Sitting Twenty-Four

I See Spirits

Golda’s mother and father traveled extensively. They had an export business which demanded they make personal contacts overseas to create sales and arrange distribution. So Golda was cared for by a lovely woman named Tarlina. Tarlina was from the Ivory Coast. Golda did not know where that was but thought the name “Ivory Coast” was hyper-cool.

Charrleen arranged for Golda and Tarlina to move in with her during the weeks leading up to the performance at Madison Square Garden. Golda’s parents were not due back until Christmas, flying in to see the Christmas Eve production.

Staying with Charrleen absolutely thrilled Golda—to get to play the part of a young woman instead of a little girl. Being around Charrleen was so nice—providing the comforts of home but most of the time, listening, learning, questioning and imitating. Golda tried Charrleen’s perfume, make-up and even one of her wigs.

It was also thrilling to Charrleen, especially since her mother and father had been killed in an airplane crash when she was about Golda’s age, creating the need for Charrleen to be raised by her Grandmama Eloise. It was a beautiful childhood. But still, the absence of her Mama and Papa, and especially not having a sister, weighed heavily on her heart. Charrleen found herself looking on Golda as a younger sibling—adorable and nerve-wracking at the same time.

One morning over breakfast, Charrleen noticed that Golda was subdued. “Is something wrong?” Charrleen asked.

Golda was reluctant to share. “Okay,” said Charrleen. “Then I’ll start. I get pimples on my back.”

Golda looked at her, astonished.

“Yeah,” said Charrleen. “Pimples. I’m a full-grown woman, but I still get pimples on my back, and I have to ask one of my friends to smear it with pimple cream.”

Golda burst out laughing. That such a beautiful woman would have pimples was unbelievable, and to think of her being rubbed down in pimple cream kept Golda giggling for a good solid minute.

“Okay,” Charrleen warned. “I told one on me. Now it’s your turn.”

Golda’s eyes welled with tears. “I don’t want you to think I’m weird. I’m afraid you’ll think I’m crazy.”

Charrleen shook her head. “Golda,” she said gently, “you’re not crazy. I know that.”

Golda took a big sip of orange juice and began. “At night, when I sleep, and I dream, I talk to spirits.”

Charrleen chose to not over-react. “And by spirits,” she said carefully, “you mean…?”

“Not spirits in general,” Golda explained. “Certain ones. Like last night I was carried into the spirit world.”

Golda eyed Charrleen to make sure the older woman wasn’t laughing at her. When she saw that Charrleen was listening, she continued. “I was in a conversation about you and me and the play, and… are you still listening?”

“I’m all ears,” answered Charrleen.

“It was with Holly Sprig, Christmas Carol, Everett Green, Santere, Mary and Joseph, a delightful burst of light named Lit,” Golda listed, “and, oh yes…Santa Claus.”

“Now, who?” challenged Charrleen.

Golda rose from the table. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me! I knew it!”

Charrleen pulled her gently back to her chair. “I didn’t say I didn’t believe you. I just wanted you to tell me who the spirits were again.”

Golda decided to trust her. “Well, Holy Sprig is the spirit of Christmas. You know, with those green leaves and red berries? And Christmas Carol? She’s a beautiful woman—she’s the melody and the songs of the season. Everett Green—well, he’s kind of a big, grouchy pine tree. Santere—you remember the Wise Men from the Bible, right?”

Charrleen nodded her head. Golda continued, “Well, Santere is one of the Wise People who came to see Baby Jesus. And you know Mary and Joseph—they were there, too. I kind of already told you about Lit. Lit is the light of the world. He brings…let’s see if I can think of the word…illumination to the whole Earth.”

Charrleen nodded again, careful to maintain eye contact.

“And of course,” Golda concluded, “there’s Santa Claus. So, they talk to me.”

Charrleen paused, choosing her words carefully. “And what do the spirits say to you, Golda?”

“They say that I’m going to have a chance to bring the spirit of Christmas back to full life, full energy and full joy. That people will be sent to help me, and that I must never lose faith.”

“Anything else?” asked Charrleen.

“Well, sometimes I tell the spirits about my headaches,” Golda said earnestly, “and Santa Claus brings all the spirits together and they gather around me. And you know what they do?”

“No, what do they do?” asked Charrleen.

“They pray for me,” Golda said. “Isn’t that wonderful? Wouldn’t you like it if Santa Claus prayed for you?”

Charrleen felt tears in her eyes. “Yes, Golda. I would like that very much.”

“I’m so glad I told you,” confided Golda. “I’ve wanted to tell somebody for so long—about Spirit World—but I was afraid they would think I’m crazy. You don’t think I’m crazy, do you?”

“No,” said Charrleen. “I don’t. Now, if you’re done with breakfast, we have to get ready for rehearsal. It starts in about a half an hour. Would you tell Tarlina that we’re heading off to work, and that we’ll be back for dinner? Tell her that I’ve put out a roast to thaw and ask her to prepare it for us.”

Golda threw her arms around Charrleen. “I love you so much,” she said. “Can I call you Aunt Charrleen?”

“You sure can,” said Charrleen, smiling. Golda clapped her hands and ran to her room, singing. Charrleen sat, staring into her coffee cup. She had no idea what to do. Was she dealing with a little girl’s imagination, a little girl’s desire to impress? Or had the strain of childhood brought on some mental illness—especially since Golda’s mother and father were absent so often?

She wanted to ask Tarlina about it, but Golda had said that she hadn’t shared it with anybody else. Was it possibly wrong of her to put this young girl on such a hectic schedule, when she was obviously… Charrleen interrupted her own thoughts. She couldn’t come up with anything obvious. Golda was a perfect little lady. Up to this morning, Charrleen had been convinced she was a prodigy.

She felt she should talk to somebody about it. But who? Who would understand such a dilemma? She would have to decide whether to continue the rehearsals and prepare for a premiere that might be harmful to a young girl’s mental stability.

First, there was being sued by Dunlevy and Markins. And now, the plight of a young girl whom she had just met.

Charrleen did something she hadn’t done for a while. She prayed. “Oh, God…please don’t let me screw up this little girl’s life.”

Every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!