“Alexis. Alexis. Wake up.”
Hesitantly, painfully, Alexis opened her eyes then bolted upright as her mind instinctively snapped to her last thought. She looked around the darkened room wondering where her attacker went and how long was she out.
“It’s ok.” The voice reassured. “You don’t have to worry. I scared the man away.”
“Who are you?” Alexis asked, trying to stand on wobbly legs. “Let me see you.”
A soft, misty light appeared before her. Floating in the air chest high, it pulsated twice before radiating out. Alexis shielded her eyes against the bright light. When the light had dimmed to a low glow, Alexis lowered her hand to the shimmering shape of a young woman. Panic started to set root as she hurriedly stepped back.
“Please don’t run.” The woman pleaded. “It’s ok. I won’t hurt you. I saved you from that man. Remember?”
It took every ounce of will for Alexis to keep her feet still.
“Y-yes.” She nodded with a stammer.
“You’re the one that came to find me.” The woman pointed out. “I did not come seeking you.”
Reminded of this fact, Alexis could feel her self-control coming back.
“You’re right.” She said, “I did come back. I did come looking for you.”
The woman smiled gently. “And you’ve found me.”
“But how?” Alexis asked as her investigative side kicked into gear. “How am I able to see you? To talk?”
“It was your doing.” The woman answered, pointing. “You brought that humming box. It feeds me.”
“Then why didn’t you appear sooner?” Alexis asked with a little contempt for the woman’s tardiness.
“It took some time for the energy to build.” She replied. “It doesn’t happen immediately.”
Rubbing her head, Alexis leaned against the wall. “Ok. I get it. So, what is your name? Do you remember?”
The woman flashed a look of annoyance. “Of course I remember. My name is Ida. Ida Buckley.”
Alexis turned away in embarrassment. “Sorry. I didn’t know if those things stuck, you know, afterwards.”
“Of course they do.” Ida replied. “It’s a part of me.”
“Yeah.” Alexis agreed. “That makes sense. How did you know my name?”
“I heard your friends call you that.” She answered. “I must say, you all dress rather strangely.”
“Strangely?” She protested, looking down at her attire. “What’s wrong with my clothes?”
Ida gave a concerned look. “My underwear covers more. Are you and your friends poor?”
Alexis snorted a laugh.
“Sorry.” She said, composing herself. “No. We’re not poor. This is the fashion now.”
“I see.” Ida said wondering about the prudence of that.
“Did you die here?” Alexis asked without thinking.
“Yes.” Ida said, a little sad. “I died in that bed.”
A wave of guilt rushed through Alexis.
“I’m sorry.” She squeaked. “I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s ok.” Ida soothed. “We all die sometime in our lives.”
Alexis again lowered her head. “Do you know…”
“I died from yellow fever.” Ida interrupted. “It’s ok. It was a long time ago.”
“Why are you here?” Alexis asked. “What about your family? Did you have a boyfriend?”
Ida looked at Alexis, “Why rush? I’ll see them soon enough. I am content here.”
“Here?” Alexis questioned, looking around at the ruined building.
“Yes, here.” Ida said with a smile. “I am at peace here.”
“But why?” She asked, clearly confused. “No offense, but the place is a mess.”
“Not to me.” Ida explained. “You see the place as it is. I see it as it was.”
Curious, Alexis asked, “What do you see?”
Looking around, Ida answered. “I see bright whites, vivid reds, soft blues, and gentle greens. Everything is healthy and perfect.”
“That’s not what I see.” Alexis said.
“We choose what we see.” Replied Ida.
Alexis decided to change the subject. “What about heaven? Don’t you want to go there?”
Ida looked past Alexis towards a window. “I’ll go there eventually. When I want.”
“Aren’t you afraid to keep God waiting? Doesn’t he have to judge you? Or does he not exist.”
A bemused smile crossed Ida’s face. “Of course God exists. God’s everywhere. But you’re wrong. God doesn’t judge.”
“What do you mean?” Alexis asked. “Of course God judges. It says so in the bible.”
Ida shook her head. “God loves. True love never judges.”
“Then who does?” She asked.
“Who knows everything you’ve ever done? Who is the one person you can’t hide the truth from?”
“Alexis thought for a moment, then said. “Yourself?”
“But what about religion?” Alexis continued. “All these fights over religion. Who’s right?”
Ida looked at her. “That’s for the dead to know and the living to figure out.”
“How poetic.” Alexis pouted.
A white streak raced from under the bed and ran towards Alexis.
“Whoah!” Alexis screamed jumping.
“That’s Twain, my cat.” Ida said as the translucent animal trotted around. “He just wants to say hello.”
Alexis shook her head and tried to calm her nerves once again.
“Hi Twain.” She found herself saying in a surreal moment.
“He’s who you and your friends saw last night before running away.” Ida explained. “He was sad to see you run.”
Alexis looked at Ida. “I didn’t know animals had spirits. Ida, can you… you know, talk to Twain?”
“Yes.” She replied. “But it’s not like you think. Twain is like a talking two year old. He lets me know when he’s happy, when he’s sad, when he’s lonely, and when he wants to play. He doesn’t think like you or me. After all, he’s a cat.”
“I get it.” Alexis answered. “I can’t believe I’m getting all this!”
“Getting this?” Ida questioned.
“Recording.” Alexis beamed. “I’ve been recording this so people can see the truth. Look. I’ll show you.”
She walked over to the bed and picked up her cell phone. The screen was off, the battery dead.
“No!” She cried in disbelief.
Twain darted back under the bed.
Shoving the phone in her pocket, Alexis ran towards the camera. The low battery light was on and the screen silently read, “Pause”.
“Ahrg!” Alexis screamed in shock. “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe I missed the entire thing!”
“Does it matter?” Ida asked. “Don’t you know now what you wanted?”
Alexis turned. “I do.”
Ida smiled and faded away as the beginning rays of sunrise sneaked their way into the window.