Chapter Six – New Senses

Den første fredag i måneden ankom lidt sent, men I skal ikke snydes af den grund. Så mens mange mennesker render rundt i København til Bogforum ser jeg mig nødsaget til en dag på sofaen med lidt sygdom, heldigvis på vej væk igen allerede, gudskelov det kun var en mindre 24 timers virus. Om alt andet, så er det nu blevet tid til sjette kapitel med Jennifer, og her sker der en hel del forandringer for hende.

 

The first Friday of the month arrived a wee bit late, but that’s no reason to leave you hanging. While many people are enjoying the many joys of Copenhagen’s Bogforum, I’ll just spend the day here on the sofa, nursing a small 24-hour bug while it leaves my system. However, it is time for chapter six with Jennifer, and this time she is in for a great deal of change.

Chapter Six – New Senses

As it turned out; Anna had taken the following days off work. Jennifer suspected Anna for realising her decision before she had realised it herself. Nonetheless she was pleased Anna had taken the time off work. This meant Jennifer could spend her last hours before leaving in the company of her entire family. After their father had left earlier that day, the three sisters had spent the afternoon together and, for a while, postponed the fact that Jennifer would be leaving in a matter of days. Jack had volunteered to look after Susan, so she wouldn’t spoil their sisterly fun. The only problem with this was that it was a deal Susan had not agreed to and she demanded to be with her mother after several crying fits. Jennifer didn’t mind this at all. All she wanted was to be with her family as much as possible before she would be leaving, which was why she was so grateful for Anna staying over the following days.

Jennifer had put the necklace her dad gave her back in the box it came in. She hadn’t given it more thought before she went to bed that night. Just like any other night, she had trouble sleeping, but it wasn’t until she was sure the rest of the house was asleep that she retrieved it from the drawer by her bed.

Lying in the palm of her hand, she hardly felt it, but she had a feeling it meant more than just as a simple necklace. She twirled it around her fingers and watched the moonlight’s reflection. It really was beautiful how it was able to reflect the light as blue then purple and red and the rest of the colours of the rainbow.

It spun around itself hanging right in front of her. She couldn’t say why but it was like the necklace was calling to her. As if it wanted her to wear it. Sometimes it even seemed like it lit up on its own, though Jennifer convinced herself it was just the moonlight hitting it a certain way making it do that. For a brief moment, she considered putting on the necklace but after a moment of thought she put it back in the drawer instead.

Jennifer thought back to what her father had said before he had left that same afternoon.

>>Practice.<<

What had he meant by that? What was she supposed to practice? It made no sense and especially not if she tried to fit the necklace into that equation. Tired from a long day she rolled over and as time went by and more and more mystical ideas popped into her head, sleep slowly overcame her.

 

Jennifer was in a clearing. It was the middle of the night and the only light shone from the moon. Everything seemed strange, yet she had a nagging feeling of having been here before. She walked a bit around the clearing to see if it would trigger her memory but without luck. The clearing was covered by a thick layer of moss, surrounded by large boulders around the edge. It wasn’t until then Jennifer spotted the old man that realisation hit her. He was practically hanging with his upper body over the large boulder as he heaved in air to gain his breath. Jennifer frowned as she suddenly got the sensation that this was much too familiar. The old man was extremely dirty and visibly exhausted. Very slowly Jennifer started to approach him, questioning herself what she should do.

>>Are you all right?<< She asked and bent down a bit to get a better look at him. There was no response and he didn’t seem to react to anything Jennifer did. She straightened up and looked around. Suddenly it started to come back to her. The clearing, the old man. She was in the middle of her nightmare. Jennifer glanced down at the old man’s left hand. Just as she had expected, she saw it was holding onto a small object from a shimmering silver chain. Jennifer heard branches being broken very roughly behind her and then she saw the redheaded woman enter the clearing. Instantly the grip in the old man’s hand tightened around the tiny object.

>>Hand it over!<< Jennifer heard the young woman shout curtly with her hand outstretched. Without further thought to what she was doing, Jennifer stepped between them, while the old man attempted to crawl away in what looked like fear.

>>Stop it.<< She sounded much braver than she actually felt. The woman didn’t react. She looked right through Jennifer and down at the old man.

>>Never.<< He coughed back and made the mosquitoes buzzing go silent for a second. Jennifer watched the scene in fear. She knew what was about to happen and she stared frantically from the young woman to the old man, incapable of stopping it. As she expected the light started to spread from the hand of the old man and blood started to trickle down his fingers. Jennifer looked over at the woman and saw the anger shining from her. The old man had collapsed down on the ground though still holding on to the object. She saw how the young woman took pleasure in seeing the old man in pain and Jennifer felt disgusted. She saw how the tiny object seemed to be burning its way through the old man’s hand, how the circular object shone brighter and brighter as seconds lulled by.

>>Is it worth it? Is it really worth the pain?<< The woman stood solid as a rock and stared despisingly at the pitiful sight the man had become. Jennifer was astounded when he replied in a firm and steady voice and stared right back at her green eyes:

>>Yes.<< In a split-second Jennifer saw how the woman simply by blinking woke the flames and they shot up from the ground encircling all three of them. Jennifer backed away from the many flames licking up her legs. She jumped several feet away and kept bashing her clothes down on her body trying to keep off the flames when suddenly she noticed incredibly enough that neither her clothes nor her long hair had caught fire. Jennifer looked around slightly confused. The flames were even higher now around the edge of the clearing and devoured everything they touched. Still, Jennifer wasn’t touched the tiniest bit by it. She looked back and saw the man lying on the ground shaking. Carefully she stepped closer and then she saw that the woman wasn’t touched by the flames either.

>>You can’t win Teron.<< She said hoarsely as she kneeled down beside him. Jennifer let out a scream of horror as the flames closed in around them. She could hear the man scream in pain but there was nothing she could do.

Her scream kept echoing in the clearing but when she opened her eyes she was back in her bed, in the arms of Sam. Jennifer gasped for breath, covered in sweat and tears.

>>It was just a nightmare Jennifer. Calm down. It’s over now.<< The soothing voice of Sam reached Jennifer very slowly and she started to calm down and her breathing slowed. She felt very grateful for Sam not releasing her hold on her that moment. Through her tear blurred vision, Jennifer noticed Anna and Jack standing by the door both looking very worried. Jennifer closed her eyes only to find herself right back in her nightmare, after which she did her best to keep her eyes open. She sat with her head resting in the arms of Sam, who kept stroking her hair softly. Despite her eyes being bright open, Jennifer didn’t register anything going on around her.

She didn’t see how Sam and Anna both looked sad and frightened for their sister’s condition. Or how Jack kept scratching his neck looking very upset over the fact that he didn’t know what to do or react in a situation like this. The only thing Jennifer could think about was her nightmare and how real it had been that time. She kept running her hands over her arms and legs in the constant fear the flames would engulf her again. She didn’t care about the many tears streaming down her face and soaking the sheets, she couldn’t stop crying. The sense of everything around her had abandoned her. Any other night, she would just have told herself it was a nightmare and tried to go back to sleep, but not this time. Every time she attempted to close her eyes, just to rest them from straining them she was back in the nightmare and the flames. Instantly she would open her eyes again and pull the sheets close to her body. Anna and Jack had gone back to bed but Sam stayed at the end of Jennifer’s bed. She refused to leave Jennifer alone.

>>Was it the same nightmare?<< There was no light in the room yet Jennifer could still see the sad look on Sam’s face in the small amount of moonlight that shone through the curtains. Without realizing that Sam might not be able to see it, Jennifer nodded. Sam moved closer, maybe the better to see Jennifer, she wasn’t really sure of anything at the time.

>>It was much worse this time.<< Jennifer muttered with the covers below her chin and her eyes stiffly on the centre of the bed. For some strange reason she didn’t want to look Sam in the eyes. Jennifer realised she was scared of the green eyes she’d been seeing, even in her own reflection, for so many years.

>>How worse?<<

>>I could feel the flames. The minute I close my eyes I’m right back there and the flames are burning me. I can’t stop it…<< Jennifer paused and pulled the covers further up. Sam didn’t reply, maybe because she didn’t know what to say. What could she say that would help, really? No matter what she could have said it wouldn’t change the fact that Jennifer wouldn’t get any more sleep that night. Sam couldn’t just make the nightmare stop and go away.

>>Why do I keep having this nightmare?<< She looked at Sam, though avoiding her eyes, who opened her mouth to answer but no sound came out. >>The other day when you showed me the locket and told me about dad, why did you do it? What I mean is, what does it have to do with my nightmares?<<

>>As I told you the other day that woman is from our family. She lived many years ago. Jennifer I don’t know much about the exact details, you’ll have to ask dad when he gets here. All I know is that woman is part of our family and that the dream isn’t just that but a depiction of an event that really happened many years ago.<<

>>I just don’t understand how she can be so ruthless to this Teron.<< Jennifer mumbled into her sheets.

>>Neither do I. That’s another thing you will have to discuss with dad when he gets here. Are you sure you won’t be able to get some more sleep?<< Sam placed a hand on Jennifer’s leg. Jennifer sighed. She wasn’t sure if she had the nerve to but she did it anyway. She bit her lip and closed just the one eye. Nothing. Then she closed her other eye and she found herself right back in the nightmare again. Instantly she popped her eyes open again and saw the sad look on Sam’s face.

>>All right. How about we spend the time productively instead of just sitting around staring into the air?<< Jennifer couldn’t help but smile. This was so typically Sam, she had never been the kind of girl to just sit around and relax. She always had to do something and it was clear that Jennifer had to do the same now. Sam turned on the lights and the rest of the night was spent cleaning up Jennifer’s room and dividing her stuff into what she would pack for storage and what she would bring to live with her father.

 

Jennifer sat and watched television absentmindedly, not really paying attention to what was on. Her head kept falling to her chest and her eyes became heavier and heavier by the minute. Ever since her nightmare that night she hadn’t been able to sleep at all. Her room had never looked as clean and tidy as it did these days. She and Sam had been at it practically the entire night. Most of the things Jennifer hadn’t used over the last year or so had been packed in boxes and moved to the ceiling. A few things had been packed for her to bring when she went to live with her father. After a while, she had finally convinced Sam to agree to wait to organize her clothes, because even Sam had begun to yawn as the morning came closer. Jennifer had too, but she kept forcing herself to stay awake in the constant fear of returning to her nightmare. So despite the many yawns she kept working and filled box after box until her room was almost empty. Packing up what felt like her life, and it was a weird feeling seeing everything, all her memories and such, stacked in boxes and wrapped in plastic bags. When Sam had yawned so much she nearly cracked her jaw, Jennifer had forced her to bed to get at least a few hours of sleep. Had it been up to Sam alone she would have kept Jennifer company on the sofa but Jennifer didn’t feel Sam had to suffer because she was having nightmares. After all, Sam had a daughter to look after when it came down to it. Jennifer could hear the clearing of plates from the kitchen but she didn’t have the energy to get up and see who it was. Without noticing a thing she changed the channel, just to get a different sound in the room. She felt the sofa give in and saw Anna next to her with a bowl of cereal.

>>I’m guessing you must be hungry?<< She handed Jennifer the bowl and she started eating the cereal eagerly, and almost too fast, spilling milk down her front. >>I guessed right.<< Anna chuckled as she watched Jennifer gulp down the breakfast. Jennifer just smiled through mouthfuls. >>So you haven’t slept at all?<< Jennifer shook her head, her mouth still full of cereal. >>What shall we do today then?<< Just as Jennifer swallowed her last mouthful, Jack entered the living room with a yawning Susan on his arm. She was rubbing her tiny eyes very hurriedly and hanging close over Jack’s shoulder.

>>Sam’s still asleep, which I would think you ought to be trying too I’d say.<< Jack handed Susan to Anna, whom she was reaching for eagerly.

>>Jack’s right, you can’t go on without sleep until dad gets here.<< Anna did her best to keep Susan away from her hair but Susan’s tiny fingers managed to get well tangled in it anyway.

>>I know, but I can’t. Every time I close my eyes, thinking about sleeping I’m right back in my dream.<< Jennifer put the bowl away and rubbed her eyes, much like Susan had done just before.

>>Jennifer, are you sure….<<

>>I’m fine. I just need to find something to do.<< Jennifer waived off Anna’s hand and got up. She walked up and down the living room, but in the end the looks she was getting from Jack and Anna became too much.

>>If you want anything, I’ll be in my room.<<

She turned on her heels and almost ran to her room. She slammed the door harder than she had intended and only remembered Sam was still sleeping after she’d done it. When she didn’t hear anything for the next couple of minutes, she assumed Sam was still sound asleep. Jennifer moved to sit on her now neatly made bed. She could feel her body was tired, but her eyes refused to give in for the constant fear of returning to her nightmare. She lay down on the bed, but kept her eyes open. Instead she found a spot on the ceiling to stare at, while thoughts whirled around in her mind.

The dream took up most of the space. In her mind, Jennifer kept returning to the old man, Teron. What could he possibly have done to deserve to burn alive like that? She couldn’t fathom that the woman was related to Jennifer in any way. It was hard to understand how anyone in her family could be that ruthless to another human being like that. She tried to remember every little detail from the dream, hoping it could help give an explanation to the many questions she couldn’t answer without her father. She realized even though she would go live with her father he wouldn’t be ready to tell her about it yet. He had made that clear last time he was there. Jennifer sighed and rolled over on her stomach as ideas started to take form in her head. It didn’t take her long to mould an idea of the man Teron. She reviewed every inch of his body and clothes in the search of something unusual. It surprised her how much she was able to remember, and how clearly it stood out in her mind, but logic told her it was only natural given she had had the dream countless of times over many nights.

She saw Teron in her mind, hunched over the large boulder heaving for breath. In her mind’s eye she ran up and down his limping body where she lingered on his left hand. Mentally, she froze the image and focused on his hand, which was unnaturally tightly squeezed around a very tiny object. Jennifer hurried to find pen and paper and she quickly started to draw it from memory. She put the pen down after a short time and studied her drawing. The outline of the object was clearly pressing its way through Teron’s hand but the moment Jennifer recognized the shape, she started to doubt her memory. After all, she had held the very same shape in her hand just before she went to sleep. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. She bit her lip. What if it wasn’t a coincidence? She’d had the nightmare long before her father gave her the necklace. Very doubtfully, she got out the necklace and held it up in the light. The two half-circles spun beautifully in the light reflected around the room. Jennifer looked from the necklace in her hand to the drawing she had just made. She reached up with her other hand and closed it around the pendant. Squeezing as hard as possible without breaking it, she could feel the outline of the pendant pressing against the palm of her hand but she kept squeezing. In a tight grip she moved her hand closer to the drawing to compare. She couldn’t see the outline in her hand as it had been in Teron’s but it was bulging very slightly. It was the exact same shape, if not the exact same pendant. In her dream, Teron had held on to it so tightly that blood had dripped from his hand. Jennifer loosened her grip and the pendant fluttered in the chain dangling from her wrist. She placed the pendant on the floor and rested her head in her hands. Now she had even more speculations to tend to. Her gaze returned to the pendant. Very fast, she pushed the drawing away determined not to think about it anymore. At least not for now. She made sure the drawing was all the way under her bed making it disappear. Instead, she held up the pendant again. She climbed to her bed with the pendant in one hand. It really was beautiful the way it reflected the light from bright to dark and shifted in colours too.

It was as if something forbidden surrounded the pendant. Although Jennifer couldn’t explain why she had this feeling. It was like something at the back of her head kept telling her not to put the necklace on whenever she did think about this. As if it would hurt her to put on a necklace. It was this little notion, which made her look around the room as a precaution before she pulled the chain over her head and around her neck.

The minute she let go of the chain and let it rest around her neck the entire room was in a daze. She closed her eyes at once and was glad that she was already sitting. For some minutes she kept still as she could feel the dizziness wear off. Very slowly, and blinking quite a lot, she opened her eyes only to see nothing had changed. Not the slightest. She sighed. For a brief moment she’d thought the reason for her dizziness had been the reason for some bigger change, on the surface everything looked the same. Jennifer looked down at the pendant around her neck, it seemed to be glowing even stronger now than when she first got it. She stayed on her bed and looked around. She cast another glance down at the pendant with a deep sigh. Years and years of books and films in science-fiction and the supernatural made her test what she knew was impossible. Even with a pendant like the one she had dangling around her neck.

She focused all her energy on the plant in the window and reached out her right hand. She held her left hand in a small ball-like shape, ready to catch the plant when she assumed it would be flying across the room to her. She gave it three tries before she started to giggle at what she was attempting and the plant was still standing in the window still. She turned around shaking her head smiling at her own silliness. It was at that moment she heard a deep sigh. Spinning around in her seat she saw… no one. She moved up close to the wall, giving her a complete view of the room. It only took a few seconds before she heard it again. Only this time, not only did she hear it, it was as she almost felt it too. She didn’t move a muscle but still the sigh went straight through her every time. It came every few seconds. Frowning, she crept of her bed and started to look for the source of the sigh. Even though she could feel the sigh it wasn’t coming from her, she knew that for sure. She moved around the room, almost in slow-motion, and ended up by the window still with the plant. A cool summer breeze blew through the open window as another sigh flooded Jennifer as the plant swayed in the wind. Crouching down, Jennifer kept her eyes on the plant. She could feel the sighs stronger now, which meant she must be close to the source of whatever was making it. It couldn’t be the plant? Could it?

She reached out and ran a finger down one of the leaves. As she did this, she felt as someone was standing behind her and stroking her back. Much startled by this she retrieved her hand quickly and slumped down on the floor. She reached up for the plant to look at. As it swayed in her hand Jennifer felt the dizziness going through the plant.

>>This is not normal.<< Whispered Jennifer. As though the plant had heard her and wanted to answer her, a sensation of understanding suddenly seemed to be going through Jennifer. Involuntarily she closed her eyes and in an instant she knew how every root and leaf on the plant looked and how it grew. Overwhelmed, and very confused, she put the plant down and crawled as far as possible away from it.

But the energy of the plant kept pulsating at the back of her head.

 

Jennifer stayed in her room the rest of the morning. Throughout that short time she always knew how the plant was doing, down to every root or when it moved in the wind. She had crawled as far away as possible, sitting with her back against the far wall but the Energy of the plant was just as strong as it would have been if she was sitting right next to it. She rested her chin on her knees and simply stared at the plant while she tried to come up with some sort of explanation. There didn’t come any answers with reason to her just then.

Towards noon she could hear Sam getting out of bed. As Jennifer looked to her door she could see the shadows below the door stop for a brief moment, only to continue again, most likely to go downstairs. She didn’t think more of it. Not that it wasn’t important; she just couldn’t handle anymore things that would confuse her at the time. She had enough to think about. It didn’t take long however, for the shadows to return under the door and this time they were followed by a knock. The handle turned, the door opened but Jennifer never saw who it was before a flood of emotions and worries washed over her. She knew it wasn’t her feelings but belonged to whoever had come through the door.

Jennifer yanked her hands to her ears, desperately trying to block it out but it didn’t help. She closed her eyes as hard as she could but little good it did. She exhaled a long sigh and a silent squeak before she fell over from exhaustion.

 (Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg)

To be continued in Chapter 7 – Practice

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