What’s the use of knowing how to heal when you can’t even save the person you love? Kristina thought, watching the blue energy ball hover over her palm. It rotated at an angle like a miniature Earth. It was Friday; the fortieth day of her mother’s death. Her sister Aly had flown in from Australia to help with legal documents during the funeral. Their relatives, friends, and classmates had attended and offered condolences and assistance. Their father had died when Aly was eighteen. Now that their mother had passed on, the sisters only had each other. But it was different. There was nobody like their mother to talk about theosophy and New Age concepts and to explain to Kristina what she could see in the ether.
Aly couldn’t stay in the country. She held a position in her company and loved her work. Kristina, however, was a struggling writer. She occasionally submitted articles and short stories to a magazine or a newspaper to earn income. She couldn’t apply for a full-time job this year because of an unknown illness.
The doctors who diagnosed her couldn’t identify her illness and were baffled by her symptoms: fatigue, relapses of fever, headaches, vertigo. They would finally conclude that the best solution would be to rest, have a healthy diet, and take vitamin supplements. Aly learned about this and urged her younger sister to come with her to Australia and have her receive medical advice. Kristina was already tired of having herself treated either like a lab rat or a patient. She refused to seek help and remained obstinate in staying in her home country.
Kristina’s friends were also aware of her recurring illness. They fitfully offered help when they could and updated her on the goings-on in their lives.
Liza had spurned Peter’s attentions. They had identical mobile phones which she unwittingly swapped. She had answered a phone call with an unregistered number and discovered that Peter had been lying to her all along. Mindy was both sorry and relieved with the situation. It may have broken their friend’s heart but, at least, Liza was thriving in her career more than ever.
Meanwhile, Mindy worked at a branch of her family’s growing number of computer stores and had plans of her own in expanding the business. And Nica had gone abroad to pursue her Master’s degree almost at the same time Arty returned to his native land.
It all happened a year ago but felt to Kristina like decades with days coping with her illness and tending to her mother.
Arty turned out to be a good friend. He visited them from time to time and brought with him trinkets and souvenirs from his travels. Sometimes, they sent each other email. It was easier for Kristina to open up through their correspondence. He probably knew more of her worsening condition than any of the others. His replies to these were polite and concerned and gave her advice on how to alleviate a specific problem.
A week ago, Arty wrote stating that he was back in the country. Still, he hadn’t made his arrival known to anyone, not even to Fred.
Kristina sat up from the bed and tentatively stood. The world around her shifted for a moment then steadied. She was feeling better than most days and had the energy to polish the article due on Monday. She found her sister in the study using the desktop computer; her glasses reflected the light from the monitor.
“I’ll be done in a minute,” Aly said without taking her eyes off the screen.
Kristina sat on a nearby chair and waited.
Her sister relaxed on the computer chair as the printer fed paper.
“Arty called earlier,” she began. “He said to remind you that he’d be visiting you today, in case you’ve forgotten. He’s the foreigner, right? Arthur Men-something.”
“I haven’t and yes.”
“I saw him with Fred’s mom on your graduation. He was attracting a lot of attention from the ladies.” She grinned wryly. “He’s not a playboy like Peter, is he?”
“He’s not that sort. He’s a good person.”
“Hey. Don’t go all defensive on me.” Aly raised her hands. “I’ve no right to judge your friends, anyway. I’m just worried about you.” She retrieved her papers. “I’m going out for a while. Jackie wants my opinion on a dress. We’ll talk later.”
Aly wouldn’t close the subject on taking her to Australia.
“I’m still not going,” Kristina called.
She waited on the doorstep with an umbrella as a makeshift walking stick. Kristina was getting nauseous again and her surroundings were beginning to tilt violently every time she moved. She would have called to cancel this meeting if only the man kept a mobile phone.
At last, the doorbell rang. Thankfully, the front gate was only a few steps away. She welcomed him in with an effort not to be sick. Arty frowned at her pale face.
“I’m fine,” she said automatically.
“No, you aren’t. Can you walk?”
“Yes.” She took a step forward and the world revolved around her again. She lost her balance and almost fell on the gravel if not for Arty’s quick reflexes.
“You can’t even move without hurting yourself,” he snapped. Kristina didn’t know how to respond. She had counted on him to be calm about it. “Close your eyes,” he instructed more gently.
“It will help with the dizziness.”
She complied. She felt Arty loop her arm around his neck and carry her inside the house. He settled her down on the sofa in the living room.
“That was fun.” She smiled up at him, teasing, trying to ease his concern to no avail.
He moved away from her and paced the room deep in thought, his surroundings forgotten. Kristina shut her eyes, Arty’s activity was making her dizzier and her headache.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” Arty finally said.
“It’s not life-threatening, is it?” His mood infected her that her light-heartened tone sounded forced.
“Are you in trouble?” Her eyes flew open.
“No. I am not.”
“What? Did you find something about my sickness? Am I…”
“I’m not sure. I asked someone about you. She said the symptoms are familiar but it’s an advanced stage – as if it’s accelerated threefold. She wants to see you as soon as possible.”
“Okay. So, where is she?”
“That’s the other thing. Kristina, I need you to keep an open mind on what I’m about to tell you.” He met her gaze and drew a deep breath.
Don’t think about it now, she recited to herself like a mantra. Most of Arty’s story seemed impossible to believe; yet, it explained a lot of things to him, his behavior and how they had met.
“How long will it take?” Kristina asked. She kept her eyes closed to ease the lightheadedness caused more by the shock of learning the truth about him than her illness.
“We’re not sure.” Arty shook his head. “Your situation is…unique.”
“You’re going to have to try harder if you’re to tell my sister that I’m leaving.” She rearranged the throw pillow supporting her head. It slipped from the sofa’s armrest and her skull hit the wood with a dull thud. Gentle hands lifted her head and placed the pillow underneath.
The cushion beneath Kristina shifted as he sat beside her and held her hand with both of his. The heaviness she felt on the crown of her head gradually dissipated. “Better?”
“Yes.” She sighed. “Thank you.”
“Open your eyes.” Kristina cracked an eye open. No sudden wave of nausea assaulted her. She released her breath and gazed up at him.
“Much better,” he murmured after examining her face.
“How did you do that?”
“It’s something you learn in our land. I’m not allowed to tell you – I’m not even sure I can explain something so natural for us to do.”
She pulled her hand away from him. There were so many things he couldn’t or wouldn’t say and most of it seemed to concern her. It – he was beginning to irritate her.
Fine. Don’t bother telling me anything anymore, she was tempted to say.
“You’re angry with me.”
“I’m not.” Arty still doubted her. “Look, I’m trying my best to understand your side of things. There’s just too much to cope with. Your home doesn’t even sound like it’s a part of this world. Now, I have to go there and leave everything behind.”
“No one’s forcing you to leave.” He frowned. “It is a choice you have to make on your own.” Arty had something more to say; then, stopped. His mouth pursed into a thin line. He was quiet for a moment, his face devoid of emotion, and stared at the staircase.
“We have to go,” he whispered and moved to grab her hand.
She pulled away.
A creak resonated from the upper floor.
“Trust me.” The urgency in his eyes betrayed his calm demeanor. He extended his hand towards her. “Please.”
“Take his hand, Tina,” her mother’s fearful voice whispered. For a moment, she saw her mother’s spirit beside Arty. Her face was directed at the area where he was looking before she vanished completely.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.