Authors: Karen M. Black
Tags: #visionary fiction, #reincarnation novel, #time travel romance books, #healing fiction, #paranormal romance ebook, #awakening to soul love, #signs of spiritual awakening, #soulmate ebook, #time travel romance book, #paranormal romance book, #time travel romance novels, #metaphysical fiction, #new age fiction, #spiritual awakening symptoms
“To Kevin and Tori — here’s hoping they make each other miserable.”
Althea almost spit out her vodka. She raised her own glass.
“Here’s hoping they rot with guilt.
“And the sex is lousy.”
“And Kevin gets some terrible, life-threatening disease so he can’t get it up.”
“And Kevin wants me back — but can’t have me!”
Silence then, only the crackling of the wood stove.
“Are you going to get rid of his stuff?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t let him off easy, he doesn’t deserve it.”
The room was cooler, despite the fire. Althea excused herself and went upstairs. She checked her messages: one from Kevin, which she deleted. The other was the one she was waiting for.
They ate, they drank, and then drank some more. At midnight, Althea
fell up the narrow stairs to the third floor, a place where Althea and Kevin stayed in happier times, a furnished guest-apartment with a kitchen, a bathroom, and a long stretch of windows. She stumbled to the windows, which held the familiar creamy glow of the moon, and the anger that crystallized earlier in the evening dissolved. She felt the panic welling up again.
Her two best friends
She looked out through her tears, remembering the times when she was a child standing here, drawn into the moon’s gentle sheen, its surface abundant with mystery and possibility, the ability to connect with something greater than herself, things she couldn’t see, and the ability to shape dreams.
Tonight, she only saw the moon’s shadows.
• • •
MONDAY MORNING, ALTHEA CALLED in sick and stayed to help Sophie garden, cleaning out some of the swiss chard, picking the tomatoes, freezing some, harvesting the squash. After lunch, she walked through Sophie’s sloping back yard, past the willows, and along the path that led to the lake.
The beach was a combination of pebbles and sand, dotted with two weather-worn picnic tables. At the far end of the beach, facing the still water, was a metal swing-set with poles sunk into the earth. Ever since she was a child, Althea had loved swings, the air moving over her face, her hair streaming behind her, leaning back to see the world upside down. She sat on the wooden seat and grasped the cool metal links. She backed up on tip-toe, and let go. The lake breeze caressed her body and she pushed higher. As she swung back, the wind caught her hair and tickled her cheeks. She leaned back again, and opened her eyes, the blood rushing to her head.
This was a place of contemplation where she had come as a child. This was where Tori first told her about her parents’ divorce, where Kevin first told her he loved her.
. The last five years, amounting to nothing, less than nothing. Tori, the one person she believed she could always count on.
She felt the sharp ache, then the anger. She stopped swinging, abruptly digging her heels into the sand. A rough sensation, electric hot, moved from the base of her skull and settled behind her eyes. Her eyes
watered as she squinted into the sun.
• • •
LATER THAT DAY, ALTHEA stood on the front porch of a small bungalow. When the door opened, she smelled fresh flowers. A tall woman in a layered emerald-green dress, with a hand-painted silk scarf and curly black hair tied back, opened the door.
“I would have been here on time if there weren’t so many maniacs on the road this far north.”
The woman laughed, a rich rolling sound. “I can see you’re still as mouthy as I remember.”
“Takes one to know one,” Althea said and couldn’t help smiling. She hugged Michelle, sniffing, her eyes filling with tears. The woman smelled soft, like fresh powder.
She remembered the first time she visited Michelle almost five years before. She and Sophie had been fighting and she drove through a late-summer lightning storm to see her. “Michelle’s good,” Tori had said. “She might give you some perspective.” An endorsement from Tori. At that time, it didn’t get any better than that.
“So what’s going on?” Michelle asked. Althea had called the night before as she and Sophie were getting seriously sloshed, to ask for a rush appointment. Normally, Michelle booked a couple of weeks in advance.
“You’re the psychic, you tell me.”
“Ever the skeptic.” Michelle smiled. “Yet here you are — again.” Althea was silent. “You brought a tape?”
Althea dug the cassette out of her knapsack and followed Michelle down a short hallway to a sitting room that featured two sage green wingback chairs, with a rectangular drop-leaf table between them. She sat down in the wingchair closest to the door. On the table was a green and gold tapestry throw anchored by an old cassette recorder. Michelle shooed a long-haired cat off the table as she slowly sat down. She took the plastic off the cassette and put it into the recorder.
Althea pointed at a long twisted glass cane that lay on the floor beside Michelle’s chair. “That’s new.”
“It’s what I use to knock some sense into my more stubborn, thick-headed clients, so watch out. I fell this winter and I still need it sometimes. It’s pulled glass, left to me by a great aunt. She said it was used by Mae West on Broadway.”
“It’s beautiful.” The cane was twisted glass, with filaments of silver grey, yellow and green at its core.
Michelle pressed the record button.
“Okay. Now remind me of your birth date and time of birth.”
“January 7, 1976, one-twenty-five in the afternoon.”
Michelle opened a book that was worn from use, and marked down three symbols on a notepad in front of her.
“Just to get this out of the way, I need birth dates of anyone else who might be important right now.
“January 13, 1973, and May 17, 1976.
“Thank you. And that’s it?”
“For today.” Althea’s voice thickened. She opened her knapsack, removed a tissue and wadded it into a ball. She knew that Michelle would notice. They’d get to it.
Michelle opened a book with lists of dates. She looked at the book, and marked more symbols on the pad of paper in front of her. Michelle was an astrologer. In astrology, the circle with the dot in the center, Althea knew, meant the sun. The small crescent shape, the moon. From visiting Michelle over the years, she knew that the sun sign represented a person’s central energy, while the moon represented a person’s emotions, their inner selves. The ascendant, which is depen-dent on the time of birth, shows how one’s personality is expressed.
“As you know, you have a Capricorn sun, and a Pisces moon and a rising sign of Taurus. On the outside, you’re matter-of-fact, all business. On the inside, that’s another story. Capricorn and Taurus are earth signs — ambitious, practical, security driven, sometimes stubborn.”
“And Pisces, as you know, is a water sign — sensitive, emotional, very creative, spiritual — the sign of a dreamer — and in the moon’s position, a side that very few people see. Your Piscean qualities represent your emotional foundations, who you are when you think no one else is looking.”
“Yes, you keep
“And I will continue to, even as you, Althea, in your earthy way,
continue to disagree.” Michelle smiled at her, in a way that Althea knew couldn’t be swayed. Michelle turned to Kevin and Tori’s birth dates.
“Here we have another Taurus, slow moving, dependable, a little bit stubborn and sensual, with a Capricorn moon, which sometimes takes life too seriously. And here, we have another Capricorn, with a Taurus moon and Cancer ascendent. Is this one a man or a woman?”
“Grounded, almost masculine. At the core, she’s very dependable, all business, yet she has a nurturing, protective side. You can count on this one.” Althea shifted in her seat.
“You’re wrong so far.”
Michelle smiled at her and took a deck of tarot cards out of a velvet bag and pushed them toward Althea. Althea smiled. In movies, tarot cards were often portrayed as being creepy and melodramatic. But in Michelle’s hands they sang, revealing insights that were always surprising.
“Please shuffle the cards.”
“Okay. I’m interested in knowing why —”
“Don’t say anything more, let the cards show why you’re here.”
Althea sat back and tried to relax. She knew from Michelle the tarot cards had originated in the 1400s in northern Italy. She knew that each of the cards contained an image that symbolized an area of life and the unconscious mind.
“Place them in three piles. Good, now touch one. Thank you.”
Michelle picked up the cards, placing the pile Althea had touched on top. Then she placed a card in front of her and covered it with another, crossing the first.
“This is your present. And this is what’s crossing you.”
ALTHEA WAS CLEANING OUT her office. A number of boxes on the floor were packed with things she’d take with her. A swelling garbage bag was filled with paper she’d recycle.
She opened an orange folder that contained a glossy brochure. It described how the Rotman MBA ranked with other business schools worldwide, praised its distinguished faculty, told of the caliber of students who attended and the lucrative careers they subsequently enjoyed. By getting this degree, she knew she would double what she was making, easy, maybe more. On the back page was a post-it note with her handwriting on it. ‘Say I want to get into exec mgt. Poss via consultg.’ She had written this as she prepared her MBA application last spring. It was based on a discussion with Tori.
“Remember they measure their success by their grads’ titles, salaries and long-term career success,” Tori had said. “Then they can hike their fees, get a better ranking and be more exclusive. So you have to look hungry.” She’d been right.
Althea had passable undergrad marks and an above-average GMAT score. She also had a creative advertising background and an English degree, which Tori had helped her use to her advantage.
“They don’t want a whole room full of engineers or commerce grads. They want diversity, different opinions. That’s what they advertise in their brochures, so that’s what you give them.”
The discussion seemed to have taken place so long ago. Had Tori been fucking Kevin when they had that conversation?
“Don’t rule out Rotman. It’s a good school and it’s always good to have options.”
. Her eyes stung. She pushed away the ache.
She tossed the files into the green garbage bag. At her computer, her chest a seething mass, she clicked on Outlook, deleting Tori and Kevin’s contact information though she knew their numbers by heart. She started on their email messages next, purging all traces of them from her computer’s memory. Sort. Highlight. Delete. Are you sure?
. Click. Gone.
Unsatisfied, she paced the room, clenching and unclenching her fists. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, her face pallid and moist.
The phone rang.
“Al, don’t hang up. It’s me.”
. She had sent Althea a letter and this wasn’t the first time she’d called. Her anxiety grew, moving down her arms. All the cells in her body were alive, reckless, on fire.
“I know who it is.”
“I’m calling because I want you to yell at me or scream at me or something, because you deserve that,
Is that what Tori wanted?
Althea struggled to keep her voice calm, expressionless, her rage like a chained animal.
Show her nothing
“Al, I know this is no excuse, but it wasn’t planned. We didn’t ... I feel just horrible.”
“I really don’t give a shit how you feel.”
Althea felt her knees going weak and she leaned on the counter for balance. She had to do this fast. Tori wanted to be punished?
Show her nothing
. She coiled inside, measuring each word in monotone. “You really wanna know what I think?” Her heart sped and her breaths were shallow. “I think you want me to tell you to fuck off, so you’ll be able to feel better about yourself.” As she spoke, she picked up her notebook that lay on the floor beside her bed and doodled, drawing loops and circles, pushing into the paper until it began to tear.
“No, please believe me, I feel horrible.”
Althea felt her fury escalating, searing, radiating.
“I’m sick of hearing how horrible you both feel, how you didn’t know how this happened. You really wanna do something for me?”
“Yes. Okay. Anything.”
“Don’t ever fucking call me again.”
Althea hung up. Her head exploded in pain, and she ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it across the room, spinning with the effort. The phone landed with an unsatisfying thud behind the couch.
She fell against the wall and sank to her knees, sobbing. She fumbled for some paper and a pen and began to write. She wrote for two hours, until her hand was shaking and cramped. When she was so exhausted she couldn’t write any more, she ripped out the pages, put them in an envelope, hastily addressed and stamped the envelope, and headed outside into the fresh autumn air.