“It’s okay,” she murmured, and I let myself be hugged because in all honesty it felt pretty nice. “You’re grieving, everyone handles it in different ways.”
I rested my head on her shoulder as she went on and I thought about the voices on the radio, the people I couldn’t help. If it was real (and by now yes, I was sure that it was) then they had most likely died in whatever terrible accident they’d been in. That was why the station was empty now. It wasn’t that I’d never heard it in the first place – I could still hear them, the fear in Amelia’s voice, the delirium in Fred’s.
We hugged for a little while, visited for a little longer after that, and as soon as Maggie left I turned the radio on. One last time, I figured, to be sure. To be absolutely positive they were gone and there was nothing I could do.
“—take it away, Howland!” Fred’s voice crowed inexplicably.
I jumped, both surprised by his immediate response and confused as to what that could even mean. He hadn’t been here when Maggie was, there had been nothing on the airwaves, so how could it be I was already hearing him again?
There was a cry of hysterical laughter before I heard Amelia again.
“N.Y., N.Y.,” she said, just as she’d been saying when I turned off the radio earlier.
“How is this possible?” I whispered. My empty living room didn’t answer.
It was almost as if they’d picked up exactly where I’d left them.
“N.Y., N.Y., N.Y,” Amelia went on, and I could faintly hear Fred mimicking her in the background. Fred was losing it.
“Mary,” he said when Amelia paused for breath. “Oh, Mary, Maaaary…”
“God damn it, Fred,” Amelia said, sounding for the first time like she might be losing it too. “Please shut up, for the love of God, N.Y., N.Y.—“
“Ohhh, if they could hear me,” Fred moaned. “Mary—“