flickering from his face back to the building.

“What happened?” she asked. 

“They are still trying to figure that out,” the manager, Harold told her.  “Whatever it is you aren’t going to be able to stay in your apartment tonight,” he continued.  “Do you have a place to stay?”

“My great Aunt’s house in Oak Hill,” Tansy said feeling breathless.

Harold nodded.  “Is your phone the same one we have on file?”

Tansy blinked and then recalled that instead of leaving her phone in the apartment, she took it with her. “Um. Yeah,” she told him.  “I keep the ringer off during the day, but it’s the same and I check my messages after work.”

Lately, of course there hadn’t been any messages worth noting, but she didn’t tell Harold that.  She and the manager walked back to the group of tenants standing around and looking at the building.  The fire was slowly getting under control but it was clear there would be very little saved.  The wing where her apartment had been seemed to take the brunt of the burning.  Tansy knew that a couple of the apartments hear her were empty.  Harold mentioned something about renovations coming up soon.  It had been another reason she was surprised by Chris’s arrival as one of her new neighbors.  She was certain that apartment had been on the list for renovations.

Thinking of Chris, Tansy looked around.  She didn’t see him in the crowd.  She frowned and looked to Harold.  “Chris isn’t here,” she told him. 

“Chris,” he repeated. 

Tansy nodded.  “Just moved into the apartment next to me?” She prompted.

“Oh yeah, the special short term,” Harold said nodding as he took his attention away from the fire and found Chris in his memory.  “He was only going to be here a few months and would be gone before the renovations started. He’s not here?”

“Not that I can see,” Tansy said.  She searched the crowd and again didn’t see his face. 

Harold pulled out his cell phone and scrolled through the list.  He pulled up a number and dialed it. Harold held the phone to his ear as it rang.  Tansy watched as a frown flickered across his face. Harold lowered the phone and pressed the end call button.

“It said the number has been disconnected,” Harold told her. 

As Harold walked away to double check his numbers in the office, Tansy turned back to the building and wondered.

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