Twelve

bypagrl©

I remember shopping for school clothing; we were so excited. We thought that we would be in different classes, but Mom arranged it so we would have the same kindergarten teacher. I don't remember much of the accident. I remember screaming and pain and blood; blood everywhere, on everything, on me. But none of it was mine. It was all Cheryl's. They say that she died instantly and didn't feel anything. At least, that's what everyone told me. But I remember. I saw her. She turned and looked at me. She seemed fine until she touched me, stopped my pain. I felt warm where her hand rested and saw her smile for an instant before she began screaming. Cheryl was the last thing I saw. Of course I remember.

The dreams started soon after that. At first we were playing when an adult, sometimes man, sometimes woman, would come and take her away. The person always stopped and let Cheryl hug me and whisper something to me. I didn't understand how she could just walk away with that person. She abandoned me, made me use "I" not "We". At first, I would wake up screaming and crying. My twin, my other half, my soul was taken away night after night. Mom or Dad would wake me up and tell me that everything was okay. After I calmed down and was able to talk again, I would tell them what Cheryl told me. Sometimes it would be "The keys are in the couch" or "The money's in the library book." Other times it would be "Go to work late so you miss the dying man." I could feel their eyes bore into me, glaring at what little was left of my soul. Their voices filled with of placation and disbelief. In the beginning they'd say "It's just a dream. It is not real. We'll stay with you until you fall asleep." Later on, they were just quiet and left the room.

I was in school when the dreams started coming in the day time. It wasn't only Cheryl telling me things anymore. I would See things that weren't really there or I would hear a voice telling me things. The adults thought I was upset because of the accident, but as my predictions came true again and again, they began avoiding me.

It didn't take me long to stop telling people what I saw. By then, though, it was too late; I was the six year old town pariah. Parents would not let their children play with me. If I wasn't "that poor creature", I was jinxed and evil. Neither label provided me with any friends or laughter. So, now twenty years later, I make my money as "Madame Selena" telling women about their cheating boyfriends and creating small luck charms. I have done research into the occult to be more authentic. I had difficulty trying to find books that I could read. Eventually, though, I gained enough knowledge to control most of what I "Saw". My visions aren't always of death anymore. I have Seen a barren woman's beautiful, healthy son; the meeting of two soul mates; and the overcoming of adversity. I've become so proficient at "reading" the people who come into my salon that I hardly need to touch anyone anymore. It is better without touching; Death rarely shows himself to me without touching.

Early one evening the bell on my door tinkled as a woman ran in. Her footsteps pounded on the carpeted ramp that led into the waiting area. She slammed the door shut so hard that the bell flung off and landed on my lap. The nylon of her parka crinkled loudly in my quiet salon. I had wanted to go home early, but a buck is a buck. "Child, what troubles you?" I wasn't that old, but life left me worn and spent. I felt closer to sixty than thirty.

"I need a charm. Something to keep him away," she wheezed. She was obviously distraught. I could smell her perspiration underneath her lily of the valley perfume. I heard her stumble as her heel slid out from under her. "He's after me." She couldn't keep her voice steady, almost as if she was about to cry. As a motorcycle roared passed, she yelped with fright and thudded into the big window at the entrance.

"Sweetheart, if someone is after you, you don't need a charm, you need the police. Here, use my phone." I started to pull my cordless phone out of the bag on the side of my chair.

"You don't understand!" She grabbed my hand and I immediately "Saw" what terrified her. The full moon streamed into her living room. A church bell rang. One. A man with eyes like glass stared into ours. We felt something within us try to jump toward him, like two magnets pulling toward each other. Two. His hand reached toward our heart, his fingers like ice. A shiver ran through our body. Panic and desire fought within us. Bile rose in our throat. We tried to swallow and couldn't. Three. You called me heart to heart. He stepped toward us, barely a hair's breadth separated him from us. A feeling over a feeling. On our skin we felt his warmth, but inside our gut he was cold. Outside allure, within domination. Was I within or without? Four. Now it must be. He bent toward us. His lips traced paths of fire and ice over our neck. We gasped with pleasure (or disgust). Five. Our arms were paralyzed. Panic washed over us. There was no escape. We tried to run, but couldn't. Our limbs wouldn't obey. There was only him. Six. Just look into my eyes and tell me that you want me. We fell into his eyes. Seven. Against our will, our mouth opened. Slowly, laboriously, we inhaled . . . Eight . . . swallowed once. Then, our tongue, like sandpaper, rasped I want to be yours ... forever. Nine. He moved his mouth close to our ear, his breath sharp on our neck. His hand slid under our jacket, our shirt. His fingernails dug into our back as he pulled us closer. Ten. Tell me to do it. He held us close to him as if he could merge our bodies. Our mind awash in his masculinity and life. His lips felt molten on our neck. Eleven. Our eyes closed. Do it. There was pain and blackness. Twelve.

"What the hell was that?" I could feel her eyes penetrate me. She grabbed my shoulders. The phone fell on the floor with a dull thud. Her breath smelled like stale coffee and spearmint over the stench of the grave.

"Listen, lady, you came into my door. I don't know what you expected, but you are in more trouble than I've ever Seen." As she paced, her heels smacked into the commercial carpeting that lined my floors. "We need to change your future or you are going to die. Instead of biting your nails, you could do something constructive to change this."

"My back was to you ... you can't see me ... how did you ...?"

"I heard you spitting them on my clean floor. If you survive this, maybe I'll make you pay the cleaning lady this week. Now, who are you or should I just call you 'you' or 'sweetheart'?" I tried to lighten the atmosphere, but she was in trouble. I didn't know if she was going to see the waning moon. I was scared. Anytime I "Saw" someone's Death I felt pain. This thing that was after her made Death feel pleasant. I should have thrown her out the door and latched it, but I didn't.

Ilene told me that she met this man at a club who was everything the romance novels talked about. He was tall, dark, handsome and swept her off her feet. They had a night of passion like she had never before known. He anticipated her desires and propelled her to places she never knew existed. He was gone in the morning, but he left a note that he would be back for her. Every night for the next several weeks he would suddenly appear. At first, Ilene thought this was romantic and allowed him to quench her lust. Soon the relationship was out of control. He started showing up at business dinners telling her that she was his and he would claim her soon. His gift, at first sweet, became disturbing Lilies, black roses, raw meat, a box of maggots. Ilene thought the meat strange, but the maggots sent her to the police. She didn't have enough information to fill out a restraining order: no address, no phone number, no real name -- not that a restraining order would stop this guy. She stayed with a friend. He found her. She called out of work and hid in the mountains. Still, he found her. She returned home one night, he was there and told her that nothing would stop him from having her. She ran to call the police; he commanded her to stop. Before she knew it, her body froze; her hand stretching for the phone. He walked to her; stood lips to lips for a moment then whispered in her ear, "I'll see you at the full moon and you WILL be mine." He bent down and kissed her neck. Before she could move again he was gone. Only his smell of overturned Earth remained.

We worked well into the night researching and making charms. The full moon was tomorrow and I didn't have enough time. Ilene couldn't help with the research. She couldn't read my books. Instead, I had her sew pouches of colored fabric. When everything was done as well as we could, Ilene took me to her apartment. I performed a routine cleansing at her doorway and banged my way into her home.

I gave Ilene a compass and told her to place the satchels we made in each of her rooms, except her living room. The green ones to the North; yellow East; red South; and blue West. I told her to take my jacket and go back to my shop. She would be safe there until tomorrow, even if I failed. Over the years, I created more layers of protection in my shop than I could count. I needed to succeed. As the bolt on her door slid into place I prayed, "Cheryl, please help me. Let me be right. If I am, everything will be okay. If I'm wrong, I'll be dead -- she will be worse than dead"

By the time Ilene left and everything in her house was set up, it was nearly sunset. With the tight doorways and plush carpet, I couldn't get into her kitchen to get a beverage. Perhaps, this was how the universe told me to fast. I never held with fasting before, silly self denial. I was denied enough throughout my life, but today, I fasted and prayed. If God repaid everything he took from me by letting me succeed tonight, I would call us even. Thirsty and hungry, I waited. I put on Ilene's jacket, which was warm and soft. I hadn't slept since the night before I met Ilene. Even though I was strung out on fear, I fell asleep and dreamed. Cheryl was with me telling me to be careful. We cast an illusion charm. In my dream I became Ilene. I stood and held Cheryl close. "I love you," I told her, "but I'm not ready to join you." Cheryl looked at me and smiled, "Then don't mess up." I awoke with needles dancing on my spine. The sickly, sweet smell of rotting vegetation nearly knocked me to the floor.

"You tried to keep me out, but you forgot to block the windows. You under estimated me. I told you, my love, you are mine." I was suddenly afraid. Instinctively I grabbed at the side of my chair wanting to bolt. "Don't bother getting up, Ilene, just look at me." As he came around the chair I turned my face, hidden in the hood of Ilene's jacket. Voicelessly, I re-cast the charm of illusion. I needed him closer and couldn't chance the charm ending suddenly. He had to believe that I was Ilene. His hand slid down my arm. I could hear his fingernails rustle the fabric of Ilene's jacket. He asserted such little pressure that his touch felt like a spider running on my arm. In the distance a church bell tolled.

One.

He slid his hand over the jacket. It rested over my left breast. The smell of rotting meat gagged me. I reflexively pulled back, stopped by the hard back of my chair.

Two.

"You called me heart to heart. " I could feel him getting closer. The cold from his body radiated toward me, penetrating the parka's warmth.

Three. "Now it must be." His voice became louder as he bent toward me. I couldn't let him know it was me yet. I couldn't reach him. I tried to steady my ragged breath.

Four.

"You can't get away from me, my Love." I remained in my chair as still as a statue. My mouth felt like sand paper soaked in dirty sweat socks. Please don't let him realize that I'm not Ilene yet.

Five.

"Just look into my eyes and tell me that you want me." I felt his words on my face. His stench enveloped me, cleared my head.

Six.

I swallowed hard. Please. Let this work. I tried to speak. "What kind of idiot are you?" I croaked. He stepped back and stumbled into Ilene's coffee table. As he landed loudly on the floor, the glass table shattered. His spell breaking, I regained strength. "So much for the silent stalker."

Seven.

"Who are you?" He demanded. "You feel like my prey." His voice stabbed at me from the floor. His power ripped away my illusions. His charisma flowed no more -- the vile creature was revealed even to my paltry "normal" senses.

Eight.

"I can't believe you were tricked by such simple devices. I made a few simple charms and am wearing her jacket." My anger suppressed my fear and doubt.

Nine.

"You're supposed to be hundreds of years old; your kind superior than mankind." I fished into the bag on the side of my chair. My hand folded around my smooth, hard piece de resistance.

Ten.

"You don't stand a chance. I have power over your kind. Look into my eyes" His voice loomed over me. He must have stood.

Pushing back the hood, I looked toward his voice. "You don't have power over me."

Eleven.

"I have dominion over all humans," he thundered as he grabbed my shoulders, pulling me face to face with him. His breathe assaulted me like something found in the back of the refrigerator. My glasses fell, I thought I heard them hit the broken glass.

My wheelchair slid back as I plunged the stake into his heart. Its wheels crunching glass.

Twelve.

As I pulled myself into my chair, I told the pile of dust: "You don't have dominion over the blind, moron."

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