Kamarth and I arrived at the line that separated my world from my twin’s. Just as my world kept changing, so did hers. The horrifying birds and skeletal canine creatures were there as well as the tree and the doors. But now, there was people there, all women, except they were not solid. They looked like phantoms, insubstantial and foggy. These beings were almost see through. Their faces were hard to see, for their faces were blurred. They looked like photographs that were taken as the subject ran at great speed. All I could see of their heads, was dark hair and blurry faces. On their bodies, they wore ill fitting clothes from different eras.
The clothes that the women had on, were all from different time periods. There was one who wore a 1920’s type Flapper dress. Another wore a tailored skirt and jacket, that appeared to be from the 1930’s or 1940’s. One wore a floor length gown, as if she was going to a ball in the 1800’s. None of them wore any shoes, yet, they were walking on the rusty needles that made up the ground in this place. There was six of these women. Their movements had no direction or purpose. They just shuffled along, with a limping and seemingly exhausted gait.
The women seemed not to notice us or even each other. Desperate moaning and loud sobbing enveloped them, it was as if they were made of sorrow. They seemed to be in severe pain, yet I could see no actual physical wounds on them. I knew that their physical pain stemmed from their bare feet walking on rusty needles, but, there was a deeper, less tangible pain in their cries. A deeper agony that can only come from a life of betrayal and disappointments.
I turned to Kamarth and said, “Who and what are these? They can’t be people!”. Kamarth shook his head, and answered me, “They’re the lost, the ones that could never find their way back. They each had an otherworldly double like you, a being like what you have seen in your reality. They allowed the being to become them. The being they created. They allowed her to become them.”.
I was confused and wanted to know more about the phantom women. What significance did they have to me and my life. A part of me wanted to turn and run from this place and its inhabitants. I couldn’t run, something kept me there. I felt a connection between myself and these tragic women, as if I had always known them. As I stood there, lost in the horrors of what I was seeing, Kamarth spoke.
“You feel an affinity to these tragic souls, don’t you? You know them for they are a part of you.”.
“How can they be a part of me? I have never seen them before, and they obviously lived at times before I was born.”
“They are your family. Women who lived before you and had doubles of their own, that they had inadvertently brought to life. Pain, loss, revenge, lies, all of the things that conceived the beings that brought on their end. You are different, Lori. You sought out an answer and you arrived in realms that these poor souls had never entered, until it was too late.”, Kamarth explained.
I didn’t understand and before I knew it, my alarm brought me back to my own reality. The world of work and bills. The world that had no knowledge of sorrowful phantom women. I got ready for work and tried to push the night out of my mind. I didn’t want to think about what I had seen, I was exhausted. I stopped by the little cafe near work and bought a large coffee. I hardly drank coffee in the morning, I didn’t the jittery feeling that it gave me. However, I needed the caffeine, I needed to have some energy for work. I walked into the office and saw that Tammy was at my desk.
“Good morning, I didn’t know that you were coming in today, I thought you’d be at the other office, Tam.”, I said as I put my purse in my desk drawer.
“What are you doing here? You called me earlier and said that you were really sick, that’s why I came in, to cover the phones and whatever else that needs to be done.”, Tammy answered, a confused look on her face.
I didn’t understand. There was no way that I could’ve called Tammy to cover the office today. I never used the phone at all that morning and besides, Tammy had a new number that I always forget.
“Tam, I couldn’t have called you this morning, I can’t remember your new number.”
“Well, you did. I know your voice and the number that came up on my phone, was yours. Maybe you forgot you called or you might have a fever.”, Tammy said as she laughed.
I didn’t argue anymore with Tammy, I felt bad that she came to the office for nothing. She insisted on a call that I never made. She left a few minutes later, heading for the other office. I apologized to her for bringing her all the way out for nothing. I felt embarrassed by what happened. After work, I decided to stop by the mall that was near my apartment. I wanted to mindlessly walk around for a while, get something to eat, and maybe find some trinkets. I loved the kiosks that sold personalized jewelry and the bookstores that unfortunately, were now almost obsolete.
Like everyone else, I did most of my shopping online. But, there was something nice about walking around a store and trying on things. I liked being able to touch things, before I bought them. Even if I only flipped through a book on photography that I end up never buying, it was still something tangible, something real. I walked into one of the bigger department stores and was looking through some tops. I wanted to try one of the tunics on and as I walked toward the dressing rooms, I almost tripped on a sweet faced toddler. She was grabbing some of the jewelry that was on the revolving display and obviously having fun. I wasn’t paying attention as I walked and when I tripped on her in the middle of the aisle, she fell on her knee. She started to cry, I picked her up and tried to comfort her, while trying to find her mother.
“Put my daughter down, what did you do to her?!”, a harsh, but familiar voice accused. I turned around and there was my ex-husband, David, and the woman he left me for, Suzanne. She was now his wife. The same woman that ruined my marriage and could do the one thing that I couldn’t, have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a healthy child for David. She gave me a cold look and reached for her husband’s hand. She held it as she continued to look at me, her mouth was a straight, thin line.
I became nervous and was startled seeing them there. There was no kindness in David’s eye as I handed him his young daughter.
“I didn’t do anything to her, I tripped on her on my way to the dressing room.”, I stammered as I showed him the hanger with the tunic that I still had in my hand.
“Don’t come near my daughter again, or I’ll KILL you, you bitch! What a waste of time you were! The worst mistake of my life was marrying you! Stay away from my child, you’ve been warned!!”, he yelled at me.
David’s wife didn’t say anything at all, she just kept looking at me with her cold blue eyes. Suzanne took the child from David and hugged her close, still looking at me. The child had stopped crying. David didn’t stop his rant and I was getting fed up. A sudden surge of anger ran through me. I wanted to smack him and her both, across their smug, hateful faces. How dare they treat me this way! Instead, I found myself yelling back at them,
“I didn’t fucking do anything to your kid, you fucking bastard!! I tripped on her because your fucking wife wasn’t paying attention to where your kid goes!! Am I not allowed to exist on the same planet as you?? You already took everything from me, destroyed me, told unfounded lies about me, and ruined my life, how much more can you do to me??!!! Get out of my way, you fucking trash!!”.
I threw the top that I had in my hand at David and before turning to leave, I had one more thing to say to his wife,
“Why are you so quiet?? Say something or do you only use that mouth for sucking the dicks of other women’s husbands??!! YOU WON!!! YOU WON, YOU FUCKING WHORE! Pieces of SHIT, you DESERVE each other!!”. I noticed that the store manager was walking towards us, probably to ask us to leave the store. I didn’t wait around for that to happen. I was beyond enraged as I walked out of the store. People looked at me as I headed for the door, but I didn’t care. I heard David yelling something more at me, but I wasn’t listening. There was a strange rushing sound, like rushing blood, as I made my way out.
Once I left the mall, I realized that I was sobbing and my hands were shaking. What happened in the store was hurtful and humiliating. The threats from David were ugly and demeaning. Did he really think that I would hurt his child, or any child, for that matter?? I’m not a monster, why was he treating me like one? I didn’t expect for David to hug me when he saw me, but I certainly didn’t expect this anger because I was always very civil towards him, even during the divorce. I guess the only thing that I could figure from all this, is that David was under his wife’s total control, she influenced everything he thought and did. The person I had married was not cruel, but it seemed that he became cruel and many other things, after he met her. The encounter left me with renewed heartbreak and pain.
Although, I was hurt by what happened, what left me bewildered more than anything, was my angry outburst. I have never had an outburst like that in public before, it was not in my nature to make a scene or in this case, add to it. I almost felt like someone else had taken control of my emotions and I reacted in a way that was not me. I managed to call a cab to take me home. As I waited for it, I saw a figure in the shadows, I knew it was my twin. She was here and she had been a part of took place in the store, somehow. The song “Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking?” played on, soft and menacing.
© 2021 Johanna Elattar