“Hey, Radcliffe, you going to stay in here all night? There’s a plane to catch.”
She looked toward the door. “Sorry, Joe, I seem to have let time get away from me.” She went to her friend.
“Were you . . . um . . . praying?”
“Yes,” she answered. “I believe that’s what I was doing.”
“But haven’t your prayers been answered?”
“My prayers will only be answered if I can find . . . him,” she whispered over the lump in her throat.
“Just a short plane ride away, kid.” Joe pulled her into his arms as she cried.
“What if . . . what if I can’t find him? What if . . . he’s found someone else?”
Joe soothed her. “Ssh. Don’t concern yourself with the what if’s, Radcliffe. Think of the positive possibilities.”
But try as she might, Cathy couldn’t see anything beyond the car ride to the Lear Jet that was waiting for them. She had hoped that with her prayers, would come the Bond. When she hadn’t felt it returning, she resigned herself to believe that it had been severed for good. To think of the other reason – his death – was beyond her comprehension. She had fought to keep her sanity during the decade of hiding only because she believed so strongly in the fairy tale ending they had once dreamed.
“Want to tell me about him?” Joe’s voice brought her back to herself.
“Your soulmate. Your one, true love. Tell me about him.”
“I’m sorry, Joe,” she cried. “I made a promise a long time ago.” Then before he could respond, she added, “A promise that has kept us apart for so long.”
“Cathy, if I have done anything for you not to trust me . . . “
“No, Joe!” she exclaimed. “I do trust you. With my life.” There was silence for a moment. “I really think you both would have been friends.” She wiped her eyes as she sat up. “He knew all about you. He always wished to tell you how much he thought of you. That he was glad I had you for a friend.”
“Seeing how your eyes light up when you speak about him is thanks enough. He made you happy?”
“More than I thought possible.” She paused. “Except we couldn’t ever be together.”
“C’mon, Radcliffe, everything is possible with love.”
Her eyes grew distant as she recalled bits and pieces of several of their conversations about her moving Below. She could still hear his voice.
“You have a life Above. To leave that now would be to turn your back on who you are and who you are to become. That you must never do.” He had debated this issue with her several times. She had often wondered then, if it was really to convince himself. She had strongly resisted his reasons why she couldn’t be with him in his world. Joe was right – everything was possible with love. And she had tried to tell him that on the day she had gone Below to tell him about their child.
He had been so distraught over his failed memory after his illness. He’d walked silently around his chamber touching this object and that. She knew, even without the Bond, how disturbing it was for him to acknowledge that he didn’t remember her name. When she chose to visit that day to tell him the news and found him inconsolable over the loss of the Bond, she’d known that her news would have to wait. He’d marvelled at the new leather bound journal she’d presented to him. In her light script, she’d written “With love all things are possible.” She’d signed it “Forever”. He’d been visibly moved by that one word.
She returned from her memories. “And it’s not only him,” her voice trailed off.
“There’s others?” Joe was confused.
She could still hear the muffled cry from the blanket as the bundle was taken from her. She shook her head to clear the images. Until there were answers, she wouldn’t involve Joe any further. He had a heart as big as they came even under his gruff exterior. It would be another reason for someone to feel guilt for her.
“And then you saved me?” The boy asked in wonderment. “I was missing for a long time and then you found me?”
“Yes, my son,” came the reply. “It was the first time I saw you. And when I looked into your eyes – the same green eyes of your mother – I realized what true beauty was.”
“Aw, Father, I’m a boy – I’m not beautiful!” the child exclaimed.
“Jacob, you will be my beautiful baby boy forever. Just as GrandFather believes that I am still a child at times.”
“GrandFather told me that people Above wouldn’t like us.”
The father looked at his son. So young and trusting. So normal. He would find welcome with anyone – Above or Below. It was something he wouldn’t find for himself.
“GrandFather worries a little too much.” Both of them chuckled. Just then the man jerked back and turned toward the outer world.
“Father?” Jacob whispered. “I’m scared.” His father remained silent. He heard something – not audibly – he heard with his heart, with his soul. It was the second time that evening he had felt it. A heartbeat. A breath. A touch of fear. The boy tugged on his father’s cloak bringing him back to himself. It had gone. Whatever it was – wishful thinking perhaps – had passed.
“Time for bed,” the man said.
“But the end of the story!”
“What more is there?”
“Where is she now?” This was the part that the man had always left out. “Where is Mother now?”
“She’s safe, where no one can hurt her. She sees us everyday and smiles down on us.”
“She’s Above?” he asked.
“In a sense, she is.”
The child noticed the sadness on his father’s features. “You think she’s dead.”
“She died to make sure you stayed safe. That we both stayed safe.”
“Did those bad men want to hurt you too?”
“We will never know, Jacob.”
“Why do you think she’s dead?”
“I was there,” The man told him. There was a faraway look in his eyes as the past misted over them with visions of her frail form whispering her dying words – “Though lovers be lost . . . “ “I’ve seen her resting place.” He hadn’t been to her grave for many years. The last time had been past midnight when everyone else was gone. It had pained him to the core, and he had never gone back choosing to keep the painful memories at bay.
“Will you show me?” The man kneeled down. His eyes searched his son’s green ones. “Please, Father, it’s the only way for me to say good-bye.”
“What you are asking . . . it is difficult.” Then an idea. “Perhaps, Mary can show you the next time she goes Above.”
“No!” Jacob exclaimed. “Not Mary. Father, I want you to show me. I want you to help me tell her.”
Seeing the pain in his son’s eyes was unbearable. He would do anything for this precious gift that she had given to him. A gift that had been unknown to him until his birth. He pulled his son into his embrace. Father would not approve of any answer he would find. He moved to look down on his son. “Let me sleep on it. We’ll talk tomorrow.” He offered his hand and they both moved back toward their home.
“I forgot what the city lights looked like!” Cathy exclaimed as she looked out the window. The Lear was on approach and would be landing within minutes. “It’s so beautiful.”
“When we get to the airport, there will be a car waiting,” her companion told her. “Then we’ll head to the Village.”
“You don’t think your old apartment is still available do you, Radcliffe?” He laughed. “You know how hot property is in New York. Anything vacant goes like hot cakes.”
“So what’s in the village?”
“An old Brownstone. It’s just been renovated, and luckily it’s available.”
She was calculating how far it was to an entrance Below when suddenly she remembered something. “Peter? Did Peter know I was alive?”
“Alcott? Your old doctor?” Cathy nodded.
“No, he wasn’t told.” Seeing the sadness in her eyes, Joe continued. “It was better that way.”
The woman had hoped for a moment that Peter Alcott would have been the one to tell her beloved that she was alive. He had been a Helper in the world Below and had been one of the couple’s staunchest supporters.
Cathy mused on that answer. So there had been no one else who could have told her beloved. Once again sadness overcame her. Then another sensation. It whispered to her. “Goodnight, Mother.”
“What did you say?” she asked Joe. He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the window. The Lear was landing.
She tried to get the sensation back. Could it possibly have been the child she had felt? Just then there was a jolt signaling the landing gear had made contact with the tarmac. Soon she would set foot in New York for the first time in a decade. How much had changed? Thinking inward, she wondered how much she had changed. So much had been taken from her – her safety, her home, her friends, her child, and the only man she would ever love. Would any of it be hers to savor again?
All characters are the property of Ron Koslow, Republic Pictures, and CBS. No infringement is implied or intended. Story is purely for entertainment purposes only. "Courage and Care" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
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"Courage and Care" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell