Violet had just stepped out of the shower when she heard a rather familiar sound. There was no doubt in her mind the rumble of a deep male voice from directly beneath her in the living room came from Victor and he was probably petting her silly cat.
“That man is the limit! It’s not even six thirty,” she grumbled, drying herself off as quickly as possible before she donned a robe and went down the stairs.
“Hello, Violet!” he said grinning up at her.
Her heart skipped a beat. There he stood before her looking spectacular in a tuxedo. She clutched at the throat of her robe, speechless.
Interpreting her silence correctly, he stepped to the stairs with a garment bag in hand. He gave her an apologetic look before saying, “Yes, I forgot to tell you this is formal. That’s why I’m here so early. I did bring you something which I’m hoping may be suitable.”
She gaped as he opened up the garment bag to reveal a lovely and elegant gown of emerald green silk.
“Oh, my goodness,” she mumbled.
“I hope you like it,” he said, watching her anxiously.
“Like it? It’s…amazing… but…you bought this for me?”
He grimaced. “Actually, no.”
She tore her eyes away from the dress long enough to make a funny face at him. “You usually go around buying women’s evening wear just for the heck of it?” she asked, sarcastically.
He chuckled. “Actually I do, or rather I used to. I bought this for my mother just before she died. She never got to wear it. Pity, isn’t it?” he said looking at the dress.
“I’ll say,” Violet mumbled also looking at the gown with a mixture on sadness and longing.
“I did tell you once that she was about your size, so I thought…maybe this would be all right for you for tonight…Perhaps?” he said, uncertain.
“Only one way to find out,” she said and she grabbed it out of his hands and rushed up the stairs with it.
He chuckled and turned back to Calendula, who looked thoroughly miffed at being ignored. “I told you she’d like it,” he said, scratching the spot behind her ears. The cat stood up as if expecting to be picked up, but he shook his head. “Sorry, Ginger fluff. Violet will kill me if I get hair on this and I just don’t want her mad at me. Okay?”
This was not okay. She showed him her backside, raised her fluffy tail up into the air and sauntered off in an obvious kitty-cat huff.
Meanwhile upstairs, Violet stared at her reflection in awe. She’d never seen anything so beautiful. And it fit her perfectly, as if it were made especially for her. Could she and Victor’s mother truly be so close in size?
“Very,” Heidi said, smiling brightly. “You look beautiful! You’ll be the belle of the ball…if this were a ball.”
Richard hovered in the background speechless. He stared at his wife with such longing. Heidi placed a comforting hand on his arm. “She’s gorgeous,” he said.
“Yes, but you think that when she’s wearing old jeans and a sweatshirt, don’t you?” Heidi said.
“I know one thing,” Violet mumbled. “This calls for some serious girly time. Makeup, hair, jewelry, everything has to be perfect. This dress deserves no less!”
Heidi giggled delightedly and clapped her dainty hands. “Thata girl!”
Violet went into the bathroom with Heidi close behind her. She tipped foundation onto her fingertips, but paused looking at herself in the mirror.
“What’s wrong, Hunny? Wrong shade?” Heidi asked.
“Maybe Ed’s right. Maybe this is a date,” Violet whispered, biting her lip.
“Of course, it’s not a date!” Heidi nearly shouted.
“But it sure feels like one and Ed said…”
“Nonsense!” Heidi retorted forcefully. “You said it yourself. There is nothing romantic going on between you and Victor.”
“No, but…then why do I feel so guilty?” Violet mumbled.
“The answer to that is easy, my love,” Heidi explained, tenderly touching her shoulder. “You love Richard, so much so that it feels like a betrayal just being alive when he’s not. All those who love so deeply feel this way, but that’s no reason to stop living and stop enjoying ourselves. Our loved ones, they know we will always carry them in our hearts. That way they live on in a sense. Every breath we take, every time we smile or laugh, it will be for them, too. Do you see? Knowing that they live through us and we live with them tucked forever inside us, they wouldn’t want us to stop living.”
“No, we wouldn’t,” Richard chimed in.
Heidi turned and gaped at him.
“I…I get it, I think,” he mumbled still staring fixedly at his lovely wife. “I’m not helping her, am I? I’m just in the way.”
“No, Richard, not in the way, just not on her team yet, so to speak,” Heidi said, smiling at him.
“You’re good at this ghost thing. You help the living, really help them. You even help Violet as much as you do your own son. You’re real good,” Richard said, unusually serious.
“Well, dear, it’s our job as spirit guides,” Heidi replied.
“Spirit guide?” he said. “Thought I was just a ghost.”
She shook her head. “Ghosts roam the earth aimlessly, Richard. Spirit guides, on the other hand, have a specific purpose. We are here to help those we’ve left behind, those who simply are not ready to let go of us, for whatever reason. It is our goal to make them ready, to help them let go.”
He stared at her, his expression confused.
“Yes, my Victor isn’t ready any more than Violet is. Of course, they don’t know it, but it isn’t necessary for them to know. We know. That’s what is important.”
He nodded. “I finally understand. I better start acting like a spirit guide then,” he said and with that he fell through the ceiling and out of view.
“My goodness! I didn’t see that coming,” Heidi muttered looking both delighted and stunned by this unexpected turn of events. She then turned back to Violet who still looked worried and unconvinced.
“Violet, dear, you know what’s in your heart. Richard still consumes every bit of it.”
“Yes, he does,” she muttered as tears welled up in her eyes.
“Come now, none of that. Victor is waiting on you. He’s so glad you will be there to help him out,” Heidi said.
“Help him? How would I be doing that?” Violet said, sniffing and brushing aside a single tear.
“You heard him, didn’t you? This charity thing is a bore to him, but he feels obligated to go because of his mother.”
“His mother?” Violet repeated.
“Oh, yes! She loved that garden and gave generously to make it what it is today. Victor wants to ensure her legacy continues and to do that he has to attend this fund raiser every year. Victor, the poor dear, barely knows a lilac from a tulip, so you can imagine him there surrounded by people who revere all things horticultural. His eyes literally glaze over the entire night!”
Violet giggled and Heidi joined in. “Then he must find me dreadfully dull, too! I talk about plants all the time,” Violet said.
“Apparently not. Does he ever seem bored in your presence? Of course not! You actually make plants fun for him,” Heidi said emphatically. “That was something his mother was never able to do. Believe me, this is a good thing you do for him. And you know, he does consider this a huge favor, you coming with him. I think he hopes you’ll keep the dullest people away from him!”
“Wow, hope I don’t disappoint him,” Violet said, now putting her makeup on with vigor.
“Oh, that does look pretty!” Heidi gushed.
“It’s been so long, I didn’t think I’d remember how to put this stuff on. It’s just overkill for the daycare center,” Violet said, putting down the eye shadow and going for the mascara.
“We all want to look our best and we need not make apologies for it!” Heidi insisted.
“You sound like Jocelyn,” Violet mumbled with a giggle.
“Oh, no, not that peachy color. Try the ruby red lipstick,” Heidi suggested. “With such dramatic eyes we should emphasize those pretty lips.”
“Oh, yes, I didn’t think of that,” Violet agreed and she put down the soft pink one for the bolder notice-me-red color. “But are you sure it’s not too much?”
“Of course not, not for where you’re going. Everyone will be dressed to the nines!”
“Oh, my!” Violet murmured anxiously.
“Now, now, don’t be that way. You’ll fit in perfectly. You’ve got that beautiful dress, haven’t you?” Heidi said.
“It is a fabulous dress!” Violet said going to the full length mirror in the corner of her room and turning this way and that.
“Yes, you’d think it was made especially for you, wouldn’t you?” Heidi said, smiling impishly.
That could have been because it was.