The Seance

Image: pen and paper. Text: "We've got the forms with us."

The Seance

Short story by Iris Carden

Mary looked across the table at Marcus.  Her expression said it all. She was sceptical, more than sceptical, that this would work.

Marcus shrugged, and looked back at the medium. Her head was thrown back and her eyes glassy.  For a moment, Mary wondered if they should stop holding hands and check Madam Zelda was still alive.

Then Zelda began to shake, and she called out: “Andrea James! Andrea James! Your children are here and they need to talk to you. Andrea James, speak to us.”

In another voice, one that sounded eerily like their mother’s, Zelda continued. “I don’t belong here.  You can’t just call me back.”

“It’s kind of important, Mum,” Marcus said.

“It’s the bank,” Mary continued.  “They keep charging you fees.  We’ve been in to see them.  We’ve even given them a copy of your death certificate.”

“They insist, they can only close the account if you sign the forms!” Marcus said.  “Even though they’ve got your death certificate.”

“And they say they’ll sue us, as your heirs, if you don’t pay the fees,” Mary said.

“You called me back from Heaven to deal with the bank?” Zelda said in their mother’s voice.

“We’ve got the forms with us.” Marcus said, “Are we allowed to let go of hands so I can get it?”

“And how do you expect me to sign without a body?” their mother asked, quite reasonably.

“Well, if you can talk through Madam Zelda, maybe you can write through her as well?  That’s what we were hoping, anyway,” Mary answered.

“How much do I supposedly owe them?” their mother asked.

“Well,” Marcus said, “you owed twenty-five cents when you died, but with interest and extra fees, they say it’s five thousand dollars now.”

“And they say if we don’t pay, they’ll sue us for that and their legal costs as well. That is unless you sign the form to close your account.” Mary said. 

“We did ask for consideration of special circumstances, you being dead and all,” Marcus said, “but the bank manager said if being dead was a special circumstance, he’d have to cancel debts for half his customers.”

“Well, we will have to try it then,  put the form in front of the medium.”

Marcus slid the bank form and a pen across the table.  There was silence for a minute or two.  Then, very slowly, Madam Zelda’s hand lifted, she picked up the pen, and slowly, deliberately, signed the paper.

Madam Zelda sighed deeply, and spoke again in their mother’s voice, “That’s done.  I love you both, but now I really have to go back to where I belong.”

“Thanks Mum,” said Mary, “ We love you too, and we have to go as well.  Zelda’s got a long line of people waiting to sort out bank problems.”


This story actually inspired by a problem my mother had with the telephone company after my father died. No, she didn’t go to a medium. She went without the phone.

By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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