Baring Mia

By: Kallista Dane

Eventually, Lexi learned to keep her contacts with otherworldly friends a secret. For years she hid her abilities from everyone, feeling like a freak. When she was a freshman in high school, she finally confided in her best friend, Melanie. They were having a sleepover at Melanie’s house, and Melanie’s grandmother joined them. The old lady was sweet, but she just wouldn’t quit talking, telling Lexi endless stories about what an adorable baby Melanie had been.

She was having a hard time concentrating on what Melanie was saying. Something important about the new boy in math class and how he’d been asking Melanie about her. Finally, in exasperation, Lexi turned to the empty corner of the room and said, “All right already! Melanie, your grandma wants to know why you never wear that pretty heart-shaped locket she left you.”

Melanie stared at her, mouth agape, and Lexi suddenly realized the danger in what she’d done. She tried to cover it up, but Melanie pestered her relentlessly, and Lexi finally confessed her secret. Her friend took it well, asking endless questions and telling her how cool it was.

But the next day, Melanie seemed nervous, backing away from any further discussion. Lexi figured she was scared. She discovered most everyone was when they found out she talked to angels and dead people and sometimes otherworldly creatures she didn’t even have a name for. So, she went back to hiding her gift from everyone, never mentioning the assortment of ethereal spirits who wandered in and out through the walls of whatever room she happened to be in at the time.

A few years ago, she’d read an article about Asheville, North Carolina, a picturesque mountain community filled with folks who supported and even sought out people with her unique skills. Two weeks later, she packed her few belongings, crammed a furious JayJay into a pet carrier, and drove twelve hours straight through from Michigan. She rented a tiny cat-friendly apartment on Craigslist, one within walking distance of the vibrant downtown area. Then she made the rounds of stores selling crystal healing stones and psychic gatherings, offering her services to the locals as well as to the throngs of tourists who flocked to the mountains.

She scraped by performing psychic readings to support her real love – writing. She had almost a dozen romance/adventure novels on Amazon, selling her work under a far more glamorous name than Lexi Jacobs. There’d been some minor successes. She even had a few loyal fans who read everything she wrote and left reviews that kept her spirits up on long lonely nights. But she didn’t make enough money writing to keep both her and JayJay in tuna.

Although Lexi was able to predict passionate love affairs for her growing list of clients, her abilities didn’t extend to seeing what the future held for her. It was as though Spirit had put up a curtain. She could sense it, feel it. But she couldn’t see what lay beyond it, no matter how hard she tried.

So far, her wildest romantic interludes had all been within the pages of her books. There were a few casual boyfriends in her past. But they’d all reacted like Melanie – intrigued at first then backing away when they discovered her gifts were real.

Except in the end, Melanie hadn’t backed away. She stayed a loyal friend… as long as Ellen promised never again to bring up any of that “spooky shtick,” as Melanie referred to it. That’s why her email came as such a shock. Lexi figured her friend must be really frightened to even broach the topic that had been taboo for years.

She checked the flight schedules out of Asheville and emailed back, telling Melanie there was a flight available that would put her in Dallas the day after tomorrow. Then she made a list of the clients she’d have to reschedule in the morning.

When she finally got to bed, she tossed and turned for hours, only to dream of a malevolent winged creature carrying Melanie’s screaming children off into the darkness.

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