Thanks for letting me play along! I hope you all enjoy this little spooky tale. As always, I welcome the feedback. Please feel free email me at email@example.com
Beyond the Sea
“You don’t get it, do you? I’m not imagining I see Terry, I do see her. I hear that fucking song, and there she is—sitting right there, smiling, as she always did…. And don’t fucking tell me to calm down again! You think I’m nuts? You crazy Irish are the ones who are whacked. You and your ghost stories. This whole country is whacked, not me! I’m telling you, I see her. I hear the song and I see her. I’m not imagining it, goddamn it!”
Rose Clancy sat forward in her chair and shut the recorder off so quickly the little machine nearly fell off her desk. Taking a deep calming breath, she stared at the recorder, as if it were going to do something. She leaned back and looked out the window of her second-floor office that overlooked Galway Bay. She’d been a psychotherapist for nearly twelve years and had many patients who were delusional, paranoid schizophrenics. Patients, who heard voices, saw imaginary people—though very real to them.
She picked up the file and opened it. “Karen Spencer, American. Age twenty-three,” Rose said in a soft Irish brogue. She closed the file. “And she sees her dead lover.” Why is it that this young woman sounded so sincere, so frightened? Surely, Rose had other patients who were serious about their delusions. Why did Karen Spencer sound—sane?
She’d been seeing Karen on a daily basis for over three months. She just walked into Rose’s office, late that August afternoon and said, “They told me you were the best doctor in Galway. I need your help. I keep seeing my dead lover. I keep hearing the song.”
There was something about Karen Spencer; something that pulled at Rose’s sense of logic. For some reason, she believed Karen. And that scared Rose.
“I’m too old for this,” she said with a sigh. As if to prove the point, she ran her fingers through her black curls that now had an annoying amount of gray in them. She had cut it short, ridiculously thinking that would take the gray with it. No such luck; at forty-three, Dr. Rose Clancy could not hold back time—or the gray.
She stared out the window and thought about her patient. Karen’s story was too bizarre, too frightening not to give it some merit and dismiss it with a clinical diagnosis. The hair on the back of Rose’s neck bristled, and she shivered when she recalled Karen’s story of Therese Manning’s death nearly a year earlier to the day.
Rose picked up the phone and took a deep irritated breath. She knew she needed to find out more and knew the only person who could help. “Oh, I do not want to make this call.”
However, the thought of calling Maureen Costello made her palms instantly perspire and her heart beat faster. The visions of Maureen flashed through her mind then; she glared at the phone as if it were responsible for the fluttering sensation in the pit of her stomach. Rose had to make the call. “Arrogant, fathead,” she said to the phone. With another deep but hopefully confident breath, she picked up the phone and dialed.
Rose needed to find out more about Karen Spencer and her Irish lover, Therese Manning.
She needed to know what happened at the cottage in Malin More.
After making the call, Rose stood by her window and looked down at the busy street below. It was October; the days were shorter and colder. The wind whipped around the seaside town; the sailboats and fishing boats bobbed and swayed with every gust of wind off the sea.
Her mind wandered back to Maureen Costello. Once a promising detective in Dublin, Maureen was forced to quit when she had a very bad accident four years earlier. She had chased down some criminal and followed as he climbed a fire escape. He turned and fired two shots at Maureen; one hit her in the right shoulder, which threw her off-balance. She fell through the fire escape and broke her back. After months of rehabilitation, she could walk but could never be a street detective again. And working behind a desk was just not in Maureen’s DNA. So she hired herself out as an investigator. Usually for lawyers and barristers and public defenders.
Rose met Maureen after her accident at a trial where Rose had been called as a witness. Maureen Costello had collected the evidence for the case. There was an instant attraction between them. They became quick friends, and sex came shortly thereafter. Then Maureen had to go and say she was in love with Rose, who turned Maureen away; she was not at all sure that the investigator was serious. Maureen Costello had a very colorful past. Rose didn’t know if there was a woman left in Dublin who did not know Detective Costello. Rose knew that was an exaggeration. Perhaps it was the constant smirk Maureen sported; perhaps it was the fact that Maureen was thirteen years younger than Rose. Whatever the reason, Rose would not, could not consider Ms. Costello. Her heart couldn’t take it. At forty-three, “I’m too old a cat to get fucked by a kitten, so to speak.”
The rumble of the motorbike broke Rose from her musings. Her heart skipped when the motorbike pulled up to the curb. “Arrogant, fathead,” Rose said as she watched Maureen Costello hop off the bike, albeit with a grimace. Rose lost sight of her as she crossed the cobblestone walk and entered the building.
She ran her fingers through her hair and picked up some papers on her desk as if to organize them. “What am I doin’?” She looked to the heavens and shook her head.
When she heard the loud annoying knock at her door, she flinched and sat down, ignoring her trembling legs. “Come in.”
The door opened and a mop of short red hair peeked around the door. The smiling green eyes were next, then the lopsided grin. “Hello, Clancy.” She walked fully into the office and closed the door.
“Hello, Maureen,” Rose said, ignoring the sudden dryness in her mouth.
Maureen walked up to the desk and looked at the chair. She gave Rose an inquisitive look.
Rose narrowed her eyes. “Please do.”
Maureen chuckled, sat down, and stretched her long jean-clad legs in front of her. She wore the typical Irish sweater under the black leather jacket. Rose noticed she had cut her long red hair; it now hung in a mass of curls around the nape of her neck.
“Ya cut your hair, Clancy,” Maureen said with a grin. “I cut mine, too.”
“I can see that,” Rose said. “Now the reason—”
“I like it,” Maureen said softly.
“Th-thank you. Now the reason I called you.”
Maureen sat back, somewhat dejected. “Yes, Dr. Clancy.”
“I really don’t know where to start. I have a patient, who by all accounts is delusional, paranoid. That would be the logical clinical diagnosis.”
Maureen cocked her head. “But you don’t think so?”
Rose tossed down her pen and leaned back. “I don’t know, Maureen. There’s something about this American—”
“Yes, let me tell you what has happened.” Rose glared at Maureen as she propped her booted feet up on her desk, seemingly settling in. “Make yourself at home.”
Rose closed her eyes for a moment, trying to remember why she called this woman. When she opened them, she saw the smiling green eyes watching her. “Last year, Karen Spencer came here to Ireland on holiday with her lover, Therese Manning, who is Irish. They stayed at a cottage in Malin More.”
“That’s a remote area in Donegal.”
“I know. From what Karen said, Therese had found the advertisement in the Irish Times. In any event, they were to spend a month there. Supposedly, after a week or two, Terry started changing. She became withdrawn, sullen, even jealous. Karen couldn’t figure out why. She—” Rose stopped and whirled around in her chair and picked up the recorder and several tapes. She turned back and examined the tapes, picking one in particular. “Here it tis. It’s better if ya hear it in her words.”
Maureen nodded and sat forward. Rose hit the play button.
“Where do you think the jealousy came from, Karen?”
“I have no idea. We were fine. I never gave her any reason to be jealous. I’m telling you, it was the fucking cottage. All of the sudden, she’s moody and cranky. She didn’t want to leave the cottage after the second week. And that damned record—”
“That song by Bobby Darin from the fifties. You know, “Beyond the Sea.” When we got to the cottage, it was on the old record player in the living room. Ya know those old-time record players that play the forty-fives? Anyway, at first, we played it and we laughed ’cause it was so old. I figured it was an odd song. I expected something Irish, ya know? Shit, we were in Ireland, for chrissakes. Anyway, within a week or two, Terry constantly played it. I went for a walk down to the cliffs ’cause I was so bored. I couldn’t just sit in the cottage anymore. I came back, and all I heard as I was coming up to the cottage was the fuckin’ song… Sorry.”
“That’s all right. I use that word more than I care to admit. Go on.”
“Can I get up and walk around? I-I need to move.”
“Sure, you can pace as much as ya like.”
“After a few weeks, I was goin’ crazy. Terry was just rocking in the chair, staring out the window. But thank God, she wasn’t listening to the record. I tried and tried to get her to go into town. The only thing she’d do is go for a walk, not too far from the cottage, only maybe down to the cliffs. It’s a rugged area and so remote. We both loved it there. So peaceful and quiet. That’s when it happened.”
“Can I have a glass of water?”
“Thanks. One night, she woke up screaming and ran out of the cottage. I followed her, she ran so fast toward the cliffs. I chased her, and at the time, I didn’t realize the song was playing, but it was. Terry, she…she stopped by the cliff and turned around. I called to her to come back. It was freezing, ya know October, and hell, she was naked. I was scared shitless, Doctor. I was petrified. She called something to me, I-I can’t remember. But she laughed and then…”
“Take your time, Karen.”
“When you’re ready.”
“Okay. She just fell.”
“Yeah. She was saying something. Fuck, I can’t remember. I’ve been trying to remember! But I can’t!”
“Karen, it’s all right. What do you mean she just fell?”
“She leaned backward and just fell off the cliff. That’s what I’m telling you. In the next moment, she was gone. I stood there staring at nothing. I don’t remember, but I must have run up to the cliff. The wind nearly took me, too. I-I called her, I think. I was frantic.”
“Karen. Karen! Sorry, you were staring off. What happened then?”
“I don’t remember. I must have passed out ’cause I woke up in the cottage in bed with Agnes Garrity standing over me. Some policeman was there. He was asking questions. I was crying, terrified. Terry was dead, and I was terrified.”
“Okay, Karen. That’s enough for now. Ya look exhausted. Go back to your flat and rest. We’ll talk again tomorrow.”
“End of session one. August 21, 2008.”
Rose pressed the stop button and looked up at Maureen, who was frowning deeply. “So her lover commits suicide? Was that what the authorities concluded?”
Rose nodded. “Yes. There was an inquiry, but Karen was exonerated. It was an accident.”
Maureen gave her a cautious look. “What do ya need me for, Clance?”
Rose’s stomach fluttered at her nickname. “Karen claims she sees Terry now. She sees her, and she hears the song. Apparently, this is why Karen came to see me. She believes she sees Terry. She’s not imagining it.”
“Clance, you’re a doctor. You’ve treated hundreds of people like this. You—”
Rose sat forward. “For some ungodly reason, Costello, I believe her.”
Maureen’s green eyes widened as she sat erect in her chair. Her mouth hung open, and Rose had to chuckle at the stupefied look. “Are ya kiddin’ me?”
“No, I am not kidding,” Rose said. “And why are you so surprised? You always told me I should use my gut more than my logic.”
“Well, yes, woman, but I was talkin’ about us! Not some crazy Yank seeing her dead lover.”
“We don’t use that term in my profession, Costello.”
Maureen chuckled and sat back. “All right then, how about bonkers?”
They both laughed quietly, then sat silent for a moment. “It’s good to hear ya laugh, Clance,” Maureen said.
“Don’t call me that.”
“Ya used to like it when I called ya that.”
Rose took a deep patient breath and let it out slowly. Maureen sighed, as well. “All right, tell me what you want me to do. I can’t imagine how I can help ya…Rosie,” she said with a slight smirk.
Rose rubbed her forehead. “For the love of Mary, you are annoying.” She looked into the green eyes filled with laughter and concern. “Tell me something. Why would a seemingly well-adjusted woman with a loving partner suddenly become sullen and withdrawn, obsessive and suicidal?”
“I don’t know. You’re the doctor. People have things they repress,” Maureen said, looking into Rose’s blue eyes.
Rose knew Maureen was talking about her; she chose to ignore it. “True, they do. But don’t you find this the least bit odd? There is a reason behind Therese Manning’s death. I believe it’s the key to what’s happening to Karen.”
“And ya want me to find out about Therese Manning?”
“Well, I guess that’s what I’m asking. Where would you start?”
Maureen took a thoughtful breath and looked out the window. “Well, on that tape, Karen said it started when they came here on holiday.” She looked back at Rose. “Introduce me to your haunted Yank.” She stood up and winced as she stretched her back.
“Is that where we start?” Rose asked and stood, as well. She grabbed her keys and headed to the door.
“For now. Then we’ll just see about that cottage.”
Rose sat opposite Karen and next to Maureen at the table by the window. The waitress placed a pint of Guinness in front of Maureen and Rose; Karen drank ice water. Rose watched Karen as she fidgeted with her spoon, then absently ran her fingers through her shoulder-length blond hair, tucking a wayward strand behind her ear.
Rose saw her hands shaking; she glanced at Maureen, knowing she saw the same thing as she took a long drink of the black beer.
Karen cleared her throat. “So you’re a cop?”
Maureen smiled warmly. “Used to be. I’m an investigator now. Dr. Clancy seems to think I can help.”
Karen stared at her water glass. “You can’t bring Terry back.”
Rose cringed at the sad tenor of her voice. They were silent for a moment before Maureen spoke. “No, Karen, that I cannot do, but I might be able to find out what would cause her to kill herself.”
Rose patted Karen’s hand. “If we can make sense of that—”
Karen snorted sarcastically. “Then I won’t be nuts? I won’t see her anymore? I won’t hear that fucking song?”
Maureen’s eyes widened at the vehemence in her voice but said nothing. Rose watched Karen intently. “Isn’t that what you want?”
“Sure it is,” Maureen chimed in. She looked at Karen, who now had tears in her eyes. Maureen gave Rose a confused looked. “Isn’t it?”
As Rose gave Maureen a warning glance, Karen spoke softly, “Even though it’s terrifying…”
“It’s comforting, too,” Rose finished for her.
Karen nodded as the tears spilled down her cheeks. She quickly stood. “I’m sorry. I’ll be right back.”
They watched as Karen scooted out of the way and down the hall.
“Poor bugger,” Maureen said and turned back to Rose. “And how in the hell is it comforting to be haunted by a past lover?”
Rose glared at Maureen. “Oh, I don’t know. You haunt me.”
Maureen threw her head back and let out a hearty laugh. She reached over and took Rose’s hand in hers. “I miss ya, Rose Clancy. I truly do.”
Rose swallowed with difficulty when she heard the sincerity in Maureen’s voice.
“Don’t ya miss me, perhaps just a bit?”
Now Rose heard the quiet plea, and it nearly broke her heart. If she were honest with herself, she’d thought of Maureen Costello much too often. What she said next shocked the hell out of her. “Yes, Costello. I do miss you. Perhaps just a bit.”
Maureen blinked several times, and her mouth dropped. Rose knew she was blushing and took a long, long drink of Guinness. She looked up to see Karen making her way back to the table. Maureen saw her, as well. “We’ll discuss this later,” Maureen said with a grin.
Karen sat down and placed her napkin in her lap. “I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize,” Rose said.
“Karen, if ya don’t mind, I’d like to know why ya think the cottage had something to do with Terry’s death,” Maureen said as the waitress approached with their dinner.
Maureen rubbed her hands together and picked up the bottle of malt vinegar and doused her fish and chips. Rose watched with a shake of her head. How she can eat like that and maintain that figure, she thought.
Karen waited until the waitress walked away before speaking. “It’s just all this happened when we got to Malin More. We were happy, content, and within two weeks, it was all shit.” She stopped and angrily rubbed her forehead. “It started then. I—” She stopped and sat erect in her chair.
Maureen sat there with her fork in her mouth and exchanged a quick glance with Rose.
Karen’s complexion grew pale. She looked at both of them with a frantic, yet hopeful look. “Do you hear it?”
“Hear what?” Rose asked.
“No, I don’t hear it.” Rose gave Maureen a pleading look.
Maureen shook her head. “I don’t hear it.”
Karen cocked her head, as if listening. Her shoulders slumped; she took a quivering breath. “It’s over.” She looked at Rose and Maureen. “What’s happening? I’m not crazy. I’m telling you.”
“We know that,” Rose said and avoided the raised eyebrow from Maureen.
“Okay, I think it’s time we took a drive north to Malin More. Tomorrow,” Maureen said and continued eating.
Rose picked at her salad and looked up quickly when Karen spoke. “I-I can’t go back there. I can’t!”
“Karen, you don’t have to,” Rose assured her. “Maureen and I will go. You stay here and rest.”
After dinner, they walked Karen to her flat. “You have my number, so call me if you need to. We’ll drive up to Malin More tomorrow early and more than likely be back by evening,” Rose said. She placed her hands on Karen’s shoulders. “We’ll figure this out. Trust me.”
Karen nodded. “I do. I just want to sleep tonight.”
“You have the prescription I gave you?”
“Yes, I don’t like taking them, but I think after hearing that song again, I’ll gladly take it and hopefully sleep.”
“Good girl. We’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” Karen said on the verge of tears. “Both of you.”
“You’re welcome.” Maureen shook her hand. Karen smiled, then ran up the steps to her apartment.
Maureen watched her retreating figure. “Why didn’t she go back to America after Terry’s death?” she asked as they walked down the cobblestone walk.
Rose cuddled her coat around her. “I don’t know. She said she had no family back in the States. No one to miss her, she said. She got a job in an office here in Galway. She makes enough, I suppose.”
They continued in silence until Rose stopped in front of her office. Maureen absently kicked at the cobblestone walk. “Would ya like to have a cup of tea?”
Rose bit at her bottom lip and shrugged. “We have to get an early start tomorrow. Do you still live in Ennis?”
Maureen nodded. “It tis a bit far to go tonight.”
“And you’re riding that motorbike. I-it’s not a good idea to be out on that thing at night. And you’ve been drinking.”
“True,” Maureen said. “You still live in town?”
Rose nodded. Maureen grinned. “Still have the lumpy couch?”
Rose laughed quietly and turned. “Yes, come on, Costello. You can have the couch.”
Maureen laughed and followed her. “I was thinking you could have it.”
The next morning, in Rose’s car, they took the Galway Road north. The sun was barely up, and fog surrounded them as they headed toward Mayo, then through Sligo and farther to Donegal. It would be a good hour or more before they saw the rugged coast by the sea.
Maureen blew at the steamy cup of coffee. “Thanks for letting me share your bed.”
Rose glanced at her as she shifted the gears. “I couldn’t let ya sleep on that lumpy couch. Not with your back bein’ what it is. Ya slept all right then?”
“Yes, Clance, I slept just fine. You’re as soft as I remember.”
Rose hid her grin and shifted again. “Like your head, Costello.”
Maureen laughed and took in the landscape. “Bloody fog.”
“The sun will be up soon.” Rose shivered involuntarily, and she could feel Maureen’s eyes on her. “What will we find in Malin More?”
“I don’t know, Clance. I don’t know.”
The drive proved very productive for Rose and Maureen. Rose had forgotten how easy it was to talk to this younger woman. Maureen Costello seemed to have mellowed in the past year. Rose stole a glance or two as she drove and Maureen talked.
At one point, Maureen looked at her and grinned. “What?”
Rose shook her head. “Nothin’. Ya just seem different is all.”
“Good different or bad?”
Rose smiled. “Good,” she said.
“Good,” Maureen said happily and reached over and took her hand.
Rose shook her head. “I’ll need that to shift gears.”
“Oh, go on, ya won’t need it for another ten miles.”
“Hmm, well, there’s the sign,” Rose said and slipped her hand away from Maureen.
The landscape had become sparse and the terrain rugged. It was a cool October morning when they pulled into the village of Malin More. “We’ll stop here. Ya need to stretch your back,” Rose said and parked in a small lot near a tavern.
Maureen got out and stretched painfully as Rose came around to her side. She looked up and down the quiet street. “Seems like a ghost town.”
“Please, no talk of ghosts, Doctor.”
They walked down to a small shop, which seemed to be the only store opened. As they opened the heavy door, the bell jingled. An old woman looked up and smiled. “Good day, ladies.”
“Good morning,” Rose said as she approached the woman behind the counter. Maureen was right behind her.
“What can I do for you?”
“We had some friends stay at a cottage in Malin More. We were wondering if you could point us in the right direction,” Rose said.
The woman looked from Rose to Maureen and back to Rose. “Friends, ya say?” Rose nodded. “There’s been no one staying at Agnes’s cottage for nearly a year now.”
“Does that mean you can’t show us how to get there?” Maureen asked. She grinned at the old woman, who smiled.
“You’ve got the devil of a look about you,” she said with a laugh. “Are ya sure ya want to stay there? There are plenty of nice cottages in Donegal, with a fine view of the sea.”
Maureen leaned on the counter. “Thanks, darlin’, but we had our heart set on takin’ a look here.”
Rose rolled her eyes as the flirtatious nature came out to play. However, it worked. The old woman gave them directions to the cottage. “You’ll want to speak to Agnes. Agnes Garrity. She owns Malin More House and the cottage.”
“You still have a way with women,” Rose said as she buckled her seat belt.
Maureen laughed and did the same. “Sometimes I just can’t help it. But,” she said and looked at Rose, then took her hand. “Those days are over, Rose. I hope you can believe that.”
For some reason, Rose did. However, she put the car in reverse. She grunted sarcastically as she backed up, grinning when she heard the soft laughter from her redheaded companion.
They took the long winding road toward the sea. Rose could smell the salty sea air as she rolled down her window. “I do love that smell. It will always remind me of my childhood in Galway on my father’s fishing boat.”
Maureen looked at her surroundings. “I wish I had that. I envy you that.”
Rose nodded but said nothing. She knew that Maureen was an orphan and grew up alone and lonely. As they came to a fork in the road, Rose saw the sign for Malin More House and an arrow underneath pointing the way. “Well, here we go.”
She felt the anxious feeling deep in her being—that anxious feeling of the unknown.
A gray brick Georgian house stood on top of the ridge. The gravel circular drive guided them to the front door. As they walked up the stairs, Maureen shivered and Rose snickered. “What’s the matter—scared?”
“Oh, keep still, woman. This place gives me the creeps.”
Rose knocked at the door. After a moment or two as they nervously looked around, the door opened. A young woman answered. “May I help you?”
“We’re looking for Agnes Garrity. We’re here about the cottage.”
The young woman nodded. “Miss Garrity is down at the cottage now. If you take the road west, you’ll find it. You can walk if you like, it isn’t far.”
“Thank you,” Rose said.
“Must be the maid,” Maureen said as they walked down the steps.
“What gave it away? The maid’s uniform?”
“Ah, Rosie, you’re still a pain in my arse.”
The maid was correct; they could have walked. The thatched cottage came into view just over the hill. And along with it a breathtaking view of the Atlantic. As they got out of the car, they heard the seabirds calling as they soared around the nearby cliffs. Rose was astounded at the view. There were no trees to block the view or to act as a buffer to the cold blustering Atlantic wind, which now swept across the open hills.
“Damn chilly,” Maureen said and zipped her leather jacket.
Rose had to agree. She gave the sea one last look, then started to knock at the wooden door but found it slightly opened. Maureen put her arm in front of Rose and gently pushed her out of the way. With her other hand, she pushed the door open. Maureen went first, poked her head in, and looked around. Rose quickly followed.
In the far corner, a woman stood by a table under the window. With her back to them, Rose figured she didn’t hear them come in. The woman was tall; she wore a black wool dress and comfortable but sturdy-looking shoes. Her hair was gray and pulled up and off her neck. For some reason, neither Rose nor Maureen said anything. The woman was rearranging the vase on the table.
“There, that’s it,” the woman said. She then moved the books that lay there, as if they were out of position. “You mustn’t move things, dear.”
Rose and Maureen glanced at each other. Rose swallowed. “Miss Garrity?”
The woman’s back stiffened, and her head cocked. She slowly turned around. Maureen was breathing a bit heavily, her hand holding Rose’s arm in a vice-grip. It was not out of fear; Rose knew this. Maureen’s body coiled—ready to push her out of harm’s way.
It was her eyes that made Rose nearly swallow her tongue. They were deep brown, almost black. Lifeless eyes, Rose thought. The woman smiled, but the smile never reached those dark eyes.
“I’m Agnes Garrity,” she said in a strong but quiet voice. It was almost soothing. “And you are?”
“I’m Rose Clancy and this is Maureen Costello. We’re here about the cottage.”
“Really? How fascinating. Are you here for the holiday?”
“What holiday?” Maureen asked.
“Well, All Hollow’s Eve, of course. It’s tomorrow,” Agnes said and looked out the window. “And we’ll have a full moon.”
Maureen was looking at Agnes as if she were an escapee. Rose gently elbowed her.
“What we’d really like is some history about the cottage,” Maureen said, recovering her composure.
“Certainly,” Agnes said as she walked up to the fireplace mantel. She checked her watch, then reset the clock on the mantel. “Please sit down. I’ll gladly tell you anything you’d like to know.”
Rose and Maureen sat on the couch. Rose sat too close to her, but she didn’t care. Agnes Garrity took the overstuffed chair by the fire, which was not lit. She stared at the empty, cold fireplace for a long moment.
Rose felt Maureen’s hand on her arm. She looked at her; Maureen motioned behind the couch. Rose followed her look and saw the old record player on the table. She saw the record on it as if ready to be played and start Karen’s nightmare in motion.
They turned back to see Agnes Garrity still staring at the fireplace.
“I could get a fire goin’, Miss Garrity,” Maureen offered and stood.
Agnes shot a look in her direction. “No!” she said quickly and recovered. She said nicely, “Thank you, dear.”
Maureen had come to a dead stop when Agnes spoke. She slowly sat back into the cushions of the couch.
“So you would like some history of the cottage,” Agnes said. “There isn’t much history, I’m afraid. We’ve had Malin More House and this cottage in our family for generations. Aislin and I have lived here all our lives.” She fondly glanced around the cottage.
“Who is Aislin?” Maureen asked. Rose would have asked, but her tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth.
Agnes looked at Maureen. “Aislin is my sister.”
“Can we meet her?” Maureen gently prodded.
Agnes smiled. “I’m afraid not. She died long ago.”
Agnes cocked her head. “Are you? Thank you.”
“Was she ill?” Maureen continued. Agnes’s left eye seemed to twitch.
“No, she died in an accident when she was quite young.”
“How did you find out about the cottage here at Malin More?” Agnes said, completely dismissing and interrupting Maureen as she looked at Rose.
“Karen Spencer stayed here last October,” Rose said evenly and watched for a reaction.
“Ah, yes. That was a tragedy. The poor young woman. She seemed so distraught, so ill. It was sad to see her take her own life. I felt very bad for Miss Spencer,” Agnes said. She looked at Rose again. “You say you know her? Is she all right?”
“Yes, why shouldn’t she be?”
“Well, one would assume she would be devastated at the loss of a loved one,” Agnes replied. “Well, when you see her, please give her my sympathy. Is she staying in Ireland?”
“Yes. She’s a patient of mine.”
For the first time, Agnes showed signs of being interested. “Is she ill?”
“Not ill. I’m a psychiatrist. She’s trying to cope with Terry’s death.”
“I see,” Agnes said and nodded. “So you are not here to see about renting the cottage.”
“I apologize if I was not forthcoming, Miss Garrity.”
“There is no need. I hope you can help her. Is your practice in Donegal?” she asked and smoothed the fabric of her dress.
“No, in Gal—”
Maureen sat forward. “Thank you, Miss Garrity. I’m sure you have much to do. We appreciate the insight.” She stood and pulled Rose up by her arm.
Rose frowned in confusion but allowed Maureen nearly to pull her out of the cottage.
“I hope I was of some help, ladies. Please, take care of that poor child.” Agnes continued to stare at the empty fireplace.
“We will, thank you, Miss Garrity,” Maureen said and closed the door.
“What in the world are ya doin’?” Rose whispered as Maureen pulled her around to the passenger side of the car.
Maureen opened the door and Rose slid in and watched Maureen as she got behind the steering wheel. She put the car in gear and headed away from the cottage. As she shifted gears, she said, “Why didn’t ya just give her your life history? Blast it, Clance. The old woman practically had ya tellin’ her where Karen was.”
For an instant, Rose was stunned. She then looked straight ahead. “Oh, my Lord, Maureen.”
Maureen reached over and took her hand. “I just needed to get you out of there quickly.”
Rose was dejected. “Now what? We didn’t get much information.”
“Now we go back into town,” Maureen said as they passed the main house. Maureen sped up and shifted gears.
“Why?” Rose asked. She watched Maureen, who was frowning.
“Because I have a feeling Agnes Garrity is hiding something, and I want to know what it is.”
They drove back to the village and this time parked in front of the little shop. As they walked in, the old woman looked up and grinned after a fashion. Rose thought the old woman looked guarded or cautious. “Well then. It’s nice to see ya again.”
Maureen strode up to the counter. “Is it? Good.” Maureen leaned on the counter and smiled. “I need your help, luv. What’s your name?”
“Well, Helen. We need to know what, if anything, you know about Agnes Garrity and Malin More House.”
Rose watched as the old woman raised an eyebrow. She glanced from her to Maureen; she then fixed her gaze on Maureen. “Why do ya want to know such things?”
“Because we have a friend who is…ill,” Maureen said.
“Can I be honest with ya?” Maureen asked. Helen nodded slowly.
Rose stepped in. “I’m a doctor, Helen. A psychiatrist. Karen Spencer and her lover stayed in that cottage a year ago. Terry Manning committed suicide by leaping off the cliffs. Now Karen is having a delusional reaction. She claims she sees Terry.”
Rose hoped Helen would scoff at the idea and was scared to death when Helen merely nodded. She picked up her shawl and swept it around her shoulders. “Come with me. Both of ya.”
Rose couldn’t swallow as she looked at Maureen, who was still frowning. She wanted the lighthearted redhead back; this serious side of Maureen, while comforting, was somewhat unnerving. The anxious feeling started again as they followed Helen out of the shop and down the cobblestone walk.
None of them said a word as they walked to the edge of the town. When they stopped at the small church, a shiver ran through Rose’s body. She pulled her big sweater around her and instinctively leaned into Maureen, who gave her a quick reassuring hug and wink. “Steady on,” she whispered; Rose nodded.
They followed Helen around the side of the church. Rose was shocked to see a small cemetery. Only a dozen headstones or so, but then Malin More was not a large town. Without a word, Helen led them beyond the cemetery, through a wrought iron gate, and followed a small path that led to a whitewashed cottage.
“Who lives here, Helen?” Maureen asked, bringing up the rear.
“The only person who may know the truth. I only know what I have heard these past fifty years. That’s when it started,” Helen said over her shoulder.
“What started?” Rose asked quickly.
Helen stopped and turned to them. “The hauntings.”
Helen knocked at the door; it seemed like a lifetime before a young nun answered.
“Good morning, Sister Anne. May we speak with Sister Gabriel please?” Helen asked.
The young nun smiled. “Of course, Helen. We just got back from our walk. I’ll put the kettle on,” she said and stepped back.
As Rose and Maureen followed Helen, Rose caught the aroma of a peat fire. That earthy smell permeated her senses; it instantly brought her back to her childhood when the huge peat fire was constantly glowing, warming their cottage by Galway Bay.
They quietly walked down the hall and into the parlor. An elderly nun sat in a wheelchair by the glowing fireplace, an afghan covering her lap. She looked up when they walked into the room. Her face was weathered, and her eyes were watery blue, but when she smiled, it seemed to engulf her face. She was a tiny woman and old, and her hands gnarled with arthritis.
“Helen McGinn, what brings ya here this fine day?” Sister Gabriel said in a soft, tired voice. Sister Anne gently turned the wheelchair into the room. “Thank you, Sister. Would you put the kettle on for tea?”
“I was just about to, Sister,” she said and walked away.
“Bring the scones and jam, as well,” Sister Gabriel called after her. She then winked at them. “This will be a treat. She won’t let me eat too many.”
Rose and Maureen laughed as they sat on the couch. Helen sat opposite the old nun.
“So who are these attractive young women?”
Young? Rose thought with a smile. “I’m Dr. Clancy and this is Maureen Costello.”
“They would like some information about Agnes, Sister.”
The old nun raised an eyebrow. “Do ya now? And why would you be after this?”
Rose leaned forward. “Sister Gabriel, I’m a psychiatrist. I have a patient who stayed at Agnes’s cottage. Her…partner, committed suicide while on holiday there.”
Helen grunted. “Perhaps it was the price of the cottage. Agnes can be—”
“Helen,” Sister Gabriel said sternly. Maureen chuckled and got an elbow in the ribs from Rose. “Please continue, Dr. Clancy.”
“That’s it, really. Though now, Karen swears she sees Terry and hears some song. She swears she’s not imaging it. However, she’s becoming distraught over it. We’d like to know what, if anything, is happening at Malin More.”
Sister Anne wheeled the teacart into the room. “Thank you, Sister Anne. Dr. Clancy, would you mind?” Sister Gabriel asked.
“No, not at all,” Rose said and poured the tea for each.
“Only one scone for her,” Sister Anne said with a grin and motioned to the old nun as she left.
Sister Gabriel shook her head. “Insolence of youth. Just a titch more jam, if you please, Doctor.” She licked her lips as Rose slathered the raspberry jam on the warm scone. She placed it on a plate and handed it to her.
Rose settled back when she had finished pouring the tea for all. Maureen had already eaten one scone. Rose glared at the lopsided grin and spread jam on another biscuit.
“What can you tell us, Sister?” Maureen asked as she accepted the plate from Rose.
Sister Gabriel sipped from her teacup. “The Garrity family has been in Malin More for generations. I knew Rosamund Garrity, Agnes’s mother…”
“And Aislin’s?” Maureen offered. “Agnes told us she was her sister who died in an accident at a young age.”
Sister Gabriel nodded and drank her tea. “That she did. She was a beautiful young girl. Looked very much like her mother. Both of them did. I suppose they’d have to, bein’ twins.”
“Agnes and Aislin were twins?” Rose set her teacup on the cart. Rose gave Maureen a scathing glare when Maureen reached across her for another scone.
“Yes, identical twins. They were beautiful young women but full of the devil.”
“You mean they always got into trouble?” Maureen asked with a mouthful.
Sister Gabriel looked right into her eyes. “No, Miss Costello. I mean full of the Devil.”
Maureen nearly choked on her scone. Rose practically swallowed her tongue. She immediately picked up her teacup; it teetered and rattled against the saucer. She placed a hand on top of the cup to steady it.
“With a capital D,” Helen said into her teacup.
“You’ll have to elaborate, Sister,” Rose said, regaining her composure.
The old nun breathed deeply and called for Sister Anne, who quickly came into the room. “Would you please ring Dr. Fahey and ask him to come by? Tell him it’s about Agnes and Malin More.”
The young nun nodded and walked into the hallway. Rose could hear her dialing the phone, her low voice lost in the background as Sister Gabriel continued. “We are a small village, and we don’t get many visitors, well, only the occasional tourist in the warmer weather. The outside world seems to have forgotten about Malin More. Some villagers like it that way. Others don’t care. They go on with their lives and their business. Old beliefs die hard here. Religion is strong in Malin More, or more accurate, it was. So when I say the Garrity girls were full of the devil, there are those who believe that madness is the Devil’s work.”
The quiet in the room was deafening. The sound of the old clock ticking on the mantel seemed as loud as Big Ben.
“Madness?” Rose asked.
“As a March hare,” Helen mumbled and drank her tea.
Maureen set her cup on the teacart. Rose saw the set jaw; she remembered that look. It was Detective Costello coming out.
“Sister Gabriel, we need to get down to some facts here. I understand there was an inquisition, and I understand it was determined it was an accident. Was Therese Manning’s body ever found?”
“No, Miss Costello, it was not. Are you from the country?” Sister Gabriel asked.
“No, ma’am, I was born and raised in Dublin.”
The old nun looked at Rose, who nodded. “I am, Sister. I was born in Galway. My father was a fisherman. I’m assuming you’re talking about the sea and the tides. It would probably be impossible to find a body—”
“I may be a city girl, ladies, but I’m familiar with the Atlantic and its tides. My point is, if there’s no body, how sure are we that Therese Manning is indeed dead?” Maureen pointed out.
Rose had to admit that was a good question. She saw the determined look in the green eyes and her heart skipped. Damn those eyes, she thought.
“You have a good point, Miss Costello,” Sister Gabriel said.
“Without a body, perhaps Karen isn’t seeing a ghost,” Helen interjected.
Maureen stood and paced by the couch. She ran her fingers through her red curls. Rose leaned forward, eagerly if not hopefully. “That is a possibility.”
Maureen stopped and looked out the window. She then turned around. “Yes, but what about the music, Clance?”
Rose let out a dejected sigh and leaned back. “That’s right.”
“What music?” Sister Gabriel asked.
“Karen claims she heard a song, an old song they played when they were in the cottage. According to Karen, when they arrived, the old forty-five record was on the player. They played it. It was afterward that all this happened with Terry.”
There was silence for a moment until they heard the knock at the door. They looked up to see Sister Anne and an older gentleman, perhaps in his mid- to late sixties, come into the parlor. He was average height with gray hair and deep blue eyes. He wore a tweed jacket and carried what Rose thought was a file tucked under his arm.
“Good afternoon, Sister,” he said affectionately. “Helen.”
“Good day, Timothy,” Helen said.
“Timothy Fahey,” Sister Gabriel said, starting the introductions, “this is Dr. Rose Clancy and Maureen Costello. They’re looking for information about Agnes and Aislin. And that poor young woman who died here last year.”
Dr. Fahey smiled slightly and held out his hand. After shaking hands, Rose and Maureen sat down. Dr. Fahey pulled up the desk chair. “Lord, I am tired today. The autumn wind is blowing right through my old bones,” he said. He looked from Rose to Maureen. “There was an inquiry. It was determined an accident.”
“We understand that, Doctor,” Rose said. “We’d like more insight into Agnes and Aislin Garrity.”
He glanced at Helen and Sister Gabriel before opening the worn file. Rose thought she actually saw a fine layer of dust on it. “Well then,” he started and cleared his throat. “I don’t know how much Sister Gabriel has told you, so I’ll start at the beginning. We’ll start with Agnes and Aislin’s mother, Rosamund Garrity. She was born here in Malin More, the only child of Bridget and Sean Garrity.”
He glanced at the file, then handed it to Rose. She accepted the file and blew the dust off the cover. As she read the file, her head shot up; she looked at Maureen and handed her the file. Maureen read it, as well. “It says here Rosamund Garrity was never married. She died in an asylum,” Maureen said as she read.
“Yes. She was quite mad, my father said,” Dr. Fahey said. “He was the attending doctor at the asylum. Rosamund was a patient there for nearly fifteen years. She died there.”
“Hold on,” Maureen said and looked up. “Where do Agnes and Aislin come in? If she was never married and never left the asylum, who was the father?”
“They never found out who the man was. According to my father, it had to have been a member of the staff. He never found out. It was a shock when Rosamund went into labor. You can imagine the gossip and the fright when it got out that an insane woman was giving birth to not only one child, but twins. There were people in Malin More who thought the poor children were the devil’s spawn. My father tried to quell the terror in the village. It was a godsend that Rosamund died in childbirth. He told me later he didn’t know what would have happened if she lived.”
“What happened to the babies?” Rose asked.
“They were immediately sent to Saint Vincent’s Orphanage here in Malin More.”
Maureen watched Sister Gabriel. “Is this were you come in, Sister?”
The old nun nodded. “I was a young novice, barely sixteen, when those two babies were brought to us. You must remember the time. It was 1942. The sisters that ran Saint Vincent’s were very strict. I watched how Sister Michael treated those children. One would think they were truly cursed. Aislin was full of life and hard to handle. Agnes was quiet, withdrawn, and even at times, withdrawn from her sister. I was in charge of teaching the children. Agnes was brilliant. I could not believe how quickly she learned. Aislin, on the other hand, was constantly distracted. She would stare off and be unresponsive, while Agnes would be diligent, almost obsessive in her studies.
“I knew there was something wrong with both girls early on. When I brought it to Sister Michael’s attention, she merely nodded but did nothing. When I advised her that perhaps someone, a professional, should be called in, she told me to do my work. God will take care of the Garrity twins.”
Sister Anne came into the parlor with a steaming kettle and replenished the tea. No one said anything as the young nun quietly left them. Rose was trying to comprehend all the information. Maureen took a deep thoughtful breath. “So both girls inherited their mother’s madness. Is that what you’re saying?”
Dr. Fahey nodded. Sister Gabriel agreed. “I came to care greatly for those two tormented creatures. They stayed at Saint Vincent’s until an aunt came forward and took charge of them. She figured that at age twelve, they were easier to handle than small children would have been. Sister Michael was almost relieved when we received word that they would leave the orphanage. After their aunt’s death, Malin More House and the cottage would be left to both of them.”
“What was life like for them after they left the orphanage?” Rose asked. She was trying to get an image of two young girls, mentally tormented living in this small village.
“They very rarely came into town. I visited them from time to time. Sister Michael had passed away. Agnes seemed glad. One could hardly blame her.”
“I’m not sure I would blame Agnes, either. Instead of loving and caring for them, Sister Michael treated them as lepers,” Rose said sadly.
“Yes, Dr. Clancy, she did. God help her,” Sister Gabriel whispered.
“All right then. We’re getting the picture the Garrity twins were mentally unstable. Just how did Aislin die?” Maureen asked.
Rose heard the impatience in her voice. She remembered Maureen’s patience level. She reached up and lightly placed her hand on Maureen’s arm. Maureen looked down at her hand as Rose tugged. Maureen grinned and nodded her understanding and sat next to her on the couch.
“Miss Costello, would ya be so kind and stoke the fire?” Sister Gabriel asked.
Maureen rose and took a few bars of peat and arranged them in the fireplace, the dried bricks immediately ignited. Rose was watching Dr. Fahey as he stared at the glowing bars of peat. Helen was doing the same. She wasn’t surprised when Dr. Fahey spoke first.
“When Aislin was seventeen, she fell in love with a young man from the village. In the summer of 1959, he traveled to America. He worked for his family and made some money. When he came back that fall, he and Aislin were inseparable. They spent time in the cottage. He had bought gifts for Aislin from America. Things they didn’t have here. He bought her a record player and records of all the popular songs in America. He was fond of “Beyond the Sea.” When he first heard it in Boston, he thought of Aislin. When he set the player up in the cottage and played the record, Aislin felt the same. He told her then he thought of her all summer and that he had always loved her—even beyond the sea.”
They sat in deafening silence. Dr. Fahey stared at the fireplace, then continued. “The young man wanted to become a doctor,” he said and took a deep quivering breath, “and marry Aislin Garrity.”
“A doctor like his father,” Maureen said softly.
Dr. Fahey looked old beyond his years as he merely nodded. Rose leaned forward and placed her hand on his knee. “You must have loved her very much.”
“As much as I could, but it wasn’t enough. Aislin became withdrawn, detached. She accused me of the most horrible things. She didn’t believe I loved her and thought I was in love with Agnes. I tried and tried to tell her, to convince her of my love. I-I knew she was ill, but I thought I could get help for her.” His voice trailed off as he angrily shook his head. “Agnes was no help at all. She told me I was no good for Aislin. She was better of at Malin More with her. I only wanted one thing from Aislin, she had said. And I could find that with any whore.” He looked to Rose’s stunned face. “That’s what she said. I was shocked. I told her I loved Aislin. But she had already filled Aislin’s sick mind with doubt.”
“What happened, Doctor? How did Aislin die?” Maureen asked in a steady firm voice. Rose could tell she wanted to get to the bottom of this nightmare.
“On that night, I tried one more time before I left for the university. I begged her to come with me. We’d find a way to live and be together. We were in the cottage. Aislin was humming that song. I watched her as she turned the player on and the music started—somewhere, beyond the sea, somewhere, waiting for me—Aislin sang along in a low haunting voice. I was petrified, but I couldn’t move. I was transfixed as I watched her dance around the room.” He stopped and raised his teacup to his lips with a shaky hand before continuing. “She laughed then, a high-pitched laugh and ran out of the cottage. I-I followed her, calling after her as I ran. Her long black hair was flowing wildly in the wind. She ran toward the cliff’s edge, then stopped, turned around. For some reason, I stopped, as well. I didn’t want to scare her. She was so dangerously close to the edge…” He stood up and walked over to the fireplace. He then looked down at Sister Gabriel and smiled sadly. She reached up and offered her hand, which he took.
Rose blinked back the tears as she and Maureen listened. Helen was crying. Dr. Fahey straightened his shoulders and continued in a steady voice. “I pleaded with her to step away from the edge, to come to me. I begged her. Her next words would haunt me. They haunt me still.
“She spread her arms out and said, ‘Will you love me? Even beyond the sea?’”
Rose heard those words and sat erect. Why did those words sound familiar? She desperately tried to concentrate on Dr. Fahey as she tried to remember…
Dr. Fahey continued, “Then she—”
“Just fell,” Rose said in a flat voice, void of emotion. Maureen held her hand in a firm, reassuring grasp.
“Yes. God help me,” he said and ran his hand across his face in a gesture of pure exhaustion.
After a lifetime of silence, Helen spoke. “So are we now to assume that the spirit of that poor young girl is haunting your Karen?”
“I don’t know.” Rose laid her head back against the couch. Aislin’s last words still rang through her head. She thought of all the sessions with Karen. If only she could remember what Karen had said.
“If you don’t mind,” Dr. Fahey said. “How stable is Karen?”
Rose lifted her head, and he continued, “It is possible she’s delusional and is imagining all of this? Did she know of Aislin and Agnes?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. But there are just too many coincidences. And that bothers me,” Rose said.
“It’s getting late, why don’t you stay here for the night?” Sister Gabriel asked.
Rose looked at the clock on the mantel. “Good Lord, it’s nearly five. No, thank you, Sister. I’d like to get back to Karen. We haven’t checked in.”
Rose and Maureen stood. “Thank you for all your help. I-I am sorry for bringing all of this to the surface. I know it must be painful,” Rose said.
Sister Gabriel smiled. “Not at all. It’s been fifty years of not talkin’ about it. I hope we’ve helped you. I’ll pray for Karen.”
“Thank you, Sister.”
“As I will,” Helen said warmly.
Dr. Fahey shook their hands. “I too will pray. Take care of her. If you need anything, or if I can do anything, my house is at the other end of town. You’ll see the shingle. Stop in, please, if you need me.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” Maureen said.
As Helen rose, Maureen stopped her. “We can find our way back to the car. Don’t get up, please.”
Rose and Maureen walked down the path and back to the car in silence. As they drove out of town, Maureen saw the sign. “That’s Dr. Fahey’s.”
Rose merely nodded. She was exhausted as she stared out the window into the darkness.
“What are ya thinkin’?” Maureen asked.
“I don’t know, Costello. I’m so tired, but there was something about what Dr. Fahey said. What Aislin said before she died. It’s buggin’ the hell out of me.”
“Ya need sleep, Clance. We’ll be back in Galway in an hour or so.”
“Hmm, bed sounds good right now.”
“Put your head back and take a snooze.”
Rose did just that, but she couldn’t sleep. “Well, at least we found out what happened. Do you honestly think Karen is seeing an apparition of Terry?”
Maureen shifted gears and shrugged. “When I was a child, a friend of mine said her mother saw her dead grandmother all the time. It got to the point where she expected to see her on a daily basis. And her mother wasn’t bonkers.”
Rose looked over and saw the grin and laughed. “Thank you for going with me today.”
“You’re welcome. I was glad to do it. Now can we get off the subject of ghosts for a minute?”
Rose heard the serious tone. “Sure.”
“I’ve missed you this past year, Clance. And I think you’ve missed me. Do ya think we could start over?”
Rose reached over and covered the warm hand with her own. “I’d like that, I think.”
Maureen nodded and smiled as she concentrated on the dark road ahead. “Good then. It’s settled. I won’t ask if ya love me…yet.”
Rose laughed and closed her eyes. “Good then, because I’m not sure I do…yet.”
The rest of the drive was comfortable and quiet.
“Can we stop at my office?” Rose asked as they pulled into Galway.
“Sure, but it’s kinda late, luv,” Maureen said as she changed lanes and drove to the office.
“There’s something that’s nagging me. Something Dr. Fahey said, something Karen had said. I know it’s on one of the session tapes. Do you mind?”
Maureen shook her head. “Not at all. It’s not too late. Maybe you should give Karen a call.”
“Good Lord, yes.” Rose pulled out her cell and dialed. She got the voice mail. “Hello, Karen. It’s Dr. Clancy. We’re back in Galway, just checkin’ in at the office. Give me a call, dear. It’s about six thirty.” She snapped the phone closed.
“Maybe she went out for dinner. Or she’s in the shower.”
Rose flipped on the small light on her desk. She felt Maureen behind her and gasped as she felt her arms around her waist. “I’ve missed this, Clance,” Maureen whispered against her ear.
Rose melted in her arms. She missed Maureen Costello more than she realized. “I missed this, as well.” She turned in her arms and wrapped her arms around Maureen’s neck.
Maureen kissed her forehead, then her cheek, and finally her lips. Rose moaned as the warm lips she remembered moved easily against her own. “God, Clance,” Maureen murmured against her lips.
“I know, I agree,” Rose whispered and pulled back. She cleared her throat. “Well, that was very nice.”
“We don’t have to stop there,” Maureen said and moved closer. Rose put her hand against her chest.
“I need to find that session tape, Costello.” She sat behind her desk. “You stay right where you are.”
Maureen laughed and sat on the edge of the desk. Rose searched the small tapes until she found the one she was looking for. “Here it tis.” She slipped the tape in and hit the play button.
After fast-forwarding a bit, she found it.
“What happened then, Karen?”
“She stood at the edge of the cliff. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do, Doctor. I-I figured if I went to her, she’d jump, or what if I got to her but couldn’t stop her?”
“It’s all right, Karen. Have a drink of water…Can you go on?”
“She looked at me and held her arms open, Doctor, and said, ‘Will you love me? Even beyond the sea?’ Then, like I told you before, she closed her eyes and just…fell. She just leaned back and fell over the cliff. No screaming, no crying. Nothing...just the sound of the damned seabirds screaming and that fucking song in the background.”
Rose turned off the recorder and looked at Maureen over the small lamp desk. “It’s Aislin’s words, verbatim, Maureen.”
Maureen was frowning deeply. “This is scaring the hell out of me, Clance. What the hell is goin’ on?”
“I don’t know. Even after all we’ve found out today, I don’t know,” Rose said angrily. She suddenly thought of Karen. “I need to see Karen. I don’t want her to be alone. C’mon, if she’s not answering her phone, let’s go to her flat.”
For some reason, there was an urgent feeling in Rose. Maureen quickly followed her down the steps to the car. They drove the short distance to Karen’s apartment. Rose was practically out of the car before it stopped. She dashed up the stairs with Maureen right behind her.
Rose knocked at Karen’s door softly at first. When there was no answer, she knocked harder and called her. With that, the door across the hall opened. A young woman stood there.
“Karen’s not at home.”
Rose whirled around. “Do you know where she is?”
“Are you Dr. Clancy?” the woman asked.
Rose walked up to her. “Yes. Where is she?”
“She left. Borrowed my car. She told me to tell you that everything is fine. Terry called, and she’s going to meet her.”
“What?” Rose asked and took the woman by the arm. “When did she leave?”
“A-about an hour ago. Is everything all right?”
“Damn it,” Rose hissed and dashed down the stairs.
“Clance, wait,” Maureen said as Rose tried to get behind the wheel.
“Wait? You know as well as I do where Karen’s gone to, Costello. Come with me or get out of my way.”
“Rose, settle down. I’ll drive. You’ll just kill us both. Get in,” Maureen ordered.
Maureen drove much too fast for the fog that was settling in.
“This figures,” Rose said angrily. “Next we’ll get the rain.”
“We’ll be there soon.”
“She has an hour on us, Maureen. Please hurry.”
Maureen shifted gears and sped out of Galway. Rose wished there was a quicker way to get to Malin More. She glanced at her watch and prayed to God they weren’t too late.
Nearly an hour later, they pulled into the village. Maureen stopped the car when she saw Dr. Fahey walking down the cobblestone to his house. Rose frantically rolled down her window.
“Dr. Fahey,” she called out. “Have you seen anyone drive through town? We think Karen is on her way here, back to the cottage.”
“No, I haven’t. Wait, I’ll come with you.” He dashed into his house and came out in a moment carrying a large flashlight and got in the backseat. He was breathless. “It’ll be dark as pitch up there.”
Maureen put the car in gear and drove out of town. She took the dark road leading to the cottage. The light rolling fog had her slowing down.
“Maureen, hurry,” Rose pleaded.
“I don’t want to kill us all, Clance. We’ll get there.”
“What happened?” Dr. Fahey asked.
Rose explained. “Could it have been Agnes that called Karen?” She turned around in her seat to face Dr. Fahey.
“No, I doubt it, Doctor. There are no phones in the main house or the cottage. Agnes would have to come to town, and I doubt she would.”
“Then who the hell called Karen?” Maureen asked, glancing in the rearview mirror. “And don’t tell me it was Terry. I’ve had—”
Dr. Fahey lurched forward and grabbed her shoulder. “Look out!”
Maureen and Rose looked forward. “Goddamn it!” Maureen yelled as she slammed on her brakes.
The figure of a woman ran in front of the car. They lost sight of her in the fog and darkness. Maureen threw her door open as did Rose and the doctor. Rose caught a glimpse of someone. “There!” she called out and pointed.
Dr. Fahey threw the high beam of the flashlight in the direction. It was Karen; she was running toward the cliff.
“Karen!” Rose called out.
Maureen was chasing her, running well ahead of Rose and Dr. Fahey. As they ran, the high beam bounced all over, making it impossible for Rose to see Karen and now Maureen.
As the light fog lifted, they saw her. Dr. Fahey stopped, as did Rose. “It’s Terry!” she yelled to Maureen.
“No!” Dr. Fahey called out. “It’s Aislin.”
The figure stood at the cliff’s edge, arms outstretched—waiting.
Karen ran toward her. “Terry! I knew you weren’t dead,” she cried out as she ran.
“Oh, God, no,” Rose said when she saw not only Karen racing toward the apparition, but Maureen, as well.
Dr. Fahey and Rose ran toward them. Rose watched in horror as Karen neared the cliff.
“Will you love me, even beyond the sea?” the ghostly voice cried out.
“Yes!” Karen answered. “I’m here.” She opened her arms to welcome what she thought was Terry and wrapped her arms around the apparition of Aislin and flew off the cliff. Maureen cried out and lunged for Karen, both of them heading over the cliff’s edge.
“No!” Rose cried out as she and Dr. Fahey reached them.
Rose crawled to the edge of the cliff and peered over. She heard a woman screaming as it faded into the darkness—only one woman’s scream. Dr. Fahey was instantly next to Rose, the beam of the flashlight searching the dark sea.
“Maureen!” Rose yelled.
“Rose!” Maureen called back.
Frantically, Rose looked. “There,” she called to Dr. Fahey, who shined the beam of light in the direction. There was Maureen, a few feet below them hanging onto the rocks, her face bloody.
“Hang on!” Rose called to her.
Between the two of them, they struggled to get hold of Maureen’s wet sweater, then her shoulder. They both grunted and pulled as Maureen scrambled to the top. Finally, they hauled Maureen up and Dr. Fahey fell back in an exhausted heap.
Rose clung to Maureen. “I’m fine, luv. I’m fine. It’s all right now,” she whispered as she held her.
Rose cried and held on. “Oh, God, Maureen. I thought I lost you.”
Dr. Fahey reached over to examine Maureen. “I’m fine, Doctor.” She stood and held onto Rose. “I couldn’t save her.”
Rose placed her hand on Maureen’s cheek. “You tried. We all tried.”
“Maybe Aislin will be at peace now,” Dr. Fahey said softly. He shined the light over the cliff. They saw nothing but heard the crashing waves of the sea against the rocks.
“We’ll need to call the authorities,” he said in a tired voice. “Come, let’s get you back. You’re soaked through.”
As they turned and headed back to the car, Rose looked up at the main house on the ridge and stopped. “Look,” she whispered.
A light shone in the second-floor window.
“Is that Agnes?” Maureen asked.
“That’s Aislin’s room,” Dr. Fahey whispered.
In the next instant, the light was extinguished.
Maureen and Rose stood outside Rose’s office on a cool October afternoon.
“How about a nice dinner out tonight?” Maureen offered.
“That sounds heavenly,” Rose said. She looked around the busy Galway street, then smiled sadly, as she gazed in the direction of Karen’s apartment. “It seems like a dream,” she whispered.
Maureen put an arm around her. “I know, luv. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of her.”
“Me too,” Rose agreed in a quivering voice. “And to think nothing happened to Agnes Garrity,” she continued bitterly.
“She had done nothing wrong, luv.” She went on when Rose glared at her. “Nothing by law, Clance. How could we prove anything at the inquisition? With no body, nothing but an Irish ghost story and a tragic tale of an insane woman, possibly two. A shocking coincidence, but nothing more.”
“Well, at least she agreed to no longer advertise the cottage for rent. It’s been a year, and no one has even been close to the cottage, from what Dr. Fahey said.”
“Agnes will probably die a lonely death. Alone in her madness,” Maureen said and wrapped her arm around Rose’s shoulder. “Now let’s get on with our lives.”
Rose looked up and smiled. “I love you, Maureen Costello.”
Maureen grinned wildly. “I’ll never tire of hearing that.”
As she bent her head to kiss Rose, they heard it.
Somewhere, beyond the sea. Somewhere, waiting for me…
Rose turned white, her skin crawled as the music got louder—closer. Rose gave Maureen a petrified look and shivered, but they let out a nervous laugh when they saw the little red car drive by and realized it was coming from the car radio. The young man and woman sang along with Bobby Darin, as the song faded, lost in the late afternoon traffic.
Maureen tightened her arm around Rose. “It’ll be a while till I can hear that song,” Rose said.
“I know, luv, but for now, let’s eat. I’m starvin’,” Maureen said as they walked down the cobblestone street. “And I have a plan for us after dinner.”
“Do ya now? And what plan would that be?”
“You and me and a hot bath.”
“Ah, Costello, I love the way ya think.”
The little red car drove through Galway. The vacationing couple would drive out of Galway and head north toward Mayo, then through Sligo and farther to Donegal. It would be a good hour or more before they saw the rugged coast by the sea and the cottage at Malin More.