Cheyenne had a feeling that she knew the pixie-sized woman with close-cropped purple and grey hair who strode across the concrete toward her stone.
She had learned when feeling sorrow for students who made critical mistakes that emotions had the power to affect her like physical pain. The feeling of seeing this woman now wasn’t the ache of sadness and it wasn’t vague or fluttery. This felt like she had dropped an oversized Dremel on her foot. And the pain was sharp enough to make her gasp.
The pixie woman heard the gasp. She turned to look in Cheyenne’s direction with a determination as if she expected to see the ghost. As if it were her right to see that ghost.
Cheyenne winced at the look but could tell that the tiny woman hadn’t spotted her. Her light blue eyes wandered near where she had heard the sound but didn’t land on where the stone carver hovered. Afraid of making another sound, Cheyenne held as still as her models used to, taking in the straight-cut jeans and Scorpions rock concert T-shirt the woman wore. She felt again that painful recognition that she could not name. Had she seen the woman before? Where?
“Doesn’t matter,” she heard the woman say out loud. “Not going to wait. You’ve waited long enough, Leila.” She wasn’t muttering but the ghost could tell she was having a conversation with herself.
Waited for what? Cheyenne watched Leila place her hands on the block with a reverence almost like she was blessing the stone. It unnerved the ghost to see someone touch her work.
“How am I going to get you out, lovely?” Leila was now moving her hands slowly across the stone as she spoke to it in circular motions that rubbed away the dust.
Get it out? This woman was planning to take away the piece that needed to become Gloria over and over? Why would she do that? Cheyenne began to drift closer to Leila, daring to look. The ghost couldn’t imagine there was anything about the stone she could have missed in a decade. And she couldn’t bear the thought of someone taking it away.
“A dolly. That’s what’s needed. Then I can hoist you, lovely. Got to be one around here somewhere.” Her words got faster and more clipped as she stood straight and scanned the shop.
Cheyenne knew the dolly was in the tool room. That was locked.
“Ridiculous. Ridiculous that I had to wait 10 years for this, damn it,” She began walking the shop, scanning the back corners, looking for the dolly. Her legs moved in short rapid steps as she pursed her lips and began cursing more loudly with each place that dared to not produce the tool she needed. Cheyenne felt her essence shiver with worry over what would happen when the woman found the tool room.
Sure enough, Leila soon placed her hand on the door of the room and attempted to turn the knob. Which did not move. Cheyenne could not breathe any more. She was dead. But, floating behind the odd small woman, she held her essence still as if she were holding her breath, waiting to see what Leila would do.
“Dumbass doorknob,” Leila growled as she grabbed at the handle with two hands and began shaking it. The ghost was surprised at the strength those doll-sized hands contained and how they were able to lift the door inside its hinges.
It was then that they both heard the security vehicle pull up outside the large shop doors. Vladimir the guard was coming, thought Cheyenne. Thank heavens.
The hinges on the car door groaned as he opened it and shut it behind him before they heard him putting his keys into the door out front. You could always hear who was coming your way through those shop doors.
Leila made a slow hissing sound between her teeth.
“I’ll be back,” she said looking at the block of marble once more before sprinting out the opposite door from where she had first broken into Cheyenne’s afterlife.