By Berneta L. Haynes and Lornett B. Vestal
Valerie’s mind spun until she found herself standing in her kitchen in Chicago. Kendrick sat at the table cleaning his combat boots, while Aya—her ten-year-old daughter—sat across from him reading a book about the pyramids of Egypt.
All of a sudden, his head jerked up and he looked around. Spooked, he stood up and placed his palm against his temple. What’s happening?
It was Kendrick’s thought, and Valerie heard it in surround sound in her mind as she watched him.
Valerie? He looked around and his gaze landed on Aya, whose eyes widened.
“Mom?” said Aya. She smiled, seemingly less unnerved than Kendrick. “It feels like Mom’s hugging me.”
“I…I hear her calling to me. Do you hear her?”
Aya shook her head. “But I feel her. Do you?”
“Yes, I feel her. She’s hugging me.” He looked away from Aya and smiled as his eyes pooled with tears. “My God, I’ve missed your touch, Valerie.”
Before Valerie could reply, “I’ve missed you so much,” the room darkened, and she couldn’t hear or see them anymore.
Looking at the mountains and the clear sky now, she turned to Sage, released her hand, and stood up. Had she been present with Kendrick and Aya, or was this a trick, some sort of illusion? Had they felt her presence there with them?
“How did…was I telepathically connecting with my family? Was that real?” Valerie asked.
Sage smiled. “You were with them.”
“I never knew I could telepathically connect with people from far away. I always thought it had to be done in person.”
“You didn’t know your own strength. Now you do.”
I can be with my family anywhere I am. The pure joy she experienced upon this realization sank her to the ground again. Looking at Sage, she wondered if she’d been wrong about her.
Sage patted her shoulder and rose, gathering her yoga mat. “I’m going to give you some time to be alone on this journey. I’ll see you and the others at dinner tonight.”
As Sage departed, Valerie lay back and looked at the sky, thinking about Kendrick, Aya, and Malik and the thrill of seeing them for the first time in months.
She wasn’t sure how much time passed as she lay there, but a few clouds eventually rolled in and blocked the sun.
She snapped out of her thoughts and turned to Grayson, who was towering over her in an all-white robe and blue jeans.
“You looked so peaceful. I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said as she sat up.
She motioned for him to sit next to her.
“I’ve spent my whole life in the Midwest, Grayson. Do you know this is the first time I’ve seen mountains? They’re so beautiful.”
He smiled. “There’s something about being out here, huh? It makes me realize how small my world was.”
He looked at the mountains in the distance, and silence passed between them until he cleared his throat. “I just wanted to ask you if you’ve seen Mia this morning.”
“No, I thought she was with you. I haven’t seen her since you all drunkenly went to Sage’s quarters last night,” Valerie replied.
Grayson smiled and looked at his feet. “That was—“
”Spare me the details,” said Valerie raising her hand. She stood and dusted herself. “Looks like Bradford’s in the courtyard with Nattie. Let’s go ask him about Mia. And we can ask him about the Jeep. I’m not in a hurry to get out of here yet. But I’d still like the Jeep fixed.”
Grayson’s eyebrows retreated into his hairline. “You’re not in a hurry to get out of here? You’re singing a different tune from yesterday.”
”I’m just saying we might be able to stay here a bit longer. Maybe Sage isn’t so bad,” she said, looking around. “Now let’s go find where that girlfriend of yours has run off to.”