Blackie could see her pain mirrored in the woman's eyes, the clearest lightest blue eyes that she had ever seen they almost looked transparent. It was if she could see into Blackie's very soul. At first she thought the woman was Asian with her jet black hair pulled back into a severe ponytail and her petite frame dressed in a jade silk jacket and pants, but the eyes proved her wrong.
Vivienne led Blackie into the next room; it was darker and illuminated only by a few candle groupings. After taking the taller woman's coat she motioned for them to sit down. They sat on cushions in front of a small table on which two earthenware cups and a teapot were waiting.
Reminding the blonde of a geisha performing a tea ceremony Vivienne kneeled down sitting on the backs of her feet and poured them both a cup of tea. She smiled as she handed a cup to Blackie who was sitting cross-legged and watching her intently.
"I enjoy a cup of tea when I chat, don't you? It relaxes the body and stimulates the mind." She inhaled the fragrant tea and took a small sip. "It's my own secret blend, I hope you like it."
Blackie broke away from Vivienne's gaze long enough to sip her tea. It was unlike any she had ever tasted before, a mix of fruit and spices, slightly sweet and very good. "It's delicious, thank you."
Vivienne leaned back holding her cup in two hands still smiling. "There's no need to feel nervous lovely, I'm here to help you. Marco must have been very concerned or you wouldn't be here now."
Blackie sat looking into her cup as she replied. "To be honest, I have no idea why I am here."
Vivienne threw her head back and laughed. "I hear that from every person who has sat right where you are now. You know very well why you're here, lovely."
Normally Blackie would have told her 'Fuck off' and left, but it was as if she couldn't move, even the thought of being laughed at didn't upset her. "The bitch must have drugged me with this tea." She thought.
"I assure you, lovely, I am not laughing at you and the tea is all natural. You're here because you are disconnected."
Blackie felt the blood drain from her face, "You can read my mind? Look, if this is some kind of cult, I want out, now." She put her cup on the table and started to rise. Vivienne took her hand quickly, looking at Blackie with a solemn expression causing her to stop her ascent.
"We are not a cult, I promise you that, we are here to help the lost ones find themselves. Please sit and let me explain." Vivienne pulled her down toward the table holding Blackie's hand in both of hers.
"I'm listening." Blackie replied softly. Vivienne's hands were warm and it was if she sent calming vibrations through her self into the taller blonde.
"The Restoration is a group spread out worldwide that have a mission to help restore a human soul back to it's original self. Our group is very old, older than the cult of the Christ, older than any known religious following on Earth."
"Hold on, so you're saying you're a very old religious group that fixes broken souls, broken human souls? What the hell do you mean by that? Do you understand how farfetched this sounds?" Blackie was growing slightly agitated.
"I never said we were a religious group, lovely. Religion is the belief in a higher entity, we do not believe in a higher power other than the power of our own spirit or soul. The human mind is incapable of understanding all that is within one's grasp. One can see, feel, hear the elements but one does not truly understand their powers, nor does one truly understand the spirit within all living things. The spirit itself is alive and being so it can become harmed or damaged, so it sometimes disconnects itself from the mind and body. We help you to restore all three as it is essential that they work together or one can never heal properly."
Blackie tried to make sense of what she heard, "Are you saying that my soul has disconnected from my body and my mind?"
"Yes it has, you can feel it has can't you? You're consumed by anger and sadness, you've forgotten how to laugh and find joy in the simplest of things. There is a dull film over all you see that no color or light can penetrate. You blame yourself for things you have no control over, you're angry at those who have left you behind, and you feel anything you do now is all in vain. You feel you are a person unworthy of being loved by others that you don't deserve to be loved nor do you see your self worth. The concept of time is foreign to you now, that lack of placement is making you feel like you have lost your mind, am I correct?"
Blackie's heart began to race hearing this stranger tell her everything she held hidden inside of herself. She felt as if her very being was dissected and now lay spread out for the world to see, she was now out in the open. For the first time in a very long time she was afraid of being discovered as the fraud she really was on the outside.
Her mouth was suddenly dry and she picked up her cup and gulped down the last of her tea.
"Okay, so you're what, some kind of metaphysical freak? What next? You take me into a past life regression and bring up every horrible incident I've endured then also? You already have me flailing on the pin, out in the open and ready to be studied, I won't resist since you seem to know everything already."
Vivienne smiled slightly, "Metaphysical freak, huh? Well that's the first time I've been called that, close but no cigar. I am of a higher dimensional spirit, some call us angels if that helps, but I am just a restorer plain and simple. I am neither man nor woman but both. You can feel me, so to you I am physical, yet in truth I am a being of light. I am ancient beyond what you're mind can conceive yet I never grow old. Anthropomorphized to make it easier to give help to humanity. I know this is difficult for you to comprehend at this time, but it will all make sense soon enough."
"I hope so because I have no fucking clue to what is going on now. This has got to be a hallucination because there is no way in hell this can be real." Blackie felt like she was trapped in some remote part of her subconscious, she had to be sleeping and any moment she would wake up and be lying in her bed alone.
Vivienne stood up and motioned for Blackie to do the same, it was time to start the restoration process. Taking her hand and guiding her into another room Vivienne handed her a pale blue robe, then she instructed her to remove all of her clothing and jewelry then place them on the shelf behind her. There were also slippers for her to put on as well. Blackie waited for the petite brunette to leave the room unsure of what was ahead of her, glancing around to make sure there were no hidden cameras or any other things that could signify some kind of danger. She found nothing of the kind and then realized she was being silly, Marco would never send her to anywhere that she could be harmed. Shrugging her shoulders she decided she had nothing to lose and removed her clothing, shoes and jewelry before putting on the robe and slippers.
The robe itself was so soft and light that even as she tied the belt around her waist she felt as though she were wearing nothing at all. The slippers too were just as comfortable. She felt very relaxed when Vivienne returned, once again taking her by the hand and leading her into yet another room.
This room was all white, as if it where made of pure light, yet it didn't hurt Blackie's eyes. She could see no walls, no floor or any windows it was just pure white space. Vivienne turned to face her and took both of Blackie's hands within hers before speaking; their eyes became fixed on one another. Vivienne's smile relaxed her making her feel very safe and oddly enough, very loved.
"Mary Katherine," she used Blackie's real name, the one she hated since it made her sound like an Irish Catholic nun. "You've come here at the most significant time of the year. At this time humanity, through the celebration of the birth of the Christ, is at it's most loving. We are going to meditate together, when your mind is clear we will look into your past so you can understand your present and future. This will not be easy Mary Katherine, you will see things you've repressed and face them again, but it is necessary for you to do so to enable yourself to move on, it's all part of the restoration process. You're stronger than you think, lovely and I will be with you at all times."
They sat together on the floor side-by-side, legs crossed with Vivienne's right hand holding Blackie's left hand. Vivienne instructed her on how to breathe, to allow the air to fill her lungs and to expel all negative thoughts and feelings. When her mind was clear of all thoughts, Vivienne told her to open her eyes.
They were back in Blackie's college dorm room, it was Christmas eve and Blackie was decorating a pathetic little Charlie Brown tree with origami ornaments she made, her favorite string of faux pearls and other assorted bits of nonsense. The Cat in the Hat would serve as the tree topper. Blackie plugged in the single strand of lights. "Perfect!"
Her roommate Sophia, Queen of the Goths and Siouxsie Sioux wannabe rolled her eyes and went back to reading her collective works of Edgar Allen Poe. "I don't know why you even bother, it's not like you're religious." She sighed.
"I know that", Blackie grinned widely." It's just that this time of the year, everything feels right, like even the worst things in life are minimized. The big project we have due, doesn't matter, it's Christmas, and there's no time for sadness or despair."
Sophia looked up over her book at Blackie, her face frozen in a permanent scowl. "You're not going to go into some speech like they do in those old black and white movies and drone on about Christmas miracles and all that crap I hope?"
"No, life of the party, I'm not, I just feel really good is all. It wouldn't hurt you for one day to forego the angst of anarchy and antihumanitarianism. The Nihilistic thing isn't always going to work."
Blackie then started to wrap some gifts so she could be ready when her father picked her up to go home for Christmas Eve dinner. Taunting Sophia was always a high point of her day.
"I like my angst thank you. Besides the commercialism surrounding this whole charade makes me ill, so I choose to not enjoy the fact that others are making money off of sweatshop labor, underpaid salespeople, and the whole materialistic ideal behind the gift giving thing. It's some Jewish kid's birthday and the whole world has to go nuts."
The blonde gave a sly smile to Sophia, "I guess that means you don't want to go caroling huh?"
"I would rather be dragged through town by my pubic hairs then go caroling." Sophia slid off her bed and reached under her pillow. She walked over to her roomie and presented her with a small package wrapped in black paper. "Here, ya psycho bitch."
Blackie took the package and looked at Sophia quizzically. "What's this?"
Sophia was chewing on her lower lip. "It's a present, stupid. Now before you get all mushy and queer on me, it's just that...out of the 5 roommates I've had so far, you're the only one who treated me like a human and I wanted to let you know that I'm grateful." That said Sophia hugged Blackie adding, "And if you mention this to anyone I'll tell everyone you're a raging diesel dyke that rolls her own tampons."
"It's okay, I tell everyone you drink blood." Blackie smiled at Sophia. She then reached over to the little tree, taking a small paper crane off of a branch, she handed it to Sophia. "Merry Christmas Dracula."
The Goth Queen smiled as she cupped the little bird in her hand and gave Blackie a sly sideways glance. "Merry Christmas...Mary Katherine." Before Sophia could run away, Blackie had managed to hit her with her pillow and the two girls landed on the floor laughing.
Blackie stood there smiling remembering that Christmas Eve and all the fun that her and Sophia shared those last few years of college.
"I wonder what ever happened to her?"
Vivienne laughed. "She's married with 3 kids, a dog and teaches Sunday school."
"Wow, never saw that one coming."
They soon found themselves in a darkened apartment. The only light came from a doorway that was cracked open; inside they could see a young blonde girl sitting on a bed looking through old photos. She had been drinking out of a whiskey bottle and was quite intoxicated. Tears streamed down her face as she held up the photos, gently running her fingers along the faces of her brother and Evan. It was her first Christmas without them and the last Christmas she would celebrate.
"Why? I can't be alone you know that, I can't do this you selfish bastard." She took another drink out of the almost empty bottle, some of the whiskey spilled down her chin. She wiped it away with her sleeve and continued. "I would have taken care of you, I would have taken your pain away. We could have gone to Europe like we said we were going to when we were kids. I would sell my paintings and you would write your novel. We would travel through Italy and France and we would laugh and drink and...you...you had to go and ruin it all. You fucking coward! All of you, all of you left me here to deal with it...fuckers! First momma, then daddy, and then Evan...then you Daniel. I would have taken care of you like I always did but you didn't even give me a choice...I hate you!"
With that Blackie stood up and smashed the bottle against the wall crying out angrily at her lost family until she finally fell to the floor bitterly sobbing, her face buried in the rug, gripping her hands through the pile as if she were going to be dragged away by force. Eventually she passed out drunk and exhausted.
Blackie looked down on her past self, her lower lip quivered as she remembered that Christmas and how much she wanted to be dead also. The anguish she felt lessened throughout the years but never fully went away. She always felt like a big part of her was dead, her heart and soul felt as if someone had taken a pick axe and methodically hollowed out parts of her, the parts that made her who she was. She suddenly felt sick and wanted to leave, pushing past Vivienne she ran out of the bedroom and was back in the white room again.
Trying to keep from passing out she bent down so her hands rested on her knees and she took in deep breaths.
"That's not fucking funny Viv, why did you do that?" she growled.
Vivienne hated this part of the restoration, she hated seeing human pain and suffering but she knew it was needed. She carefully placed her hand on Blackie's back to let her know she wasn't alone and that she was there to help.
"I didn't do that lovely, your inner self brought out the memory. You have to face the pain and conquer it, you have to take away its power and gain control again."
"And how the hell do I do that?" Blackie retorted. "Accept that those good people deserved to die so young, that they can never make an impact on the world? Accept that my brother was weak and selfish?"
"Accept that you are still alive, accept that death is a part of your mortality and that the earth is still spinning through space even though you feel your life is hell. You're angry with them for something you couldn't control; you saw them abandoning you, who's the weak and selfish one now? Be angry with the whiskey that man drunk before his car hit your mother's car, be angry at your father's heart for failing him, be angry at the disease which stole the lives of not just two people, but millions of people. Be angry at your own selfishness that allowed you to get this far.
People who survived the atrocities of war are less of martyrs than you, what makes your pain so damn special? You're no different than the mother who is so strung out on heroin she doesn't even realize her baby is dead in the crib right next to her and has been dead for three days. This difference is she escaped her reality in a drug; you escaped yours by shutting out the world.
You can't save the world Blackie, one person can't do it alone, so instead of accepting that you chose to make pain and suffering your personal crusade. You did it to the point where you blurred reality and fantasy building a façade so high and so thick that no person could penetrate it."
Blackie stood up quickly and spun to face Vivienne. "Shut the fuck up, you have no idea what you're talking about. I did what I had to do to get by and if building a wall kept me from being hurt again, that's what I had to do, it's my goddamn life and I'll live it my way."
Vivienne stood there staring into Blackie's eyes showing no emotion what so ever. This was a crucial point and she needed to be careful in her choice of words and actions. Blackie was so close to a revelation. She decided to push the envelope.
"No I don't Mary Katherine, I don't know what you had to do, but I know what you want to do." Vivienne reached inside the sleeve of her robe and pulled out a pistol. She put it in Blackie's hand and then moved her hand upward to let the barrel of the gun rest against the blonde's temple. "Go ahead, make it all go away now."
Blackie looked back at Vivienne in disbelief and shoved the gun back at her. "You crazy bitch, is this how you help someone? You kill them off?"
Vivienne gave her a smug look, speaking very evenly "No, but it just shows me who the coward is, you're quite weak and pathetic aren't you? You've said so many times that you wanted to die, you've thought about it often, now here's your chance."
Tears streamed hot down her face and Blackie felt the wave of rage take over. "Maybe I did think that and maybe I am weak, but I'm not ready to end my life."
Vivienne let out a sigh of relief and embraced the bewildered blonde, squeezing her tightly against her body. "I was hoping you would say that lovely. I needed to know that you have it in you to go forward." She took Blackie by the hand and ushered her to another room. "Time to move on, but I warn you, this will be brutal. It's not only going to be mental but physical as well, be prepared to hurt."
"No offense Vivienne, but I don't see you as much of a physical challenge to me."
"No offense taken lovely, but it isn't me that will challenge you, I'm giving you over to Brone. His name means sorrow, keep that in mind. There have been people that have spent years trying to get past this level of restoration so I'll give you one solid piece of advice. If Brone gives you a task, do it without question, there is a reason he will make you do it, but don't question him about what it is you have to do, no matter how unimportant it seems to you, there is a reason for it. Things won't always be what they seem to be, lovely. Trust your instincts, use your intuition, that inner voice, don't turn a deaf ear on what you know in your heart is right. Good Luck Blackie."
They stood outside of a large wooden door; it seemed very tall and very thick as well as quite old.
"Will I see you again Vivienne?"
Vivienne put her hands on either side of Blackie's face and kissed her softly on her lips. "Not to worry lovely, I'll be waiting for you when you finish." Then she pointed to the door.
Blackie moved toward the door and placed her hands against it to push it open, she turned to say Goodbye to Vivienne, but the brunette was gone.
The door opened to a room with a large desk weighed down with papers and books. She felt a little more confined and looked down to see she was clothed in a white long-sleeved dress shirt, black pants and black shiny shoes underneath a big black woolen jacket.
"Mary Katherine Malone." A deep voice boomed in behind her as two very powerful hands spun her around. She found herself staring into the chest of an exceedingly large man. Leaning her head back her eyes met a pair of blue eyes very similar to Vivienne's but not as kind. He too had black hair cut short and neat, his square jaw and thin lips reminded her of a drill sergeant.