I suddenly gripped my ears from the sharp ringing noise piercing through as I leaned over, dropping my purse. My heart was starting to race, palms getting sweaty as Dr. Hampton quickly called out for Akil.
“Grab her, now! NOW! It’s time!” she yelled.
I could hear my own heart, my pulse and the blood pumping in my ears as I felt the room slowly turn sideways before blacking out completely.
The next time I woke up, my body felt like it’d been hit by a truck, or two. Every ache and sore muscle was felt with the slightest of movement as I tried to peer through my blurred vision.
It was cold. Hairs on my arm were standing at attention with goosebumps rising as I closed my eyes and opened them again. Blinking long enough to refocus when I noticed...myself… My reflection… A woman identical to me sitting across from me. Her arms were sown up by string as she crossed one heel over the other and pushed her hair back. Her skin...or...my skin looked badly bruised and scarred from years ago. Fading away to nothing but dark marks and scars. We just stared at each other for a moment, neither of us speaking. She seemed so strong to be able to sit there with her head held high, battered and bruised like it didn’t phase her, like she was built for this while I laid in the bed weak and unable to move. I was looking at a reflection of my stronger self. The woman who has endured so much and then I heard a sniffle. I couldn’t make out exactly where the soft cries were coming from until the woman leaned forward, coaxing someone to appear with a wiggle of her fingers. The woman suddenly pointed underneath the bed as I winced in pain to lean over. I could see a tiny brown hand laying flat against the hardwood floor as a little girl attempted to come out. She was afraid to come out, fearful of what might happen to her.
The door suddenly burst opened with laughter as I looked back to see myself twice over. Two girls identical to me wearing the same thing I wore at nine years old laughing and running around the room, living in their own imagination. Their hair was attached together by one single braid, keeping the two close together as they continued to giggle. I looked back at the first Jasmine who rolled her eyes annoyingly while pushing her hair back. The door remained open as I looked around. It was still Dr. Hampton’s house only we were in a different room. I was laying on a bed like some sick patient as I looked over beside me to see myself sitting up against the pillows with a blank stare. I couldn’t place my finger on it but there was a certain sadness about her, about me that was all too familiar. She looked like she no longer wanted to be here and when she turned to face me, my heart sank. The bags underneath her dull eyes, her dry lips, and stiff hair was me as late as last year.
I leaned back over the bed to check for the little girl again, seeing only her hands showing with blood underneath her brittle nails that were cracked down the middle. When I reached down to show my hand, she scurried back underneath the bed and continued to cry.
This had to be a dream…. This was a dream. The bright light from the window, showing the sun from outside. The weird room we were in… The faint noise of the AC blowing through the vents. Everything felt the same except for me so this had to be a dream.
“You shouldn’t do that,” the woman said as she adjusted herself in the chair across from me. Her eyes mirrored mine but her smile was dark when she shook her head, “she scares easily. Now she probably won’t come back out. Always hiding from something…”
“How much longer do we have to put up with Percy?” another asked. The one beside me sounded like she was at her breaking point. “I can’t take it anymore. I can’t stand to be in the house with him---”
“She just woke up, give her a minute…”
The two girls connected by the braids came jumping on the end of the bed as they looked through my phone together and laughed. My pretty dark curly hair looked so long and healthy back then. I could see my mother’s face in them.
This is just a dream… it was a dream and nothing more.
“Anyway,” the one with the attitude continued as she stood up and walked towards the bed, “I’m sure you have questions…While we’re here...I prefer to be called Jayde or Mystique,” wavering her fingers across her face playfully, “I like to fuck with people and their lives because why not? That’s Debby Downer over there beside you who lets her boyfriend constantly cheat on her and says nothing about it---”
“I just want to leave,” she defended. “I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to---”
“Nobody cares Debby. That’s Queenie and Penny,” pointing at the two girls on the edge of the bed waving at me with genuine smiles, “they hold the happiest part of our childhood and the innocence we weren’t able to keep...and this little one,” stepping back to point below, “she doesn’t come out but she is the start of it all...We don’t have a name for her yet. We’ve been protecting you for years… That Delilah woman? Well, you’ll hear the tapes from the Doc,” she concluded as she gripped the sheets with a pout. As if she didn’t want to leave and a small part of me felt the same, like we’ve known each other for years. I reached over and grabbed her hand, mouthing thank you. The two girls came running around the bed to face me with all smiles in their matching dresses as I reached back to grab the arm of my former self. I could feel the kicks from underneath the bed start and stop as my eyes began to tear up because I finally understood what was going on. Dream or not, I understood what I’ve been through and what kind of woman I am today because of it.
“You should be able to take care of yourself from here on out,” Jayde said. “I’ll keep everyone else in line,” smoothing the edges down on one of the younger girls before smiling at me, “if anything happens, we’re always watching.” She tapped the corner of her eye, “always watching, and waiting. Now, it's time for you to wake up and realize who the hell you are, Jasmine. There’s work to be done.”
My eyes snapped open as I gasped. Sitting up against the bed, I looked around the empty room. Only thing in front of me was a single chair with a recorder in a sandwich bag that was addressed to me. There was a thing of white flowers, Jasmines in a vase beside the bed and a change of spare clothes.
How long have I been here?
I knew this was Dr. Hampton’s house because the pictures of her in her younger days were on the bookshelf across from the bed but that was it. It was as if the house was completely empty. I grabbed the piece of paper attached to the plastic bag and flipped it over to read.
I was able to successfully have a session with each altar. I’m certain there are a few more hidden within you that were afraid to come out and talk to me but the main ones, your strongest ones stepped forward and I am grateful for that interaction. Your husband is ready to press charges against your mother but she agreed to sit down and begin sessions with me. Whether I want to admit it or not, your mother has suffered as well and is deeply traumatized by what happened. She needs help and I’m glad she was able to recognize that in herself. Percy is alive and healthy. Not too happy that I used him to trigger you but I expected no less from a husband who loves you, to do whatever it takes to protect his wife.
When you wake up, you will notice a few things...a few scars may appear on your skin...Nothing coco butter can’t fix. You will feel more complete and you will be able to see the world differently. See people differently. Your memories, good and bad are with you now. You are a child born of magic that has been suppressed for years. I suggest letting me show you, guide you in the path… learn what you need to learn so you’re able to pass it on to your children. Should you continue your sessions with me, I can teach you everything under and above the sun.
In this sandwich bag, is a recording of each session with each altar. You and your husband may listen to it on your own time or don’t at all. It’s completely up to you but any question you have will be answered if you listen. When you wake up, shower and change. I will call your husband and tell him to pick you up.
I stared at the small black recorder before looking at my arms to see faded scars and bruises. Even my legs that were once spotless, now looked worn down from years of abuse. After everything, even with a pounding headache, the only thing I wanted to do was talk to Percy.
I searched for my phone within the sheets of the bed and sighed at the low battery. It was enough juice to get me through one call, and instead of getting up like I should have been doing, I laid back down with a smile and called him on speaker.
“Percy Milton,” he answered right away, “Jasmine?”
“I’m---I’m here,” clearing my throat, “I just woke up. Are you at work?”
“Yes but I’m leaving now to come get you. I’m certain I have grey hairs growing because of you woman. I haven’t been able to eat or sleep---”
“Percy,” I sighed.
“No, you hear me. You listen to me this time. I am not cut out for this. You better learn how to play some damn video games next time you have a problem or read my favorite comics to me for bed to make up for this shit you have me going through.”
I smiled before laughing as I turned over on my side and closed my eyes.
“How long will it take you to get here?”
“I’m going to run every redlight I can without hitting anyone,” he stated.
“Hugo,” I laughed. “You don’t need to rush… I still have to shower and get dressed.”
“Did you get the flowers I sent you?”
“I did. They’re lovely.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Starving,” sitting up as I gently let my feet touch the floor, “and thirsty. My mouth is so dry.”
“I’ll have something in the car waiting for you. Go get ready now, but keep me on the phone!” he blurted out as I looked around for my charger, “keep me on the phone.”
“Okay,” I grinned.