Posted by G G Collins
When Things Go Bump in Daylight
by G G Collins (Copyright 2018)
Based on a true story. There are so many things we don’t understand and can’t explain.
Rachel’s eyes were puffy; her face carried red splotches. Last night’s news that her friend had died was difficult to understand in someone so young. Although expected, the finality of it was awful. When she heard Tanya’s husband’s voice she braced for the worst. Tanya was gone.
Now, alone in her bathroom she started as something flew through the air, straight across the room, hit the wall of tile and crashed into her bathtub. She witnessed it all within her peripheral vision.
“What the hell?” Rachel leaned over the tub and saw her small plastic travel clock lying in the tub. Except for the battery cover, it was intact.
“Weird,” she said to an empty room. “That clock has been sitting on that shelf since I moved into this house.” She picked it up, refastened the cover and replaced it on the shelf. It still worked.
“Creepy.” Rachel shook her shoulders to push away the unsettled feeling she had. She examined the clock to be certain it was secure and the shelf itself was level. “Check and check.”
Her thoughts returned to Tanya. Their last visit together was six years ago for lunch and a movie. They had a great time, lots of laughter, sharing their lives. When it came time to part, Tanya said, “I love you and I want you to know that’s forever.” Tanya had always been demonstrative. It was one of her many endearing qualities, but this seemed a bit more than usual. Rachel noticed it, but didn’t ask her why she had added the “forever.”
And then, Tanya vanished.
There were no phone calls, emails, lunch dates. No contact at all. Rachel had been hurt as she tried again and again to reach out to her. Finally, she gave up. Whatever was going on must be bad. It wasn’t like Tanya. It was hard, but Tanya had gone radio silent, apparently for good.
When Thanksgiving rolled around, Rachel sent her an email wishing her a good holiday. The response was from someone else who said he was using the address now and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving. Well, that was it. Nothing more she could do. Yet she refused to remove Tanya’s email address from her computer; the icon of her riding on the bay in dressage competition.
After three long years of questions, she received a telephone call. It was Tanya.
“Are you okay?” Rachel asked not knowing if she felt relieved or exasperated with her friend.
“Yes and no,” was the reply.
“I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch, but I’ve decided to call my friends and tell them what’s going on.”
“What is going on Tanya?” Rachel asked. There was more to this call than catching up.
“I have a form of early-onset dementia,” she said. Rachel caught her breath, her stomach knotted and she went cold all over. While she tried to comprehend the enormity and meaning of the news, Tanya continued. “It’s called frontaltemporal dementia. It’s fairly rare, but somehow it got me.”
Rachel stumbled around trying to find something helpful to say, but was so stunned that she barely got out, “I’m so sorry. Now I understand why you disappeared. You needed time to cope. Is there treatment?” She asked hopefully.
The next few minutes were a blur, but Rachel began to realize what her friend was up against. And that eventually, she would lose Tanya forever.
Rachel stood and looked out the window at her courtyard. In Santa Fe houses were adobe and came in many shades of brown. The wall around her backyard was also brown and enclosed her terrace and herb bed. Here she had met monsters from the paranormal realm and spirit helpers who both protected her and helped in other ways. Now her friend faced a monster of another kind and Rachel couldn’t help her.
Her thoughts raced back to their years of equestrian competition. The two girls met over saddle leather, literally introduced themselves while cleaning tack. They spent hours every day in the practice ring sharpening their riding skills. Tanya was queen of the dressage arena. She and her beautiful bay were hard to beat. Rachel succeeded only once, but she thrived in the cross-country jumping. The no-holds-barred eventing was her domain. Few could outrun her while astride her grey gelding.
“I may retain my memory with this type of dementia,” Tanya continued. “But I’ll likely become someone you and I don’t know, and probably won’t like.” There was sadness in her words, but she was making an effort to stay optimistic as she always did. “It affects the frontal lobe where impulse control is regulated. As it progresses, I may say inappropriate things.”
Tanya was the person Rachel would most like to emulate. She was kind to a fault, careful of other’s feelings and always supportive. And she accepted people the way they came. You were okay just as you were. Rachel envied her family who seemed to exhibit boundless love for each other and everyone. When there was a crisis, they circled the wagons and rode it out.
Rachel’s family wasn’t like that. Her mother died years ago; her father died recently—murdered. Brother Chris had been mayor of Santa Fe until he got involved with a bad crowd and participated in a swindle that almost ended his life. It had landed him in prison.
Her father, also a journalist, left big shoes she sought to fill. They had been close, but there wasn’t much extended family so holidays were not the big affair that Tanya’s family knew.
Two years after her last conversation with Tanya, her husband Gary called with the news. He cried as he told her that Tanya had become difficult, sometimes hateful. It was the disease; her filter was gone. And slowly, Tanya faded away. She and Gary met in high school and were rarely separated. They were forever sweethearts; now separated by death, but no less in love. He tried to be upbeat saying they would be reunited in eternity. Rachel wasn’t religious, but she silently hoped he was right.
After they said a tearful goodbye, Rachel crumbled to the floor and cried. Her tortoiseshell cat Chile Pod rubbed her leg and lifted her face to look at her guardian. Rachel absently stroked her colorful fur and was once again thankful for her company.
She remembered her friend Chloe told her about a transition blessing for the departed. Chloe, a real estate mogul in Santa Fe, lived nearby.
Rachel picked up the phone and called her.
“Tanya died,” she bypassed a greeting.
“Rachel, I’m so sorry. What can I do?”
“Remember when you told me about the transition blessing?”
“Of course. Do you want to do one for Tanya?”
“Yes. Can you come over?”
“I’ll get the crystals and be right over.”
A few minutes later Chloe arrived and enveloped Rachel. “I’m so sorry sweetie.”
“How do we do this?” Rachel asked, afraid she would cry again.
Chloe carefully poured the stones onto her kitchen table from a beautiful crocheted medicine bag. “A gift from our mutual friend Mari-lynn. We have scolecite, lilac kunzite, lapis lazuli and pink tourmaline.
Mari-lynn, Chloe’s contact for legal pot in Colorado, told her about the use of crystals. They were profoundly helpful in solving paranormal disturbances, facilitating time travel and returning spirits to their rightful place. Surely they would work to help her friend’s transition.
Chloe asked for candles and a photo of Tanya. Rachel collected them.
“Let’s go outside,” Chloe said.
The two women sat cross-legged on Rachel’s terrace. It was a lovely evening with another gorgeous New Mexico sunset in progress.
“Okay, you hold the crystals; in both hands.”
Rachel obliged. “Now what?”
“Mari-lynn told me we should concentrate on your friend. I brought a Hopi prayer that we can say.”
Rachel thought back to that evening in her living room when she tried a Hopi ceremony to return the dead. It went badly and a dangerous spirit returned. She hoped this would not end like that. Attempting the ritual marked the beginning of paranormal encounters and the development of her sixth sense. Being an intuitive was something she didn’t want, but it seemed to want her. That same night she met her spirit wolf on a lonely strip of interstate; the dazzling white wolf who alerted her when danger was near. What’s more, she had a wonderful relationship with a Hopi shaman, even after he died. Joseph was there when she needed spiritual guidance.
“Are you sure we should try that? You know what happened the last time.”
“It will be okay. It’s a prayer,” Chloe reassured her.
“Let me have the photo so I can meditate on her.” Chloe held the small framed photo of Tanya with her beloved horse, hair cascading from beneath her riding helmet. “She’s lovely. What beautiful long blonde hair.” She glanced at Rachel who was struggling to hold back tears.
“Let’s read this,” Chloe said.
“I’m not sure I can,” Rachel said. “Too much emotion. Can you read it for me?”
“Of course.” Chloe read the words. They were familiar. She’d heard a similar version before.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint in the snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain.
I am the autumn’s gentle rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there,
I did not die.
When she was finished, they both wiped at their eyes.
“Would you like to ask her for a sign she has reached her destination?”
“We can do that?” Rachel asked.
“Yes, go ahead, but it’s important to do so within 48 hours of a person’s death while they are still suspended between life and death. So now is the time.”
“Tanya, if you can, please send me a sign you have arrived and are safe?” Rachel croaked on the last word.
“Let’s blow out the candles,” Chloe said. “We have finished the blessing. Mari-lynn told me to warn you, if you receive a sign it will not be a common occurrence, but something quite unusual.”
“Okay,” Rachel said with some trepidation.
After Chloe left, giving her a big hug like Tanya had always done, Rachel cried her private tears and hoped Tanya had found the afterlife she had imagined.
* * *
The following day, she called Chloe from her office at High Desert Country magazine where she was a reporter and editor. While working on an assignment, she happened to think of the bizarre occurrence in her bathroom.
“Chloe, I may have already heard from Tanya and didn’t realize it.”
She went on to tell her about the odd incident she had experienced yesterday.
“At first I thought it was just strange. What do you think?”
“Rachel,” Chloe said. “I believe you’re right. That was your sign. Tanya has already contacted you. Your connection is so strong she reached out to you before you asked.”
“But how could it be?”
“I know your reporter’s intellect is trying to take you in another direction,” Chloe said. “But keep an open mind. This may be what you asked for. Mari-Lynn did say if a sign occurred, it would be strange, out of the ordinary. This certainly qualifies.”
The clock experience kept rising to the top of her thoughts. When she got home, the fact-checker in her got out a measuring tape. The clock, which was still secure on the shelf, had flown eight feet across her bathroom. “That’s not possible unless someone threw it, and no one did. Why would it fly parallel to the ceiling rather than fall directly to the floor beneath it?”
After a while, she ate dinner and went to bed, curling up with Chile Pod.
The following morning, she was about to brush her teeth and glanced suspiciously at the clock. As an extra precaution she confirmed it was stable and unable to take another unscheduled flight. “Good,” she said satisfied.
Before she could raise the toothbrush, the clock rattled on the shelf.
In genuine alarm she stared at the clock waiting for it propel itself across the room again.
“What’s going on?” If she had already received her sign, then what was this? She had relatively new perception skills. Usually when a spirit wanted to talk, there were sounds and conduits of colorful fog. This was very different.
The sense of unease persisted. In fact, she was somewhat frightened. Would it take wing again? Become lethal? Had she and Chloe unleashed something evil? She felt she should say something.
“Okay,” she smiled bravely—although she did not feel fearless. “I get it,” even though she wasn’t certain.
* * *
That night, she and Chloe met at The Shed for drinks and dinner. The Shed was their favorite place in Santa Fe for solving supernatural mysteries and just plain girl talk. They sat at the bar sipping margaritas waiting on their entrees smothered in green chile. Chloe was her usual elegant self. With her raven hair hoisted atop her head into a knot and colorful flowing garb, she was elegant as ever. Rachel pushed at her shoulder length brown hair. Had she even brushed it?
“I may have to stop going in my bathroom,” Rachel began.
“What? You had another event?” Chloe said excitedly.
Rachel didn’t always share Chloe’s enthusiasm for the mystical, but she related the latest episode with the clock.
“I’m telling you Rachel,” Chloe said gently, setting down her drink. “This is a follow-up from Tanya. Stop trying to explain it. You can’t. But you can try to decipher the message.”
“But it’s a damn clock,” Rachel said exasperated. “What’s a clock got to do with a message from Tanya?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking,” Chloe said. “There are all kinds of sayings about time.”
“You know Tanya and I were in journalism school together,” Rachel said. “We read one another’s assignments, we brainstormed together. She had a terrific mind.” Rachel let the words trail off as she struggled to stay in the moment and not think about what happened to Tanya’s mind. “It would be just like her to use a play on words.”
Rachel thought about it a moment; looking to Chloe for answers.
“Think Rachel. What would Tanya say?”
In utter astonishment, Rachel heard the words come from her lips. “Time flies when you’re having fun.”
“You translated the message literally?” Chloe asked.
“First thing that popped in my head.”
Rachel considered what it might mean. “Tanya has reached her destination and is having so much fun that times flies?”
“It would appear so, if you translated accurately.”
When Rachel returned home, she showered and wrapped up in a towel. As she stepped onto the bath mat the cold hit her. She grabbed her robe and pulled it tightly around her. That’s when she noticed her breath escaping in a fog.
It was not the way most spirits presented themselves to her, but a figure stood faintly outlined near the window. Rachel wanted to open the door and flee, but what if it was Tanya?
“Is that you Tanya?” she whispered.
There was no voice in return, just an unrecognizable filmy spirit who seemed to waver in and out. In a hyper second, it evaporated as though carried away by a zephyr. The cold went with it. As the warm air returned she heard a familiar sound; that of a horse trotting away. She raced to the window, but there was nothing outside, only the dark broken by one streetlight. Yet, the pounding hooves slowly receded.
Rachel stood amazed, remembering all the times they had ridden together. But in that moment she knew it was her friend. She must have met up with one of her horses from childhood. Maybe the Rainbow Bridge existed. As a new spirit, possibly Tanya couldn’t quite manifest herself, but she sent a clear message to Rachel; with reverberation.
Rachel kissed her palm like she’d seen Tanya do so many times and blew it in the direction her soul was now taking.