“Tell them,” Amelia cried. “New York, tell them, Betty, tell New York—“
And then, nothing.
The same dead air I’d heard when I switched on the radio for Maggie. They were gone.
I sat in front of the radio, cross-legged, stunned.
My grandmother’s name was Betty.
It’s taken me a long time but I think I’ve figured it out. I think I know what happened.
I think, maybe, on that day in 1937, my grandmother heard it first. Listening to the radio like any kid her age would’ve done back then. Scanning the channels. Looking for something good.
I think she heard them, Fred and Amelia. I think she was the only one who heard them.
I think she felt as helpless as I did, sitting there with no power to do anything except listen as two people met their untimely deaths in the Pacific Ocean. I think it haunted her.
It’s just a theory. All I know for sure is that my whole life, my Gramma was listening to the radio. Scanning the channels. Looking for something. And then I joined her, a little girl fascinated by how her grandmother’s fingers turned the dial. I was the very reason she couldn’t hear it anymore but I like to think I helped; maybe she needed not to hear it, sometimes. With me there, she couldn’t – that theory I proved to myself with Maggie, and countless others after that.
But she did hear them again, I know it. Because I discovered what Gramma did. The next morning, when I turned on the radio to begin searching for a new station, I heard Fred again.
“Help me,” he whispered, and even though I should’ve changed the station, even though I wanted to, I couldn’t.
I always knew my grandmother and I were connected.
Every time it ends, it starts over again. Fred begs me for help. Amelia tells him to put his ear to the radio to see that it’s working. It all starts over again.
And the reason I can’t turn it off? The reason I can’t change the station? The reason my grandmother spent all those years with her ears to the speaker, trying to find their transmission?