Chapter 1 of The Descendant: Book 1
I knew I wasn’t dying. At least that was what the other doctors had said. But what I didn’t know, and neither did any of those other doctors, was the cause of my symptoms. In fact, those supposed specialists had all declared me to be perfectly healthy and viewed my symptoms with skepticism. But I knew they were mistaken; there was something wrong with me.
I waited for Doctor McNally in the cramped exam room; she was the seventh doctor I’d visited in the past six months. The drab, yellow walls and fluorescent lighting did little to comfort me, but I was still optimistic that this appointment was going to be different from the others. After all, this specialist had run more tests and labs and exams than the others, which gave me hope that she would not only be the doctor to diagnose me, but to cure me.
There was a knock at the door, and Doctor McNally entered the room. She was slender, maybe in her late thirties, with chestnut hair and green eyes. Her blue scrubs were hidden under a white lab coat.
“Good morning, Allison. How are you today?” she asked with a smile.
What a loaded question, I thought. Let’s see – depressed, confused, tired, angry, sad, scared, all of the above? I decided to go with something less dramatic. “I’m okay. I’ll be better after you tell me what’s wrong with me.”
The doctor pulled a caster stool from under the counter and sat down. Rolling closer to where I sat on the exam table, she crossed her arms over the clipboard in her lap and looked me in the eyes. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Allison.”
My heart skipped. Blood flooded my cheeks. Anger boiled in my stomach. Not again. Not another doctor insisting I was well. She couldn’t tell me nothing was wrong with me. There had to be an explanation.
“But how can that be?” I pleaded. “Can you look again, please? There has to be something.”
“Your blood work is normal, your scans are clean. You are well, Allison. I reviewed the information as it came in and looked it over again before meeting with you. There’s nothing here to indicate you are anything but healthy.”
I shook my head and dropped my eyes to the floor. What was happening to me wasn’t normal. Something wasn’t right.
I looked back at the doctor and tried to control my temper. “I don’t believe this. You are just like all of the other doctors. There has to be something causing all of this. I’m not making this up.”
Doctor McNally flipped through my file. “Allison, I’m telling you – according to these results, there is nothing unusual going on with you.”
“Then how do you explain my lack of appetite?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“You haven’t lost any weight over the past months. Your iron levels are normal…”
“What about my body temperature?” I interrupted. “I flare up at night like a furnace but I’m freezing cold in the morning, like I am now. Just last night, my blistering body heat kept me awake as I wallowed in bed in a pool of sweat. But now? Now I’m freezing, absolutely chilled to the bone. And my sweatshirt, jeans and socks are doing little to warm me. It makes no sense considering it’s eighty-some-odd degrees outside. How do you explain that?”
“Allison, your temperature has been normal every time we’ve taken it, regardless of when it was taken. Even today, your temperature is ninety-eight point six degrees.”
“What about my insomnia?” I challenged. “I’ve barely slept in months.”
The doctor pursed her lips and seemed to carefully ponder her next words. “You say you dream, right?”
My mouth parted and my mind went momentarily blank as I stared at the doctor. I had no idea she knew about my dream. I didn’t think I’d shared it with anyone. I hadn’t even told my husband Matt let alone some doctor I’d only known through a handful of visits. It was my secret, or so I thought. I made no mention of the dream to anyone because it made little sense to me. I knew Matt and Jenna, my best friend since kindergarten, were already worried about my omnipresent sour mood and inexplicable symptoms, and they didn’t need something else to worry about – a mysterious dream that somehow imparted temporary serenity upon me.
“I told you about my dream?”
“Mmm hmm. I have it written here from our last visit. You have a recurring dream about a garden.”
“It’s not just any garden,” I snapped, and then immediately felt foolish. For some unknown reason, I was highly protective of my dream. But calling it a simple garden didn’t do this paradise justice.
In my dream, the ground is a rich brown and exudes an earthy scent. Large tree roots break through the forest floor, undulating over the landscape like hypnotic waves. The atmosphere is completely saturated with fertility. Abundant, flourishing plant life is everywhere and flowering shrubs cling to the base of trees making it impossible to see where the trunks converge with the ground. Berry bushes are plentiful, as are ferns and thorny hedges.
The trees are a spectacular sight, massive in height and width. If the breadths of the trunks are any indication, these trees have been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The branches soar up into the air, twisting and weaving, creating a sort of jungle gym. Branches kiss the sky where the foliage unfolds into an emerald canopy. Sunlight filters through this ceiling, casting a kaleidoscope of color within the jungle. An ever-present cool breeze sways the leaves, revealing patches of crisp, blue sky.
Beyond the wooded area are lush carpets of grass dotted with flowers in every imaginable color. There are large red blooms, tiny yellow buttercups, tall blue bells, orange lilies, purple puffs, and an array of exotic blossoms. The colors are splendid, so vibrant and full of life. It is as if a luminary is lighting each plant from within, showcasing the flower’s beauty. In the distance, wild grasslands dance in the breeze in spellbinding repetition. The air is fragrant, almost overpoweringly so, yet delightful. The individual scents– roses, honeysuckle, freesia, and some unfamiliar ones – blend to form a pleasant perfume.
Other dreams reveal that animals of every kind make this paradise their home. Fluttering birds whistle melodious tunes while monkeys dangle from trees with bananas in hand. Koala bears cling to tree limbs near camouflaged lizards, and toucans perch on branches as they keep a watchful eye over the revelry. Lions, deer, elephants, and other large beasts roam freely, yet there are plenty of smaller creatures, too – rabbits, butterflies and a variety of insects. Friend and foe, hunter and prey live here in magical harmony, making the garden like no other place that has existed before. At least no place I have ever known.
“Allison?” Doctor McNally’s voice floated through my ears. “Allison, hello, are you with me?”
I cleared my throat as I realized I had drifted off to my paradise. “Um, yeah. Sorry, I was ah, just thinking.”
“Do you want to talk about it? Your dream.”
“Not really. It’s just um -- it’s not just a garden,” I stated, trying to justify my earlier reaction. The last thing I wanted was a suspicious doctor exploring my paradise with me. “It’s more of a tropical oasis, of sorts, something like that.”
“Allison, is there something else going on?” The doctor stood up from her stool and peered down at me. This was starting to feel like an interrogation and I didn’t like it. “Is there something else bothering you besides the symptoms that brought you here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you under stress or worried about something? Have you had a major life event like losing a job or a loved one?”
Her questions caught me off guard, but in that moment I suddenly realized something. I wasn’t sure what she had asked or how she had asked it, but the doctor’s words struck a chord with me. After all of these doctor visits, all it took was one doctor to ask a certain question in a certain way to make me realize the cause of all my ills.
I’m having a midlife crisis, I thought to myself. I was sure the good ole doc here would really think I was nuts if I told her. It did sound ridiculous, after all; I was only thirty-two years old. But somehow, it also made perfect sense.
I’d always had this need to do something great, to have an impact on the world and to leave it a better place. That need started the day I was born when the doctor told my parents that I was special, that he could see it in my eyes. Of course, as it had taken my parents fifteen years to conceive me, their only child, they already knew that. But those words took hold in their minds and they constantly reminded me of how special I was. Though I never felt important or significant, they encouraged me to keep looking for that one thing that would make me truly happy, my life’s calling. Dad died six years ago from a heart attack and mom followed three weeks later with a broken heart, but their words still haunted me.
But I couldn’t possibly tell the doctor I thought I was having a midlife crisis. Combined with all of the symptoms she apparently thought I was making up, I was sure she’d think I was crazy. Plus, Matt had to be the first person to know what was really going on with me, not her. He had been the one dealing with my sleepless nights, extreme body temperatures and volatile moods, and he deserved to know before anyone else. But I had to tell the doc something and I suddenly knew just the thing. It had to be in my file and was likely the source of her suspicions.
“Well, there is something,” I finally said.
Doctor McNally patiently waited.
“Matt and I haven’t been able to have a baby. We’ve been trying since we got married seven years ago. We’ve seen plenty of doctors. They say the problem is with me but they can’t pinpoint what it is.”
“Have you talked to anyone about this? About how you are feeling?”
“You mean besides all of the fertility doctors?”
“No, I haven’t,” I said tersely.
“Maybe what?” I stood up. I had a hunch what Doctor McNally was about to say and I didn’t want to hear it. Another doctor had suggested it years ago; I didn’t like the idea then and I wasn’t going to like it now.
“Maybe you should see a psychiatrist.”
“Well – it’s possible that the stress from not being able to have a baby has been causing the symptoms you think you’ve been having.”
“The symptoms I think I’ve been having?” Tears welled up in my eyes and then spilled over. “Listen, Doctor,” I hissed, “I am not making this up. My symptoms are real. Just because you can’t figure out what’s causing them doesn’t make them less real, and I’m not going to go see some quack that will want to psychoanalyze every aspect of my life. Thanks for nothing!”
I grabbed my purse and stomped out of the office and down the hallway. As I used my sweatshirt sleeve to dry my tears, I nearly ran headfirst into a nurse.
“Whoa, are you okay?” the nurse asked. She grabbed me by the shoulders to prevent the collision and a warm vibe flowed over my body. Her skin was pale and creamy, her hair was thick waves of shiny red curls and her eyes were dark lavender with peculiar yellow flecks.
“Oh, excuse me,” I muttered. I searched for her name badge but it was hidden under her shoulder-length hair. “I’m, um, sorry.”
“It’s not a problem.” She released me and the sensation left my body. I watched her as she walked away. Her gait was graceful and smooth, quite mesmerizing, and before I knew it, she was out of sight like she was never there at all.
I slammed the door to my Jeep and banged the palms of my hands against the steering wheel. Tears streamed down my face. “Why, God? Why are you doing this to me?” I moaned. I dropped my head to the steering wheel and sobbed.
“Why do I have these symptoms?” I yelled. “And why can’t the doctors figure this all out?”
A pang of heat gurgled in my stomach. I moved my hands from the steering wheel and clutched my midsection. This was yet another undiagnosed symptom that had haunted me. The burning wasn’t always there; it seemed to come and go whenever it liked. There was only one thing that made it go away – my dream.
My dream had been my only source of comfort over the past months. I treasured it, looked forward to it. The garden felt like home to me, so familiar even though I had never physically been there. I didn’t even know where such a paradise would exist. I’d been to many tropical locales, but this jungle, this garden, this paradise far exceeded the beauty of those places. I found myself wishing – hoping – I would dream every night. I looked forward to what the next dream would reveal, how my paradise could become more perfect. Mostly, I anticipated the feeling the dream bestowed on me after I woke. Upon waking I always felt a sense of peace and tranquility and, oddly enough, a sense of belonging. I was a new, content woman with a fresh attitude, my foul outlook gone. I yearned for that serenity for as long as I could hold onto it. Unfortunately, the peacefulness wore off throughout the day, much like a perfume. I had often thought that if I were able to dream of this magical place every night, I would snap out of the unpleasant state of mind I had been in for the past six months. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force it. The dream visited on its own terms.
A knock on the driver’s side window startled me. I lifted my head from the steering wheel to find a stranger staring at me. He was a young man, maybe in his mid-twenties, with slicked dirty blond hair, a pointy nose and beady eyes that were as blue as the ocean was deep. He had rudely propped his elbow against the window and was intently peering in at me. His white t-shirt was crisp and he wore a black leather jacket.
“Allison Carmichael?” the voice hissed. I wasn’t sure if he was asking a question or making an accusation.
I dabbed my face with a tissue and turned on the car so I could roll down the window just a touch – no need to give this stranger any more room than that. “Who’s asking?” I instinctively ensured all the doors were locked.
The stranger stuck his nose in the air and took a deep breath. He rolled his head over his shoulders as if enjoying whatever it was he smelled. I glanced around to see where his car was, or if anyone was with him, but I couldn’t spot either. There were several cars in the parking lot and any one of them could have been his. I inhaled, trying to determine what scent he relished so much, but I couldn’t detect anything.
“The name is Caz,” he said with a southern twang. He settled his eyes on mine. “Caz Devoe.”
“Well Caz, what do you want?” I asked.
“I think ya dropped something.” Caz pulled his hand from his side and waved what appeared to be my cell phone. He slid his thumb over the back of the device, as if separating a deck of cards. “Says right here on the medical insurance card, ‘Allison Carmichael.’
Both were layin’ right outside your vehicle. I’m assumin’ they’re yours.”
I paused before answering and looked over to the passenger seat where I had flung my purse. It was unzipped. I rummaged through it and sure enough, no phone, no insurance card. I thought back to how quickly I had stormed out of the doctor’s office and supposed it was possible both could have fallen out of my bag.
“Uh,” I stammered. Caz held my belongings out to me on the other side of the window. “Um, thanks,” I choked out as I pressed the button to lower the window a bit more. I grabbed the items and examined them. There it was – my name on the medical card. I flipped open the phone and found the wallpaper picture of Matt and me. I couldn’t believe I could have been so careless. I pressed the button and started to roll up the window.
“What, no thank you handshake?” Caz asked just before the window closed.
I lifted my finger from the button and looked at him. I didn’t want to shake his hand. He was a stranger and I didn’t like the vibe he gave me; he seemed to be up to something more than what he was letting on.
“Sort of rude after I just returned your belongings, don’t ya think?” Caz asked.
I sighed and peered at him. After a few moments, I reluctantly lowered the window, just wide enough to get my hand and wrist through, hoping this would be the end of our meeting. Caz grabbed my hand and a jolt ran through my body. I felt all tingly, like I had stuck a wet finger in an electric socket. The sensation intensified the longer we touched. I tried to pull my hand back but Caz cupped it with his other hand. He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. It wasn’t apparent if he was feeling what I felt. He seemed to enjoy the moment. My attempts to free my hand were futile as his strength held my arm perfectly straight.
“Mister,” I snarled. “What’s your problem? Let go of my hand.”
Caz opened his eyes and I gasped. His sapphire eyes were rimmed in red and his breathing thinned. He stared at me as if he were in a trance.
“What’s wrong with you?” My voice quivered with fear.
He snapped out of his spell and released my hand. The sensation left as quickly as it had come. He leaned his narrow face into my half open window. “Don’t let anybody tell ya that you aren’t special.”
I squeezed my eyes closed, taken back by his word choice. I didn’t like how the word “special” slithered off his tongue.
“What are you talking about?” I opened my eyes, but apparently asked the question to myself. Caz was gone. I checked my side mirror but didn’t see him. There was no trace of him as I glanced out of the windshield. I twisted in my seat and looked out the rear window but there was nothing. Nobody was walking through the parking lot, no cars were moving. He was gone.
The highway sign announced Buzzard Hill was five miles away, which gave me a few more minutes to think about how I was going to tell Matt about my revelation. It wasn’t like I hadn’t thought about it for the other twenty miles since leaving the doctor’s office. I really didn’t know how I was going to say it. The thought alone sounded ridiculous. But a midlife crisis had to be the source of my angst. There was no other reasonable explanation. Part of me wished I could say nothing and that the past six months would just disappear from our memories. But I knew that wouldn’t happen; there had been too many mood swings, too much depression, too much anger and despair to chalk it all up to nothing. I had to tell Matt.
I rounded the corner onto my street and admired our home as I pulled into the driveway. It was a Tudor style on a five-acre lot. It wasn’t the largest or smallest in the development, but with 3,000 square feet and four bedrooms, it was bigger than we needed. The front of the house was covered in cream stucco outlined in chocolate brown wood, and the lot was decorated with several islands filled with large oak and maple trees.
My eyes slid to the back of our property as I parked the Jeep. Nature surrounded the entire property, including some deep woods behind the house, which often made me feel uneasy. Tall pines and aged oaks stretched for miles, the foliage so thick you could hide an army in there and no one would notice. I sometimes thought someone was tucked in there watching me, but that was just my silly imagination running wild, the result of a sheltered childhood and an overprotective husband always telling me to look over my shoulder. Even now as I stood next to my car, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the trees. The foliage swayed as if someone had just run into the woods. But that was impossible; no one was here and even if someone were, I would have seen him. Still, it was unsettling, as the air was dead calm, so a breeze couldn’t be blamed.
I glanced up at the sky and spotted buzzards floating amidst the infamous Cleveland gray. The buzzards were no strangers to this town and neither was the gray. Buzzard Hill was known worldwide as the place these scavengers returned to every year. The gray was almost as infamous; any visitor to Cleveland or 100 miles west, east or south of the Lake Erie shoreline was familiar with this phenomenon, the ever-present haze of gloominess, compliments of the weather that rolled in over the lake. I returned my eyes to the woods, still captivated by whatever my imagination thought was there.
“Ali?” Matt called from the garage. “Ali, are you okay?”
I forced my eyes from the trees. Matt leaned out of the door leading from the house into the garage. He wore a white tank, which nicely showcased his biceps, and pajama pants. A wave of apprehension rolled over me, as I knew what I was going to have to tell Matt. I might as well get it over with.
“I’m fine,” I muttered as I shuffled into the garage and past the row of motorcycles and ATVs, one for each of us. Since we couldn’t have children, Matt and I bought toys. Matt’s passion was all things motor. I only tried these things because he wanted me to join him in something he truly enjoyed. I also hoped the activities would distract my mind and make the burning in my belly disappear. That didn’t happen.
Matt pecked me on the cheek as he held the door open like a perfect gentleman. I walked through the hallway to the kitchen, placed my hands on the granite countertop and stared out the window at the fall foliage.
“Does that mean Doctor McNally found out what’s wrong with you?” Matt asked, his voice hopeful. The poor guy had to have been praying for an answer as much as I had been -- if for nothing else than for my mood to improve so we could finally return to normal.
“No,” I replied flatly. A pang of heat shot from my stomach to the back of my throat. I grabbed my stomach hoping for relief as my eyes winced with pain. The heat quickly subsided. Matt noticed nothing since my back was to him.
“No.” I turned to face Matt, my eyes brimming with tears. “She’s just like all of the others, Matt. She said there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.” I broke down in tears. Matt rushed to me and threw his arms around my shoulders.
“It’s okay,” he cooed as he rubbed my back. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay,” I sobbed. “She thought I was lying, she even said as much. She said my temperature was normal, my blood count was fine, my scans were clean, my weight was stable, blah, blah, blah. I just don’t understand. You believe me, don’t you? You don’t think I’m crazy, do you?”
“Of course I believe you, Ali. I’m the one lying next to you at night when you’re blazing hot. And I’ve seen your lack of appetite and felt how cold you are during the day. You’re not imagining anything.”
I felt a little better. Someone believed me and who better than the man who lived with me and who had witnessed all of this firsthand. I gently shifted away from Matt and said, “Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me.”
I stared into his hazel eyes. Looking into his eyes, even after seven years of marriage, still gave me butterflies.
“Did she say anything else, Ali? Like where to go from here?”
I let out a heavy sigh. “She asked if anything else was bothering me.”
Matt stared back, waiting for me to continue.
“She asked if anything major happened that might be the source of my…issues.”
“So I told her about our fertility struggles.”
“Oh, Ali.” Matt sighed and grabbed my hands. “My little Ali-gator, I thought you were good with all of that.”
“I am, Matt. I realized years ago that a baby isn’t in the cards for us and have made peace with it.”
“Then I’m confused.” Matt stepped back. “Why would you tell her that?”
“Because I think I figured out what’s bothering me, and I thought you should be the first to know.”
“Really? You think you know what’s wrong with you?”
“Yeah, but if I tell you,” I hesitated, “do you promise not to laugh?”
Matt’s facial expression relaxed a bit. I could only imagine what he thought was coming.
“Of course,” he responded.
A long pause passed. Still searching for the words, I turned to look out the kitchen window, not daring to look Matt in the eyes.
“I think I’m going through a midlife crisis,” I blurted out, blushing at the absurdity of such a statement. It sounded worse in the spoken word than it had in my mind. After all this time mulling over what I was going to say and how I was going to say it, I couldn’t believe that this was what came out of my mouth.
I felt Matt staring at me so I turned my head towards him, tensed for his reaction. When I finally looked at his face, I saw what utter shock must look like. His mouth hung open, his eyes were blank, and the color had receded from his cheeks. I couldn’t believe I had chosen my words so poorly!
“No, no, no, not that kind of midlife crisis! I have no need for a younger boyfriend.” I should have seen this reaction coming when I had blurted out the stupid comment in the first place. It hadn’t been my intention to hurt Matt. My mood, what I was feeling, had nothing to do with him or our relationship.
A smile spread across Matt’s lips when he heard my clarification. “I know what this is all about. You wanna buy that sports car you always wanted and are using this as an excuse, aren’t you?” That was my Matt, always up for buying another toy to add to our collection.
I chuckled uncomfortably hoping Matt would take this seriously. “Well the Corvette would be very nice, but no, I’m not ready for it yet, and neither is the overstuffed garage. I’m in a midlife crisis over my career.”
“Oh.” Matt paused. “That’s it?” He crinkled his nose.
“That’s it? What do you mean that’s it?” I shouted. “Can’t you see I’m trying to tell you something important and you’re just going to stand there and make a joke of it?” This was one of those times when I could have really used my mother. She would sit and listen and when I was done complaining would have some wise advice to give me. She would know how to handle this situation and wouldn’t make light of it.
“I’m sorry. It’s just when you first said midlife crisis this isn’t exactly what I expected.”
Silence fell between us. I returned my eyes to the outdoor scenery. I wasn’t going to be the next to speak and Matt must have realized this.
“So what’s up with your job?”
I whirled around, ready for an argument, but Matt’s eyes about made my heart melt. He was so handsome – tall with dark brown hair and a complexion that tanned with minimal sun exposure. It was a stark contrast to my blonde hair and pale skin that agitated with the slightest bit of sun.
I sighed. “Well, you know I’ve been having a tough time with the recent acquisition of my company. When it was Erie Bank, I was doing a nice job of working myself up the corporate ladder. I had been there over eight years, had a good reputation among my peers and was appointed Vice President when I was still in my twenties, which was practically unheard of. I knew I would be running a division sometime soon, that I’d be moving up. But now with this new company, I’ve been knocked down a few rungs on that ladder and since the headquarters aren’t here anymore, well, I have limited promotional opportunities.” I felt tears welling up again and the last thing I wanted to do was cry over my job.
“Ali, you’re smart. If you aren’t happy, find something else. I know you can do it.”
“But see, that’s the thing. This is Cleveland. There aren’t many big companies here anymore and there aren’t many places willing to match my salary. It’s an employer’s market right now and they want new hires as cheap as they can get them and there are plenty enough unemployed people who will take a job for less than what I make now. And for some reason, you don’t want to move out of Ohio to a place where I could easily find another job. You know my salary needs to stay where it is so we can continue our lifestyle since you took a big pay cut this year.” Guilt set in with my last comment. The remark was not meant to be hurtful, but it was reality.
“Matt, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
“No, you’re right,” Matt said. “I did take a hefty pay cut and we can’t afford another. But you know what?”
“Remember the old adage – watch what you wish for?”
I looked at him, shocked by his response and didn’t really know where he was going with all of this.
“Wait, what?” I asked. “I tell you that I feel trapped in a job and a city so we can maintain our lifestyle and you respond with ‘watch what you wish for?’”
“Remember when we first met? The game you played? You always wanted to catch up to my salary. And now look; you’re the breadwinner! It’s not that fun is it, having that pressure on you?” Matt was playful in his tone, trying to cheer me up. It wasn’t working.
I snorted. “Yeah, right, watch what you wish for. Whatever.”
“Exactly,” Matt playfully added.
“It’s not just the job, Matt. When I graduated college, I was so full of hope and ambition; I had dreams. I knew I was going to run a Fortune 500 company someday, or open my own business. I was going to be something special.”
“Ah, there’s that word. Is this about your parents? About how they used to tell you all the time that you were going to be something special?”
“Yeah, sort of. It wasn’t just how often they told me, it was the conviction with which they said it, like they knew I was going to be something great. I guess after hearing that so often I thought I was going to do something more than work at a job I hate because it provides the life we want.”
“Ali, would you look at what you have and where you have gone in your career? You have done something special! We have a beautiful house, food on the table, motorcycles…” he drifted off. “And for what it’s worth, you have me.”
My heart sank. “Matt, this isn’t about you. You haven’t done anything to make me feel this way. This is all about me. I feel trapped in my job, trapped in this city, trapped by this crappy economy, but not trapped by you.”
“Good,” he said. “Because you’re stuck with me!”
This conversation didn’t make me feel better. I thought sharing my discovery with Matt would lift my spirits but that didn’t happen. I wanted to hear that everything would be okay and I’d find what I was looking for and that he would help me in that search. But even if I heard it, I doubted I would have felt any better.
“There’s more,” I said sheepishly.
Matt chuckled. “Let’s hear it. I think I can handle it.”
“Well, this whole thing I just told you about is difficult for me to handle because I’ve always felt that I would be something more.”
“Isn’t that what we were just talking about?”
“No, this is different. Ever since I was very young, I felt that I was destined for something. It was more than a simple fascination that I would be famous or rich. It truly was…is…something inside of me, an actual burning in my belly, telling me there’s something else out there for me. But I don’t know what that something is. I don’t know how to seek it out. But this craving is there and won’t leave me alone. I think if I could just figure out my life’s calling, then maybe, just maybe, these damned ailments would go away.”
Matt paused and looked at me. “You know what they say?”
“Yeah, yeah,” I rolled my eyes, “Watch what you wish for.”
“No, the grass is always greener until you get to the other side.”
“Very funny,” I snickered. “Who is this ‘they’ I always hear about?”
“Well maybe I snapped your mood.” Almost as soon as Matt spoke those words, my aura dampened.
Everything I had said to Matt was true. But based on his reaction, my words failed to relay the depth to which I wholeheartedly knew something was out there calling me. This burning in the pit of my being, or maybe in my soul or subconscious, knew something it couldn’t relay to my conscious mind. And there was nothing more frustrating.
“Or maybe, not,” Matt said taking in my grumpy demeanor. “How about a motorcycle ride? That’ll cheer you up.”
“Have you looked outside? It’s going to rain.”
Matt ducked his head to look out the window. Black, billowy clouds had swallowed the gray sky.
“Okay then. Well, since I have to work, maybe you should call Jenna and hang out with her. You know, a girl’s night like you two always used to do.”
“No.” I immediately dismissed the idea. I didn’t need to burden Jenna with my problems, which was precisely what would happen since I couldn’t shake this funk. She didn’t need me to bring her down. Matt sensed the determinedness in my answer and didn’t bother to convince me otherwise. He examined my face as he searched for his next words.
“Well, relax and take a bubble bath and try to cheer up. Remember, we have a party to go to tomorrow and you need to shake this mood, you know, so you don’t ruin the whole thing for everyone else!”
I knew he was joking about ruining everyone’s time, but he was right. I needed to get my mind straight, but it was hard telling it that when the rest of my body was telling me something else.
Matt kissed me on the lips and bounded across the living room through the foyer and up the stairs. “I got called into work early,” he shouted. “I have to get ready.”
I walked to the sliding glass door and looked at the woods, then at the black heavens. A lightning bolt cracked across the sky and the rain fell.
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