“Let’s do this”
When Jamie and Julie were little, the each had their own unique set of fears. For Jamie, it had been thunderstorms. Each time a front would move in, she’d run and hide somewhere she could block out the sound. Since it was possible, very, very rarely, that storms could be violent, her parents were a bit concerned that they might not be able to find their youngest daughter in case of emergency. So they looked for a solution. It turned out to be the same solution that had worked on their older daughter.
When Julie was a year younger, or so, it wasn’t thunderstorms that caused her to run and hide. It was scary movies. Specifically it was scary characters, even if the movie wasn’t particularly scary. A chronic offender was Judge Doom at the end of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ While Julie had only seen that movie one time, whenever anything that looked remotely like the red-eyed high-pitched villain would appear on TV or in another movie, it would trigger a few weeks of sleepless nights. In desperation, Julie’s parents sought out the advice of their elders, and received a solution.
The next time Julie found herself frightened, her parents sang her a soothing lullaby:
Hush now little one
We’ve got you safe and sound
Sometimes when we are very young
Peace is seldom found
But we’re here to dry your tear
Here to save the day
You need not have any fear
We’re here beside you to stay
Her parents would sing the lullaby, gently rocking their daughter in their arms. It would soothe her, and a year later it would soothe her sister as well. Both girls remembered the song by heart, despite not hearing it in years. It was just a special moment, especially more special after their parents split up. It reminded them of a united family there for each other.
Now it was this song that Jamie hoped would help her sister.
Jamie reasoned that Julie could still hear Jamie and the rest of the group even if they were speaking softly. After all, sound worked differently here – and it’s not like Julie needed to use sound waves to hear the people in her mind. But it wasn’t enough to just think the words to the song, Jamie felt she’d have to sing it to her sister. And should couldn’t be alone.
Ryan had been the one to initially suggest they do something about G-ma, and while still pretending to be in a coma, he and Jamie both worked out the plan. He would distract G-ma, pretending to wake up from the coma. While she tended to him, or tried to persuade him to join her plan, Jamie would lead the others in soft song.
Jamie spent several hours whispering song lyrics to the other 3 women and telling them of the plan. G-ma seemed to notice the whispers, but didn’t do anything to stop them. The sky was very dim, even during the day. Jamie and Ryan knew they had to act soon, or else it would be too late.
“Ugh…”, Ryan moaned as he began to sit up. Looking around, he put on a perplexed expression, and opened his mouth right as G-ma reached him.
“Shhh…”, G-ma said in an urgent tone, “We’re trying to help Julie, you need to stay perfectly quiet”.
Trying to help was exactly what Ryan meant to do, however not in the way G-ma intended.
“What?”, he said again. The old woman bent down and repeated the same admonishment she had a few moments earlier.
“I don’t understand… how long have I been out?”
G-ma didn’t want this to take any longer than it had to. She motioned to Ryan to go with her, and they walked a few feet away.
As soon as they were moved away, the remaining bodies began the song. They kept it as low as possible – G-ma had better hearing than everyone except Mrs. Corum, and thus Mrs. Corum was tasked with choosing volume level. They wanted it just loud enough to potentially make a difference, but not loud enough to set off G-ma’s ears. Mrs. Corum used her own ability to hear Ryan and G-ma talking, and since she could barely make out what they said, she reasoned G-ma wouldn’t be able to make out the song while talking to Ryan.
Ryan had a number of questions in his mind, hoping that he could run through them as slowly as possible with G-ma. She seemed to have bought the deception – and her sole purpose at that moment seemed to be to get him to shut up and lie back down. He ran through all of the objections he’d give to doing that, articulating them slowly and groggily as to force G-ma to pay particular attention to them.
As the deception dragged on, Jamie realized she had no plan for when to stop or when to conclude if it was working or not. She felt that the only possible sigh she might get would be the mountains or the sky, so she kept an eye on both as she sang softly with the group. Neither were budging.
Desperately she racked her brain for ways to influence the situation. What else could she do. She was singing a song her sister would find soothing, she had kept G-ma from stopping them, and now she was searching for even more she could do. Ironically, she found it from the last person she expected – G-ma herself.
G-ma had often spoke about the warm feeling she experienced from Julie. It had waned in recent days, almost going out entirely. It occurred to Jamie that if Julie could make them feel a positive warmth by thinking about them in the real world, perhaps it could go the other direction. Jamie reasoned that whenever she was down, she sometimes would focus on how others felt about her, using their positive energy to help her see the good in herself. Maybe she could do that.
Without saying a word, she broke out of the song to concentrate. She began thinking of her sister, tracing back the memories of her from most recent to most earliest. She thought of the fun they’d had as kids, and the late night girl talk sessions they had rarely now. She visualized herself hugging her sister.
And when she opened her eyes, something amazing had happened – the sky was brightening. In fact, in one small spot, it had even turned almost blue. Jamie was about to quiet the group and share her finding when, unfortunately, someone else noticed the blue sky.
“JAMIE”, G-ma said loudly. It was perhaps the loudest and harshest tone Jamie had ever heard her G-ma take.
“HOW DARE YOU”, G-ma continued, “DO YOU WANT YOUR SISTER TO SUFFER MORE?”. By this point the rest of the group had quieted down, not knowing where this was going to go.
“G-ma, she’s not suffering when I…”, Jamie began to say, but the old woman wasn’t having any of it.
“I know I’ve asked a lot of you – but you’ve betrayed me when all I’ve tried to do is help Julie. You’ve used my own song against me! You’ve worked behind my back to undermine me. I can’t trust you, and I can’t trust that you’ll do what’s best for Julie”. Jamie had never seen such intense heat in G-ma’s elderly eyes. G-ma was flailing her arms wildly, ranting about how her plan was the salvation of all of them, and Julie. A plan only she believed in, as Jamie had proven.
The sky had turned darker once more, the blue ray closing up. But G-ma wasn’t done. She’d only succeeded in working herself up into more of a rage. Each moment, the words spun her faster and faster into emotion. Finally, Ryan felt the need to interject.
“Nobody believes in your plan, G-ma, we know all you’re doing is trying to cut Julie off from the only people she has. You can spin it all you want. If it wasn’t for Jamie’s idea, we wouldn’t have known what power the song could have. You saw the changes in the sky – how couldn’t that have been a good thing”
“And the best part is that it wasn’t just the song… it was…”, Jamie said, trying to interject.
“IT WAS ALL JUST MORE TORTURE FOR HER”, G-ma yelled, directly into Jamie’s face. “I CAN’T TRUST YOU. I CAN’T TRUST MY OWN GRAND DAUGHTER.” The intense heat of the old woman’s anger distracted Jamie.
The next thing she felt was the old woman wrapping her fingers around her neck.
“I’M SORRY JAMIE… THIS IS THE ONLY WAY WE CAN SAVE JULIE… WE NEED EVERYONE TO WORK TOGETHER”.
The group watched in horror as Jamie’s body fell to the ground. G-ma, eyes still pulsing, looked toward it, looked toward the group, and walked away.