My eyes remain closed, yet they shift back and forth rapidly. People must often think that I am reading a novel on the back of my lids, but really I am just seeing. Seeing. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It started when I was about seven. Fourteen years later, I’m still having seeing spells. My mind will start feeling fuzzy; something will poke at my consciousness. Whatever is nearby will start blurring together. Shadows grow heavier. Vivid hues of scarlet, forest green, and cerulean blend into a black abyss, and I’ll just sort of pass out, if you will, for a minute or two.
Then, it comes to me. The vision, the seeing. Normally, it’s to warn me someone is in trouble or to prompt me to give someone important information. And normally, I am far from attached to whatever the situation, though I often feel the repercussions of it: pain, elation, sadness, surprise, confusion, fear, you name it.
But this time—this time was different.
I could make out a petite figure with short, scraggly hair. He jumped around his yard, shooting his basketball for two-pointers and working hard to slam-dunk. His shoelaces danced around him, untied and free. His face glowed, and I could tell that he was content with his small world. As soon as I settled in to observe this adorable creature, the picture transitioned into a middle-school setting. Kids raced up and down hallways trying to make it before the bell rang for a second time. There he was, strolling his way through the crowd, eyes wide as he surveyed those around him. He was observant from what I gathered. All too quickly, the scene changed again.
He was standing among the football fans who were in an uproar because their team had just scored. He smiled at the touchdown, and I felt a pang go through my heart.
That smile I thought. Wait, what? No, stay focused on the picture.
No sooner did I think that, everything kaleidoscoped into the image of a college. He was bent over at his desk in his dorm room. His hair swooped across his eyes, obscuring them, and I couldn’t exactly tell what he was thinking, but I sure knew what he was feeling. Anger I noted. Something has pushed him to become frustrated. Something –
“Yara!” I heard a shriek. I jolted upright and squinted up at the bright light of my kitchen.
“Wh-wh-what?” I shouted.
“It happened, didn’t it?” My best friend was sitting on her legs, rocking back and forth with a pained expression.
“Nova, what do you mean? It’s only been, like, five minutes…”
“Ha, five minutes. Five minutes would have made a whole lot more sense. Wouldn’t have been normal, but definitely would have made more sense. Two hours is more like it. Two. Hours!” She frantically wrapped her arms around herself and rubbed her elbows, something she always did to calm her nerves. The room swirled; an excruciating headache crept up behind my left eye. I replayed his smile in my head, and then his anger welled up inside my chest. I wanted to fight or kill or scream at whatever was causing his anger. I wanted to push it away for him.
“Two hours is—that’s—I don’t know.” My thoughts were scattered, and collecting them took strength that I didn’t have. After a moment of silence, Nova gathered herself and got up to fetch a glass of water which she so kindly brought back to me.
“Your headache is worse than the other times.” Nova had knowing. She could assess a situation or an atmosphere as quick as lightning. It was similar to seeing but less complicated and intricate. She didn’t have visions. She had a type of discernment or decoding.
“Yes. I may vomit,” I disclosed. She pulled my head into her lap and stroked my long, chestnut-colored hair. This was another one of her talents. Touching. People with this ability could soothe away night terrors, sicknesses, aches, and wounds.
“Tell me. What all did you see?” We went through this process after every vision. We fed off of each other’s gifts like we were taught to do in our special seminary. She would decipher this vision for sure. She had to.
“There was this boy,” I started, “I saw snip-its of his life: places where he looked happy, scared, angry.” I choked on the last word because it stung the tip of my tongue.
I shifted uncomfortably in her lap. I felt the bile make its way up my esophagus, and I wasn’t sure I would make it to the trash can or sink. Immediately, Nova leaned over my stomach and placed her hands in the center. “Breathe in slowly through your nose, then breathe out slowly through your mouth,” she ordered. I didn’t hesitate to follow instructions, and I felt my nausea being drawn into her hands. She suddenly pulled herself from me and raced to the trashcan before releasing vomit into it.
Backlash. That’s what we call our gifts’ consequences. We don’t choose our gifts – they choose us, and we feel special and unique. But like everything else in the world, there are consequences to them. Just like with my visions’ repercussions, everyone has to deal with a downside. Sadly, for Nova, when she takes away someone’s terrors, sicknesses, aches, or wounds, she is left with them. There is a reprieve, however, and that is the fact that she doesn’t have to carry them for long. Her longest-endured hell was only about thirty-four hours.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled. She quieted my apologies and urged me to continue with the story of the vision. “He was pale. His face symmetrical with dimples. He had a strong build, and he was rather tall. I’d say at least six-one if I set him beside my five-four frame, and he had some scruffy dark brown hair. He looked a tad preppy. There wasn’t any kind of urgency in any of the images. The only red flag was his anger at the end of it before you scared me half to death and purged me from seeing anymore.”
“Leo,” Nova interrupted my scorning. Leo. Leo…His name. My mind reeled.
“Okay? What’s the significance?”
“Well, I…” A bewildered look crossed her face and she shied away behind her blond bangs. I had never experienced this reaction from her before in all of our ten years of friendship. She knew everything. It was in her nature to know. “I’m sorry, Yara. I can’t,” she paused and furrowed her brows. “There’s nothing to latch onto. I’m not drawing any conclusions.” Panic ensued, and heaviness buried itself into my heart. The fuzziness was returning. All of the sudden, I felt the wave crashing over me once more, and I had no alternative to letting it take me under.
He was in an alley late at night. The only light I could make out was the pink neon sign in a nearby diner window that read: Closed.
Leo, what are you doing? I wanted to ask him so badly. I felt a sense of danger with him out here all alone, but I couldn’t put a finger on why. I didn’t even know the guy, but I felt so eerily connected to him, to his heart and soul, as if I had known him all my life. I just wanted to protect him, I guess.
I hadn’t noticed that he was moving toward me. Adrenaline pulsated through my veins when his eyes locked with mine. Can you see me? I questioned internally.
Yes. Leo’s whisper echoed in the corners of my mind in reply, and I felt my breath catch.
How is this possible?
Easy. I came to find you, Yara. I’ve been searching for you.
Why? What is it? What’s the matter? I genuinely cared and wanted to do anything in my power to be the answer to his questions.
You have seeing. You’re the key to my freedom. I thought you’d never come.
I don’t know what you’re getting at, Leo. None of this is registering. I can say that I feel as though you have been a part of me, but I can’t explain why. As I rambled on, he drew closer and stood over me. I craned my neck to look up at him, and he grasped for my hand. But there was nothing. I couldn’t feel him. In fact, I couldn’t touch him at all because of the barricade. What felt like fire surged through my arm, and I yelped in pain. He, in turn, cried out at the burning sensation.
I’m so sorry, Yara. Are you okay? You look hurt. I thought this would be less complicated.
No, I’ll be fine. I promise. You thought what would be less complicated? You’re still speaking in riddles! I waved my arms at him, trying harder to emphasize my point.
They said it wasn’t possible, that it’d never work. Even after centuries, I have gotten you though. I need you, Yara. I’m stuck in this realm. I’m not living nor dead, rather I am a creature of visions.
Who is they? How and why are you trapped? I’ve not even been alive for centuries, Leo. I need you to be more specific. I need you to be clear. Tell me what I’m to do. I know nothing. I’m just as lost as you are trapped.
You’re my rescuer. Only you can complete this task. I need you. It was useless. He continued like a broken record with no progress. Tears streamed down my face, and, more than frustrated, I decided I just wanted to wake up. At that, his voice faded away, and I was sucked out of my vision.
I felt tissues blotting my face. “You were wailing while you were out,” Nova stated. “I did my best to soothe away what I could, but whatever it is you’re seeing is the most intense and powerful thing yet.”
“But it’s pointless. You were right; there’s nothing to latch onto. I’m not getting anywhere with him. None of what he is saying has relevance. I’m better off trying to talk to a wall at this rate. But, God, do I want to help him!” I burst out.
I kicked my foot into the kitchen cabinet with as much force as I could muster, leaving a gigantic hole. I had never been so distraught in my life. I picked myself up and started pacing to relieve my stress. Nova joined in, and we circled around each other for what seemed like ages.
“I HAVE IT!” Nova blared at the top of her lungs, startling my deep thoughts. “Do you remember in seminary when the professors taught us that sometimes certain people’s gifts are even more extraordinary than others?” I nodded and pretended I knew where she was going with her thought.
“Well,” she beamed, “maybe you’re one of those people. You are going through something that is extreme compared to all other visions you, and well, pretty much all of our kinds’ history, has ever known. There must be another aspect of your gift.” If there’s nothing else I can count on Nova for, it’s her wisdom and her trustworthiness. She had to be right. There was no other way.
“I think I have a plan,” I assured her in response. After mulling it over, I figured it was worth a shot. “Nova, lie down beside me,” I initiated as I made my way back down to the kitchen floor. She did as she was told with no questions or retort. “Grab my hand now,” I said. I felt her fingers wrap around mine. “Close your eyes and do some concentrated breathing.” She didn’t hesitate. “You’re able to take other people’s obstacles through touching, but maybe you can also take a part of my gift to go with me into my vision. Maybe you yourself have some secret talent stored up, another facet to your gift” I explained as I closed my eyes, too. “Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she breathed.
Within a split second, I was back inside my vision with Leo, except this time I felt Nova’s hand in mine. I could touch her even though fire separated Leo and me from making contact.
Who is she? What is she doing here? Is she one of them? Leo’s voice boomed in my brain, and I flinched.
Leo, calm down. Relax. She is a friend. Her name is Nova, and she’s here to assist me. She also wants to help you.
“What’s he saying?” Nova inquired.
”He was scared of you. He thought you were one of the people who put him here.” I let go of her hand and motioned for Leo to come closer once more.
Do you trust me? I pleaded softly.
Always, Yara. I’ve never doubted you.
Simultaneously to Leo and Nova, I described what needed to transpire. “He needs to grab my hand, but right as he does, you have to focus all your energy on taking the burn away. If you can’t remove the flame, we will never be able to connect. It’ll be on the count of three.”
Understood. Leo was ready.
“Roger that,” Nova got into position.
I began the countdown.
I extended my arms to Leo, and he met me halfway, placing his hands against mine and gritting his teeth to bear the agony.
On cue, Nova stretched her hands up, grabbed our arms, and with every fiber of her being, extracted the fire and the burn from us. Leo and I fully clasped each other’s hands, and in a fraction of a second, we were all back inside my tiny apartment’s kitchen.
Leo collapsed to the floor beside Nova and me. He was unconscious and his chest was not falling and rising. I cried in fear. “No, no, Leo. Please,” I implored.
Nova brushed me aside gently and placed her hands on his chest. She pulled away his discomfort and whatever was blocking his air passages, and he coughed back to life. I threw my arms around him in acknowledgment of everything that had reformed in my memory the moment we were back in reality. My Leo. My husband. The one I have traveled through time and space with. The one that has been my soulmate in every life we have lived since the beginning of time.
Every lifetime, we get the memories of our gifts, and pieces of our past lives. But every lifetime, we get a new goal. No one knows what our missions are until after we have achieved our objectives, and then it races back to us as if we had never missed a beat.
“I missed you so much.” My voice quaked, and I bit my lip to hold back the flow of tears that was pinching my throat.
“I knew you’d be able to reach me again. I knew your love for me was unbreakable and unwavering.” He caressed my cheek and wiped away the escaped tear.
“Yara,” Nova politely interjected. “You’ve done it. The professors of our seminary and I are so proud of you! Not only have you proven to us that love can transcend centuries and probably millenniums, but you have proven that not even the gifts can keep what is meant to be from being. The professors dug very well and deeply into the seeing dimensions to hide Leo, but even when you weren’t looking for him directly, you knew where he was, you found him, and you saved him.”
It’s true. It’s amazing and beautiful. What I know and what I feel are inevitable. When your heart ties itself to one person and one person only, there is no going back. It’s all or nothing, forever…and ever…and ever. No matter how many times he would be pulled away from me in this lifetime or the next, he would never cease to be mine always and forever.
An Artist’s Soul was a winner of the Short Stories category in Montage by Moonlight, the literary magazine of Emmanuel College, GA.
Featured Image by Pixabay