The mid-afternoon sunlight filtered through the make-shift tent casting stripes of color across Sasha’s and Mariel’s tense faces. They sat cross-legged on Sasha’s bed, facing each other, and holding hands. With the rest of their cabin-mates busy with classes, the room was unusually silent, and not entirely comforting. The worried look in their eyes spoke volumes about where they’d rather be.
Their hearts beat in nervous rhythm, communicating their anxiety over one more new road they’d be traveling together. Mariel squeezed Sasha’s hands for reassurance. Together, they took a few deep breaths, then Sasha began relaxing the muscles in her body and quieting her mind. As she sank into a meditative state. Mariel’s eyes grew glassy as well. She reviewed her part in helping Sasha retrieve memories of something resembling an energy signature unique to the Adamsville area.
“M-m-mariel?” Sasha’s voice quavered with barely concealed fears; her fear of failing her family, her friends, and everyone who was depending on her ability to retrieve something she wasn’t even sure she’d recognize was overwhelming. Only the tight grip on her hands assuring her that her best friend was joining her on this journey kept her from complete paralysis.
“What if this doesn’t work? I feel like I’m standing in front of a firing squad ready to shoot if I don’t get this right.”
“Then we just have to go to Plan B and follow the ley lines themselves until we find the ones that lead away from the area. Just remember there’s no pressure. We hope you’ll recognize something now you took for granted or ignored while you were there.” Mariel did her best to calm her friend’s fears but knew part of the problem lay in the fact Sasha had few good memories of Adamsville, and wasn’t thrilled about having to relive those memories.
“Are you ready?” Mariel asked softly.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” Sasha replied resignedly.
“Ok, then, take a deep breath and hold it…” waiting about 10 seconds, Mariel continued. “now let it out slowly.” Hearing Sasha’s breath leave her lungs, Mariel instructed her to repeat the process a couple more times, then turned on her iPod; the flutes and woodwinds weaving a gentle web of calm beneath Mariel’s voice.
Softly, Mariel began to speak, with the intention of taking Sasha back as gently as possible, using techniques recently acquired from Tess and their instructors.
“You wake up slowly as the sun streams in your bedroom window, birdsong, the first thing that catches your ear. As you come closer to wakefulness, you realize it’s Saturday and you don’t have to go to school. The smell of breakfast cooking downstairs urges you to leave your bed and start your day. You put on your favorite yellow blouse and green shorts and make your way downstairs. Your mother has placed a glass of orange juice on the breakfast bar for you. She greets you with a smile and a hug as you enter the kitchen, and places a steaming plate of bacon, scrambled eggs and an English muffin beside the orange juice. You take a jar of apricot jam out of the refrigerator and spread some on your muffin.”
Knowing her friend so well, Mariel tried to incorporate everything she knew would give Sasha a feeling of comfort and security.
“Your mother sits down beside you with a plate of her own, and you chat idly, sharing the serenity of the morning and the sounds of Spring.” Pausing, she listened to Sasha’s breathing. Satisfied she had settled into her meditation, she continued.
“Though your mom has to go to work at the hospital, she asks about your plans for the day, suggesting you might wish to do a little exploring. You offer to clean up the kitchen so she can get ready for work and she gives you another hug to let you know how much she appreciates your offer. You putter around making the task take longer than it should, and are still wiping down the counters when she comes downstairs, ready to leave. Knowing you well, she makes you promise not to spend the day holed up in your room with a book, then heads out the door.”
Pausing to take a drink of water, Mariel looked at her friend who was so peaceful, and wished she didn’t have to burst her happy bubble. It would have been easier if she could have worked Sasha’s dad into the story, but she needed to keep it as close to reality as possible, and knew from long conversations with Sasha that Phil had spent a great deal of time away once the family moved to Adamsville.
With a small sigh, Mariel took up the story again.
“Since you intend to keep your promise to your mom, you make a sandwich and pull a couple of bottles of water and an apple out of the fridge. You run upstairs to put on your sneakers and grab your sweatshirt and a daypack to put your lunch in, then go back downstairs before you can talk yourself out of the excursion. Placing your lunch in the pack, you walk out the front door and stand on the porch for a minute, sniffing the air and watching the butterflies playing tag in the weeds. Before you can talk yourself out of it, you walk down the porch steps, down the walkway and out the gate. Turning away from town, you begin walking slowly, feeling the breeze caress your skin, smelling things just beginning to grow and listening to the chatter of birds as they work almost franticly to get their nests built before they need to lay their eggs. As you walk, your mind wanders and you create your own fairy tale world with bit...