Tonight was the night of the dinner party that Ada was hosting. Now, Tommy wasn’t a fan per se of these parties but he would attend and play nice. Tonight though...tonight was going to be hell for far too many reasons. It was the anniversary of Grace’s death, first off and when Ada realized this, she offered to change the date but naturally, Tommy refused.
The second was that there would be people that Thomas preferred to avoid. Like Mosley. The man would be there since Ada had to invite him or else it would bring up all sorts of gossip that they did not need.
And third of all, it had been a shit day for Tommy and all he wanted to do was to do some opium, drink until he passed out and then be done with the day. Alas, Tommy was only able to do the first one which was at least something. As he laid there on his bed, wearing his suit for the night minus the jacket, he heard a soft voice murmur next to him.
“Tommy, it’s time to get up.” His eyes open and he turned to see Grace kneeling next to him.
“Grace.” He croaked, reaching out and stroking her cheek. “You came.”
“Of course I did, my love. I am always here when you need me. But come, you need to get ready for this dinner party.” Sighing heavily, Tommy sat up and grabbed his jacket, slipping it on.
“You were always better at these things than I was.” He commented as he fastened the jacket up. “I would have been quite content to just ignore this all.” Grace laughed and Thomas couldn’t help but stare at her. “You look so beautiful, Grace.” The words escaped through his lips in a soft hush. But it was the truth. She wore that deep purple ballgown that Tommy loved so and her jewelry glittered in the light.
“Come on, Tommy.” Grace took his arm and led him out of his bedroom. He was escorted down the stairs, into the spacious entrance room of the house, astonished to find it barren and still. Perhaps guests were already in the dining room. Not thinking too much of it, Thomas let himself be led into the dining room where indeed, a handful of guests sat. Grace seemed to have designed this all down to the people she invited to the decorations and food. It had her touch on it.
“Tommy!” Tommy’s stomach sank and he turned to see...Gretta making her way over to him. What was she doing here? She was dead. Thomas knew this. He had watched her die. And yet, here she was, as real as could be. “It’s so good to see you again.” She said, giving Tommy’s cheek a kiss. “I was so excited when Grace invited me to the party. And I heard congratulations are in order?”
“They are?” Gretta laughed.
“Of course they are! You’re going to become a father again, Tommy!” Thomas’ eyes widened and he turned to glance at Grace and indeed, now that he knew, he could spot the hint of a bump forming.
“Thank you, Gretta,” Grace said, giving the other woman a kiss on the cheek before Gretta went back to talking.
“How far along are you?” Tommy asked Grace softly.
“About four months.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You were not in a fit state of mind, Tommy. But come, don’t worry about that all. There are other people that I want you to see.” So, Thomas complied and found being led up to Danny Wizbang. The man seemed entirely at ease and at peace, something he had not experienced after the war. Danny was keen to give Thomas a hug and assured him that he indeed was doing a lot better. Next was Freddie. When Tommy saw the man, he froze but Freddie embraced him as if they were still young boys.
“Thank you for taking care of my Ada and Karl,” Freddie said when he pulled away. “I can rest easy at night, knowing you’re taking care of them.” Other people began to show up. A few of Tommy’s friends from the war were there, looking young and refreshed, not covered in mud and blood. As Thomas greeted his old friends, his eyes continued to scan the ever-growing crowd until he spotted him. John.
Thomas broke away from the conversation he was in, speeding forward to his brother. John turned and greeted his older brother in a massive hug. “Tommy!” John exclaimed as Martha appeared at his side. Tommy gave her a warm hug in greeting.
“John, it’s so good to see you...I’m so sorry for what-” John waved his words again.
“Don’t worry about it, yeh?” John grinned, that familiar toothpick hanging from his lips that were curled into his trademark grin. “But you might want to go see who’s over there.” John nodded towards the fire and Thomas turned, to see... his mother. He would recognize her figure anywhere.
As if in a trance, Tommy went over to her and when she turned to face him, she was young and so full of life that Thomas found himself choking back his tears. His mother seemed to understand though for she pulled him into a smothering hug. Burying his head against her shoulder, the smell of her perfume brought back so many memories of her hugs. “Mother…” Tommy whispered as he pulled away. Marie Shelby reached up, brushing a tear away from her son’s face. Tommy hadn’t even realized he had been crying.
“Hello, Thomas.” Unable to say anything else, Tommy pulled his mother into a tight hug and frankly, he would be content to hug his mother till the end of the time. However, that would not be possible.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me?” Tommy pulled away as his wife took his hand.
“Of course, Mother, this is Grace, my wife.” The grin on his face was one of pure joy. “Grace, this is my mother, Marie.” The two women shook hands, greeting each other with smiles.
“I thought you looked familiar,” Grace commented to Marie. “When I was giving birth to Charlie, she was there to help me and support me.”
“Where is Charlie?” Tommy asked, glancing around the room in an attempt to locate his son but to no avail. He was probably sleeping anyway. Shortly thereafter, Grace announced that dinner was ready and everyone sat down as servants came forward, removing the silver top that covered the food. As Thomas’ top was removed, he looked down to find...a dead horse head in front of him. The blood was still leaking from the animal’s neck and the horse’s eyes were wide open in fright. But the thing was...Thomas knew this horse. Buddy. It had been his horse during the war. Despite them being together for a short time, Tommy had fallen in love with the horse.
Turning to look at other people, he saw various parts of a horse spread out among the guests who were acting like it was nothing new to them as they chatted and cut up the meat. Thomas couldn’t though. He pushed his chair back, feeling sick. “Tommy?” Grace said from his side. “Are you okay?”
“There’s…” He could hardly get the words out and instead just pointed at the horse head in front of him.
“What’s the problem? Is it not cooked to your liking? Horsehead is your favorite, it’s why I had it cooked for tonight.”
“No, no, no, it isn’t.” He mumbled, pushing his chair back, cringing at the sound of the wood floors being scraped. “I...no.” His chest was starting to contract and Thomas couldn’t stop himself as he turned to the side, vomiting. “There’s something wrong here. Something wrong.” He got up, legs quivering as he tried to make his way to the door, not making it far .
“Th-” Grace began but Tommy cut her off.
“Something’s wrong, Grace!” Thomas snapped, turning around to face his wife. “This is all...wrong! All! Fucking! Wrong!” Seized by such a fit of rage, Thomas lunged forward and swept his arm across the table, sending glass and food flying everywhere. “This is fucking wrong! You shouldn’t be here!” Tommy’s arm swept by again, knocking whatever food might be remaining onto the floor.
“You! You fucking hated my guts!” Thomas turned to look at Freddie than to Greta. “You died in my fucking arms! None of you should be here! Especially…” He turned to look to see Grace crying. It felt like someone had popped a balloon that was Thomas’ rage. The sight of his wife in tears had always hurt Tommy to see but now it felt like a dagger was being stabbed through his heart. He moved forward, pulling Grace into his arms. “Grace, I’m so sorry.” He whispered as she cried. Thomas held Grace tightly in his arms, resting his chin on her head. “Why don’t we go outside, eh?”
This time, Grace followed Tommy as he led her back up the stairs, this time making his way to the roof. The two climbed onto the small patio on the roof and Grace started ahead of the darkness, her shawl wrapped around her. “I’m sorry about that, Grace.” Thomas murmured as he lit a cigarette before going up behind her.
“It’s okay, Thomas.” Grace murmured as her husband wrapped his arms around her neck. Thomas said nothing and the two of them stood there for a few blissful minutes. The door behind him open and Tommy looked to see Ruby and Charlie standing before him.
“What are you two doing up?” Tommy asked with a frown. “Go back to bed.”
“We heard a real big crash.” Charlie piped up.
“Charlie, can’t you see I’m spending time with your mother?” Tommy pressed a kiss to Grace’s head. “Go back to bed, the both of you.”
“Mother?” Charlie’s eyes looked around for a moment before he spoke again. “Daddy, there’s no one here but us.”
“Charles Shelby, go back to bed or I swear to God I will-” He didn’t need to finish his threat for the two children raced off. “Now, where were we?” Grace giggled as Thomas tilted her neck to the side, kissing it.
“Thomas.” He groaned and turned to see Lizzie standing there in her dressing gown.
“What?!” He snapped. “Can’t you see that I’m busy with Grace? Can you lot fucking see or something?”
“How high are you?”
“What? I’m not high.”
“Then why are you imagining your dead wife?”
“She isn’t dead!”
“Yes, Tommy, she is. Has been for five years...today.”
“She’s right in front of me, Lizzie. Just fuck off.” Thomas turned back to Grace as Lizzie stormed over, promptly slapping his cheek. Tommy stumbled backward, hand automatically rising to his now stinging cheek. Grace was gone.
“Where did she go? Where did she go? Grace! Grace!” Tommy frantically began to search in vain for his wife until he gave up. Lizzie pulled him into her arms and held him then as he had a good and proper cry.
“Come on, back to bed.” Lizzie murmured and guided Tommy back to the bedroom.
That night, Grace was there in the bedroom as Tommy got changed with the help of Lizzie. Neither said a word to each other and when Tommy turned the light off, Grace disappeared.
He learned the next day that there had been no dinner party by Ada and he had indeed smashed the glass in the dining room. The blood he had imagined had been his.