Over the Hedge
24 october 2004
The last candle was lit, the lights were off, and I softly dropped my robe to the floor and slipped into the bathtub.
I had been living in this apartment for two months, and learned early on that I was the only resident willing to use this bathroom. At first, it seemed odd, as this one was closest to the kitchen and the living room, but aside from emergencies everyone else went downstairs.
Then I started to notice her presence.
The first time, I had just finished a period of meditation and was still highly sensitive to the spiritual realm surrounding me. I walked into the bathroom and knew immediately that something was off, and briefly caught a glimpse of her in the mirror. I asked around, and the others explained that the bathroom seemed to be haunted and they saw no need to disturb her. I decided it would be best to try and help her instead.
I spent time in that bathroom frequently, carefully introducing myself and working to gain her trust. She had finally spoken to me. It was a simple answer, nothing more, but it gave me permission to go deeper. To find out who she was. I began making arrangements.
The chicken blood mixed with the bathwater as I muttered the phrases I had learned from Abuela. I no longer practice quite what she taught me on other matters, at least not without some alterations from my mentor, but no one else was offering a better system for speaking with the dead. Sometimes the most effective ways are the ones that stick around. The smell stung my nose and I closed my eyes, taking it in. I asked her to show herself. I requested an audience.
The sudden change in light as the candles flickered forced my eyes open and there she was, sitting in the other end of the bathtub, leaning against the wall with the spout deeply embedded in her back. Her knees were drawn up close to her chest, and she hugged her shins like they were the last things holding her to this world. I pulled upright as much as possible to give her space.
"Alethea," I whispered. "Are you ready?"
"What do you want?" She stared at me, her eyes reflecting years of pain and hiding.
"To help you. Please," I reached out my hand, "you deserve better than this bathroom. Let me help you." She buried her face against her legs, peeking at me over her kneecaps. We stared at each other for a long moment.
"Do you promise?"
"You will help me?"
"Yes. I promise, I will help you. Please, tell me what happened."
She closed her eyes, then took a deep breath, and nodded. She let go of her legs and drifted over, turning around in the bathtub until her back was to me, and then fell into me. I inhaled sharply and stared at the wall. I saw it. I saw everything. She showed me her story, and I felt every pain that had left her here. I don't know how long it was before I could breathe again, and half the candles had blown out at some point in the vision. I sat alone in the near darkness, pulled my knees to my chest, and cried.
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