THE HELSINKI AFFAIR
Copyright © Victor Darnell Hadnot
"Where he who conquered, he who fell, was deemed a dead, or living Tell!" James Montgomery
Ingrid was a young college student of twenty three. She was born in Germany but moved to Finland to attend graduate school. Her mother was a surgeon who had dedicated her entire career to trying to find a medical procedure that could repair the damage done when someone was involved in a C3 or C4 spinal cord injury. Her father, equally brilliant, was an architect, and specialized in unconventional self sustained family and commercial dwellings. Her mother was German but her father was American, they had met in a most unusual way. He was chosen to design a new wing in the medical complex where she had taken up a resident medical practice, in Germany. They became friends, at first, her mother admiring his designs and sharing in the vision of homes that were totally off the grid, thus saving energy and having far less of an impact on the environment. Her father, on the other hand, greatly admired her mother, who was deeply amerced in her quest to solve this medical mystery. Strangely enough, it was some of his work, that inspired her to invent a surgical device, that could reconnect the torn neurological fibers in the damaged spinal cord, operating at the sub-molecular level. She developed a technique to mark and identify each of the legions of nerve-fibers, using proven forensic techniques, matching each nerve end to the correct one. This along with genetic therapy allowed her mother to be considered for a Nobel Prize in medicine.
Her father’s contributions to the betterment of mankind did not go unnoticed, though, not in such a grand and auspicious manner as her mother. One day, the two found themselves thinking of one another as more than just good friends. They fell in love and got married, started a family, and that was when Ingrid came into the picture. As time went on, Ingrid was educated and raised in Europe. Her father would often have to take trips on business to places like India or Japan, and sometimes, Ingrid would accompany her father, as business took him to those places of exotic interest. After Ingrid finished her undergraduate work in Cross-cultural Anthropology, she received a scholarship to study in Finland. Helsinki was a nice place to live, and because of her father, she particularly appreciated the architectural influence of Sweden and Russian culture.
Ingrid lived in a flat just off to the main way near the Olympia Terminal, across from Kaivopuisto. It was a cool morning, as she dragged herself from bed and went into the small bathroom. She looked at herself for a moment, her shoulder length hair a mess, tossed this way and that. She examined her big green eyes, decided that she was going to have to do something about their obvious tired looking condition, what that might be, she really hadn’t decided, and began the shower, as the hot water started to steam up the place. After her shower, she dressed in weather appropriate clothes, began to blow dry her shoulder length copper-red hair, all the while trying to fix herself a small breakfast.
After all of that, Ingrid took the train to Hakaniemi, where she met up with her boyfriend Paul. Paul was about six centimeters taller than her, and she was rather tall, even for the average women who lived in Helsinki. Paul was just gorgeous in Ingrid’s opinion, tall and thin, but athletic in proportion. She was equally athletic, built more like a swimmer or a cross-country skier. Her face was semi-oval, as her copper hair draped across her slightly freckled face. She glanced over at Paul as they made their way together, through the crowd.
"Did you get everything for tonight?" Ingrid asked, moving in closer, due to the press of other people.
Paul shot her a smile, "Yeah. I got it all taken care of, Ingrid. You worry too much. We are going to have a good time. You’ll see."
She gazed up at his strong masculine features, he was just a few years older than her, but chose to keep his head bald. She thought it made him look sexy. Ingrid took Paul’s hand, his darker skin contrasted to her ivory complexion. "I heard from my parents."
"What?" He was guiding the both of them out onto the street.
"My mom and dad, I spoke with them last night. God, I think I was up until three, just catching up with my mother."
"Oh. Well, tell them I said, hi."
"I did. But.."
They waited to take another train. Paul looked at her then kissed her. "But what?"
"My grandmother just passed away."
Paul reacted by just stopping everything he was doing. "Oh, Ingrid, I’m so sorry to hear that."
"Yeah. But, we were not close. She lived in the States. I think I remember seeing her once, when I was a little girl. She had a nice smile." Ingrid seemed to drift on off for a brief moment.
Paul gave her a warm hug. "Babe, about tonight, we don’t have to go. I mean, I didn’t know, if I had, I would have canceled. I’m sorry."
Ingrid shot him a crooked grin and then hugged him, taking a good moment. "Do you really mean it? I mean, I know how much you wanted to see the band."
"Hey, we can always see them when they come back. They play out here every Spring."
"Yes, but the money?"
"I’ll figure out something."
The train arrived and they boarded it along with the other people who were waiting. They found a comfortable seat and just cuddled up, looking out the window, people and places passing by.
"Maybe you can sell them?" Ingrid finally uttered.
"Hmm?" Paul seemed to be concentrating on something out the window.
"Maybe you can sell the tickets?" she repeated herself and strained to try and see what he was looking at.
"Yeah. That is a good idea. I think I know who might be interested." He uttered as he glanced over at her.
She rested her head on his shoulder and whispered. "I love you, Paul."
Paul kissed the top of her head. "I love you more, Ingrid."
They spent the day on the university campus. That evening Paul had gone out for some takeout. Ingrid was busy getting things around the flat ready for them to settle into a nice quiet evening. As she passed by one of the bedroom doors, she noticed a light on, she hadn’t remembered being in that room. She stopped, noticed that there was movement in the room.
"Paul? Is that you?" She decided to go on in, if for no other reason other than to turn out the lights. "I didn’t hear you come in..."
She got about half way through the door in the room, when she heard the front door open, and Paul’s voice calling out to her. He had dinner. She gazed in his direction, then, slowly turned back to the room. She slowly went into the room, one of the lamps was on, she could hear slight noises around the corner. "Hello?" her voice was kind of thin, because if Paul had just walked in, then, who was in the room? She cautiously turned the corner, there seated on the bed, was an elderly woman, kindly looking.
The woman smiled at Ingrid when she saw her. "Child...it is so good to see you after all these years."
Ingrid froze in her steps. The words drifted slowly out of her mouth. "Grandma?"
Just then, Paul turned the corner. "Ingrid? I was calling you. I got the food. I’m hungry, babe. Let’s eat." He patted her on the behind, not fully turning the corner, then, quickly left the room.
Ingrid glanced at Paul, who was already leaving the room, then, back at the bed. There was no one there. She moved swiftly about the area, even checked behind the closet door. No one, nothing. "What the hell?"
After taking a seat on the bed, putting her hands flat on the spot where her grandmother was sitting, it was still warm, she just shook her head. Ingrid finally got to her feet, turned out the light as she left the room, glancing back briefly, as if to try and catch a glimpse of what she thought she had seen.
Throughout the meal, she debated mentally on if she would tell Paul. Paul for the most part was distracted talking to their mutual friends, trying to sell the concert tickets. Finally after everything was done, the tickets handed off and the dishes washed up, they settled in with wine and soft jazz music. Paul sat straddled across the old comfortable sofa, while Ingrid was wedged in with him.
"Something happened tonight." Ingrid finally decided that she would tell him.
"Yeah. I got a good deal on selling those tickets." Paul seemed pleased with himself as he took a sip of Chardonnay.
She gazed into his brown eyes. "No. I saw something..."
"You saw what, babe?"
"You are going to think I’m off it."
"Seriously? You are always a bit picked off, Ingrid. That’s what makes you so wonderful. Who wants to be just normal? I sure don’t." He smiled.
At that, he took her pretty face in one hand. "Tell me, I’ll take you seriously."
"You’ll take me seriously?"
"Yeah. I promise." But, at that he kind of laughed when he said it.
"Oh, forget it." She just settled on in.
"Ok. I can tell that this really bothers you, Ingrid. I promise, you have my undivided attention."
"In the room over there.."
"What? The guestroom?"
"Yeah. I thought I saw my grandmother. Just sitting in there, on the bed."
"What? In the dark? Right now? We’ve been together the whole evening, Ingrid."
"Yeah. I know. But, it wasn’t now, it was when you were gone. To get the food."
"Ingrid, you told me this morning, that you and your mother talked last night. Your grandmother passed away. You couldn’t have seen her in there. It makes no sense. Come here," and he placed his arms around her. "The stress of your loss, that is all it is."
"Yeah. That must be what it was." And she gazed over that the dark and empty room, the door being slightly cracked open. "It was the stress. I guess I felt deeper emotions than what I was aware of."
"You know, sometimes, even if we don’t really know our relatives. Hearing that one of them has passed away, still stirs up strong feelings."
"You really think so?’
The next few days, Ingrid tried to shake what she had seen, chalking it up to what Paul had suggested. After all, it really didn’t make any sense that she had really seen her grandmother just sitting on the bed in the guestroom. After class, she waited for everyone to clear the lecture hall, then she approached Dr. Rice.
He was an average sized middle-aged overweight man. "What can I do for you, Ingrid?"
"I have a problem."
"With the assignment?"
"Oh? He moved over to his desk and began to organize his lecture notes for the next class.
"My grandmother just died recently."
"Sorry to hear that. Were the two of you close?"
"No. In fact, I knew very little about her. I think I saw her all of about once in my life, in person. Oh, I‘ve seen photos and such. But, no, we were not close."
Dr. Rice sat on his desk. "I see. But the event still weighs on you?"
"Yes. I think it does."
"Okay. You want to tell me about it?"
"Well. I don’t know how to tell you about it."
"Just tell me." He grinned.
"I saw her. A few nights ago. In my apartment. She was alive, looked really great. Considering..."
Dr. Rice didn’t responded right away. "You saw your dead grandmother?"
"I know it sounds crazy. You probably think I’m all a bit off. I think that is what my boyfriend thinks."
"You’ve told someone else about this?"
"No. Well, yes. Just you and Paul, my boyfriend. He thinks it is all about the stress of me hearing about her passing. You know, the grieving process."
"I see. But you don’t?"
"Well. I didn’t know her that well. I mean, I could understand, if she had played a big part in my life. But, well, she didn’t."
"You saw her and what did she do?"
"Nothing. She was just glad to see me. We spoke briefly..."
"You spoke to her?"
"Yes. I think I did. I’m not sure now. Maybe it was just a feeling I got. I don’t know. Anyway, I glanced off and when I looked back, she was gone."
"So, you think you saw a ghost?"
"I saw something, Dr. Rice. I’m sure of that. And I don’t grieve that way, normally."
"Okay. Let’s say that you did, indeed see something."
"I sat on the bed where she was at. It was warm. Like she had just been sitting there. It was warm, not cold. Someone alive, living, was there."
"There have been lots of accounts about such phenomena. The field of anthropology is littered with such investigated events. Pushing into the area of paranormal anthropology."
"No. It is a very real field of study. Lots of work on it. I actually did a paper on it when I was in graduate school, working on my dissertation."
"But, why her? Why now?" Ingrid struggled to make sense of it all.
About a week later, Ingrid and Paul were at a friend’s party. It was a small gathering of close friends. The music was playing and some were dancing, while others were engaged in other partying activities. Amanda, one of Ingrid’s friends, came up to her, after Paul went to refresh their drinks. "I heard about it." Amanda was obviously high.
Ingrid raised an eyebrow. "You heard what?"
"You know, about you seeing your dead grandmother?"
Ingrid stared at the woman for a brief moment. "Really? You waited until you saw me here to tell me this? Who else knows?" Ingrid glanced about the room, as if to see who might have put Amanda up to this stunt.
"Oh, don’t get mad, Ingrid. I didn’t mean anything about it. I was just saying, actually, I think it is kind of cool. I mean, I’d give almost anything to see my dead parents again. Just one more time, even..." and with that, the woman simply drifted on into the group, dancing on the floor.
Paul came back with fresh drinks. ‘Hey, you look funny, is everything alright/"
"Who did you tell?"
"Who did I tell about what?"
"Who did you tell about me seeing my grandmother?" Ingrid was visibly upset.
"Ah, Ingrid, wait, don’t get all angry at me. I was just telling some of our friends, so that they’d go easy on you, after all, you’ve suffered a loss. That’s all, honey." Paul was hoping he’d said something that would cause her to understand that he meant well, in spite his actions.
Ingrid wasn’t having any of it. She felt that her privacy had been violated. "I told you that in confidence. You know, what a woman tells a man, her lover and best friend, in confidence. I didn’t want you to go and tell all of our crazy friends. Gees. Now they all think I’m nuts."
Things got a little strained between Ingrid and Paul after that. They kind of cooled on seeing each other for awhile. About a week went by, with the couple only calling or texting, not physically being together. This put a strain on their relationship and Ingrid’s anger began to wane as the days went by. Finally one Friday, Paul called and Ingrid agreed to meet him on the corner, across from her flat. Paul had temporally moved out, but the two actually missed one another a great deal. It was a nice Spring day, the light rail which normally ran like a Swiss watch, was running a bit slow that day. Ingrid was standing at the corner like they had arranged. For some reason, that she hadn’t really put much thought into, she stepped out too far onto the busy street. Just then, she heard a small voice call out to her. It was her grandmother.
"Ingrid? Is that you, dear?" Her grandmother said.
Ingrid quickly turned about and moved towards her grandmother’s voice. As she looked into the busy crowd, sure enough, there was her grandmother, standing there, smiling. "Grandma? Is it really you?"
"Yes, my dear." And she took hold of Ingrid’s hand, the touch was warm and soothing.
"I don’t understand? How?" Ingrid asked. Just then, the train came creeping in, and there was some kind of collision with an out of control vehicle. If her grandmother hadn’t called her a few moments before, Ingrid would have been killed. The crowd started reacting to the sudden event, as Ingrid glanced around to see what was going on, and realizing what had just happened looked back. But, her grandmother was gone. That warm touch, was now replaced by Paul’s hand, as he held her.
"Ingrid, are you okay?" Paul was very concerned.
Ingrid settled into his arms. "Oh, Paul, I saw her again?"
"You saw her?" Paul asked.
"I saw my grandmother. She called out to me and if she hadn’t, I might have been killed." She studied Paul’s face.
Paul held her in his arms then said. "I know. I saw her too."
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