Elizabeth Boldrey was pulled through her side yard towards the light brick house next to hers, drawn to the soft but sinister-sounding organ.
She seemed to be pulled ghost-like to the back door as a young girl singing a romantic ballad increasingly filled the air. Although the brown-haired teacher was dressed in bed clothes, it didn't seem to matter as she looked in on the ceremony.
She watched as a girl dressed as a 1940's softball player performed at the organ with her friends singing backup. They sang a soft love song which Mrs. Boldrey recognized from her junior high school days while a young newlywed couple danced as if at their wedding reception.
The pair seemed much too young and a closer look unveiled the happy couple.
It was Peter and Sally again and the organist looked like the girl who lived next door to the Boldreys.
When the organist finished, a dark-haried man in glasses who resembled the Boldreys' next-door neighbor appeared in the room.
"Maddie," he said to the organist. "Your mom's here."
At about the same moment, Mr. Martin appeared again, just like he had throughout Mrs. Boldrey's dream. Sternly, her old junior high principal scattered those attending the gathering.
Once again, Mrs. Boldrey watched as everyone beat a hasty retreat and Mr. Martin pulled Sally away from Peter.
She watched as the organist left the house for a car bearing vintage Indiana license plates.
Just then, a voice Mrs. Boldrey recognized as that of another boy from her class called her by her maiden name.
It was that group of boys again, along with Mrs. Boldrey's best friend offering her a ride in that black Dodge Charger. They took her home and as Bess Moeller left the car, she turned to see that Mustang lurking in the background.
The Charger sped away, as if trying to elude a dogged pursuer.
Mrs. Boldrey's eyes burst open as she bolted upright in bed, the sound of a soft organ blowing barely audible through the night air. Her gasps awoke her husband.
"What's wrong Liz?" Jim Boldrey groggily asked.
"Liz! Did you have that dream again?"
Mrs. Boldrey shrugged and sheepishly confessed.
It had been this way ever since the Stevenses had moved in next door to the Boldreys.
Mrs. Boldrey had learned at one point that the house close to her job as a teacher at Joanne Manor, her old grade school, was the same house where Peter Williams lived.
The same Peter Williams who had died twenty-five years earlier after being caught kissing Sally Jones on a class trip.
Sally never married and became a recluse whose presence was a bit disturbing to the residents around Joanne Manor.
There were rumors about what happened that night, but nothing about the incident seemed to matter until the Stevenses moved in from Indiana and started doing yard work on the weekends for Sally.
That was when Mrs. Boldrey began dreaming of Peter and Sally as sweethearts, being constantly broken up by Mr. Martin and riding hone in that Charger.
As Mrs.Boldrey cooked breakfast the next morning, she once again repeated the story of the unexplained tragedies which followed after her dreams.
"Liz!" her husband sighed. "Mrs. Kiefer was an old woman. Her husband said she hadn't been feeling well."
"That was after the first time I had that dream," she nervously replied, trying to hide the unease inside her. "And what about the guys who had been bothering Peter? All of them except for Tom Schefling"
"I don't know. Coincidence? I think you should call the district office and put in for a transfer. I know how much a part of your life Joanne Manor is and how you want to be around while Toby's in school, but you may need to get away."
As she picked over her fruit bowl and later drove to school, a dark sense of dread enveloped Mrs. Boldrey.
She was afraid to look in her room for fear that the hearts might be there.
She tried to blot out the coincidences as she walked towards her classroom, but her sense of unease was aggravated by a familiar voice coming from the principal's office.
"How many times have I told you?" bellowed Mr. Martin at a boy in Mrs. Boldrey's class. "I've warned you about drawing those hearts. Haven't I? Haven't I?"
The boy's eyes were glued to the carpet of the school office as he stammered through an answer, cowering before the thin, wiry man with the severe, graying crew cut.
"What's going on?" Mrs. Boldrey asked, poking her head in the office.
"Matthew here apparently didn't get the message about drwing hearts on the blackboard, even though he came away from our last visit a little sore," Mr. Martin snorted.
"On the blackboard in your room."
"My room?" screamed Mrs. Boldrey, a sudden rush of fear overtaking her. "My blackboard! My room!"
She raced down the hallway to her classroom, where Mrs. Boldrey was confronted with a blackboard covered with hearts, all with the initials "P.W. and S.J." inscirbed in them.
Just like the other times.
"The Phantom Gossip strikes again, I see," Mrs. Sallinger said, sticking her head in the door.
Mrs. Boldrey nodded nervously as she cleared the blackboard. Mrs. Sallinger and Mr. Martin had been part of Joanne Manor almost since the school was built.
Just about everyone who had ever attended the school had Mrs. Sallinger at one time or another, including Mrs. Boldrey, Sally and Peter.
"Charles seems much more irritable than ususal," Mrs. Sallinger said, referring to the principal.
"I didn't notice."
"I think all this smoke-free business is getting the better of him. He should really give up that habit."
"You're probably right."
"Did you hear about coach Schefling?"
Mrs. Boldrey stopped for a moment.
"The poor young man apparently had some trouble over night. He's in the hospital."
Mrs. Boldrey shuddered inside.
It was as if she had that dream again.
After school, Mrs. Boldrey stopped at the house next door to speak with Maddie's father. Soft but sinister organ music flowed from the den as Mrs. Boldrey rang the doorbell.
A pleasant-looking dark-haired man answered the door.
"Hello," he said.
"I'm Mrs. Boldrey. I'm your neighbor and Maddie's teacher."
"Of couse," said Mr. Stevens. "Maddie speaks very highly of you."
As she entered the home, a sense of dread mingled with the warmth of the home. A seemingly familiar face smiled back from a picture on the wall.
"My wife when she was Maddie's age," Mr. Stevens said. "She's been gone two years."
"She looks familiar," Mrs. Boldrey said. "Very familiar. What were you playing on the organ?"
"Our song. My wife and mine," said Mr. Stevens. "I play it at night. It helps Maddie sleep. She misses her mother very much."
"You moved here from Indiana?"
"Yes. Mount Vernon."
"How is Maddie making the adjustment?"
"Oh fine. I got a job on the weekends doing yard work."
"Yes, for a Miss Jones."
"Yes. Sally Jones?"
"Yes. She doesn't get out much, though and she seems so lonely. I'm a manager at a video rental store, and soemtimes we take movies and watch them with her. We saw 'Titanic' last week and she cried at the end. Maddie said she saw a picture of a boy who looked like I did when I was in the seventh grade."
Mrs. Boldrey sat silent for a moment.
"Maddie's doing all right in school, isn't she?"
"Is she having trouble getting along?"
"Well, Miss Jones has a reputation and she's caught a little flak over that, but she's doing fine. Thank you."
Mrs. Boldrey got up to leave, moving like an exploring youngster fleeing a reputedly haunted house.
"Mrs. Boldrey?" asked Mr. Stevens.
"Why is Mr. Martin so strict?"
"Why is Mr. Martin so strict?"
"Yes, the prinicipal. He lectured Maddie the other day becasue she was singing this song from a movie and dressed like a girl baseball player for Halloween. Why is that?"
"Mr. Martin has always been that way."
As she was leaving the Stevens' house, a video caught Mrs. Boldrey's eye.
"Oh," Mr. Stevens said, grabbing the cover. "'Bullitt.' One of my favorites. Steve McQueen. He whips that Mustang through San Francisco like nobody's business. Goes after those guys in the Charger."
That night, Mrs. Boldrey churned restlessly in bed as again she dreamed.
She and her friends were at a movie, a restaurant and then the house next door. Again, that haunting ballad and each time Mr. Martin would storm onto the scene, cursing about some movie the last time. And once again, those boys from her class would nervously take her home, wathcing in fear for Steve McQueen in that Mustang.
In the middle of the night, Mrs. Boldrey was startled awake and thought about an incident earlier in the day.
As she arrived at school the next morning, Mrs. Boldrey encountered an angry Mr. Martin.
"Where's Matthew?" he demanded.
"I don't know."
Mr. Martin grabbed Mrs. Boldrey and virtually dragged her into her room.
"Look!" he bellowed. "The hearts are back."
"Mr. Martin, Matthew didn't do this."
"Look at this board! Look at this board!" Mr. Martin snatched an eraser. "I want to see Matthew. I want him to clean up this mess now!"
"Matthew didn't do this!"
"Then who did?"
Mrs. Boldrey and Mr. Martin turned around to see Mrs. Sallinger standing in the doorway. The veteran teacher didn't seem right, however. It was her voice, but she spoke as if she were an adolescent boy.
Mrs. Boldrey froze for a minute while Mr. Martin grabbed at the blackboard and began moving away.
"Stay away from me!" he screamed.
"B-but Mr. Martin," whimpered Mrs. Sallinger. "What's the matter? I'm sorry, but I like Sally. What was wrong with that?"
"Public displays of affection," Mr. Martin screamed as he backed into a corner.
"I wasn't kissing her," the old teacher said. "I was just trying to be cool like Bullitt. Why does everybody give me a hard time about Sally?"
Mrs. Sallinger moved closer with a look of youthful hurt on her face.
Mr. Martin crumbled to the floor, a look of extreme terror on his face as he clutched his side.
"Peter! Peter!" screamed Mrs. Boldrey.
"What do you want, Moeller?" snapped Mrs. Sallinger, referring to Mrs. Boldrey by her maiden name.
"Please Peter. Settle down. There's nothing wrong. You're scaring everybody. You're scaring Sally."
Mrs. Sallinger slowly sat down in a chair, smiling. She looked down and blushed with a silly grin not unlike an adolescent thinking about his first crush.
A crowd of students were beginning to mill around the classroom by this time. Mrs. Boldrey ordered one to get the rest of the class to safety.
At the end of the day, Mrs. Boldrey tried to explain what happened to her class and told them the story of Peter and Sally.
"I don't want any of you mistreating each other," she said. "It's perfectly normal for a boy and girls to like each other, but be careful about it. And Matthew, I'm sorry if you were unfairly accused."
After school, she dropped into the chair behind her desk, exhausted. A sweetly familiar-looking girl came up to her desk.
"I hope you get to feeling better, Mrs.Boldrey."
"Thank you Maddie. You'd better go catch the bus."
"Can Toby come over so we can do our homework together?"
"Yes. Good night, Maddie."
"Good night Mrs. Boldrey," the girl said.
As Mrs. Boldrey left the school, shee saw an older student slumped against the wall with a dspondent look on his face. She reocgnized him as one of her former students who was now in Mrs. Sallinger's homeroom.
"Hi Ryan," she said softly. "Is something wrong?"
"Some of the kids in class say what happened to Mr. Martin and Mrs. Sallinger was my fault beacause I'm such a troublemaker."
Mrs. Bolddrey sighed.
"That's not true Ryan," she said. "Mr. Martin knew for years that he had to stop smoking and that habit just had too much of a hold on him."
"And Mrs. Sallinger?"
"Just sometimes, things get to people."
Ryan smiled a bit.
"Feel better now?" Mrs. Boldrey asked.
Mrs. Boldrey tunred to walk twords her car.
"Good night Mrs. Boldrey," Ryan called out, his voice gradually taking a more menacing tone. "Pleasant dreams."