New Winslow S6E19
Last time Iris had attempted to speak to Rosalind Alderidge, it had gone horribly wrong. Which was exactly why she wasn’t telling Andrew what she was doing tonight. Not that he’d asked. He was a little distracted this week, with so much in the works to reopen the cafe in the Limerick Building. Andrew owned property now, literally and symbolically making a home in New Winslow even though he was clearly leaving as soon as he possibly could. But then, Boston wasn’t too far from New Winslow. He could come back all the time if the curse was broken. Some people commuted that distance every day. Iris’s mother had done that trip twice a week for most of Iris’s childhood. It wasn’t a huge deal.
But this also meant he wasn’t here to tell her this wasn’t a good idea. And maybe he’d be right if he did so, but she was starting to get a bad feeling about finding those remaining Harbinger pages. The library and town hall apparently didn’t have them, which left only the rest of the world to search. The pages had seemed like the most practical option, but maybe she’d get lucky and connect directly with Rosalind or Samuel safely, like she had with so many spirits over the years.
Iris honestly wasn’t sure how much time they had to solve this. Charles Baxter hadn’t reached out to her since Christmas Eve. That might have been because he was biding his time, but Iris didn’t get the feeling he was a criminal mastermind with a plot to kill her. It was a possibility, which was why she took her security more seriously than ever these days. But thinking back to their encounter made her think that he was too sloppy to have an actual plan. Spreading rumors and intimidating her seemed to be the extent of it right now. It could be more dangerous to think this way, but at the moment she wasn’t as scared as she’d been on the common on Christmas Eve.
Plus, Dr. Degas had told her that at the town meeting the other night, someone had brought up Roman’s situation. Baxter had played it off like the curse was solved and there was nothing to worry about anymore. Dr. Degas had been furious when she relayed that message to Iris, making sure not to be within earshot of Andrew when she did so.
But regardless of Baxter’s plans or lack thereof, they still needed to solve this as soon as possible to get Andrew out and keep others from getting hit with the curse. So here she was, in her shop with the lights dimmed and the wards strengthened on her doors. She could feel Roland outside, and his presence rattled her. The wards hadn’t left her shop since he’d destroyed it last year. But he was outside the window and the maliciously playful energy of their snowball fight was drained from the air tonight. She couldn’t see him, but he was there as she set up her candles and tried not to think about his presence.
“Rosalind Alderidge,” Iris said, closing her eyes and focusing mentally on the space between the candles. “I know you’ve been hurt. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain you’ve felt. How you must have felt in the fire, in the months before it. But I need your help and I think I can break some of the fire’s power. Can you hear me?”
She waited for that sudden full-body pain she’d felt last time she tried to reach Rosalind. When she’d vomited all over herself and collapsed on her apartment floor. Something buzzed on the edge of her consciousness and she tried to grasp it as it faded like smoke.
“It’s alright,” she said. “I’m here to help. You have a son, right? Samuel? What happened to you and Samuel?”
She could hear Roland tapping on her window, like the sound of long fingernails or claws drumming rhythmically on the glass. Fear filled her, but she tried to ignore him. Her property began at the window, he couldn’t get in.
“Rosalind, please talk to me,” she said, eyes tightly closed as the drumming got louder. Maybe it was a trick. If she opened her eyes to check what Roland was doing out there, Rosalind would fade away.
“I need to know what happened,” Iris continued. “For you and for my friends- my friend. There’s a curse on the town, but you might already know that. It has something to do with you. And you might be the key to breaking the curse. I need to know what happened to you and Samuel, and you might be my only way of finding out.”
If only because the pages that might literally tell her everything she needed to know were nowhere to be seen. And because Billy McBride, her only other connection to the Alderidges, wasn’t coming to the phone.
Something caressed Iris’s cheek, and she shivered under the touch, but kept her eyes closed. “Rosalind?” she asked.
There was nothing for a moment and she braced herself for the blow, for whatever physical or mental pain was coming her way this time. But there was nothing. For better or for worse, there was nothing. Instead, she sat here alone, seeing the light of the candles through her closed eyelids.
After a moment, it was clear she was thoroughly alone in here. Even the drumming on the window had stopped.
If calling Rosalind had been originally like poison, then a gentle wind, contacting Samuel was almost as bad as trying to reach his buddy, Billy. Iris was on her third attempt in two days. She had the store as open for him as possible. The wards against Roland were strong, preventing his interference. And yet, not even a peep from the son.
“Are you both together?” she asked, letting the frustration finally come through after twenty minutes of nothingness. “Are you and Billy having a real laugh at me while I’m trying to reach you? Because I definitely couldn’t need you for anything important.”
She was trying to reach teenagers, she had to remind herself. Or, teens to early twenties. Billy had been eighteen when he died, she knew that. Samuel, on the other hand, she wasn’t exactly sure of his age. He had to be close in age to Billy, meaning if he died around when the curse began, then he probably would have been about twenty-three.
“Samuel Alderidge,” she said, wishing vaguely that she knew his middle name. Maybe that would make this more effective.
There was a slow tap on the window, and she shivered. It was Roland, it had to be. But she was just going to ignore him. He couldn’t get in here.
“Samuel, I need to know what happened to you and your mother,” Iris said, ignoring Roland and gazing into the depth of the candle flame. “I’m sorry for what you went through. I wish I knew exactly what it was so that I could help. There’s a curse, I don’t know how it started, but I think it’s connected with your home. Is there anything you can share with me that will help me figure it out?”
Still nothing. Even less than the wisp of recognition she’d had with Rosalind. Between Billy and Samuel, Iris was a little concerned she was losing her touch. Not that she’d had enough cleansing work lately to really test it in an unrelated situation. She’d forgotten another case. Andrew had taken that call and she knew she wasn’t going to get the client back.
She needed to solve the curse, then she could get her life back on track. The longer it took, the longer they were all in danger of Charles Baxter deciding he needed to stop them. And if he eventually decided that physical danger was worth the risk of him getting caught, then there wasn’t much she could do to stop it.
A scratch down the windowpane screeched through her concentration.
“SHUT UP, ROLAND!” Iris screamed, her will finally breaking. “GOD DAMMIT, I’M SO FUCKING SICK OF YOUR SHIT!”
She braced herself for the retaliation and didn’t have to wait long. The window shattered, the glass spraying into her store. Shards went into the plants on display as the candles on the windowsill fell down and broke. They were unlit, so she didn’t need to worry about fire, just damaged merchandise.
She swore and blew out the candle in front of her, running to the window to make sure that the damage hadn’t wrecked her security against Roland actually getting into the store. The salt was thin, so she fixed it up, but the keys and charms were in place. She waited for a sign he’d gotten into the building and was ready to screw with her again, but all she could hear was silence.
Just more silence.