New Winslow S3E28
Andrew looked up eagerly as Olivia slowly walked into the house. She saw his face drop and knew exactly how terrible she looked.
“Liv, what happened?” he asked, standing up and hurrying over to where she was trying to take off her shoes with shaking hands.
“It wasn’t for me,” she choked out.
That feeling of someone invading her mind, like she’d offered a ride and they grabbed the steering wheel. It was still lingering. She knew they were gone, whoever the spirit had been. Iris had confirmed it and Olivia couldn’t feel their presence anymore. But she felt like maybe there were remnants of them inside of her body.
Andrew went out to the kitchen as she eased herself onto the recliner, still trembling. He came back a moment later with a steaming mug of tea and handed it to her. With a nod of thanks, Olivia wrapped her hands around it and breathed in the steam.
“I’m apparently a natural trance medium,” she said after a few silent seconds.
Andrew perched on the arm of the couch, waiting patiently for her to continue. “It went fine,” she said. “Up until I tried to connect with the spirit in the house. I thought it would be like every other time I’ve seen a spirit. Like she’d appear in the seat beside me or something and we could chat. Or maybe I’d hear her in my head. So I invited her in. But it was so bad, Andrew. It was like she took my own soul and shoved it out of place so that she could talk through me. I don’t know if I wasn’t clear enough or if I just didn’t know what to expect. But she finally left, and I just felt so cold. I’m still cold.”
She shivered and her stomach turned slightly. Andrew looked at her appraisingly for a long moment.
“You need to take a cleansing bath before you go to bed,” he said. “That’ll make you feel better.”
She raised an eyebrow as he furrowed his own brow. “Hang on,” he said.
Andrew stood up and she followed him into the kitchen, where he opened the cabinets and started rifling through their contents.
“Right then, we’ve got salt,” he said, pulling out a canister of cooking salt. “And spices…spices…”
“Are you cooking me into a stew?” Olivia asked.
He walked over to the spice rack and started running his finger over the labels. “Alright, we’ve got rosemary, sage…do you have any cedar?”
He looked at her expectantly, the available spice containers in his hands. Olivia shook her head, still slightly unsure where he was going with this.
“Damn. Do you think maybe Noah would have some?”
“Is there cedar in whiskey?”
Andrew flinched, and she felt suddenly guilty. “No,” she said.
Andrew frowned, rocking his head slightly as he thought. “You haven’t got mint, have you?”
“Top shelf in the fridge, my mom sent some from her garden.”
He opened the fridge and pulled out a fistful of fresh mint. “Your mum is a saint.”
He walked toward the bathroom and she followed, curious where this was going.
“Alright,” he started as she walked in. “Two cups of salt, that looks like it’ll be enough in the canister. Pour in however much rosemary and sage feels right and get the mint in there too. You’re going to want to bathe for at least ten minutes and submerge yourself completely at least once. Twice just to be safe.”
“Has Iris named you Employee of the Month yet?” Olivia asked, feeling herself smiling for the first time in hours.
Andrew rolled his eyes, but he was smiling too. “Make sure you rinse off afterwards, get all the salt off yourself. That should help with anything that might be clinging.”
He suddenly looked a little awkward, like maybe he’d shown a side of himself that she wasn’t supposed to see. “Thanks,” she said quickly. “I really appreciate it.”
He nodded. “You’re welcome.”
He started heading for the door. “I’ll give you privacy,” he said.
There was something in his eyes at that moment that she wanted to question, but he closed the door behind him, leaving her alone with the ingredients and the lingering chill. So instead, she turned on the water as hot as it would go and waited for the tub to fill.
The next night, Olivia was feeling much better, at least in the supernatural sense. Andrew’s bath and the way he’d made Mia breakfast the next morning so that Olivia could sleep in had done wonders to clear out that lingering fear and chill.
But now it was after six in the evening and Olivia was way too aware of the fact that she was stalling. The kitchen had never been cleaner and Mia’s toys were actually organized instead of just tossed into the bins in the living room.
Finally, she had to relent. She had Miranda’s number and she needed to make this phone call. Even if she’d never really liked the woman. Even if she was just another parent who left their family behind when they became inconvenient, just like her own father.
Noah had been young when his mother left, but unlike Olivia, he’d been old enough to know what was going on. He’d been seven and Erin had been seventeen. Miranda hadn’t fought for custody, leaving them with irregular visits that eventually tapered off into occasional phone calls and letters. Noah never really talked about her and the last time Olivia had seen any sign of her had been at Noah’s father’s wake when she’d come through the receiving line with the same level of attachment as his old coworkers.
Fuck, she didn’t want to do this.
Olivia took a deep breath. She was doing this for Noah. If he was too far gone to listen to his friends or his sister, maybe his mother could get through to him.
She glanced at the notepad with Miranda’s number scribbled on it, then punched in the numbers before she lost her nerve.
The phone rang a few times and she had a fleeting hope that she could maybe leave a voicemail. Then Miranda could listen to it, call Noah, and fix everything without Olivia having to speak to her.
So much for that plan. Olivia took a breath. “Hi, Mrs. Kelly?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“I’m Olivia Walker. I’m a friend of Noah’s. Um, your son?”
“Yes, I recall Noah.”
Was she making a joke? A spark of outrage flashed in Olivia’s chest, and she tried to extinguish it immediately. This wasn’t about her.
“Have you…have you spoken to him recently?”
“No, I haven’t, Olivia,” Mrs. Kelly said, an edge suddenly in her voice. “Is there something I can do for you? I’m sorry to be brusque, but I’ve got a meeting in about fifteen minutes.”
“Right, sorry,” Olivia said. “It’s just, I think we need your help. Um, Noah does.”
Here goes nothing, Olivia thought. “He’s got a drinking problem,” she said, squeezing her eyes shut as she said the words. “He’s got a big problem and he won’t listen to us. And I was hoping maybe you could help him.”
Miranda was silent on the other end of the line. Olivia waited, trembling in a way she hated. She was an adult, goddammit, not a nervous kid waiting to get lectured.
“What would you want me to do about it?” Miranda asked finally.
“If he’s got a problem, what exactly do you think I could do?” Miranda repeated. “I’m sorry, Olivia, I really am. But Noah’s an adult. He can make his own decisions.”
“He’s killing himself!” Olivia exclaimed before she could stop herself.
“Which is tragic,” Miranda agreed. “But it’s not like I can do anything to change that.”
The words were getting stuck in Olivia’s throat, the furious screaming that wouldn’t achieve anything.
“Could you just talk to him?” she asked, hating how small her voice sounded.
Miranda sighed. “Tell you what,” she said. “I should have some time tomorrow or the day after. I’ll give him a call. Sound good?”
No. No, it absolutely didn’t. But Olivia nodded. “Yeah,” she said, forcing her voice not to shake.
“Good, excellent. I have to get going. I’ve got an important meeting in a few minutes. Goodbye, Olivia.”
Olivia started to say goodbye, but Miranda disconnected before she could get the words out. So instead, she hung the phone back on the receiver and rested her head against the wall beside it.
Miranda wasn’t going to call him. She’d just said that to get Olivia to leave her alone. The whole call had been pointless, just like Erin had been too polite to say.
She lifted her head to see Andrew was standing in the doorway. “I take it that was Mrs. Kelly?”
“And it didn’t go well?”
“She doesn’t care,” Olivia said.
“She never has.”
Andrew walked over and wrapped her in a hug. “I hoped maybe she’d realize now was the time to step up,” he said. “But she’s never cared.”
“I don’t get it,” Olivia whispered, leaning into his embrace. “I just don’t understand how someone can just not care that their child is hurting.”
“I don’t know,” Andrew said.
They stayed there for a long moment. Then Olivia let go and wiped her eyes. “I’m going to get Mia ready for bed,” she said.
Andrew nodded and started heading for the teakettle as she walked out of the room. As she went into the living room, she heard the sound of footsteps upstairs. For the first time in weeks, she felt the urge to go upstairs to Noah. She knew it probably wouldn’t go well, but all she wanted right now was to be in a room with him. She wanted to put her arms around him and feel his solid, living presence beside her.
Instead of dealing with the inevitable heartbreak of going upstairs to a locked door, Olivia kept walking toward her bedroom and her own child.