The telephone ringing caused Beverly's heart to skip. The sound was urgent. It was as if Pac Bell was screaming at her "pick up." So much for the answering machine, not this time. She grabbed the receiver and in an anxious voice uttered, "Hello." There was no response. "Hello?" she repeated with a questioning tone. Still there was no answer. Anxiety and foreboding were flooding her senses. She knew this was no prank call; the caller was hesitating for a good reason. Finally, after what seemed like hours, she took some deep, cleansing breaths and said in a soft and controlled voice, "Take your time. I'll wait." Such was the gentle, soft manner that was Beverly Stewart. She was also psychic. Not a fact she talked about much, but a fact nonetheless. She tried not to think about her paranormal ability. She chose to call everything "hunches." Still leaning against the kitchen counter, she held the telephone receiver tightly to her ear, and waited. The caller hung up.
When the phone rang again two minutes later, she picked it up, put it to her ear, and didn't say a word. An obviously nervous voice from the other end finally said, "Is this Beverly Stewart?"
"Yes, this is Mrs. Stewart."
"Uh, uh . . . my name's Greg Harrison. I'm, uh........, I'm Bradley Harrison's son. I was going through my dad's Email and your name was in his address book. There was also a statement in his personal files that said if anything should happen to him, we were to call you. How do you come to know my dad? Who are you, and what are you to him? I hate to sound rude, but I need to know. It's important."
Beverly felt like ice water was coursing through her. She tried to swallow the lump in her throat, concentrated on keeping her heart from racing by taking more deep breaths, and responded, "We're friends."
"Oh," the caller said.
"Why are you calling me, Mr. Harrison?"
"Greg, please, my name is Greg. I'm calling you because my dad is sick and he's asking for you. He won't eat or drink. And except to say your name, he won't talk. The doctors don't know what's wrong with him and they sent him home. He was in an accident and lost consciousness for awhile but now that he's awake he won't talk to any of us. They said he just wants to die and there's nothing they can do. They gave him every test, but nothing shows up. He did have a mild concussion following the car accident, but that was days ago. There are no apparent serious injuries, and no permanent damage. Now that he's home, he's just lying in bed. If he's not sleeping, he's laying there, looking at the ceiling and saying your name over and over. We know this is asking a lot, but we don't know what else to do. Will you come and visit him?"
Before Beverly had a chance to reply he went on to say, "My mom asked me to call you. She said for me to tell you that she won't ask you any questions, if you'll just come and see him. Will you?"
Without hesitation Beverly replied, "Tell me your telephone number. I'll call you when I know my flight number and arrival time. I should be there in about ten hours. Tell your mother to try not to worry. Your father is going to be okay. Tell her I'm on my way. And tell her thank you."
Beverly called the airline and got the next flight out to New Mexico. Then she called her son to take her to the airport, her neighbor to feed the cats, threw a few necessities into a carry-on bag, grabbed some traveler's checks she kept on hand, her credit card wallet, her purse, made the promised call to Brad's son, and was out the door and into her son's car headed for the airport in fifteen minutes.
On the long flight she had a lot of time to think. Beverly and Brad, both writers, met on the Internet through a website for writers. They had so much in common they immediately began a fast and furious Email correspondence which quickly escalated into a deep and bonding friendship. It didn't take much time before they realized with a lightning bolt of reality that they were bonded souls and in love. The both felt shaken and stunned by the realization. They tried to rationalize, to reason, to label their feelings with other names, all to no avail.
Early on they'd sent pictures of themselves to each other. Brad had told Beverly the first time he saw a picture of her he felt as though he was looking at perfection: silver-blonde hair and blue eyes that showed the gentle, serene nature of her. In the picture she was standing in front of a very tall tree. It was obvious she was not aware of her outstanding beauty. All in all she glowed. When Beverly saw Brad's picture for the first time she was taken back by how handsome he was. For some reason until then she'd thought of him as a slightly portly man with a receding hairline. Not so. He had a full head of dark brown, slightly curly tumbled hair, and gray eyes slightly crinkled in an impish grin. They bespoke of wisdom. In actuality they both were average in the looks department but you'd never convince either that the other wasn't drop-dead gorgeous. Their love dwelled within an enchanted cottage where each was perfect.
They'd never met in person. They hadn't even talked on the telephone, but their one soul had been searching for many lifetimes and when they connected, their spirits wouldn't let them disconnect. Their soul was now at peace, but the separate houses of that soul were tortured with longing every second of every day.
When they first met they were both married. Knowledge that what they had been given was a gift from above kept them from giving in to their physical needs. The desire for each other kept escalating. The temptation to snatch a weekend together was almost more than they could resist. However, they did resist. This love they had been given for their twilight years was not to be sullied. In the giving was the implied trust that they would treasure it for what it was. They were highly educated intelligent people who were fully aware that such things just don't happen. People who have never met can't fall deeply in love. But they had. It did happen. It had happened to them.
Beverly's husband had passed away a year ago and now she was a widow. Brad was still married. He loved his wife and children. He adored Beverly. She didn't know what this malady was that was threatening to take away her soul mate, but she knew beyond any doubt that hearing her voice and feeling her touch would heal him. If only she could get there in time. In the center of her being she could feel him drifting in and out of awareness. She could feel his pain.
Beverly was one of the first people off the plane when it landed. She spotted a man who she instinctively knew was Brad's son. She walked up to him, put out her hand with a slight smile said. "Hello. I'm Beverly. Please, hurry, take me to your father."
When they arrived at the house, Beverly jumped out of the car and sprinted up to the front door like a teenager instead of the older woman that she was. The door was opened by an attractive, stylishly dressed woman who looked at Beverly without any expression on her face. The woman said, "I don't know who you are, or what your connection is with my husband, but at this point I'm too desperate to care. Please, come with me, he's upstairs. He fell asleep again about ten hours ago. I can't get him to wake up. He appears to be depressed but I don't know why."
They walked down a rather long hallway to the end where a door stood slightly ajar. The room was dimly lit by a bedside lamp and all the draperies were drawn. The room was close and the air was stale. Beverly immediately opened all the draperies, and despite the chill of the late night air, threw the windows open. She then looked at the other woman, smiled, and gently said, "Please, leave us. He'll be fine. Just give us some time." Without expression the woman looked at Beverly for several seconds then finally nodded and left. The door closing made no more sound than a whisper.
Beverly took a small portable CD player out of her carry-on bag, put in a disc, and the sounds of one of Brad's favorite movie soundtracks began. She then pulled a small chair up to the side of the bed and for the first time looked at the face of the man she had loved for all of eternity. The face of a man of such courage, such high integrity, such sensitivity. She wanted him so much she ached. He had so much to give, and he was throwing it away. This simply couldn't be. Beverly wouldn't allow it. She took his hand in hers, kissed the palm, laid it against her cheek and with her other hand she ran her fingers through his rumpled hair and traced every curve in his face thus embe dding it into her memory. She gently kissed his mouth and murmured, "Brad, wake up, my love, it's Beverly. You can't leave yet. It's not your time. I know you can hear me. I know you can feel me." She sat there staring lovingly at his face and waited then whispered into the thick air, "What pain be this my love?" She then took his hand from her cheek and laid it above her breast so he could feel her heart beating. "Do you feel that, Darling? That's the heart that belongs to you. The heart that needs you in order to keep going."
He didn't respond. It was apparent to Beverly that he was slipping further away. She decided to use the power she'd been given. she stared at his closed eyes for mere minutes that felt like an eternity. Finally she laid her head down on his shoulder and concentrated. She blocked everything out except him and she traveled to the dark place where he was. She couldn't touch him in that place, and God only knows how much she wanted to, but she could see him in the shadows through the mist that covered his conscious mind. And she knew that he could hear her. She told him all the things she felt. She reminded him, over and over, about all of the dreams they shared for the future. Beverly knew they would both outlive some of the people now anxiously waiting in the hallway on the other side of Brad's door. She could hear the shuffle of their feet as they paced back and forth. And she knew that she and Brad would have a long life together. But not now. Not yet. She told him all of this in a gentle, loving and encouraging yet pleading voice. Finally, he put out his hand and reached towards her. She slowly pulled out of her transitory state. He followed her.
Brad had heard her words and knew she spoke the truth; she was deeply spiritual. This was his Beverly who knew things intuitively that other people didn't. He had felt the steady rhythms of her heart beating. He had felt the silk of her blouse and the swell of her breast underneath. His nostrils were filled with the subtle flowery scent of her perfume and the soft and alluring womanly fragrance of her. He longed to touch her but he couldn't move. He had felt her warmth and wanted to wrap himself in it; drown in it. More than anything he wanted to look into her eyes, just once and to taste her skin. He knew that he couldn't. He knew he had to let her go for now, and that he had to keep waiting for that someday that they both longed for. He wanted out of this dark place. He had to go back, for her. For Beverly he would go back.
When he finally opened his eyes, she was gone. But he could still smell her. He knew he always would. It was permanently embe dded in his pores. The warmth and softness of her touch would be on his face forever. It was all he needed. She had come all this way to help him when he needed her. He had just about given up. He hadn't wanted to go on any longer without her. Now he would wait for as long as it took. Because someday . . . . . . . . .
When she saw his eyelashes begin to flutter and felt a slight movement of his hand, Beverly left the room. She knew that if she stayed and he touched her, she would never be able to leave. She looked at his family gathered in the hallway. A nice family she thought to herself. Their love for Brad was obvious. She wanted to scream at them to leave them alone. She felt they were labeling her "the other woman" but she knew she was much more than that. They'd had him all these years. Now it was her turn. But she couldn't do that to these good people. She couldn't do that to what she and Brad shared. But she couldn't help thinking how curel life could be. And at the same time how beautiful and promising. She held onto the knowledge that in this lifetime, someday, somehow, someway, she and Brad would be together. It was destiny. She knew this deep in her soul and she was willing to wait. They both were and they were determined to greet that day with joy and embrace it with a clear conscious. They'd vowed nobody would get hurt because of them.
Brad heard her leave. By god he wanted to live! He wanted to live for his family and for Beverly. He believed everything she had told him. And he knew that they would have their time. He felt a burst of renewed energy. "I've got a lot of years left. What in the hell has been wrong with me? What was I doing? Enough ot this!" he said aloud to the empty room. Suddenly he was ravenously hungry for food. And, he wanted a shower. A very long, and very cold shower. He wanted to live life to the fullest. He also wanted to see his family.
Beverly felt more exhausted than she could remember ever having felt before. She needed to be alone. She didn't belong here in this house or in this city, and wanted to go home. When she came down the stairs she asked to use the telephone, kindly declining Greg's offer to take her to a hotel. Instead, she called a cab to take her back to the airport. She'd wait there for the next flight home.
She and Brad's wife still hadn't exchanged words since they were upstairs. Just as she was leaving, Beverly hesitated before stepping off the porch and then turned back and approached the woman, briefly hugged her, and said, "He'll be fine." The woman pulled away, looked at Beverly for several moments, arched an eyebrow, turned, and re-entered her home.
© Marcia Miller-Twiford