Dead on arrival. That's how she spoke of her birth. She didn't belong here. She knew that when she took the first gulp of air and her lungs collapsed in protest. Her tiny feet emerged from the comfort and warmth of the womb followed by a lifeless torso. The dense dark world sucked the life out of her the moment she stepped into it.
By some stroke of luck, she was revived and escaped unscathed from the horrors of a difficult delivery. Her dislocated hip healed in time. Her oxygen-starved brain showed no signs of damage.
Although she had no recollection of it, her mother often mentioned how picky she was about her food. Probably another clue that she didn't belong. Nothing significant happened in her formative years to suggest that she was different. School days passed by in a dream-like state in the company of a select group of friends and family.
Her form was slender and slight with long flowing black hair and a neck that curved gracefully like a swan---more from a morbid shyness that she couldn't shake off than anything else. But she'd take graceful any day. Her beauty was otherworldly and drew the interest of several young men. That's when pain became a constant reminder that she was not cut out for human relationships.
She plunged headlong and gave it her all. But to them she was just a trophy, a plaything, a fling. Commitment was as alien to them as earthly life was to her. The heartache and pain was too much to bear and she fell into a deep depression that threatened to kill her. But she emerged out of it stronger and more resilient or so she thought.
Sensitive, they called her, like it was a flaw. Like a sponge, she soaked in everyone's emotions. When they laughed, she exploded with happiness. When they cried, she curled up in a heap and sobbed for days. She couldn't control it and it became increasingly difficult to be around people.
She shut herself away and more than ever wanted to leave this planet of pain and misery behind.
Deep down in the recesses of her heart, glimpses of a world she knew and loved were revealed to her. It was a loving, kind world, where energy was palpable. She ran uninhibited in fields of pink and gold, drank from pristine waters and ate luscious fruit that she had never seen before. Everyone radiated joy and loving kindness. Their eyes sparkled like diamonds and their hearts full of love.
She dismissed these visions as the handiwork of an overactive imagination. But they began to show up in her dreams. At sunrise and sunset everyone gathered by the shimmering waters of a lake to hold hands and give thanks for the beauty around them. They spent some moments in quiet bliss, drinking in the life-giving energy of the sun. Chanting, singing, and dancing, they rejoiced in the waning light and slept under the stars.
She couldn't reconcile the world in her dreams with the one she woke up in. And just when she couldn't take it anymore, a small glimmer of hope found its way into her life.
At a college function, the guest speaker started talking about energy and auras. And how to work with energy. Something immediately awakened in her. With every word her excitement grew. She was thirsty for more and decided to enrol in a class.
Her dull, aimless existence now found direction. Hers was the gift of healing. A gift the world sorely needed. The pain didn't affect her anymore. She had a way to transmute it and make people feel lighter.
But with the gift came new challenges. Suddenly she was some sort of freak and many distanced themselves from her. The worst part? She believed them! She hid her gifts and tried to fit in. Life became a painful experience again. She just wanted to go home! The home that insistently showed up in her dreams and the one she escaped to when this world overwhelmed her.
Not that she hadn't tried to end the misery. All attempts had been unsuccessful. A bigger plan was at work and she was just a pawn. Worlds cannot be entered and exited at will. The thread of her destiny was entwined in the warp and weft of this world. And she couldn't run away from it. She was here on a mission and that’s all she knew.
Destiny showed up at her doorstep one day when she least expected it and nothing was the same anymore.
Magic at first glance was just a lost kitty. But he helped her find her way back to herself. To the fullness of her being that she was terrified to embrace. She used her healing hands to nurse Magic's broken leg. In a week he was up and about. After that he would disappear and only appear at meal times. There was a fluidity to his form. Like his edges were not defined but blended in the surroundings. Almost like smoke. And his fur was the color of ash. His emerald eyes were mesmerising and encompassed worlds at the far end of the universe.
After he landed on her doorstep, a steady stream of strangers started showing up. All lost and in need of healing. Every time the door bell rang she feared it was Magic's owner. She hadn't seen any missing posters on her quick runs to the grocery store but the collar glinting from Magic's neck meant he had a home.
The strangers became friends and before she knew it, she was facilitating healing circles every month for them. A lot of preparation went into this. She cleared a small area in the woods behind her house. In the middle, she lit a bonfire and set low stools around it. She dragged a makeshift table outside and laid out lemonade and sandwiches or hot cocoa and paninis when the weather was cold. Magic made an untimely appearance before every healing circle and walked around inspecting the arrangements and purring in approval.
One evening the healing circle dragged on a lot longer than she expected. The sun fell behind the tall oaks and darkness was enveloping the woods. All the guests had left in a hurry without offering to help clean up. A cold wind swished past the trees and put out the crackling fire. The only light came from candles on the table that threw fiendish shadows on the ground. Magic materialized out of thin air and landed on the table.
She caught something moving in the shadows. When she turned to look there was nothing. She put out all the candles except one and dumped them in a basket. Magic let out a yowl that startled her. She dropped the candle and the basket, grabbed Magic, hoisted her skirt and ran towards the house. That's when she heard it. The low growling and panting of an animal chasing her.
She ran as fast as her legs would carry her but stumbled on the steps of the porch. Magic escaped from her clutches and stood between her and the creature. She turned around to see a man with the smoothest features and dark soulless eyes. Magic growled fiercely at him and he growled back. She wasn't sure if she had hit her head and passed out. Magic suddenly shape shifted into a majestic lion with rainbow colors spilling from his mane. He let out a long growl and lunged at the beast man. The man ducked and then retreated into the woods.
When she woke up she was no longer on the deck but on the sofa in her living room. How she got there, she had no clue. Magic was sitting on the end table by her foot, licking himself. He jumped on her lap but before she could smother him with kisses, he was gone. He was no ordinary cat, of that she was certain. And probably not from this world either, like her.
The beast man kept showing up in her dreams and she would wake up shaking. But Magic would be lying by her side purring softly and she would ease back into a restful sleep. She couldn't bring herself to do another healing circle after that encounter in the woods. And again the longing for home surfaced.
A few weeks later Magic disappeared. His bowl was untouched and he wasn't by her side when she woke up from those nightmares. She called her healing circle friends and organized a search party. None of them knew she had a cat. She didn't even have a picture of the elusive Magic. They ventured into the woods yelling his name. By dusk, they had covered several square miles of the woods and there was no sign of the cat.
Disappointed, the party returned to her place and dispersed. She was just going to chop up some salad greens and heat up some soup for dinner when she heard a knock on the door. Looking out the living room window she saw a man, his face contorted in pain. His sleeve was soaked in blood. She quickly opened the door and rushed him in.
"I'm hurt. I need help, " he said, stating the obvious.
"I know," she said, leading him to the kitchen table.
"Aren't you going to call 911?"
"I will, once I get you cleaned up and bandaged."
She pulled out her first aid kit and proceeded to cut off his sleeve. After setting the kettle to boil, she used a clean cloth to soak up the blood. He had deep wounds in his arm.
"What happened?" she asked.
"I'm not sure what attacked me. Some sort of animal. I was walking in the woods one minute and the next minute I was on the floor and this huge creature was on top of me."
"What creature?" she asked, her eyes wide with fear.
"I know this sounds stupid but it looked like a lion."
"I know. Stupid right? A lion in the woods of North Carolina, " he sniggered, "If it wasn't for this wound I'd have thought it was a dream."
She washed his wounds with warm water and applied a clean bandage. He watched her quietly and then got up.
"Thanks! I should get going. I'll try and get a rabies shot before my doc leaves for the day."
"I'm heating up some soup. Would you like some?"
There was something about her that felt so familiar. Like home. So he stayed. For soup. For coffee. For his first healing session.
She felt it too, when she stood close to him with her hands connecting to his energy body. Her heart fluttered and her spine tingled. She withdrew from him. The connection was too powerful. Too out of this world. She wasn't sure if she could take it. But he took her hands and placed them on his heart.
"I remember," he said.
"What?" she whispered, closing her eyes and allowing the warmth of his skin to engulf her.
"You. Home. Us. I remember everything."
The visions of home came back to her. The pink and gold fields. The sunsets and the sparkling waters. But this time he was there. She saw the threads that connected them. Like a web of steel. Her heart ached.
"Can we go home now? You know we don't belong here."
"No. We are going to make this place like home. Don't you remember? We have done this many times before!"
Hot tears trickled down her cheeks. Every thing made sense now. Every sorrow, every heartbreak, every failure, every misstep, had brought her to this place. She was here on a mission and he was the missing piece. Now together they would be unstoppable.
"Thank you Magic," she said softly. She knew the rainbow-lion-cat avatar won't be coming back anytime soon.