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can't be all that awful where she is," he tried to reassure me. "She always tried to live an
honorable life, was a good wife and mother, a decent human being. Her plight certainly isn't
that of those who have lived basely. It's just that she's lost her faith and has to stay where she
is until her time comes."
"No,'' I said, determinedly.
He didn't reply. I sensed his confusion and looked at him.
He knew, then, what I had in mind and, for the first time since we'd come together, I saw a
look of disquiet on his face. "Chris, you can't," he told me.
"Well... in the first place, I don't believe it can be done," he said. "I've never seen it done,
never heard of anyone even attempting it."
A cold dread seized me. "Never?"
"Not at this level," he answered.
I gazed at him helplessly. Then resistance came again, restoring my determination. "Then I'll
be the first," I said.
"Chris " He regarded me with deep concern. "Don't you understand? She's there for a
purpose. If you help, you distort that purpose, you "
"I have to, Albert," I said, desperately. "Don't you understand? I can't just leave her there for
twenty-four years. I have to help her."
"Chris "
"I have to help her," I repeated. I braced myself. "Will someone try to stop me?"
He avoided the question. "Chris, even if you found her, which is probably impossible, she'd
look at your face and not recognize you. Hear your voice and not remember it at all. Your
presence would be incomprehensible to her. Not only would she not accept your offers of
help, she wouldn't even listen to you."
I asked again. "Will someone try to stop me?"
"That's not the point, Chris," he said. "You have no conception of the dangers in "
"I-don't-care!" I said. "I want to help her!"
"Chris, there's nothing you can do.''
I struggled to control myself. "Albert, isn't there the remotest possibility that my talking to her
might make a difference? That she might, in some infinitesimal way, achieve some kind of
understanding which might help to make her state a little more endurable?"
He looked at me in silence for what seemed an endless time before replying. "I wish I could
say yes," he said, "but I can't."
I felt myself slump. Willfully, I stood erect again. "Well, I have to try," I told him. "I will try,
Albert. I don't care how dangerous it is."
"Chris, please don't speak so thoughtlessly about those dangers," he said. Another first. I'd
never heard the faintest tinge of criticism in his voice before. I'd heard it now.
We stood in silence, looking at each other. Finally, I spoke. "Will you help me find her,
Albert?" I asked. He began to speak but I cut him off. "Will you help me, Albert? Please?"
Silence again. At last, he replied. "I'll try," he said. "I don't believe it's possible but " He
raised a hand to keep me from speaking. "I'll try, Chris," he said.
Time with its multiple torments had returned to my existence.
I was waiting outside a building in the city, pacing anxiously. Albert was inside, trying to
arrange a mental link with Ann. He'd warned me more than once that I would probably be
disappointed. He'd never seen a link successfully made to anyone in the lower realm. Certain
people could travel there, Albert among them. They could not locate specific individuals in
advance, however, since all those in the lower realm were barred from communication by
their own particular insularity.
Only if they asked for help
I had to slump down on a bench as weariness a sense of inner weight returned to me as
well. I closed my eyes and prayed that Albert would locate her somehow.
My Ann.
As I thought her name, a vision filled my consciousness: night time; she and I sitting in bed
together, my arm around her shoulders as we watched television.
She'd fallen asleep again. She always seemed to fall asleep when I held her with her head
resting on my chest. I never woke her and did not this time. As always, I sat motionless, the
television set forgotten as I gazed at her face. As always, tears welled slowly in my eyes. No
matter the threading of gray in her hair, the lines of time on her face. She always had that
trusting child's expression in her sleep.
At least when I was holding her.
She was clutching my hand as she often did, her fingers twitching now and then. My hand
ached from her grip but I didn't stir. Better that my hand ached than I woke her. So I sat
immobile, gazing at her face as she slept, thinking how much I loved this dear, sweet child-
woman pressed against me.
I started, opening my eyes. Albert stood before me. Rising hastily, I looked at him.
He shook his head.
At first, I refused to believe. "There has to be a way," I insisted.
"She's cut off," he said. "Not asking for help because she doesn't believe that such a thing
"But "
"They couldn't find her, Chris," he said. "They tried every possible way. I'm sorry."
Walking to a nearby brook, I sat on its bank and stared into the crystal, moving water.
Albert sat beside me, patting my back. "I'm truly sorry," he said.
"Thank you for trying," I murmured.
"I did discover one thing," he told me.
I looked at him quickly.
"You feel so strongly about each other because you're soul mates."
I didn't know how to take that, how to react. I'd heard the phrase, of course, but only in the
most banal of ways, within the context of trivial ballads and poetry.
"What it means, literally," Albert said, "is that you both possess the same wave length, your
auras a vibratory unison."
Reaction failed me still. What good was knowing this if it didn't help Ann?
"That's why you fell in love with her so quickly when you met her on the beach that day,"
Albert had continued. "Your soul was celebrating a reunion with her."
I could only stare at him. Somehow, the news did not surprise me. I'd never been superstitious
in life. Yet I'd always insisted, to Ann, that we hadn't met by accident.
Still, of what value was it to know this?
"That's why you felt so strongly about being with her after your death,'' Albert said. "Why you
never stopped ''
"Then it's why she felt so strongly," I broke in. "She had to kill herself. To join me; achieve
that unison again."
"No." Albert shook his head. "She didn't do it to join you. How could she have when she
didn't believe that was possible?" He shook his head again. "No, she killed herself to
terminate her existence, Chris. As she believes your existence was terminated."
"To terminate her pain, Albert."
"All right, her pain," he said. "It wasn't her decision to make though. Can't you see that?"
"I know she was suffering, that's all I know."
He sighed. "It is the law, Chris, take my word for it. No one has the right "
"What good is knowing all this if it can't help me find her?" I interrupted, miserably.
"Because," he said, "since you are soul mates, I've been authorized to continue helping you in
spite of my reservations."
I gazed at him, confused. "If she can't be found " I broke off haplessly, a sudden vision
jarring me: the two of
us, like Flying Dutchmen of the spirit, wandering eternally in search of Ann. Is that what he
"There's one way left," he said. He put a hand on my shoulder. "One harrowing possibility."
Losing Ann forever
DEJA vu CAN be a ghastly term depending on the moment one relives. And it was with a
sense of cold, devouring oppression that I moved through mist toward the building ahead.
Release me from this black, unending nightmare. I recalled that plea in my mind.
It was recurring now.
I have been here before, the further thought assailed me. It didn't help that Albert walked
beside me this time. Despite his presence, I was isolated with my private fears as I walked
into the church. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]