“Stomach cancer.” Cassie said it more like an evil utterance than a question. “Is it bad?”
Susanna leaned toward the mirror and put her hand against the glass like it was a window. Her eyes were enormous. Pleading. Cassie placed her hand against the mirror, too, and she could feel fear radiating off the woman. She felt her stomach bubble again. The sour scent of the onions assaulted her nose. She had to take a step back to clear her head.
“Okay, okay. I get it.” She pushed the bile rising in her throat back down. “But how am I going to—”
A sharp knock at the door scared her. Her head whipped in that direction. She could see the shadow of a pair of feet on the other side.
“Who is it?”
“Me.” David’s muffled voice came through the door. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Hang on.”
Cassie turned back to the mirror, but Susanna had gone. The only evidence of her presence was the barest outline of a handprint on the mirror, and even that faded.
A few seconds later, Cassie emerged from the bathroom having made sure she didn’t look a complete mess. David waited for her by the door. The Partridges stood there with sad smiles on their faces.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for dinner? I don’t eat much these days.”
Cassie winced. “No appetite?”
“Not really. I always feel sick after I eat, so I don’t see the point. Old age, I guess.”
“Could it be a sign of something else?” Cassie inquired.
Mrs. Partridge waved her off. “I’m healthy as a horse, I promise. Don’t worry about me.”
“Thank you again for the tips,” David said, holding up a piece of paper. “We appreciate your time.”
“Of course. I ho
pe you find what you’re looking for. Those poor souls.”
Cassie didn’t know what to do. Social etiquette told her it was time to go, but how could she leave and say nothing? She dragged her feet as she backed out of the door, trying to find the words that would make Mrs. Partridge understand what was causing her symptoms.
Without the proper words, Cassie allowed them to usher her over the threshold. The Partridges said their goodbyes and began closing the door. But Cassie glimpsed Susanna in the windowpane, and that’s all it took.
She stuck her foot out and winced as the door crushed her toes. The couple both looked alarmed.
David took a step toward her. “Cassie—”
She ignored him and grabbed Mrs. Partridge’s hand. The woman gasped and tried to pull away, but Cassie held on tighter. She looked her square in the eyes with the most beseeching look she could muster.
“Ma’am, I know you don’t know me. I know you have no reason to trust me and definitely no reason to not think I’m a crazy person.” Cassie swallowed audibly. “But please go to the doctor. Tell your doctor about your symptoms. Make sure they check your stomach.”
Mr. Partridge looked at David. “What’s going on?”
“Cassie is, uh, very intuitive, sir. I think you should listen to her.”
Mrs. Partridge never broke eye contact with Cassie. The look on her face went from one of shock to one of fear, but Cassie didn’t think it was just because she’d spooked Mrs. Partridge. The woman nodded. This time, when she tried to pull away, Cassie let her.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Cassie tried to get the last of her words out as Mr. Partridge swung the door shut in her face. “I’m sorry.”
The force of the door slamming blew Cassie’s hair back from her face and erased the sour smell. The lock clicking into place sounded like a gunshot. When she turned to David, he had a bemused look on his face.
“You gotta figure out a better way to tell people they’re dying.”
Cassie stepped away from the door and headed back toward David’s sedan.