What would Marilyn do? Franny considered the possibilities, as the group stood in the gathering chill on Allison’s porch. Would she have welcomed David with a warm hug, holding no judgment in her heart for his past – distant or recent? Would she have whisked Douglas away, sternly instructing David to come back to the house later, after his father had a chance to rest?
Would the art professor, friend and mentor to them all, have surveyed the scene: gazed at all of them in their uncertainty, engaged in their private versions of this outward drama, and sorted them all with a single comment?
A single incisive, sardonic, deeply intelligent comment. Franny rather thought it would be the latter. She wanted to channel the spirit of her friend, but certainly did not feel up to constructing such an all-encompassing statement. She spoke anyway.
“David, while it is clear your father is very pleased to see you, something you’ve said has upset our dear young artist friend. I want to understand what exactly that means, but it is getting far too dark to delve into the depths out here on Allison’s porch. Also, Leo looks cold, and his health is more fragile than he cares to admit. I suggest we go up to the house, make ourselves a selection of warm drinks, and near the full and true tale once we are settled.”
They all stared at Franny, mouths open. Franny herself was astonished at how much, how exactly like Marilyn she had sounded, right down to the oblique reference to David’s collision with Leo and its aftermath.
This is another way those we have lost stay with us. Once in a while, their spirits hijack our larynxes, and we speak their voices to the world.
No one could argue with Franny’s suggestion, as they had all so often found themselves unable to argue with Marilyn. Up to her old house, now David’s (or perhaps Douglas’s, in truth?), they went, more or less quietly. As if none of them wished to risk speaking and hearing Marilyn’s voice come out of their mouths.
Precious the dog, however, murmured happy canine burbles at Franny’s heels the whole way, tail and toes tingling pleasantly at the memory of her dear mistress’s voice.