Arm in arm, Calla Wiley and I entered my mother’s penthouse apartment. Servants who had been hired for the evening’s festivities greeted us in the front hallway off the elevator. My mother liked to keep a permanent staff at her country house, where she spent most of her time. The city apartment was scarcely ever inhabited of late.
I eventually came back to myself, lying in the snow with the cross in my arms. I slowly moved to a crouching position, using it to hold myself up. Eventually I stood, my hands resting on the t-section of the cross for balance. I looked around, remembering my surroundings, and shook my head to free myself of grogginess and sleep.
Just when I thought I could not see anything worse, just when I began to hope it would be over soon, the visions showed me more.
My friends, moving as if they were zombies, formed a circle with this doppelganger. Only Evie was left to the side, spared from whatever unholy contract had been formed. The seven linked hands in the centre, like a football huddle, and shouted in one voice, strong and guttural. I saw reality tear like a curtain and beheld what lay behind it.
My youthful self was besieged by conflicting thoughts. I closed my eyes, my fists clenched as I deliberated. I knew that no good could come from this man, if he was a man, and that to indulge his offer was to risk my very soul. But I loved my sister, and could not bear to see him get his oily clutches on her. I had already had to endure his conniving enticement of my friends, I could not stand idly by as he attacked my sister with his words.
I was blasted by heat, and air that filled my lungs with so much warmth I almost choked on it like a physical thing. I fell to my knees, struggling to breathe, struggling to move. I felt blinded by the intense sunlight, and a sky that seemed to be on fire with swirling colours. My hands clutched at the sand, I felt the tiny grains spilling through my fingers.
After my baptism, the world was beautiful and wondrous. It didn’t stay that way. I believe that we get glimpses of God’s reality during spiritual experiences that let us know we are not alone. But we always have to go back to real life, strengthened by that memory, but thrust back into life’s struggles. I could still connect to that heightened perception during intense prayer, but day-to-day life went back to pretty much normal.
I have a confession to make. The plane was not the first time I felt that kind of spiritual trance, the Spirit guiding my steps.
All I really remembered about the plane ride to Vancouver was getting aboard with my friends and eventually falling asleep. Apparently, that’s not all that happened.
When the storm hit the jet, shaking it from side to side, everyone who was sleeping came awake, and if they didn’t, the screaming woke them. I had apparently awoken with the others, and stared off into space. At least, that was how it appeared to Genevieve. What really happened was that I heard Mara’s voice calling to me, telling me what to do.
By the time I met Faith, her straight hair had grown out curlier and turned a deeper shade of red thanks to Mara’s angelic presence, while her brown eyes had turned to hazel. I had thought she had seemed familiar. I knew now that my magic summer had been spent with Mara, and felt a giddy thrill when I realized that she was my first kiss, my only true love.