The signal approached through the cloudy ether. Iain couldn’t see the wires from this side, but the glowing electric impulse zipped along the path the wires took on the mortal plane. The phone was about to ring, but they’d never find it. His lovely, frazzled Beth needed this call. Maybe his girls would hear him. He puffed a breath of air past Flora’s inky curls.
She looked up from her purple ponies. “Daddy?”
“Girls! Where’s the phone?” Beth scraped back her sticky hair with both hands and glanced over the boxes covering the scratched hardwood floor.
Flora and Tassie thundered down the hallway. “Daddy found it. It was in the bathtub.”
Imaginary dad syndrome had popped up again. Well, the grief counsellor had said the imaginary dad might come back in times of stress. “No, please don’t answer it, Tass—”
“Heyyo? They’s gone, Mummy.”
Beth sighed. “I know, dear. I’ll call them back.”
The girls looked at each other, and both disappeared into the hall.
Beth checked the call history and dialed the last caller. “Hi, Christie, did you just call here?...Yeah, Tassie still answers by pressing End.” She peered down the hall to see what the girls were into. “Why’s William depressed?...All right, see you at five.”
Whispers hissed from the kitchen. Beth rounded the corner and gasped. “Flora, get down from there.” She swung her five-year-old off the rickety stool and latched the cupboard door that wouldn’t stay closed. “In the interest of safety, ladies, you should know the Halloween treats are not in the kitchen. Or the bathroom, either.”
Four bright, dark blue eyes blinked at her.
“That was Aunt Christie. Nana’s having a kitchen party tonight to cheer up Uncle William.”
“No, no, no!” Tassie plopped her soggy diaper onto the black-and-white floor tiles.
“Mummy, he’s too scary. He has scraggly eyebrows, and he shouts. And we have to go trick-or-treating.” Flora crawled under the metal table, old enough now to be retro-chic.
“He only shouts because he’s a little deaf, and we’ll go trick-or-treating with your cousins on Nana’s street. Did you find your costume?”
“My princess dress!” Flora scurried out from under the table and dashed toward the bedroom.
Beth grabbed Tassie’s T-shirt tail before she could follow. “You are too stinky for words, sweetpea, and me without my gasmask.” She caught up the diaper bag on the way to the bathroom.
Come back tomorrow for Part Two.