Disclaimer: See part one.
A Sacrifice for Friendship
By DS Bauden
"Frankie? Hon, are you ok? Please talk to me." Crystal was pleading with me.
"I... I don't know what to say. Crystal, I met her." I croaked out.
She looked at me questioning my response and then finally she understood what I meant.
"Her? You met her? The one from your dreams?" She asked as her eyebrows shot up towards her hairline.
I just nodded my head. It was all I could muster at this point. My heart was aching to see her again and I had only been away from her a few moments. Her scent was still trapped in my sinuses. God... why was this happening? That was the only thing that I needed to know.
"What happened Frankie? Can you try to tell me what happened? Where did you see her? Did she recognize you? What did she say to you? Did she say anything? Was her voice the same as in your dreams?"
My head was swimming from all of the questions she was throwing at me, but I knew she was just trying to help. I needed something to drink. My throat had become incredibly dry from my crying.
"Could you get me some water, please?" I managed to choke out.
"Sure babe, I'll be right back." She smiled and kissed the top of my head.
She'd done that for as long as I could remember. Whenever I would get sad or depressed, she would always kiss the top of my head. I never really knew the significance of it, I just knew that it always helped. Kinda like your favorite cookie whenever you needed a pick-me-up. Crystal had always been my favorite cookie… so to speak.
She came back into my room with a glass of water and some Kleenex. Both of which would help with my body fluids. My heart felt so heavy that I could hardly breathe. She handed me the glass, and I emptied its contents in a couple of gulps. She took the glass and then handed me the box of Kleenex. I took one of the tissues and looked up into her concerned brown eyes.
"Crystal, did this really happen? Or am I so incredibly lonely that I can't decipher between reality and fantasy anymore?" My bottom lip started to quiver and she immediately put her arms around me in comfort. I rested my head on her breast and listened to her heartbeat as I wiped my tears. I heard her take a deep breath and felt her voice vibrate through her chest.
"Do you believe that you were really there Frankie?" She asked quietly.
"Crys... I can't even fathom the idea that it wasn't real. It was so INCREDIBLY real. I can still smell her..." I said as my tears soaked into her shirt.
"I believe you sweetheart. I really do." She said as she continued to rock me like a small child.
"Why is this happening Crystal? Do you have any idea at all?" I asked.
"Well, Frankie, it's hard to say. I believe that our souls are very timeless and always active. I also believe that once the time that they live in the physical realm is over, they are still very much alive, and come back again in a different physical form."
I sighed heavily because I never really believed in the absurdity of reincarnation. I always looked at death as a finality to life, not a new beginning. She knew how hard it was for me to hear this stuff. Maybe I should have listened to her prattle before now.
"So what exactly is happening Crystal?" I didn't want to know the answer. I just wanted the hurting to stop.
"Well, why don't you tell me about your experience and I can try to give you a little insight."
"Ok, I'll try to recall as much as possible. God I hope you can figure some of this out. I don't know how much more of this I can take."
"I'll do what I can Frankie. Now let's get you comfy." She said as she leaned me against my headboard and piled my pillows behind my head and shoulders. She kicked off her shoes and climbed into my bed and waited for me to speak.
"OK, well, it started off with Joni Mitchell."
"Wait... the singer? She was in your dream?" She looked at me like I was gonna tell her I was joking.
"Well, in a way she was. Remember the other day when my alarm went off and she was singing?" She nodded. "Well the same song came on so I just thought the same deejay was working and really liked to play this song at the same time every day. Well, it wasn't my alarm; it was the record player in my family room. Except I wasn't playing records, my Pop was." Her eyes got big again but she urged me to continue.
"OK, I heard that "Help Me" song and I went to hit my alarm clock, and it wasn't there so I went out of my room to investigate where the music was coming from. I walked down the hallway until I heard voices. Crystal, I heard my Pop's voice. I couldn't fucking believe my ears. I hadn't heard his voice in years; it took me awhile to actually place where I'd heard the voice before.
"I braced myself against the wall initially because I swear my body was going into shock. I heard a woman's voice next. Crystal it was my Ma. Can you believe that? I don't remember much about her at all, but as soon as I saw her I knew who she was. I watched my Pop try to fix a radio or something at the kitchen table. She was messing around in the kitchen and that song kept playing over and over again. It was making my head spin. I was spying on these people, who hadn't even had me yet, from their own hallway!"
Crystal stayed silent waiting for my next segment. I gulped down the last of my water. My throat really was parched. I got up and took my empty water glass into the bathroom to fill it. I needed more water since I knew that this storytelling thing was gonna take a lot out of me.
I crawled back onto my bed and joined Crystal who was patiently waiting for my return.
"OK, ready for more?" I smiled.
"Sure, just take your time Hon, I got all day. It's Sunday, so you do too."
"God, I almost forgot. Thank God Mario doesn't mind working on Sunday. Have you met him yet?"
"I think I met him briefly last week. He seems like a nice person. Is he working out for you?"
"He is today, let's just say that." I smiled.
My newly hired employee Mario Antonelli was working his first solo Sunday shift. We're only open for a few hours on Sundays, so I didn't think he'd had any issues. I just knew that I needed another person with me, I started to get sick of working seven days a week. I may be committed to my lil store, but I'm not yet crazy enough to be committed. There is a fine line there somewhere that I'm just not ready to cross.
"OK Miss Avoidance, let's talk more about this." Crystal teased.
"Alright then. Let me get situated again." I said as I shifted myself back on top of my pillows. "Where was I again?"
"You were staring at your parents."
"Oh yeah... So, right, I was watching my parents who were back in the seventies all young again. It was wild. I never remembered my Pop having so much hair. I couldn't believe that I was looking at my Ma. I don't remember much about her, but the pictures that I have really didn't do her justice at all, she's really beautiful."
I wonder where she is now? It's been so long since she left, I wonder if she even thinks about me anymore. Bet not, damn bitch didn't even show up for Pop's funeral. My thoughts were flooding my brain.
"Frankie? Hello? You were really out there babe. Wanna share?"
"Oh, sorry Crystal, I was just thinking about my Ma. I can't believe she didn't even show up for Pop's funeral. I would have bet that if anywhere, she would have shown up there."
"Yeah well, people's priorities are pretty friggin' whacked these days."
"You can say that again." I agreed. "So anyway, I watched them for a bit and went back into my room. Well it wasn't my room really anymore, because when I went back in, there was no evidence of my being there at all. I got really kinda freaked so I climbed out the window and down the fire escape."
"Ah just like old times. Remember when we used to sneak out like that? Your Pop never knew!" She said while laughing.
"Oh believe me, he knew. He was always waiting up for me. I knew his fake snoring versus his real snoring. I just never knew why I never got punished."
"He just wanted to make sure that you were all right Frankie. You were a good kid for the most part and he knew that. I'm sure he was just concerned about your safety."
"Yeah, that's probably true. I never had a curfew. We had a good relationship and communication was never a problem." I could feel my eyes tearing up. "God, I miss him Crystal."
"I know sweetheart." She said as she lay her head on my shoulder and rubbed my arm.
We stayed like that until I could compose myself. I really felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. So much had happened, or had it? I didn't know whether or not to truly believe that my experience was an actual journey or whether it was just a dream. I'd never had a dream feel like that before.
God! What is going on?
I felt myself begin to relax and I decided to continue with my story.
"OK, I think I'm ready."
"All right Frankie, I'm listening." She said as she snuggled closer to me.
"Well after I shot down the fire escape, I just looked in awe at the neighborhood. I mean Crystal; your shop wasn't even a thought yet! It was so incredible. I was looking down the street and it was as if I was looking through someone else's eyes. I saw everything in the neighborhood as it was in 1974."
"Yeah. I walked down Sheridan Road and found a little coffee shop that I know isn't there anymore. It was the cutest little café. Then I sat down and waited to be helped. I took a seat at the bar-like counter and there she was Crystal. I noticed a newspaper and the date on it was April 22, 1974! I thought I was gonna throw up my anxiety was so high. Then I saw her up close and personal. I couldn't form a sentence I was so tongue-tied. She was so incredibly beautiful, more than I could have ever imagined. Then she spoke to me in that angelic voice that I had heard so often. It was almost too much for me to bear."
"What did she say?" Crystal asked.
"'Did you want to order something darlin'?' It was so adorable Crystal. I was slack-jawed just looking at her. My mind was tracing every line of her face and every curve of her body. I thought she was gonna have me arrested for the thoughts in my head. I would have… damn."
"So, ok you ate then I am assuming?" She was getting anxious I could tell.
"Yeah, I did eat and then we made plans for the rest of the day. It was so weird. I mean, I don't know that I could have made plans with someone that I had just met at my job. Anyway, I waited for her to finish up her shift and she told me her boyfriend would be coming to pick her up."
"Boyfriend?" Crystal gasped.
"Yeah... I know... boy he's a real charmer this one. I don't know Crystal; I am worried about her with him too. We talked about how abusive he gets, especially when he drinks. I am afraid that I might have to kill him if I see him hurt her."
"Is she strong enough to leave him do you think?" She asked.
"I think with enough encouragement, she would. She is afraid of what he will do to her if she even suggests that. This guy is a total loser Crystal. I wanted to skin him when I met him. He was foaming at the mouth in my direction until he knew that I was a friend of Annie's. I swear he cheats on her. He is just scum."
"Annie eh?" She nudged me with a smirk.
"Yeah, it's so perfect for her too. She is such an Annie. She is studying to be a writer at Loyola University. God, Crystal, how can something like this not be real? I don't understand it. I was there dammit. There is nothing anyone can say to me that will make me believe otherwise."
"I'm not saying it didn't happen Frankie. Things like this do happen. I think we should talk with Nonnie about this. I think she can help. She has been around longer and has seen more than I have."
"What do you think it was Crystal?" I was curious.
"I would say that you had a conscious out of the body experience."
"What is that?" I didn't like the sound of this one bit.
"There is an experience called an 'out-of-the-body' experience that happens usually during the sleep state where you might experience a sensation of flying or falling, but definitely traveling. The person is in an altered state of consciousness. There are those that have experienced 'conscious out of the body' which is more difficult, but it's like lucid dreaming. This is what I believe happened to you."
I knew I didn't like the sound of this.
"So what now? I mean can this happen again do you think?"
"Well that is up to you and your friend Annie. It is quite obvious to me that she needs you for something. Maybe it's the situation between her boyfriend and herself. I don't know. We won't know unless it happens again. I think we should go see Nonnie, Frankie. She may be able to shed some light that I wasn't able to."
"Alright Crystal, but I'm warning you. I'm not drinking any funky ass tea or anything to help this process. I want answers more than anyone, but I won't participate in any sacrifices to help this cause." I seriously explained.
Crystal laughed at me like I knew she would.
God even I'm laughing at the ludicrousness of all of this. I need to laugh about this, I have already cried too much today. God my heart aches.
We walked down to Nonnie's and found her taking a nap on the couch in their living room. I didn't want to wake her so we waited in the kitchen for a bit. Crystal was hungry so we decided to make some brunch. It was way past the breakfast hour, but not late enough to be called lunch. I think people decided on calling it brunch as an excuse to eat more.
But what do I know? I'm having out of body thingys happen to me. Right? Right.
We sat and ate until our bellies couldn't take much more. After drawing straws to see who was gonna wash and dry we began to clean. When we finished cleaning up the mess we had created in the kitchen, Nonnie had awoken from her nap. She came into the kitchen and wiped her sleepy eyes as she looked at us.
"Hey there girls. Whatcha doing in here on such a beautiful day?"
"Hi Nonnie, we just finished eating. How was your nap?" Crystal greeted.
"It was restful. You know a girl my age needs her beauty rest anytime she can get it." She smiled at us.
"Nonnie, we have to talk with you about something that happened to Frankie." Crystal said with seriousness.
"OK, let me get a cup of tea and we'll talk in the living room." Nonnie replied.
"Alright. We'll meet you out there," She said back to Nonnie.
Crystal took my hand and led me out into the living room. I was still very nervous about talking about this. I mean what if it was nothing more than a vivid dream? This was just ridiculous. It was a dream, and that's all, it had to have been. I had to think that, otherwise I was gonna go nuts trying to figure out a way to see Annie again.
God... Annie… Are you real? Or are you just a dream? God!
"Ok, Frankie?" Crystal said. Oh shit, I missed something somewhere.
"You okay kiddo? Take a deep breath. This is gonna be fine I swear. Nonnie isn't gonna make fun of you." Crystal said as she took my hand and gently caressed the inside of my wrist. God she was always so calming.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just don't know what to believe anymore, you know?" I said honestly.
"I know honey. Let's just see what Nonnie says about your experience." She reassured.
Nonnie entered the living room with a piping hot mug of tea for herself. She looked at me and then at Crystal and decided that this was going to be a conversation that was gonna take awhile.
"OK, so who wants to start?" Nonnie said getting right down to business.
"Let me sum up what has happened to Frankie, and Frankie, if you want to chime in when I am forgetting something, go right ahead. OK?" Crystal finished.
"Sure, that sounds fine." I agreed.
"OK then I'll start." Crystal took a deep breath and began my tale." I believe that Frankie had a conscious out of the body experience Nonnie." She explained.
"Well now, that is something. Go on." She urged.
Crystal told Nonnie everything that I had relayed to her a couple hours ago. Nonnie sat in her favorite chair and stayed extremely quiet throughout the whole explanation of my journey. The silence was making me mental.
"What do you think Nonnie?" I couldn't stand it any longer.
"Child, give me a minute to sort this out. Patience is something you need to acquire and soon." She jabbed at me. She knew I didn't have any patience.
"Sorry, I am just a little unnerved by all of this. I just want to know if this was real or not." I said as I hung my head.
"Oh, it was real alright. I just need to think for a minute." She got up and went back into the kitchen. She made some noise sounding like she was refilling her tea mug. I just stared at Crystal in disbelief.
"It's real huh? Great..." I put my head in my hands. "So I'm not crazy?"
"Hon, you were never crazy. I promise you, Nonnie and I will help you as much as we can with all of this. My guess is Nonnie trying to figure out why this Annie person has contacted you in the first place. She likes to know everything before she goes head first into something like this."
"She's not an "Annie person"… just Annie." I trailed off.
"Ooh, touchy subject eh?" I just stared at Crystal. "Frankie? You are falling in love with her aren't you?" She grinned at me with her know it all smile.
"I'm not in love with her… At least not yet." I admitted. "But if I was, there wouldn't be anyone else that I would rather be in love with."
"Wow Annie must be really something." She said as she rested her elbows on her knees and stared at me.
"She really is Crystal, and I would appreciate you not making fun of me at the moment." I pretended to pout and Crystal just put her hand on top of my head in a soothing gesture.
"You know I wouldn't do that. I'm just teasing, I can see that she means something to you. We'll do what we can, I promise." She reaffirmed to me.
Nonnie reentered at this moment. She looked deep in thought. She had indeed refilled her mug with hot tea and took her place back on her favorite plaid covered easy chair. She rocked back and forth for a bit and then looked at me for a long time without saying a word. I knew this time not to say anything. As much as it was bugging me, I just let her stare.
"OK Frankie. I believe that what you experienced was indeed a conscious out of body experience." I groaned internally. "I believe that there is a strong reason that she has come to find you. It could be that you knew each other at one time and your time together was cut short by something, maybe even death. At this time I don't know. I will try to make contact with some people tonight and find out more. What I need for you to do is not to try too hard to return to this place. Let yourself be taken. You must be very relaxed almost in a meditative state of mind. Do you know how to meditate?"
"Crystal will show you." I closed my gaping mouth and looked at Crystal who smiled and shook her head at me. "In the meantime, if she tries to make contact with you again be it through your dreams or whatnot, just let it take you. Do not try to control the situation, I know how you are." She said as she pointed at me. "Let it just happen. Open your mind, and I do mean open it. I have known you too long to know that you don't believe in a lot of the things that Crystal and I do, but you must trust us in what we do know of the other side."
"The other side?" I asked incredulously.
"Yes, the other side." She said again.
"What's on the other side Nonnie?" I asked softly.
"The answers that you need." She said as I watched her get up and go into her room.
Could she be anymore cryptic? Knowing her, I think I know that answer.
Continued in Chapter Seven
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