Nanny’s Ghost

Even Nannies have Imaginary Friends

The babies lay in their crib, crying for sustenance.  And attention.

The mother came in and picked up the larger of the two, a girl she named Ramona. The slighter of the two, Melody, stopped crying, but just for a second as she watched the mother leave the room.

The Nanny/wet nurse shuffled past the mother and took the tiny infant into her breast, singing to her as she rocked her…

One Year Later (actually, 11 months and 1 week later)

The birthday cake was covered with roses and small toys all candied for the children to eat, yet they were really too small and hazardous, they could choke.

Ramona grasped for the candy as a child is want to do. Melody rested in Nanny’s arms. She was much more resilient from the past year, but her Nanny preferred to hold her.

Mother was quite taken with Ramona, but chose to let the Nanny tend to Melody.

You see, Melody was frail, they almost lost her. Mother was anxious. Terrified that she would cause damage, or maybe, become attached and lose her. Everyone knew, she was pretty much past the SIDS point. But …

Melody loved her Nanny, though she had a propensity to talk to empty space. And she did this with the fervor one would have when talking to a confidante‘, or relative. Melody never cared. She felt safe in her arms. She really felt she was treated far better than Ramona, though Ramona had the undivided attention of mother.

Melody and Ramona loved each other. They most certainly would not want the life of other children, born of one egg or one cell. At night when they were put down to sleep they would chatter their “twin talk” to near exhaustion.

Mother commented “I am so blessed that I can sleep at night rather than having to entertain my child until it finally closed it’s eyes.”

The mornings were much the same. Mother fed Ramona, Nanny fed Melody and then they were put in the playpen to continue their conversation encrypted for only their ears to understand.

The learned to sit up, roll over, and crawl together.

Ramona would sit in Nanny’s lap, at times yearning for her mother, but accepting the terms of her limitations. Nanny was far more fun anyhow.

Nanny had friends no-one could see. At least Melody couldn’t. But she acted as if she did. Ramona asked her, in their cryptic conversations if she did not find Nanny strange. Melody found EVERYTHING strange about her, but it didn’t matter.

Let her listen to the voices in the sky if she wanted.

Ramona ran the show, that was certain, but Melody loved being the younger and smaller of the two. Ramona protected her.

The year had gone by quickly and here it was ONE YEAR.

She sat and watched as Ramona pushed her little fat fingers into the “Strawberry Shortcake” birthday cake. Melody reached forward, but Nanny ran her usual intervention. “Cleanliness is Godliness” she would say. Nanny didn’t like sticky fingers or messy clothes. Neither did Nanny’s imaginary friends.

There were times Melody thought she actually saw these friends. Sometimes she could see the images of hands or perhaps a face. Nanny was very happy when Melody would show the recognition. Thank goodness Nanny did not understand the mysterious idiom of the twins. She may be hurt by some of it, startled by others.

Melody watched and waited for her turn to have some of the delectable desert, something Nanny would frown on, but today would be an exception. Everyone sang happy birthday.

Mother said “One year my dear twins, one year” she cried.

Nanny cried.

And suddenly everyone else did. It had been a rough go for mother and a year was a landmark for her as well.

The next year the girls progressed as they needed to. Mother was still cool to Melody and only Nanny took her to the doctor. Mother took Ramona when necessary, but Melody required the monthly visits because of her small size and the complications that could arise. Nanny would bundle her up and take her on the bus.

The girls were taken to the park, mother pushing Ramona, Nanny pushing Melody. This was years before the “twin” strollers, so they rode independent of each other, but it did not interfere with their ability to interact with each other, as a matter of fact, it was better.

Mother would push Ramona on the swing as Ramona would sometimes cry to her mother that she wanted Melody. All mother could understand was “Melody” as Ramona would bellow.

“Let Melody stay where she is. She can’t get on the swing like you do” mother would say.

The year went by in splendid fashion. They both grew into robust toddlers getting into everything, Ramona commandeering in most cases. They loved each other so.

Nanny, it seemed, was becoming more and more attached to Melody, and Melody to Nanny.

“I don’t know what I will do when you don’t need me any longer” Nanny would sigh.

Melody could not imagine that day. She would smile at Nanny, Nanny felt Melody actually understood. Melody did understand.

Before everyone knew it, they were two, and walking, and almost toilet trained.  Melody was gaining the momentum on that much faster than Ramona. Ramona was far too busy with her activities to be bothered.

“Such a good girl Nanny would say. Isn’t she a good girl?” Nanny would ask her imaginary friends. Trying to debase Ramona. The only thing Melody found distasteful about Nanny.

A peculiar thing happened right around that rite of passage, she actually started to see more of Nanny’s friends, and she wasn’t quite happy with the fact there were quite a few of these people.

Ramona acted as if she didn’t see them. Melody was afraid to admit it. At this tender age she already knew there could be repercussions. And mother seemed so concerned she didn’t speak to Nanny. Melody was afraid Nanny would have to leave if this kept up. Yet…Melody started to see the secret people as well, though she said nothing. She kept mute so mother would not think she was falling into some eccentric comportment because of Nanny’s proclivities .

Soon the third birthday, then the fourth. Then their fifth. The girls had learned to read a bit and they read to each other in the huge canopy bed mother had bought for them.

Finally the fifth birthday.

Melody was feeling especially independent. She had resolved to herself this year I will open the gifts. She was not going to allow Nanny to get in the way.

She talked to Nanny about this. “We’ll see, but you know how Ramona is, and you don’t want to upset mother by making a scene. You know how she feels about Ramona”

No she didn’t want to make a scene, and yes, she had grown used to the fact Mother had her favorite, but she was ready.

The cake was put before them and Melody geared up for the grab. They both stopped and stared at each other. They had just learned to read, and write their names. The cake had writing, printing as a matter of fact

“Happy Fifth Birthday Ramona”

Everyone was clapping and for the first time all the capricious folk Nanny had been confiding in, became as lucid to Ramona’s vision as to Nanny‘s.

“Mother, where is Melody’s name?” she asked with her sweet yet determined five year old voice.

“Who’s Melody” a few of the people asked, the others just clammed up solemnly.

“Melody is Ramona’s imaginary friend” Mother cried softly, looking away, “It is very peculiar, but Ramona actually named her imaginary playmate after her twin sister who died at birth.”

Ramona snapped her head around to look at everyone, then the cake, then her mother and finally Melody, who slowly faded as she was carried off into the light of the picture window by Nanny

…and Nanny’s not-so imaginary friends.

©   Nanny’s Ghost is the copyright of  Dianne Schuch Lindsey and cannot be duplicated in any fashion without the express permission of the Author.    All rights reserved


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