“Mrs. Milton, it's so good to finally meet you,” Dr. Hampton said as she stood up to walk around her oakwood desk to greet me, “or do you prefer Jasmine?”
I studied the spacious office. Admiring the African artwork and decor until I paused at a particular print divided into five blocks with weird symbols and phrases in a different language I couldn’t pinpoint. The small statues that sat along her back wall were five women posing in different positions from one with her arms raised like horns to another with her hands clasped to her heart. Everything about her office said worldly and culture but some of this stuff looked anything but…
I found myself walking over to the print to study more closely before catching Dr. Hampton staring at me from behind.
“It’s the four elements,” she said before rolling her eyes, “the fifth one is going through the trials now but I’m sure it’ll pass.”
“Earth,” pointing to the first symbol with the natural brown, and green tones, “water, fire, and air…”
“Like the zodiac signs,” I said as she nodded.
“Fifth being the soul or eternal to represent the cycle of life and death. Very new. Still going through the process of acceptance. Would you care to sit Mrs. Milton?”
Percy told me she was an uptight old woman who kept a straight wrinkled face, but seeing her now? Her long silver hair was laying in waves against her shoulders, no glasses on and red lipstick looked refreshed against her navy suit, and brown skin. Her eyes were dark, and the lines in her face weren’t as bad as Percy made it seem like. I was expecting someone who looked like they should be in a senior home about to lose their mind. Not...this.
“I prefer Jasmine,” I said, shaking her extended hand before tucking my own hair behind my ears as I sat down on the couch. Instead of sitting at her desk, she pulled her chair around to face the couch while grabbing a fresh black notepad as she began to write. “You wanted to see me alone first? Without Percy?”
“We only have hour-long sessions but once I learned that you would be joining us, I requested to see you for the first thirty minutes alone. Mmmm hmmm,” she hummed as she continued to write, “how was South Carolina?”
“It was… it was fine I suppose. I kind of miss the slowness of it all. The calm and quiet mornings.”
“Anything interesting happened while you were there?”
My eyes screwed in suspicion as I watched her continue to write before looking up at me with her crow’s feet wrinkles crowning her eyes. Her eyes smiled before her lips slowly stretched to show a peek of her teeth.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have a lot of time before Percy arrives. Do you notice anything different about you now that you’re back here? I realize you were in the hospital---”
“Dehydration mainly,” I cut in as her pen tapped her notepad repeatedly, “I’m sorry, I thought I was here to talk about my marriage to Percy? You seem to have another motive?”
“How can you tell?” Dr. Hampton questioned as she sat upright. “What would give you that idea?”
When neither of us spoke, I shook my head and decided to stand.
“I rather come back when Percy arrives if that works. I’m not sure what he’s told you about me or what his mother has said, but this isn’t what I thought it was going to be,” grabbing my things as I started for the door, “I’ll let him---”
“I can teach you how to read people. The correct way,” she let out as my hand hovered just seconds away from the door knob. Eyes widening with her words repeating in my head until I turned around to look at Dr. Hampton.
She smiled, and motioned for me to sit.
“I realize the Skye family is littered in your life right now but you have to know they are not the only ones with magic. Real magic doesn’t come with a last name. That family is just known for it because they made profit from it,” she said as I slowly sat back down to face her. “I can teach you how to protect yourself. I can teach you how to fight back. I can teach you how to channel love, beauty, light, and power…Anything and everything I know, I can teach it to you. I come from a belief far older than your friends,” she sighed as she began to write, “far older than this country, and I’ve been around for many centuries to see hardly anything change.”
“I was hoping to get to you before someone else did, but I was too late apparently. You and Percy have a lot going on together,” she sighed as my mouth dropped. Ama Mae… She had to be talking about the woman in South Carolina. I couldn’t…. I couldn’t even fix my lips to say what was going through my mind right now, and she’s just as calm as ever. Still writing on her notepad before looking at me.
“We only have thirty minutes before Percy comes so let’s make the most of it Jasmine. Any questions for me before we begin?”
“H-how… What…” I stuttered as I looked around the room again seeing nothing changed. She was still the same therapist as before but what she just said…. How did… “Wait a minute… I don’t understand? How did you know what happened in South Carolina… with...Ama Mae… You’re a witch? A---”
She cringed, face wrinkling together with a shake of her head.
“No, and I don’t like that word. I am still a woman of God, and was brought up in the church. I don’t like that term. Witch,” she spat. “I don’t tell any of my clients to call me that either. Too old to be a witch---”
“Oh my God!” I shrieked, gripping my head as Dr. Hampton started to tap her pen on the notepad again. “This cannot be real! I… I was just…. It’s like all of this is following me now! Delilah never---”
“Jasmine,” she said calmly, leaning forward in her chair, “we have less than thirty minutes for our session. Let’s make the most of this. Please.”
“What are you doing with Percy? His family? How did you come to meet the Freemans?”
“An old friend introduced Elizabeth Milton to me as a favor regarding her sons. In particular, Percy who was having trouble connecting with you… Granted he never really tried---”
“Tuh!” I laughed with my hands thrown in the air.
“But when he began to describe you… I realized, one? He’s been in love with you all this time and doesn’t quite understand how to handle that because love is only real when it's from his mother. He feels better about his feelings for you when he intentionally goes out his way to hurt you and push you away, and two? The more Percy described you, the more I realized you were different. You weren’t just an ordinary woman.”
“What do you mean,” I let out, clasping my hands over my mouth as tears began to trickle down.
“Had I gotten to you sooner? I would have advised you not to continue to see Delilah or any of the younger Skye girls for a reading.”
“So what are you?” I questioned, “what are you? Why...what… Percy doesn’t know?”
“I’ve been lurking in this body for a while now,” she sighed as she sat up right while adjusting her skirt. “No children of my own sadly, but I enjoy listening to people and their problems… Emotions are such a physical energy… You can see it, feel it, touch it… Everyone I meet is full of emotion or none at all and I find it fascinating. Always have, but I am simply a spirit. Nothing more, nothing less. We’re all over the world, and come in many forms. Animals, pets, people, nature… Some of us are born animal spirits that take human forms to hide our true identity like totems… I’m sure you know of a few totems in your life.”
“Yes,” I coughed while wiping my eyes.
“Others are emotions...Balls of light and dark...Energy and we hide within the soul of the body to thrive….like you, and I. There are others like the four elements…. Air, water, earth, and fire… which is all around us. We can leave a body if we choose to for another. We live by our own set of rules aside from the Gods and religion because we are above that. We come before any religion, any belief, any spirituality because we are what they preach. You understand? We are what they stress about in many cultures of a higher power.
“I’m not a witch or some sort of angel… Goddess or God. I am a spirit that has been here time and time again. As for the woman you saw in South Carolina? She was something else entirely and thankfully, you had a skilled root doctor to cleanse you of that because she is dark… I can still see bits and fragments of her left behind on you from that night. Dripping off your body like black paint,” she despised as she looked me over, “she was desperate and didn’t want to die with that body. That soul was willing to cling to any innocent light...when the body feels like it's about to give out, we make our way into another to start over… Sometimes our memory fails us, other times we remember everything and know who we are from birth. My practice,” raising her hand, “is mainly for those who have lost their memory from the previous life with the exception of a few like Percy who are simply a favor for a friend. Help them gain a sense of identity because you don’t remember? Do you? You don’t remember anything about your past? You’ve been around for centuries sweetheart. Your energy, your obsession with love and to be loved is what consumes you. You are born time and time again searching for the same thing. Attracting … and you don’t even know why.”
“I…” feeling tears pouring down my face at this point as I looked around, more than confused, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about or how it could be me…I remember growing up with my parents, and being a regular little kid. I….”
“Our sessions will be me teaching you who you are, and what you’re meant to become…”
“What about Percy? What about our marriage? I---”
“That man is in love with you,” she said, looking squarely at me, “you’re all he constantly thinks about, and talks about with others. If I were you? I would explore that as well. It could possibly help you find out about your past.”
The small intercom in her office clicked over as Dr. Hampton stood up with a sigh.
“Sorry to disturb your session, but Percy Milton is here for his appointment,” her assistant said as Dr. Hampton nodded.
“Give me five minutes before sending him back,” she said as she looked back at me, “get yourself together Jasmine. Nobody needs to know what you, and I discuss. Not even Percy.”
“I have so many questions about...about my supposed past. Who… If I’m not...or… How did you know about me and… Percy is in love with me? Does Percy know about you or…. Or any of this?”
“There are twelve official spiritual laws of the universe,” she stated as she shuffled through her desk to look for something. Soon as she pulled out a hair clip, she raised her hand in the air with a quick snap, the artwork on the walls flipped to the backside to show flowers and french paintings of the Eiffel Tower or a telephone booth in London in watercolors. The statues were nothing but mere awards for her accomplishments in her field as my mouth dropped. Even the color, and texture of the carpet changed. Gone was the African decor in exchange for a majority European style space. I sat completely still, unable to fully grasp what I was witnessing as she continued, “within those twelve laws Jasmine… instead of citizens and basic society needs and living?” putting her hair in a conservative bun, “we have spirits that are born under particular laws that may act them out in each life cycle. There are councils, orders that date back centuries… As I said, the Skye family is not the end of all to be all when it comes to magic. They are merely just the surface, and a part of something much bigger,” she expressed as she looked up at me, “you have no idea how deep this goes baby girl. This has nothing to do with good versus evil, Devil and God, dark and light… it's more than that… It's more than religion. It’s life. It's a way of life and some are more intuned with it than others, and no. No Percy doesn’t know. My suggestion, you should really open yourself up and pay attention to what he doesn’t say. Let him be the first person you learn to read properly.”
“I don’t understand how I---”
She raised her hand in the air as books began to place themselves in their individual slots on the shelves one by one. Titles that originally said Moon Cycles, and Sun Storms were changed into Modern Day Psychology, and Marriage 101.
“Everything around you is energy waiting to be tapped into and harnessed,” she said as the lock on the door unlatched itself with a loud click and pop.
“Watch, and pay attention to him,” she whispered, “listen with your more than just your ears. Tap into that energy Jasmine.”
The door opened as I shot up seeing Percy walk in wearing a charcoal grey shirt with jeans, and Chucks. Simple yet flattering, he pushed his black framed glasses up against his face as Dr. Hampton...wearing her hair back in a bun with glasses on, and a longer skirt that hovered over her ankles, reached to shake his hand.
“We were just talking about you Percy,” she smiled.
“I figured as much,” he muttered as we both turned to one another, awkwardly standing in place before I sat back down to wipe my own face. Percy sat down on the cushion beside me, leaving enough space to add a third person on the couch.
“I’m glad both of you are able to join me today, how are you two doing together now that you’ve been sharing this new space for a few days?” Dr. Hampton asked as my mind began to race. She was a totally different person. She looked the same as before but her strong confident tone weakened, and took a step back as a feeble doctor who just sat, and listened. Percy couldn’t see how fake this was? The front? It was almost painfully obvious but Percy wiped his hands down on his jeans to keep from sweating as he shrugged.
“It feels the same. We’ve lived together before for years.”
“As husband, and wife though… Are you two sharing a bed now?”
“No,” I cracked before clearing my throat. “Not yet anyway. I wanted to find a new mattress… a new bed set altogether and decorate everything to make it feel more like home.”
“We decided to make it work,” Percy added, “to start over fresh. Jasmine, and I. She’s given up the notion of fairytale love, and I’ve given up cheating along with my parents’ hold on me and my life to make this work.”
I dropped my head down with my nails clicking together.
“Is that so?” Dr. Hampton raised as she looked at me, “how do you two plan on making it work if there is no love between the two of you? No attraction---”
“I never said I wasn’t attracted to her,” Percy cut in with an attitude as my eyes slowly slid towards, “I never said that.”
“You’ve said it before,” I mentioned as Percy’s head nearly snapped towards me like I had the nerve to speak out, “you’ve told me plenty of times how I don’t compare to other women you meet.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to you. I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t find you at the very least, attractive Jasmine. Be realistic about what you’re saying here.”
“I am being realistic, Percy. You’ve called me an idiot. You’ve said I wasn’t attractive, as attractive as the girls you sleep with. I’m boring, and childish---”
“You’ve also said things about me that I don’t like Jasmine but you don’t see me crying about it,” he snapped. “I thought we were starting over because if we’re not, then I have questions about your time in South Carolina, and who you spent it with. Why you came back sickly, if you weren’t going through some sort of miscarriage or---”
“I said I wasn’t pregnant!”
“I call bullshit,” he muttered as Dr. Hampton raised her hand in the air to stop us, but he kept going without looking at me, “do you see what I’m talking about? She was just fine at home but the moment she gets in front of people… she becomes a victim. We have a function to attend tonight with my parents, and I---”
“Do you see how he talks to me?” I let out. “You’re telling me to listen, well this is what I constantly hear---”
“I don’t think Dr. Hampton can understand you through your constant tears, and whining Jasmine----”
“Shut up! Just shut up Percy!” I screamed angrily, “I should have never left South Carolina. I should---”
“So go back! Go back to whoever you were with out there! I don’t care! I---!”
“Both of you stop it!” Dr. Hampton screamed as she slammed her notepad to the floor, glaring at the two of us, “you act like children...Neither of you respect the other and it's obvious. What function tonight Percy?”
“My parents' anniversary,” he muttered. “I wasn’t planning on going but it's a chance to network and expand.”
“Jasmine,” Dr. Hampton looked at me like a mother ready to scold her child, “remember what I said about energy. Right now? Your energy, the space around you isn’t safe. It’s not inviting or comfortable for others to be let in…and you two fall right back into old habits. You cannot,” she stressed with her fingers pinching the air, “you cannot expect to receive what you want from anybody if that is what you’re giving off. You need to make it a safe space for Percy to feel comfortable enough to enter. Trust that he won’t violate, and hurt your space but you need to work on your energy. Work on what you’re putting off sweetheart… Nobody goes where they’re not invited. If you give the impression you don’t want to be bothered, you’ll be avoided like the plague, hence the reason he’s sitting two people apart from you and you’re his wife. How do you two expect to share a bed if you can’t even sit together on the couch?”
I looked down at the space between us before looking up at Percy who avoided my gaze.
“I’m glad you’re saying it because she won’t hear it from me,” he sarcastically muttered. “God forbid if I say the exact same thing. Either she’ll cry or---”
“Percy, verbally attacking her does nothing but push your chances back of being close with her. You help create the very same wall you’re trying to bust through.”
“I realize that.”
“So stop it. If she plays victim then you’re the one throwing stones and hiding your hands. Both of you need to stop it. Jasmine’s language is physical. Your language is verbal. There are some people who want to be held, want to be touched and feel like they’re loved even if they’re not, and there are some people who need reassurance. Some that need to be told they’re doing a good job, and need that boost of confidence to keep going. You’re doing good Percy. I like when you say this to me, or even a smile at him could go a long way… When is the last time you two hugged?”
Neither Percy or I looked at each other nor spoke as Dr. Hampton sighed.
“Of course. Get up Jasmine,” she said as I wiped my eyes before standing up in front of her, “I want you to turn to Percy…”
I slowly turned to face my husband, feeling my jaw tightened before I brushed my hair back from my face.
“Percy, when you feel comfortable, I want you to hug your wife,” she said as my eyes grew wide, whipping my head to look back at her. It was something so simple, yet I was panicking as I turned to look back at him. He shot up from the couch, confident as ever as he yanked his jeans up before standing before me with slump shoulders with a dull expression.
“All I’m doing is hugging her?” he asked dryly, “that’s it? What is that going to do?”
“It’s going to change everything,” Dr. Hampton whispered with a smile, “you two need each other more than ever now and it's obvious. Hug her, but only when it's right. When you feel like she wants you to hug her. I’ll be just outside of my office speaking with my assistant.”
As soon as she stepped out with the door closing behind her, I brought my hands up to my eyes to stop myself from crying all over again.
“She’s stupid. I wish we could get another therapist. She never made me do anything like this,” he complained.
“Yeah,” I sniffed as I stood in front of him, smearing my eyes and cheeks back, “I really hate that I’m so emotional. I’ll cry over spilt milk at this point, literally.”
“Yeah,” he agreed in a somber tone before stepping close with a quick push of his glasses up his nose, “if I said you weren’t attractive or as attractive, it was a lie… The girls weren’t ugly but none of them compared to you. I think you’re almost too beautiful if you ask me. Not fair to the rest of them,” he suddenly muttered as I let out a small chuckle as my eyes teared up again.
“Damn it, I can’t stop,” I cried with a short laugh before raising my head to the ceiling to blink, “wheew!”
“Maybe you have a lash in your eye,” he suggested. Normally that would be the biggest cornball response I would pick up on but seeing how close he was standing next to me took my mind elsewhere for a moment. He smelled so good. Just to see the outline of his body behind the loose fitting grey t-shirt made me look down shyly at our feet. My heels against his Chucks until one pump was placed between his feet. I looked back up at him with my hands nervously picking at one another but his eyes were zoned in on my lips. His lips parted ever so slowly, just enough to let air escape as his nostrils flared and his chest rose. I was paying attention to things I never noticed before and when I stared at his glasses, I studied the reflection like a small screen projecting on the lens. It wasn’t Dr. Hampton’s office I was seeing, it was my own face looking like a woman ready to be kissed as I closed my eyes, letting the last lingering tears glide down my cheeks. Percy naturally stepped in place with his lips laying on mine like the perfect fit. His arms swooned around my body, holding me close as I lost all sense of strength, and relied on him to hold me upright before I gripped his arms for support. I felt his fingers grip me tight like he didn’t want to let me go, like it pained him to let me go. Only for a second did he pull back as I opened my eyes to meet his.
“Is this real?” he whispered. “Am I really making out with you or am I dreaming? Please tell me this isn’t another dream...I would really hate to wake up again.”
“Percy please,” I choked, feeling the tears just turn up a notch. My hands cupped his head to bring his lips back down on mine as our lips tugged at one another. Percy pressed his forehead against mine, straining like he was hurting before blurting out,
“I’ve been wanting to kiss you like this for years Jasmine…”
He caught my mouth again as my fingers clung to his ears, eyes slowly closing as I got lost in his work. His tongue felt so gentle against mine in the way that he lapped and---
“Yes, schedule her for Friday,” Dr. Hampton’s voice shouted as she opened her door to her office and paused when she saw the two of us locked into one another. She smiled as my hands slid down his arms but Percy kept a grip on my waist. “You two need a little more time? Privacy?”
“No,” I sniffed, tapping his arm to let me go, “no we’re fine.”
“Mmm hmm. I bet,” she grinned, “my last thing I need you two to do...this one is for Percy. This… hug was for your and now what I’m going to have you two do next is for Percy.”