It took me decades to realise that my childhood wasn’t normal.
My father knew how to raise the dead. With words, wards and symbols he could cause the soul of any deceased person to appear before him. Rising from his spell, he could command the spirit to answer any three questions that he put to them, truthfully and completely. Answering the questions of the bereaved was his trade and he was paid richly for his services. A ceremony could only be carried out once with each spirit, and could only be asked by the person who summoned them, so the three answers were all that the client would ever receive from the deceased in this life.
He never operated in front of a direct audience, instead summoning the spirit behind a curtain. It was certainly the more pleasant option for clients. Spirits are always recognisable, but something about them is wrong. It’s something in their eyes. They have no desire to hide the truth, and appear completely dispassionate towards the living. No matter how loving the relationship, they have no interest in their former loved on any more. Some spirits were even outright hostile to my father, but they were always carefully bound inside the summoning circle. They could not escape, and had to remain within it until they answered the three questions my father put to them. I would observe from the side of the room, to make sure that the client was paying attention, and that they did not approach the curtain. My mother waited outside the locked door, waiting to unlock it and usher out the client once it was all over.
Clients were always instructed to have three questions. It didn’t matter if only one was what they needed. A man once very rudely insisted that he only needed to know where his mother’s will was, and that he didn’t give a damn what else my father wanted to ask the old bitch. As I sat to observe that ceremony, I wondered why my father didn’t insist on getting two more questions. I soon found out.