The gift of short story for Tammy @ a word about books

Breaking through the Fear

I watched as her body slowly relaxed, the pain disappearing and a look of wonder now sporting on her elderly face. It was a wonder that she’d been here for a week and I only noticed her now. Her pain was painful to look at.

“Thank you,” she uttered weakly and reached out to touch my hand.

I pulled away quickly and shook my head. Her answer didn’t evade my senses. Usually people questioned me to no end, but she didn’t and that was nice. I was thankful in return, however, I still couldn’t allow her to touch me for if she did, the amulet’s power would have been used for nothing.

She nodded and then looked out the window.

Quickly, I fixed my gloves and returned the amulet around my neck, hiding it under my shirt.

“Want to hear a story?” the elderly woman questioned.

It was my turn to nod.

“It happened on a moonless night,” she began, “and the girl was ten. She was crying under one of the village’s totems. Her sobs reached the ears of a bear spirit who decided to ask the reason behind her tears.”

There was a pause while the woman got more comfortable against her pillows.

““Why are you crying, little girl?” the bear asked. The girl replied with, “my grandfather is ill. He’s on the edge of the underworld.” The bear looked surprised. “Do you know what that means?” The young girl shook her head uncertainly. “I think that he’ll be going on a journey and I’ll never see him again.” The bear smiled. “Yes, a new journey that everyone takes at one point of their lives.” The girl nodded and continued crying. Through sobs, she said, “I want to help him. I want to give him something to remember me by.” The bear was impressed for the little girl knew that she could help her grandfather and didn’t ask for things that could not be given by anyone, including spirits.”

“So sad,” I whispered.

The woman shook her head. “Nadya. There is no such thing as sadness. People have created such an emotion and with it fear for their own stupid purpose. Everything happens for a reason.”

Then what’s the reason for my curse? Why was I cursed to be lonely forever since the age of five? Why can’t I be happy? No, sweet lady. There is sadness in this world and it wasn’t created by humans, it was created by demons.

“The bear spirit picked out a flower by the little girl and it started glowing. “Give this flower to your grandfather for his safe journey.” The little girl was startled. “How can a flower keep him safe?” The bear laughed. “It can for it’s a gift from his smart granddaughter.” That same evening, the little girl gifted her grandfather with the flower. Her family was proud of her and were thankful to the bear spirit after they heard her story. Grandfather passed away that night with a smile on his face.”

“Good ending,” I told the nice woman. “Well relatively speaking.”

The elderly woman laughed and it reminded me of the bear.

“Thank you for healing me, Nadya,” the elderly woman said.

I gulped and got up. “I need to go on my rounds. I will see you later, Genie.”

As I exited her room, I heard, “I hope that you learned a lesson from the bear spirit.”

👧

The next day, during my rounds, I walked into Genie’s empty room. The window was open and flower petals were escaping from the stems that held them hostage.

“Where’s Genie?” I asked Patty, a passing nurse. “Was she released.

Patty shook her head. “Genie passed away peacefully in the night. I’m sorry.”

My purse slid down my arm and my vision became dotty.

“Hey!” Patty yelled, grabbing me by arm.

I was thankful that I was wearing a coat and she didn’t touch my skin.

“How?” I asked, regaining my composure.

“It was her time, dear,” Patty replied. “I know that our patients usually survive their illnesses and we have people coming to this hospital for our good karma, but we do lose one or two in a while.”

I nodded and watched her leave.

It was impossible. Genie couldn’t have died… not after I used my amulet on her.

Slowly, I made my way to the outside courtyard and sat down on a bench. Tears slid down my face and I wished for a hat to cover my face.

“Why are you crying?”

Startled, I looked up into the most beautiful eyes that I’ve ever seen. They reminded me of a magical forest.

“I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” I said and it felt like the wind hid my answer.

“Ah,” he replied knowingly and sat down next to me. I scooted away but he sat closer.

“Excuse me?”

He laughed. “So you must be Nadya.”

I blinked.

“The gloves are the dead give away,” he explained. “A nurse told me about a volunteer who always gloves. She said that everyone loves her and patients feel better around her.”

“She’s exaggerating,” I replied.

I’ve spent here too long. I need to move on. Simple enough since I don’t really have friends in this town, just acquaintances.

“Not what Genie said,” he replied.

Now, I really looked at him.

His short black hairs danced in the wind. His green eyes seemed to see right through my soul and his black suit didn’t help, either.

“I need to go,” I told him and got up.

He rose with me and grabbed my hand, pulling off one of my gloves. “You have such white hands. You should let them out more to be in the sun.”

I was too shocked to move and I watched and then felt his hand on my hand. It was coming, his death and I was powerless to stop it. When seconds passed and nothing happened, I blinked and stared at him.

“H… how?”

“Names Armel,” the young man said and let go of my hand. “I’ll see you later, Nadya.”

He walked away, whistling.

My feet stayed rooted to the ground.

What just happened?

👧

Over the next couple of weeks, my life had turned upside down. Someone could finally touch me and I looked forward to seeing Armel. They weren’t romantic touches, but around him, my gloves were gone. It hadn’t happened in twenty years and it felt weird yet amazing.

However, he was really good at dodging my questions. He knew about me and I didn’t know anything about him. I, even, allowed him to look in on my sessions with patients and my use of amulet. And after weeks of us spending more and more time together, he showed me his amulet.

It was identical to mine.

Knowing that this time, he couldn’t escape my questions, I attacked. “What does your amulet do?”

“While yours heals,” he replied, “mine takes away life.”

I gasped and a realization hit me.

He nodded. “Yes, after you healed Genie, she spoke to me and I helped her cross over.”

“Why?”

“Because she was ready to move on. My amulet is like a flower that helps someone have a safe journey in our next step of existence.”

“How?”

He smiled. “There’s a need for balance. You haven’t been cursed as you think you are.”

I blinked.

“At some point,” he said, “you became scared of your power and that fear turned your body into a killer.”

I stared at my hands. “How do you know so much?”

“I know many things,” he replied. “As a young child, you were pressured to help everyone your family knew and that pressure materialized into a killing instinct. To protect anyone from shaking you senseless until you agreed to help, your body started to reject touch. Your family started viewing you as a curse and you were turned to the streets and yet survived the harshness of our society.”

Tears slid down my face. I haven’t cried this much in years. I didn’t think any tears were left within me.

“Have you met anyone like me before?” I asked. “How are you able to touch me.”

He smiled and wiped away my tears. “I have and I helped them pass through their fear. I can help you. You’re old enough to say goodbye to fear. ”

“How?” I asked. “And, will I see you again? It feels like our time is ending somehow.”

“I will always be in here,” he said and poked my chest at where my heart was. “Close your eyes.”

Slowly, I did and felt his lips on mine. They were soft. His breathe reminded me of a cold winter night. I felt my barriers break and opened my eyes to see him fading away.

I smiled. “Thank you, bear spirit.”

He winked at me and I was left alone in the courtyard.

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