Chapter 9

Aveny woke with a gasping sob, startling Brand awake beside her.

“What?” he exclaimed deliriously. “What’s wrong? What happened?”

“She killed herself,” Aveny cried, forgetting time, place and circumstance, her mind snagged in the horrific memory and senseless horror of it all. “She jumped off a cliff. I saw it. She ran away from her family and jumped off a cliff. She killed herself just like Aunt Cora.”

Brand patted her back clumsily. “It’s ok, it’s just a dream,” he soothed, just like he always did when Tali came into the room after a nightmare.

“No, Brand, it’s not – it’s her,” Aveny pressed, “the woman from all my dreams. I was watching her this time – in her life. And I saw her with her family – the man and the little girl – and then she ran and she jumped off a cliff. I think she went crazy and killed herself. I saw it. I saw it all.” Her words shattered into incomprehensible sobs.

Brand sat foggily beside her, sleep slowly releasing its hold on his psyche. He yawned, reached over and turned on his lamp. The light snapped into life with alarming efficiency and Aveny started, frightened by this new – old – reality she’d suddenly been recalled to.

“I’m sorry,” she said, shaking herself and wiping her eyes. “It’s just, the little girl, I saw her lose her mother. She was so broken. I just … it just … it was just awful.”

“I’m sure,” Brand soothed. “She probably reminded you of Tali, huh? That’s hard.”

Aveny’s brow furrowed. “Actually, no – it didn’t remind me of Tali at all. It just felt, so … I don’t know … close.”

“More than the others?”

“Yeah – this was the most intense one yet. And the most real,” Aveny wiped the back of her hand under both eyes and swiped it beneath her nose, sucking in a snotty inhalation.

“Maybe it’s like a prediction or something,” Brand suggested. “Maybe the skin is showing you things that might happen in the future. I saw this show once that said time is a continuum that loops back on itself – that we’re all connected together in a sort of long chain. Maybe the woman and her family are our descendants. Maybe it’s a future you can help prevent.”

Aveny’s breath calmed. “That actually makes sense … but I don’t think it’s the future. Everyone was wearing old fashioned clothes, like European clothes from the 1800s. His suit, her dress, the little girl’s frock – they were all old fashioned. It didn’t catch my attention at the time – it all just seemed normal for some reason – but those were definitely old-timey outfits.”

She paused.

“I can’t believe she killed herself. Do you think it’s a warning? Like it might happen again – to me?”

Brand looked stunned. “I hope not,” he said quietly.

The realization left Aveny numb. “Everything’s already so crazy. Am I going to end up throwing myself off a cliff too? Or am I supposed to do something about it? It is like those movies, when the ghost comes back because they have unfinished business and you have to help them settle things? If so, why doesn’t she just tell me what she wants? I hate that about those movies. Just tell us what you want, so we can do it! This is probably my karma for hating all those movies…”

“Or it could just be a dream,” Brand offered.

“Or I could just like to swim,” Aveny shot back.

“You win,” Brand said, laying back down and pulling the blanket over his shoulders. “Do you want me to get you anything? Hot tea? Back rub?”

He was already half asleep.

“No, I’m ok.” 

Aveny reached over Brand and switched off his light, then lay back and stared at the hazy ceiling. Her mind raced with everything she’d seen and all it might foretell. But as with most anxious ruminating, she wasn’t even close to the truth. 

And when, in the early hours of morning, she finally drifted back to sleep, her dreams were punctuated by a disembodied pleading.

Don’t trust her. Don’t trust her. Don’t trust her.

And through the swirling mists of her own psyche, Aveny called back, “Don’t trust who?”

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