It was now three months after the accident in Central Park. A woman, in white, stood on the walkway in front of the house. It was lightly snowing that day as she saw that all the lights were on in the house. In the driveway, sat Egon's car along with three others. Another three cars were parked in front of the house in the street. The day was Christmas Eve and there was a party going on inside.
The Spengler's had invited Peter, Dana, and Oscar Venkman. Janine and Louis Tully were there with their twins Sandy and Harry. Garrett had come with Roland, while Kylie had driven Eduardo, as his shoulder was still healing. Eduardo was out of his sling after four weeks of being in it. Now he was attending physical therapy so that he could recover fully. The physical therapist had told him it would take several months to be back where he was before the accident.
Winston had come with Ray. Winston was staying at Ray's place while he was in town. Winston had also taken some time off and had taught Egon how to drive. Egon had to drive Echo to her physical therapy appointments, as Echo's leg was still in a cast and she couldn't drive. Echo was also on leave from the University until she could get out of her cast. Echo still played her clarinet and piano in concert though. The last person to arrive at the party, besides her, was Daniel McQuarrie. Egon had welcomed him with open arms. Egon was indebted to Daniel. After all, Daniel was the one that had noticed that Echo was breathing on her own that Saturday afternoon in September. As the woman moved up the walkway to the front door she could hear laughter and music. Climbing the four steps to the front door she stopped. This was going to be hard on her and everyone at the party but she had to go through with it. Letting out a breath she walked through the door.
Off to her left was the living room. A Christmas tree was set up in the corner of the room and it had presents underneath it. Most of the guests were in this room or inthe kitchen right next to it. No one had seen her come in so she hurried towards the basement door. Walking down the steps into the basement she could hear the party noises getting softer. She needed to do this one thing before rejoining the others upstairs. As she went through the door to Egon's workplace, the woman hurried over to the Steinway Grand Piano. Taking a card from her pocket in her dress she placed it onto the music stand of the piano. She could see that two sleeping bags were rolled out underneath the piano. Most likely for Sandy and Harry as the Tully's would stay over for Christmas the next day instead of driving the long way home to Queens. The woman smiled to herself as she looked at the card. Five words were written in her own handwriting on the card. She then turned and left the room, starting back up the stairs, eager to join the party.
As she reached the landing, she could see Egon, Janine and the twins in the kitchen ahead of her. Egon was arranging vegetables onto a tray, while Janine and the twins were putting candles into a birthday cake. Twenty blue and white candles were going into that cake. Soon it would be Echo's birthday at 7:45 p.m. How she remembered that day. She was happy for Echo. Not only had Echo pulled through her ordeal, but there had been no long lasting effects or permanent brain damage at all. Ray had said it was a 'Miracle' while Egon was relieved to hear the good news along with Daniel.
Daniel had asked Echo if he could 'court' her on Sunday, after Echo had come out of her coma. Daniel had arrived early Sunday morning, grinning from ear to ear, with the news from Janine who had called him early that morning. Echo had been a little taken back at first but had agreed. This would be their first Christmas together as a couple. Even Eduardo had gotten in on the band wagon as he proposed to Kylie that evening at the party. Dropping down on one knee and presenting Kylie with a small box he told her what he thought of her from his heart.
"Kylie, I love you more than life itself. I would be greatly honored if you would share that love with me and be here by my side always." Eduardo told her.
Kylie screamed with joy. Hugging and kissing him as she took the ring and placed it upon her finger.
"No hugging Kylie." Echo had told her, but Kylie didn't listen.
The woman went next to Egon's bedroom and went inside. She needed a few moments alone before going on to the party. She knew Egon wouldn't mind. The woman stood there for a moment before she broke down in tears. The room was the same as when she had seen it last. Nothing moved, nothing changed. She had known that today was going to be hard on her, but she never realized how much. Collecting herself and wiping the tears from her eyes, she knew that she had no choice. She would have to face the music sooner or later.
Christmas music was now being played. The woman left Egon's bedroom and stood by his closed door facing the living room watching the festivities before her. Echo was playing her Otto Benjamin cello with Daniel on his violin. The "Batta" had been returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday after the accident. Egon and Dana had taken it there. It was safer in the museum's hands than sitting at the firehouse. Also Egon hadn't known, at that point, what was going to happen with his daughter. The woman could see that Echo was having problems with her positioning of the cello. As her right knee was unable to bend, because of the cast, Echo was trying her best to hold the cello with her inside thigh. Being a 'Spengler' she was undaunted and was determined to make it work.
Echo was dressed in a pale blue one shoulder gown. The floor length dress was satin with a chiffon overlay. The bodice had a chiffon front drape across her breasts extending to form a sheer shawl over her left shoulder to trail onto the floor behind her. Ray had bought her this dress for her birthday. She looked so much like her mother. Her long hair pulled over her right shoulder, covering her bald spot from her ventriculostomy, and to keep it away from the cello's strings as well. Daniel and Echo were playing, "Away in a Manger." The woman could see that as Echo used vibrato on the notes the whole cello would move. This wasn't right but there was nothing Echo could do about it because of her leg. Finally the cello moved so much that it rocked out of the stop she had for it on the floor.
"Great Joy in the Morning!" Echo cried. This had been her mother's saying when she was mad at something.
Egon came out of the kitchen carrying the vegetable tray, which he sat down in front of Ray and Winston.
"Here let me help you." Egon told his daughter.
"I don't need help." Echo told her father, mad at the world. "I need this stupid cast off!"
"Soon Echo." Ray told her. "Why don't you two take a break for a while."
"Yes, Echo." Daniel said, as he brought his violin down from his chin. "It's just too hard for you right now."
"You think so?" Echo retorted.
Echo looked at Daniel. A thin sly smile coming to the corners of her lips. "I'll bet you that I can play your violin better then you can play my cello."
Daniel, never one to back down from a challenge, accepted. Roland offered Daniel his chair. Daniel sat down and Echo handed her cello off to him. As Echo took Daniel's violin, Daniel was trying to hold Echo's cello between his legs and had everyone roaring with laughter, including Daniel himself. Daniel, looked like a pregnant man trying to give birth to a watermelon. Echo on the other hand placed Daniels violin under her chin. After finding where her fingers needed to go for the pitches, she played the Christmas song "Good King Wenceslas."
"Hey! No fair!" shouted Daniel.
"Echo's got you beat Daniel." Winston told him trying not to laugh.
"Yea, way to go Doctor Spengler." Eduardo shouted out with Kylie sitting on his right knee.
Egon went over to Daniel and took Echo's cello away from him before he could embarrass himself anymore. As Egon walked over to place the cello back into its velvet box he said to Daniel.
"Echo does know how to play three different instruments Daniel. At Juilliard she was also taught a couple more. But I will give you this much, you are much better at the violin than the cello any day."
"Thanks little lassie." Daniel said to Echo. "In Scotland where I went to school I didn't get the chance to play different instruments."
Echo smiled at Daniel, handing his violin back to him. She said in a Scottish brogue imitating him, "I'll teach you another time laddie."
Everyone roared with laughter. The woman even found herself laughing along with the others.
"Who's ready for cake?" Janine asked as she carried the tray in that held the birthday cake.
Plates of food were cleared away from the coffee table so that Janine could put Echo's birthday cake down. Louis came with the matches and lit the candles.
While Daniel played 'Happy Birthday' on his violin and everyone sang, the woman could see that the cake was square with writing on it in the style of a diploma. Where the name should be on a diploma was the words Happy Birthday Echo. Egon had the cake made for her. Egon had not told his daughter that she had graduated and had sworn everyone there at the party to secrecy.
Echo saw the diploma cake and looked at her father, head tilted and eyes narrowed. When the singing stopped, Egon handed Echo her diploma from Columbia University.
"Happy Birthday, Echo." He told her. "Make a wish and blow out your candles."
Stunned Echo looked to her father for an explanation. He mouthed the words "I'll explain it later" to her.
Echo turned towards her cake and blew out the candles and everyone cheered. As Janine was cutting the cake and Louis was taking the burnt candles out, the twins came in front of Echo and asked a question.
"Echo. What did you wish for?" the one said.
"Another cello?" the other one replied.
While the others laughed at the twins Echo smiled at them. Her birthday wish had come true three months prior, when she was laying in a hospital bed with her father at her side. Echo couldn't speak to the twins. She felt the need for her father right now. Still sitting in her chair, Echo placed her diploma by her chair's right side and closed her eyes, starting to rock herself back and forth. Before the woman could move, Egon seeing this, was immediately by Echo's side and knelt down beside his daughter. Taking Echo into his arms Egon stroked the back of her head, as Echo cried into Egon's shoulder. The woman knew it would take time for them both to heal and her heart went out to them. It wasn't easy for anyone.
"Mama? Why is cousin Echo crying?" the twins asked.
"Echo misses her mother." Janine said, handing them each a piece of cake. "Please go into the kitchen with your father and sit at the table for me while you eat."
"Yes mama." they said together, trotting along after Louis who lead the way.
Peter had gotten up while all this was going on. Going over to the Christmas tree and taking two small presents from underneath it, he approached Egon and Echo. Peter squatted down in front of the two of them.
"Egon. Echo. These were supposed to be for tomorrow, but I think that you both need them right now. I am hoping this will help with what you are going through." Peter said tenderly.
Echo pulled away from her father to accept the box that Peter was holding out to her. Egon turned around and sat down on the floor next to his daughter and accepted his box from Peter. Garrett tapped Egon on his shoulder. As Egon turned to look at Garrett, he saw that Garrett was offering him a handkerchief. Garrett nodded his head towards Echo and handed Egon the handkerchief. Placing Peter's box in his lap, Egon took the handkerchief, turned around, and handed it to his daughter.
"Thank you." she said, taking the handkerchief and wiping her eyes.
Egon and Echo unwrapped their boxes together. Echo, having opened hers first, dropped it onto the floor when she took the lid off and saw what was inside. Daniel, having given his seat back to Roland was putting his violin away at the time. Coming over to Echo, he bent down and picked up the box. Inside Daniel could see what had caused her to look frightened. On the top of a pink tissue paper lay a thin gold curved steel band. There were three lines of engraving in gray on it.
We will never forget
On one end of the band were the numbers 9/11. On the other end was a picture of two towers, side by side. Daniel was puzzled as to what the item he held in his hands was until he heard Peter talking.
"Egon. Echo. These are memorial bands for you both to wear on your wrists to remember and honor Eden and Edison."
"Thank you Peter." Egon said as he held up his band. The band reminded Egon of the Vietnam bands he had seen others wearing while in college. The students wore the bands to remember those who were missing in action. He didn't know that they were being made for victims of 9/11. Egon took the gold band and placed it upon his right wrist. Daniel, watching Egon, now knew what he needed to do. Gently taking Echo's right hand he reverently took the band from the box and placed it upon Echo's wrist. Daniel made sure that the names were facing towards Echo so she could always see her mother and brother.
Louis came back from the kitchen carrying a tray full of champagne flutes. As he was passing them around, Ray came behind him with champagne and sparkling cider. Egon, Echo, and the twins would drink the cider the woman knew. She felt a breeze rustle her hair. She knew her time was drawing to a close. How she wanted to stay at the party longer, but she knew she couldn't. She knew that either tonight or tomorrow morning Egon would find the card she had left for him. This had been the only thing that she had requested of her maker, that she leave in this house before she moved on with her life. Her maker had agreed to this one small token, as he knew that she was unable to leave anything at all for Egon. Those five words were from her heart. She would always cherish them and Egon forever. Five words to sum up her feelings for the man she loved.
Remember this, I love you.
"Time to go." said a voice in her ear.
"I know." was her reply.
She let out a sigh and moved away from the wall to walk up to the people at the party. Halfway there she stopped. She wasn't allowed to go any further. They would either see her or not. Her heart broke, thinking that those she loved wouldn't know that she was there. A tear slid down her face as she looked into the faces of the people she knew so well.
Echo looked up. Something was bothering her. Something was here. What was giving her the feeling that someone was trying to talk to her? As she looked up, she suddenly saw a woman appear out of thin air. Taking her father's shoulder with her right hand she squeezed it hard.
"Ouch! Echo, that hurt. What is wrong?" Egon asked his daughter.
Echo nodded towards her father's bedroom door. Egon looked and saw the woman too.
"Eden?" he asked.
Everyone having seen what was going on with Egon and Echo stopped talking. As one they all turned to see a woman standing before them. A spirit, dressed in white, with a radiant smile on her face. No one moved. Peter was the one to break the spell. Holding up his glass he said in a very loud voice.
"To Eden!" the others replied.
The woman smiled at them. How she loved them all and would miss them.
"I love you." she said and she was gone.