Authors: Kristina M. Rovison
Aunt Rachel just stares a
t us with a peaceful expression
and I think I see tears fill her eyes, but I can’t be sure because I’m laughing so hard. Tristan’s laugh is graceful, even for a boy, and it sends a sense of tranquility through my veins. Somehow, we end up under the covers again, his arm under my head, the other slung across my side, keeping me tight against him. And it’s in this moment that I know. This moment, following an absurd laughing fit and an insanely crazy day, means more to me than anything ever has.
With his breathing in sync with mine, I trace little circles on his soft uniform polo shirt. His eyes are closed, but I know he’s still awake because he’s tracing circles on my
back. It’s been barely a month
and I trust Tristan more than I’ve ever trusted
anyone before. We’re connected like no one else, through our essence and our minds. It is in this moment that I realize what my soul seems to have known
since the beginning
; I love him.
I felt like I knew him the moment we met, and like I knew him even more
when he told me his story. But now, here, I feel like I know Tristan for who he is; not an angel the Lord sent to ease my pain, or a boy I saw in a vision… No, right now Tristan is a boy who is my best friend: kind and loyal and respectful and funny. Tristan is a boy who just so happens to be my Divine match, but I don’t have these feelings because I
I have these feelings because I
to. I don’t love him because God told me to. I love him for who he is. And it is in this moment that another piece of my mending heart heals itself.
That night, as I lie in bed, my thoughts threaten to overtake the calm surrounding me. As Tristan and I agreed, I pick up my phone and call him to let him know I’m turning in for the night. It rings a few times, then a musical voice answers.
“Hey. You turning in?”
“Yup. Why’d you want me to call you?” I ask. He made me promise to call him before I went to bed, but never said why.
“I… just wanted your voice to be the last I hear before I go to bed. Maybe I’ll have more pleasant dreams,” he says meekly, and I can picture him blushing as he catches the double meaning behind his words.
I laugh, forcing myself to keep it quiet. “Well goodnight, then. I’ll see you tomorrow, Tristan. Sweet dreams.”
And we hang up, a smile still on my face. I can definitely see how others who are unaware of our situation would accuse me and Tristan of being a codependent couple, but with all the facts, you’d see that we’re just happy to be with one another.
My eyes grow heavy, but a buzzing sensation starts pulsing in the back of my head. At first I think it’s just a headache, but it intensifies. I slowly get out of bed with the intention of getting a Tylenol from the bathroom cupboard. My feet drag, and my head spins, but now I’m standing in the hallway. It was stupid to get up, but I don’t think I would’ve been able to call to Rachel if I hadn’t of.
“Katherine, honey? Do you need something?” I hear my aunt ask, but the buzzing overtakes my ears just like it did this afternoon. “Katherine!” she exclaims.
And then I fall to the floor, eyes rolling to the back of my head. But this time, I am not afraid.
I hear the voices before I’m aware of anything else. It’s like my senses are slowly being brought into focus one at a time. I can feel a cool floor below me, and realize I’m lying on my
stomach. My eyes pop open
and I find myself in the same speakeasy that I found myself in earlier. Thankfully, I’m not trapped in the body again.
I stand, taking in my surroundings. I see myself come around a corner of the basement bar, and Sorren strolls out from behind a table, looking perturbed. They exchange words, the conversation I’ve already over heard, before making their way up a small staircase and opening a door. I jog after them, refusing to be left behind. It’s nighttime, but the moon is so full that it illuminates the surrounding area. I can see every line and crevice that sits on the land, and about thirty feet from where I’m standing, “me,” “Sorren/Cassandra,” and Tristan stand, accompanied by… my brother.
I stop in my tracks, breath hitching and pulse thundering. David looks so… different. His hand reaches out to
Sorren/Cassandra and she takes it. Their mouths are moving, so I waste no more time and rush over to where they stand. Tristan, though older looking in this vision, is just as striking as he is today, but instead of blueness in his eyes, they look gray, bleached by the moonlight.
“We can’t stand around here, out in the open. Not at a place like this. Why in God’s name did you come here, Tristan?” “I” asked, tears flowing from my eyes.
He walked over to “me,” taking me in his arms as I gripped him fiercely. “I’m innocent, my love. Innocent until proven otherwise. Adrian had to stop by to speak to a colleague, so I tagged along. The better question is what on Earth were you thinkin’ followin’ me to a place like this?” he asks, his southern accent not as pronounced as mine was.
“If you thought I was jus’ gonna sit by while you went and got yourself killed, you’ve lost your mind,” my doppelganger replied vehemently. “I know you didn’t kill that man, but someone went through an awful lot of trouble blamin’ it on you.
This is the mob we’re dealing with, Tristan! Use your head!
Tristan sighed before kissing “me” and placing a hand on my stomach. “You know you shouldn’t act so foolish, love. You’re carryin’ precious cargo, angel.”
I just stand here during this entire exchange, watching the expressions on everyone’s faces. Sorren/Cassandra looks pained, but smiles at the mention of a baby. My brother stood there with an indifferent look on his face, but alternated between staring at the ground and at Sorren.
“Let’s get home, Tristan. Please,” I had said to him, touching his cheek with my left hand. A ring glinted off my ring finger and off Tristan’s as well.
“Adrian, take us home will you? Do your business another night, friend. My wife is frightened,” Tristan said, not taking his eyes off me.
Sorren/Cassandra entered the very early looking car first, and Adrian motioned for “me” to enter as well. Just as I was climbing into the car, his arm shot out, hand wrapping around my neck. Present-day “me” gasped, and I walked even closer to the group, heart pounding but still feeling unafraid.
“Adrian! What are you doing?” Tristan yelled, moving to grab me, but Adrian had pressed a knife to my throat, stopping Tristan in his tracks. “You dirty traitor. It’s been you all along, hasn’t it! You framed me for Callie’s murder!”
My brother/Adrian just laughed a brutal, unfeeling cackle that transformed his face into that of a madman. It was an
expression I had only seen once on his face: when I witnessed one of his lapses in reality, before he was sent away.
“You gave me no choice, Tristan! You think I don’t know what you say about me? The whole county thinks I’m crazy! You’ve always had it all, been so sure of yourself all the time, well who’s in control now?!” the madman screams, lacking the southern accent the other three possessed, pressing the knife further into the throat of the mom-to-be.
Sorren started crying from inside the car, curling into a ball. I see bruises on her legs as the skirt of her dress rides up, and I’m at a loss of words. Something clicks in my head, divine intervention probably, and I know that this Adrian, this madman who I know is my present-day brother, beats Cassandra, his wife, to a pulp weekly. Watching this unfold, detached from my emotions so I can comprehend everything, I feel like I’m resurfacing from a dream. But the scene stays put, and I continue to watch.
“Adrian, Katherine doesn’t deserve your rage. I understand that I do, but you don’t need to punish her, to punish our child, for my mistakes,” Tristan said firmly.
“I loved her! You took her from me, like you took everything else! It would hurt you more if I killed her and left you a cripple,” Adrian growled.
By then, the struggling Katherine in Adrian’s arms had started sobbing, growing limp and screaming when he pressed the knife in further, drawing blood. Tristan looked conflicted, debating whether or not to tackle Adrian to the ground and risk his wife getting injured, or to keep trying to talk some sense into him. One look in his friends’ eyes told him that he was beyond saving, so Tristan lunged.
A strangled sob came from someone on the ground, and I continued to stand and watch the vision play out. Adrian scrambled to his feet, Tristan lying on the ground, bleeding from the stomach. Adrian dragged his wife out of the car before plunging the knife into her stomach repeatedly, then hopped in the car and drove off as fast as the tiny little engine could go.
My eyes followed the car until it was out of sight, and then fell on the clump of limps on the ground. The past-tense me had sat up, shoulder bleeding and neck injured, and cradled her dying husband in her arms. His intestines had been punctured and blood was pouring out of him fast. Even modern doctors wouldn’t have been able to save the dying young man on the ground.
The wails coming from his wife’s mouth were inhuman, and through her grief, she didn’t see that Tristan had whispered his final words to her. The
“I love you”
fell on deaf ears, and his soul could not rest until he knew she heard his proclamation.
Cassandra was lying dead on
the ground a few feet away;
I had been the only one spared. For the s
econd time in my life, I watch
Tristan die. And for the s
econd time in my life, I watch
myself pick up the knife from the ground, and kill myself.
I feel the buzzing invade my body, and I know that it’s time to return to the present. So, I close my eyes, and fall into blackness.
* * *
“Katherine? Katherine?” an unknown voice says, gently tapping my shoulder.
My eyes open, and I’m lying in an unknown room, with an unknown man leaning over me. I almost scream, until I see the stethoscope hanging around his neck.
“There she is. How are you feeling, young lady?” the older man asks.
It takes me a moment to remember all that happened, but when I do, I must give the doctor an answer, because he walks away. I’m in a hospital, which shocks me because Aunt Rachel told me that the closest hospital was nearly a half an hour away from our little ranch home. I’m expecting to have a panic attack in regards to what I just saw, but I don’t. In fact, I feel as if another piece of the puzzle is being clipped in place.
“Sweetheart, you’ve got to drink more water during the day! You scared the living daylights out of me. Doc says you’re dehydrated and overtired, so they’ll keep you here tonight. You okay? You didn’t bump your head or anything when you fell, did you?” Aunt Rachel asks, sitting in the chair beside my bed, taking my hand in hers.
I shake my head, suddenly drowsy. She must see this in my face because she walks across the room and flips the lights out. I smile in thanks, which I hope she can see even in the dull light. Spent, I barely finish praying before I drift into a sound sleep.
I’m woken in the morning by a tugging on the back of my hand, and struggle to lift my heavy lids. The older doctor I vaguely remember from the night before smiles at me as he removes the IV from my hand.
“You sure do bruise easily, Miss. Prince. You’ll have a nasty one on your hand from your IV, but no worries. You should feel good as new today,” he says in a rumbling voice that belongs to a Santa Claus in the mall at Christmas time.