She Had the Gift
The skill backfired in more than one way.
The rich, golden wheat fields stretched out before her eyes for infinity.
The wind swept the sun painted wheat as though gentle waves off the Caribbean shore. Kansas was no place to be without money. And yet there she was. Buffalo grazed lazily nearby. Her ramshackle cabin she lived in with her family off in the distance. She had no idea how she’d gotten here, this open space. Wind was warm as it caressed her slightly sweated brow. Ever since a little girl, she could fly away in her mind.
As though to her past lives.
A moment ago she’d been standing on Fifth Ave, Manhattan. She was waiting for her best girlfriend to have some beers at the bar near Times Square. All day, she sensed that something was slipping. Not a headache. Rather an incredible clarity. More than was usual for her. Earlier her boss was reprimanding her for her last report on the inventory when she experienced a perception shift. She suddenly looked through her boss, his mind opened like a book, not quite a book, but that will do.
As he went on pontificating on about how she wasn’t doing the report as it should be done. She interrupted him. ‘Mark, I can see your suffering. The workings of your mind have taken you to the understanding that by scolding me you’d get the relief you so need. I can see it as though I can see the things on my desk. I will work on some of what you’re saying, but I know that you know my reports are pretty damn good. In fact, I fit into the top best three out of fifteen of us doing these reports. Obvious to me that you know this, Mark. I can see that you know this.’
‘Be careful Rachel, I don’t know what you’re getting at but it isn’t working.’ Mark watched Rachel for any reaction.
‘Look Mark, fire me if you want, but facts are facts. Melisa has cheated on you, yes, that hunk from the Irish bar. That’s been simmering for several months now and yesterday you found her out, a note she’d mistakenly left on her dresser. I’m sorry, these are just facts, plain and simple. Don’t blow this out of proportion.’
Mark stared at Rachel for a long moment, eyes wide open and was probably more surprised than she was when he said, ‘how did you know? There’s no way… I didn’t share that with anyone, it just happened, I…’
‘It’s because I can see this stuff, Mark. Something clicks inside my head and suddenly I’m getting almost holographic views of things, past, present. I can see things going on as clear as you and I talking right now.’ Melisa stopped and waited for Mark to respond.
He stayed silent.
‘Look Mark, it goes beyond just seeing events as they actually happened. If I’m compelled, as I was right now by your reprimands I can go deeper and see exactly the why you’re yelling at me. It’s like taking very clear steps along a well lit library aisle somewhere and from the shelves explanations just offer themselves up. In your case, it’s your need to offset negative energy you’re experiencing. This energy made you choose what seemed a sense of relief by getting on my case. I don’t expect you to understand, but it’s the truth.’
Mark opened his mouth but stayed as quiet as a mouse.
‘Even you’re not aware that you did that Mark, transfer your hurt onto another, unrelated thing, in this case, me.’
Mark simply turned and walked away, shaking his head, not at all sure what to make of this.
Connolly’s was ringing that night, a month before Christmas. The space was over done with flashing holiday lights. The rich smell of mint cloaked perfumes and cologne of all makes, the distinct alcohol essence was apparent. A huge Christmas tree in a corner blinked energetically. Servers with Santa hats did double time getting drinks and snacks to customers.
‘You’ve always had something special like that, Rachel. How many years do we go back?’ Delilah, Rachel’s best friend, laughed. ‘Jesus, like since we were ten back in corn land Iowa! Right? Remember in high school that one bitch teacher we had who hated our guts? Remember the time you stood up in class and said to her that she was just pissed because of the fight she and her husband had the night before?’
Rachel half-filled her glass and lifted it, a hint of a smile on her lips.
‘I’ll never forget it.’ Dalilah went on. ’Mrs. Fogarty broke into tears and it was like watching a damn bust. There in front of the whole class it’s like she fessed up, she said something like, (said in emotional voice) that thing last night was all my fault. I know I’m not attractive anymore and Bill found another girl. Remember Rache? And that wasn’t the only time. It’s time you do something with your gift.’
Rachel moved her finger tips over her brow, looked quickly down at the table top then back to Dalilah. ‘I’ve thought of that some lately. More and more, every day I have these insights, or clear pictures into people’s lives, I’ve gotten so that I can do it completely by will, it no longer just happens unexpectedly, as though there’s a long term training that’s somehow happening deep in my psyche or mind, whatever.’
‘Okay! So see? Hey what do you see about me?’ Dalilah, smiling impishly, asked without just a bit of curiosity.
‘Nope, I don’t look where it doesn’t feel right. In fact, there’s a slowing effect, almost like a soft, warm weight sits on me and prevents me from seeing into to certain things. Things like my friends, you especially Delilah. There’s nothing clear.’ Rachel looked steadily into Delilah’s eyes as though to drive home this fact. Rachel hoped Delilah believed her.
Of course, she could see deep into her friend, to a point, but there was a wall. This was fine with her as she did not want to see all her best friends’ inner most thoughts. She just knew that if she did, knowing it would cross some sort of barrier, like a forbidden entry. She saw instantly that Delilah believed. Rachel then quickly moved away from looking at her friend in that mystical light.
Connolly’s was often noisy, but tonight there was a welcome mellowness. Even the music was conducive to taking it easy. Too often the loud racket of today’s go to music, whatever you called it, eventually sent one back out to the street. Customer’s excited conversation seemed to rise like a cloud above the room. Creams Strange Brew floated harmlessly through the harmonious space.
‘So have you given any thought to doing anything with your, your skill? You could do like a clinic thing. I mean, not like a crystal ball joint, not that. Rent something inside a building rather than street front on the side walk. Gives credibility, you know? Yesterday I saw a rental space available on a street just off Broadway, like a lawyer’s building but with some other renters on the first floor. They even have a door man!’ Dalilah reached for her glass of beer. Watched Rachel’s expression. Waited.
‘Oh geez, I don’t know Dalilah. It’s just not something I’m sure would go. I mean, what would I offer, fortune telling?’ She laughed.
‘Hell no! Jesus Rachel, you have a unique gift. You really have it, others just wish they did. Okay, look, can you take a look at the table next to us, the couple, what’s going on with them? I know you can do this Rache, c’mon, tell me.’
Rachel took a long breath in, resigned it seemed, but looked over at the couple, twenty something’s, girl short wavy blonde, bright red lipstick, wearing a sharp, blue business suit, tailored slacks, she’d removed her coat and jacket to reveal a beautiful figure. As though reaching for the young man, her black heels were almost touching his shoes on his side of the table.
He was more reserved, holding back, eyes moved about, while hers held him. His handsome face revealed a real effort on his part, to look like he did. His hair was equally carefully kept, though intentionally wind swept every hair in place. After each shelled shrimp, the young man grabbed a new napkin to remove any grease on his fingers.
Dalilah chuckled. ‘Hell Rache, you want me to uh, read these two, ha! I’m sure I could.’ She laughed some more.
Rachel subtly raised a hand to Dalilah, so she’d allow her to take in the couple.
‘Okay.’ After two minutes, Rachel began. ‘So this is their first outing; she’s completely taken by him. In fact, you can imagine what she’d like to do as soon as they get out of here.’
‘Oh c’mon do tell! You can do that right?’ Dalilah held her hands together in supplication.
‘Can’t, you know that, Dalilah. But let your imagination go, you’d probably be right. Okay, she’s his boss, he just started work at the marketing firm they work for. He’s here because he was afraid to turn down her invite. In fact, his interests lie somewhere else entirely.’ At that, Rachel looked around and quickly found the young man’s source of agitation. ‘I see now. See that table with the three guys? See what’s going on now?’ One of the men couldn’t take his eyes off the man sitting at the next table with the blonde.
‘Oh god, yes I do see. The girl doesn’t stand a chance.’ Dalilah shifted her attention back to her best friend, reassessing her unusual skill, and smiled her admiration.
‘But there’s so, so much more to this story, Dalilah. It’s the back story to them that is so rich, so full of explanation and full of opportunity for both of them to move on with their lives. These are deep, secret things though, but so clear. They don’t need to suffer this thing of rejection, discovery, resulting pain, possible job loss.’ Rachel stopped and returned her attention to her friend. Drank half her fresh beer in one hearty pull.
‘You know something Dalilah, you’re right, I could help people. I’m pretty sure, anyway.’
In a sudden move that surprised some people in the office, Rachel said her goodbyes and set up ‘shop’ in a smart looking space on the mezzanine floor of a multi-use, office building not three blocks from Macy’s. The rent was the biggest surprise. The woman who interviewed Rachel about renting was in charge of rentals who also enjoyed best friend status with the building’s owner. She happened to be a huge fan of mystical things, as was her best friend, the owner.
At first, Rachel had to do everything. A small counter served as a reception, a small wait section, four chairs filled the space. She acted as the receptionist and, of course, as the consultant. From the small, lightly furnished space used for sitting with clients, she had a full window to view out to the reception. She timed her appointments with enough in between space so that there rarely were people sitting in the waiting chairs out front.
Several pleasant looking potted plants filled corners.
To eliminate the stark silence, Rachel had Blue Tooth, soft, meditational and restful, almost sleep-inducing sounds, but kept very low. Her favorite space aroma was a heated oil of apple cinnamon, just enough so as not to be too much.
Two comfortable chairs with a round coffee table set between them filled the small consulting room. Fresh flowers in an artsy vase the only décor. She kept the walls free of distracting art save for a mid sized print of a midwestern wheat field.
After three months, she could afford a receptionist who sat out front and received those with appointments and vetted others for future consultations. She handed visitors a three page pamphlet explaining Rachel’s service what she did and a list of things she was not. Listed as things she was not or didn’t do were a fortune teller or a guidance counselor, she did not guarantee life changes, she would not predict or foretell the future. There were those who opted out thinking it was something else. After vetting interested visitors, they would sign an agreement stating they understood.
A year later, once again late December, a light snow fell on the busy avenue outside visible from the large windows of Connolly’s adding to the warm Christmas feel.
‘So what are you saying, Rache? Did I hear you right, really?’ Dalilah poured another glass of beer for herself, then reached over to her best friend’s bottle and did the same for her.
‘It’s like impossible to explain Dalilah. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s like this special skill I have. We all have, it’s just we don’t choose to use it. Weird, I know. We know this stuff but somewhere maybe, God, I don’t know, The Renaissance or much earlier people stopped using the skill.’ Rachel grabbed her glass, took a couple swallows and glanced around the electric atmosphere of the youngish, upwardly mobile, Christmas crowd.
‘It’s like too much information results in a crowding or a jamming in one’s head. I mean, come on Dalilah, has it helped me with my pathetic love life? Hell no! So after the three minimum sessions, it’s as though my clients got too enthusiastic with their incredible information. Information I’d give them. What did seem to happen was people moved forward much, much faster through difficulties. But then just as quickly found themselves caught up in other just as deep problems! As though a continuum, a flow. Do you see? It’s a weird phenomenon, everything like gets sped up.’ She stopped for a moment, her eyes on her good friend.
The large space reverberated with an unintelligible drone of DJ music. The youngest customers seemed to be benefitting the most, evidenced by the way they moved with the music in their seats. Rachel and Dalilah knew it was hit or miss coming to this place.
‘Sorry to hear this, Rache, my God.’ Dalilah had to throw her voice through the rising racket. ‘I can only guess at what you were making. I mean those few times I helped out when your assistant didn’t come in, my God, we didn’t know where to put them.’ Dalilah, of course, had much better than a guess and knew that Rachel’s income was considerable.
‘After like the seventh month, I was no longer seeing new clients because my, you know, regulars filled all the time slots, even after I extended my hours to eight PM. It’s as though they were becoming too dependent, almost to an addictive degree, hard to explain. At one point, I came to understand how the fortunetellers, fake ones, have as much business as I did. People will accept whatever you tell them. True or not! But even with the truth, it’s as though we have a built in inability to do what’s needed with the info I give them.’
‘Kind of like chiropractors patients who repeat for years sounds like.’ Delilah said.
‘Well yeah, something like that, fix and re fix.’ Rachel took a quick look in her small hand bag and pulled out a small vial of camphor oil and gently dotted her lips with it. ‘What finally did it for me was when some scary Feds started showing up two months ago asking me what I was doing and where I’d learned the skill.’
‘Say what?’ Dalilah’s eyes opened wide. ‘Spit it out girl!’
‘They said I shouldn’t talk about it and that they wanted me to go to some research lab, Langley, or something to show them how. Of course I said no way and to leave me in peace. They kept coming, turns out two of their whatever, agents I guess, did the consultation with me. It was weird because somehow they knew how to put up walls I couldn’t get through. I couldn’t see that they were really spying.’
‘Noooo! My God Rache, why didn’t you tell me this stuff before?’
Rachel faced her best friend. Held her with her gaze. Dalilah started feeling unsettled by her friend’s stare. ’Oh Delilah, I love you like a sister, I still do, I…’
‘Still do? What’s up Rache?’
‘Because you’re my best friend, I refused to look too deeply into you, just felt as though I was seeing things I shouldn’t be looking at, for our friendship. But one day something told me to look deeper, out of concern for you, and I found the same wall these Langley agents have.’ Rachel stopped and smiled at her childhood friend.
Rachel continued. ‘Those eight years you and I were apart I can’t open, it’s that wall. I know it’s a wall developed through lots of practice, Dalilah. I did pick up on what seemed an endless tour of trips, just essences, to all over the globe.’ Rachel sat still and tears filled her eyes. ‘I’m sorry Dalilah, so sorry, my best friend, in many ways you will remain so, but in another it can’t.’
Rachel picked up the tab without another word to Dalilah, other than a gentle hand on her shoulder, and walked to where she could pay.