I slid from the comfort of my warm bed and followed her. The girl was young, her wide and frightened eyes searching passed my body, looking for a peace she had yet to acquire.
“How can I help you?” I asked gently, hoping I would not scare her further.
“You can see me?” She asked, surprise etched into her pale face.
“Yes,” I answered, taking a few steps closer. “You are lost. What is your name?” I almost always asked that question first.
She shook her head and started to back away. “I, I don’t remember.”
That was a common response in trauma related deaths. My heart sank. She was a victim. “It will come back. Your memories will return.” I hoped my confidence would bolster her courage.
She was like a frightened doe in the forest. Jumpy. Uncertain. Afraid.
“What?” She seemed confused. Too confused. What had happened to her?
“I can help you,” I smiled and held out my hand to her, “if you let me.”
Many souls latched onto my offer quickly. Some did not. Few refused and never returned. I mourned those souls the most. The ones that ended up lost forever. I held onto the hope that they could still be redeemed but I was not gifted with the knowledge or experience to know that for certain.
“I’m scared,” she whispered, turning abruptly toward the window. “Someone follows me.”
I heard this often. Victims of violence often felt their attacker closing in. They were unable to categorize reality. Life was a blur, a chaotic jumble of thoughts and feelings.
Time was the only answer. She would be calmer when she accepted the truth. When she had a chance to stop running and shoved the fear aside.
“You will not come to any harm here. I promise,” I reassured her.
Her round eyes searched mine. For a fraction of a second she looked relieved but the fear was quick to return. She shook her head. “I need to leave.”
I smiled again. “You may come back whenever you wish. I will not stop you from going or coming back.”
My words seemed to penetrate her confused mind. “All right.”
She was gone before I could ask any more questions but I knew I would see her soon. Her soul was in torment. They always returned to me, within days, these souls that suffered terrible pain and anguish. It radiated off this young girl in waves of tortuous agony. She was seeking, whether she knew it or not.
One of the first things I did after an encounter was grab my notebook and write down everything I could remember. How the spirit looked and the condition of the body. How they spoke and what they revealed. I would write down the conversation. My feelings. The soul’s aura and color. Anything and everything that I considered pertinent and even details that seem unimportant such as the time I was awakened.
All of these details were kept under lock and key in a fire retardant box under my bed. Over the years I had accumulated quite the collection of work on the subject. These were my case files. My private trek into the mind of the spirit.
My log on the souls that sought help and petition, that crossed over, was extensive. They were precious to me, like heirloom jewelry or money to others, irreplaceable. I could not live without them. They were my solace, my life’s work, and a reflection of my thoughts and dreams.
Proof of the journey of the soul.
I remembered with vivid detail everything about the young girl. She was perhaps fourteen, fifteen in age. She had an accent, probably from the country, not quite southern but definitely pronounced. I imagined her education level was slightly lacking since her English was a little broken but she was a bright girl. I could tell. These were my educated guesses.
The obvious part was my conclusion regarding her death. Her simple blue dress was worn and faded, no extra adornment of lace or design, patches on the pockets attached with clumsy stitches. Her black shoes were worn and in desperate need of repair. A testament to her poverty. Long white knee socks, faded and stained lightly from overuse, had graced her skinny legs. She was thin, almost too thin. Another confirmation that she had little ability to buy new things or extra meals.
The most striking details about her were the bruises that marred her pale skin, most prominent on her wrists and ankles, and the smears of blood on her dress. I shook violently at the thought that she had been violated. I wanted to deny it. But the way she carried herself, the crimson stains on her hem, and the way her hands kept trying to cover and hide her body from my view all pointed to a sexual assault.
My last observation was the condition of her overall body. She was wet, dripping actually. But dried mud and some kind of weed or grass clung to her sopping clothes. Had she weight to make them sit on the floor, her shoes would have squeaked. When she spoke, little droplets of water would occasionally leak from the side of her mouth.
She was oblivious to all of this, of course. I bet she had not yet glanced in a mirror. She had shivered from the wet and cold. Constantly she would pause and take deep breaths like she was having great difficulty. A drowning. I was almost positive.
Her youthful face was pretty. High cheek bones and blue eyes the color of a misty rain, the same color as her dress. I was almost positive it was made especially for her, by her mother or someone close to her, who loved her very much. That drew me to my final conclusion.
She was missing. There was no doubt in my mind. And it was recent. Within days. I knew because of the condition of her soul. Time was the only thing to wash away those details. Her spirit was as raw and fresh as I had ever seen. No aura lit up her soul. She held no color. Violently ripped from her young life, only the terror had remained.
My profile complete, I placed it in my leather briefcase, where all of my current files were located. I slipped back into bed and shut off the lamp, hoping to catch a few hours of rest before I had to start my day.
As I lay there, sorrow filling my chest, I mourned for this poor girl and her lost innocence. Someone had hurt her. Perhaps more than one someone. A tear slipped down my cheek, followed by another. I often wept over my lost souls but tonight my chest ached with her pain and my suffering was genuine.
I would help her find closure. I would dedicate my time and resources until she crossed over the barrier and found peace. It was my calling.
And my joy.
My name is Gemma Harding.
And I help to transition the dead.
—- The Gift by Nikki Landis, A Transitions novel