For Aundrea, By Cynthia Seer
Ophelia lived a quiet life. Or, at least she tried. Being around a lot of people didn’t often benefit her. Their tragedies, heartbreaks, or even physical pains often bled into her own soul as soon as she entered their space. As much as she wished she could escape it, the empath trait was strong on her mother’s side. Something her mother told her long ago always stuck out in her mind. You can’t save everyone, she’d said. Let them feel their feelings, fight their own battles, and grow the way the universe intends. Her mother, nor Ophelia, had any idea of what Ophelia was actually capable of when she’d given that advice, though. Ophelia always wondered what her mother would’ve said had she known of Ophelia’s other ability. Unfortunately, Ophelia’s mother passed away in a horrific car accident before either of them discovered it. In fact, it was that accident that brought out Ophelia’s special talent.
The day of the crash started as any other, although a nagging feeling plagued Ophelia that day. She was 16 and a sophomore in high school, heading off to school when she first felt the pull. The longing to be with her mother felt intense that day, more than just a desire to stay home from school and hang with her mom. It was as if her soul was drawn to her mother, like there was elastic connecting them. She felt it pull tighter and tighter as the distance between them increased. Ophelia called her mother once she got to school to check on her but everything seemed fine. Everything was always fine. Why wouldn’t it be?
Ophelia was in her second period math class when all hell broke loose. In the midst of solving equations, Ophelia actually heard her mother crank up her car. Of course, she didn’t know that’s what the sound was at the time. Then, as if she was watching a movie, Ophelia began to see her mother in her car, pulling out of the driveway of their home. Ophelia’s teacher stopped what he was saying and stared at her for a moment, trying to decide if her eyes were rolling back because she was about to have a seizure. As her mother approached the busy intersection to leave their neighborhood, Ophelia was suddenly transported to the passenger seat of the car. She turned in complete shock to look at her mother as the light turned green and her mother hit the gas peddle to enter the intersection.
All her classmates and teacher saw, however, was Ophelia suddenly slump over in her seat. A collective gasp overtook the quiet of the room and her teacher sprang into action, running to her side to assess her vital signs. He was an EMT before he became a teacher. His previous experience kicked into gear without hesitation. Ophelia could hear him calling to her to wake up but she could also hear and see her mother in the car. The real shock came when her mother seemed to glance at Ophelia when Ophelia screamed at the sight of the pickup truck barreling into the intersection.
The impact was so strong that her mother died instantly, having been hit on the drivers side door. Ophelia was thrown back into her own body with such force that it knocked her out of her chair, causing her to hit her head on a desk and lose consciousness. When she came to, she was laying in the nurse’s office. The paramedics had just arrived and were asking her all kinds of questions, trying to assess her situation. Ophelia cried and screamed crazy things about her mother being in a car accident, which all of them wrote off as the effects of hitting her head. Until the call came in.
This was how Ophelia discovered that she had the gift of Astral Projection. She is able to project her soul to another location and interact with that new location without causing the death of her body. Shortly after the accident, it began to happen while she slept. Traveling to the park or her best friend’s bedroom during her sleep seemed interesting but otherwise useless. Then, one night she was able to travel on command to her grandpa as he laid on his death bed. Her father thought it best not to allow her to see him since she had been through her mother’s death just a few months ago. Ophelia, however, loved her grandpa very much and wanted to say her goodbyes to him.
She laid in her bed and focused solely on her grandpa. She imagined herself holding his frail hand and suddenly, she was there. His eyes fluttered open as she spoke to him, telling him how much she loved him. Ophelia could feel the warmth of his hand and smell the medical supplies in the room. The seat she was sitting in wasn’t very well padded and slightly uncomfortable. Because of Ophelia’s newfound ability, she was able to spend those last precious moments with her dear grandfather. If only her life would remain that simple and her gift, that beneficial to her.
By the time Ophelia was 22 years old, she’d mastered her ability and could easily leave her body to visit other people or places that she felt needed her help. It wasn’t hard to find people in need, either, considering that she was also an empath and could feel the pain and emotions of others. At first, she’d sought people out. Always trying to encourage people when they needed it or guiding them through a tough moment. She was careful not to expose herself unless absolutely necessary. It was difficult to explain being in two places at once.
That all changed when Ophelia met Nathan. As soon as he entered the room, she felt off. His energy was deep, almost alluring. She felt drawn to him but also wary of him all at once. His stare was long and piercing, as if he was reading her just as much as she was reading him. Without hesitation, he crossed the room and was face to face with her in a moment.
He introduced himself, as did she, and he explained that he didn’t enjoy these get togethers. Ophelia agreed and he led them out onto the condo balcony so they could have some momentary peace. As they chatted about professions and hobbies, she was torn between wanting to lean in closer to him and a strange desire to put distance between him and herself. How could she be drawn to and repelled by someone at the same time?
After twenty minutes or so, Ophelia was feeling quite drained from being at a party with entirely too many people around her and excused herself. Nathan quickly asked if they could meet for coffee the next morning at the shop on the first floor of the condo building they were in. Ophelia agreed since she was enjoying his company despite the strange sensations she was experiencing. After all, she was very attracted to this tall, dark, and handsome man who seemed to be giving his undivided attention to her and her alone.
They exchanged phone numbers and Ophelia turned to leave, allowing her long, brown hair to swing to one shoulder as she cast a last glance at Nathan. He watched her leave with the same intensity as when he first approached her. Such a strange evening she was having. All the way home, which was only a five minute walk to her building, she couldn’t stop thinking about Nathan. The feeling she got when she was with him on that porch almost felt like an actual tingling on her skin, like a shiver but without the cold to accompany it.
That night, she tried to follow her normal routine of thinking about her favorite movie, The Princess Bride, so she wouldn’t accidentally travel somewhere unintended in her sleep. Normally, this method worked very well but on this night, her thoughts continuously drifted back to Nathan, standing on that balcony. In her mind, he stood there alone, seemingly staring directly into her soul. Just as sleep found her, she imagined leaning into him for a kiss. At that moment, Ophelia could once again smell the candles that scented the dinner party she’d been to. She opened her eyes and it was Nathan’s eyes that met her gaze. She suddenly realized that she was back on that balcony and Nathan was there, too. This would have to mean that he’d stayed extra late at the gathering. It also meant that he could see her, which was uncommon when she used her astral projection ability to visit people.
Nathan didn’t say a word, only taking another step closer to Ophelia until they were only inches apart. She normally had such control over herself during her projections but this time, she acted only on her desires and thought little through. In a moment, they were embracing and engaging in the most passionate kiss she’d ever experienced. As his arms slipped around her waste, she pressed her body into his, longing to be closer. When their kiss was done, Ophelia shifted herself away from him slightly and stared at him quizzically. How could this be happening? Why was he still on that balcony? How could he interact with her this way? She pulled herself back into her body, partly because she was in a bit of shock but also because she was slightly embarrassed by the whole scene. Would he remember this embrace in the morning when they met for coffee? How would she explain it? Exhausted by not just the party but also by this unexpected visitation, she fell into a deep sleep.
When her alarm went off the next morning, she’d almost forgotten about her mysterious new friend and their coffee date that morning. As soon as she made her way to the kitchen for a cup of orange juice, the memories flooded back. The kiss was in the forefront of her mind and she was partially anxious to speak with him but mostly, she was still a bit embarrassed that she had traveled to him for a kiss. With any luck, he wouldn’t remember.
Walking into the coffee shop, Ophelia saw that Nathan was already seated in a booth at the far end of the shop. Wearing a cute little sun dress and sandals, Ophelia made her way over to him. The smirk on his face told her all she wanted to know. He remembered.
“Late night, huh?” Nathan asked, already knowing what the answer would be.
“Yeah, I had a strange dream.” Ophelia was hoping to pass it off as a dream and see if he went with that explanation.
“If that was a dream, I’d like it to be a recurring one.” Nathan said with a smile. “How long have you been able to do that?”
“Do what?” Ophelia asked, still trying to play dumb.
“You know what. Astral Projection. How long have you been able to do it?” Nathan was piercing her again with his deep green eyes. She felt the pull and fought not to react.
“Since I was a teenager. How do you even know about it? How could you see me? That’s never happened before, not like that.” Ophelia could feel herself stammering a little and wished she could sound a little more calm and collected.
“I had a friend who could travel outside of himself. He taught me how to see and interact with him so we could get into mischief.” Nathan’s answer surprised her. It hadn’t occurred to Ophelia that she could teach anyone else about this stuff.
“You aren’t friends anymore?” She asked.
“He passed away a few years back. Seems like I should be thanking him for his instructions. I’m glad you had a good time last night.” Again, Nathan’s grin was ear to ear with the insinuation.
“I’m sorry about that. I guess my mind got away from me as I was falling asleep.” Ophelia was noticeably blushing now and felt like crawling under the table.
“Don’t be. The feeling is mutual.” Nathan reached across the table as he spoke and took her hands into his. The attraction between them was palpable.
“There’s a courtyard in the center of this building. Do you want to go get some fresh air? It’s feeling a bit stuffy in here.” Nathan’s suggestion was a relief to Ophelia since an older woman with lots of pent up frustration with her husband had walked into the coffee shop and sat just behind Ophelia. The emotions were heavy and very distracting.
“Yes, I’d love that.” Ophelia answered as they both stood and made their way to the back of the shop, toward the inner building entrance.
Once in the courtyard, Nathan and Ophelia found a quiet corner under a small tree. This was a high end condominium where all the upper class businessmen and women tended to live. Very posh. Ophelia felt a little out of place but Nathan obviously lived here. Maybe the party she’d been to was his neighbor?
They sat and talked for roughly an hour about whatever topics came up until Ophelia realized she was meant to be at a hiking meetup soon. She invited Nathan to join her meetup group for the 5 mile hike but he declined. He said he had some other things to attend to and left it at that. Ophelia found that to be a bit intriguing but allowed him to be vague without further question. They agreed to meet back at the coffee shop the next morning and Ophelia took her leave.
Throughout the hike, Ophelia talked with her friend about this new mystery guy Ophelia met. He was tall, tan, had dark short hair and a well trimmed beard to match. His striking green eyes seemed to see right into her soul and draw her into him. She’d all but forgotten that strange urge to withdraw from him. She’d felt it when he entered the room that night but those eyes of his quickly disarmed her.
Laying in bed that night, she had the odd urge to project to him again just to see if he would be ready for her like he seemed to be last time. For a while, she managed to talk herself out of it but her curiosity grew stronger and stronger until she convinced herself that she could merely look in on him and he would never know. After all, Ophelia was very experienced in this and had complete control over herself, right?
Laying in her warm, comfortable bed, Ophelia let her mind picture Nathan. His striking eyes trained on her. His broad shoulders upright as he stood looking not at her, but into her. She felt herself lift up and shift to his space. Looking around, Ophelia realized Nathan was standing in their corner of the courtyard and he was looking right at her. There was no hope of observing him from afar, unseen. It was always as if he was waiting for her arrival. And why was he in the courtyard at this time of night? Despite things not adding up, Ophelia’s draw to him pulled at her and she approached him from across the courtyard.
“Why do you always seem to be ready and waiting for me?” she asked.
“You aren’t the only one who can feel things, you know.” Nathan took her hand as he turned and walked her to the far door of the courtyard. Pausing at the door, he turned and spoke again. “Would you like to visit my apartment for a little while? I think we have some things to discuss.”
“Do we? You sound so businesslike.” Ophelia said as she walked through the doorway with him and headed toward his apartment. Her excitement to spend some alone time with him was a surprise to her. Even in this strange situation, she felt disarmed by him. This is something she normally wouldn’t do but here she was, following this man she barely knew to his apartment. And going to his apartment while she was projecting, even. Very unlike her. However, she knew so long as her body was safe, she would be okay. He didn’t know where she lived so it wasn’t like he could manage to go there and harm her.
As they entered his apartment, she felt a large, jarring shift in the energy around her. Startled and a bit alarmed, she stopped just inside the door to gather herself.
“You felt that, huh?” Nathan said, having noticed her sudden halt and confused look.
“What was that? I’ve never felt anything like it. It feels so heavy in here.” Ophelia looked around the seemingly normal living room.
“Well, I suppose I should start by assuring you that you are okay. I mean you no harm.” Nathan looked at Ophelia as if she should be relieved by such a statement. Instead, she pulled her hand out of his and tried to cross the threshold of the apartment. As soon as her soul met the line between apartment and hallway, she came to a complete stop as if she’d walked right into a wall.
Stunned and completely baffled, she pressed her hands on the invisible wall stopping her escape and yelled, “What is this?! I can’t stay here!”
“I know you think you can’t but you can. I’ve been here for 15 years. It’s gets pretty lonely, which is why I was so fascinated when I felt your level of energy enter the building. Even more fascinating was when you projected back here. I knew I wouldn’t have to be alone anymore.” Nathan looked completely relieved and totally at ease while Ophelia felt frantic inside and paced the room, desperate for a way out.
She knew she would have to go back to her body or it would die, leaving her a wondering spirit. She now knew that he knew that, too. He planned for it. She’d never before encountered a spirit so she didn’t recognize that’s what he was. She knew he felt off to her but didn’t put the pieces together. That’s why she felt the slight urge to leave when he walked into the room the first time. The energy levels were all wrong. That’s why he didn’t address anyone else in the room. She was the only one who had seen him. That’s why he didn’t want coffee and never spoke to anyone else.
The realization hit her like a ton of bricks and she felt dizzy with the swirling inside her mind, trying to comprehend it all and think of a way out at the same time. He tried to approach and comfort her but she immediately pulled away.
“You are attempting to murder me so you won’t feel alone! Do you understand that?!” She screamed at him, hoping she could talk some sense into him and he’d release her from this energy trap he had her in. “If I don’t go back into my body, I will eventually die. Who knows how long that will take? You honestly intend to hold me here until I’m dead? And you think I will feel like being your friend after that?! All you’re doing is creating an eternal enemy for yourself. Seems a dumb thing to do, if you ask me.”
“Maybe if I explain a bit more. My friend did teach me how to interact with him so we could act the fool as teens. It was a lot of fun. Then we grew up and moved away. I moved here and landed a good programming job after trade school. This was my apartment. I made some foolish investment decisions and ended up losing everything but the clothes on my back.” Nathan looked at the floor as he continued his story.
“They were evicting me. I had nowhere to go. My drinking was affecting my job and I’d been put on probation. I could see the writing on the wall. I made a life ending decision. I wish I hadn’t done it.” Tears fell from his eyes and Ophelia felt his desperation, failure, and loneliness. Her eyes welled up along with his, not because she wanted to feel his pain but because the empath in her wouldn’t allow her not to feel it. Maybe she was meant to be here and help this lost soul. Maybe this would change from being her death sentence to being her finest hour as an empath.
“You made a rash decision that cost you your life. I’m so sorry you are suffering with this day after day. Your eternity doesn’t have to be this way, though. You don’t have to remain in this state of being. You can release yourself to the light. Be free and at peace.” Ophelia made direct eye contact with him while she spoke, hoping he could feel that she really was trying to help him.
“They stopped trying to rent this apartment. I guess I made it too uncomfortable for people to live in. They always felt me. I made sure they felt my pain. My loneliness. I pushed it into them until they fled. I couldn’t hold them here.” Nathan looked at Ophelia as he spoke. “I couldn’t hold them here but you aren’t tethered to your body. The void my energy has caused will keep you here with me. I don’t have to be alone.” With that statement, a slight smile formed on his face and he walked toward her. With arms reaching, he tried to embrace her as she squirmed away.
“If you will go into the light, you’ll never have a need for companionship again. The universe will be your companion. You won’t even remember the pain you suffered in life.” Ophelia spoke from her heart, becoming more and more convinced that she could help this man release his pain and be free. She’d talked several people down from the ledge over the last few years. This was no different except she was guiding him to the light instead of convincing him not to seek it.
“I’m alone, still! You’re here but you don’t want to be. You only want me to go to the light so you can leave. Well, you can’t! I created this void but I don’t know how to stop it. I can hold you here but I couldn’t release you if I wanted to. It’s too deep. I’m sorry but you’re here now.” Nathan’s voice trailed off as he slumped back onto the couch that she felt fairly certain wasn’t actually there but was his recreation of the room as he remembered it.
This was all much too complicated for her understanding. It could be possible, she reasoned, that if she got him into the light, he might pull her in with him. What would be more desirable to her? Should she stay here with him for eternity? Haunting an apartment building? Should she take her chances with him going into the light and hope that she could escape his grasp as he left? Would he even go if he knew that was her plan?
As she stood mulling it all over in her mind, she looked over at him and truly saw him for the first time. He was a broken man, slumped over and weeping. He’d made some bad decisions that ended up costing him everything. An epiphany overtook her. She was here for a reason. Nathan was the reason. It wasn’t about her. It was about doing the right thing and freeing this trapped man. If her life was lost because she helped cross this man over, so be it. It was the right thing to do, not just for him but for everyone else who occupied this building.
Ophelia walked over and sat beside Nathan, putting her arms around him. Feeling her comforting him, he leaned into her and rested in her embrace. Feeling him relax in her arms, she spoke softly into his ear. “I know you are hurting. I know you’re tired. I can feel the pain you’ve been living in for 15 years. I wasn’t able to be here to help you when you needed it. I was too young. But I’m here now. I can help you now.”
Nathan looked up slowly until their eyes met. His stunning green eyes looked kind for the first time. Ophelia smiled when she saw them. “There you are.” she said, acknowledging the real Nathan when she saw him at last. “I knew you were in there. It’s time to go. You don’t have to stay here anymore.”
“But what if I’m alone again?” he asked.
“You won’t be.” Ophelia said as she leaned in and gave him the most tender kiss. It was just a simple kiss but the emotion in it was as deep as the ocean. Waves of love and calm washed over both of them. As they held one another, she felt him relax and float up with her. A sea of light engulfed them as she felt him cling tighter to her. It was in that moment that she fully accepted that her life would end so he could finally be free.
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